Vash the Stampede goes out as he should: in a blaze of guns and glory.
Writer/Artist: Yasuhiro Nightow
Translation: Matthew Johnson
Adaptation: Matthew Johnson
What They Say
Fourteen volumes, almost three-thousand pages, an internationally popular anime, and one of the most recognizable characters in the genre: this is the saga of Vash the Stampede. For the past decade, Trigun Maximum has pollinated the manga medium and now permeates the otaku culture worldwide. Now, join Dark Horse Manga as they celebrate the amazing conclusion to this epic tale. Running and gunning Vash keeps his trademark wits and savvy fully loaded with both barrels blazing as his enemies draw nearer and his friends hang dangerously in the balance. As the sun sets on this climactic final fight, will it be happy trails for Vash or will it end in a blaze of bullet-riddled glory?
It's been a long and sometimes rocky road to the end of Trigun. In a way it's hard to believe that the rugged, sprawling saga is finally over. Those of us who have been following the jouneys of Vash the Stampede, Wolfwood, Meryl and Millie, Livio, Legato, and Knives for the better part of a decade can't help but have mixed feelings about this series coming to an end. When you've lived with a story that long, it's natural to wonder if an ending - any ending - can be good enough. That is, can having an ending be as good as having more of Vash and the gang? Well, that question I can't answer. Like anybody else I want more Vash, more gunslinging, more outlandish villains; more of everything that Nightow is so good at giving us. Luckily, I'm writing a review, so I don't have to worry about any of that right now. I can only talk about the final volume of Trigun Maximum. And it's a humdinger.
If I had to sum up the ending in one word, it would be the word "everything." It's an ending that uses everything, consummates everything...that <i>is</i> everything I could have wanted the ending of Trigun to be. Nothing is left out, nobody forgotten. All the characters, all the themes, all the conviction, all the heart is there, and better than ever.
The volume picks up in the middle of the fight between Vash and Legato Bluesummers. Or rather, it starts near the end of the battle. This fight means more than any other duel in the series before it. Not just in terms of its physical outcome either - it's a battle that forces Vash into a merciless dilemma. This is more than a fight. It's a trial; and it will test his deepest belief to the breaking point. It's a powerful scene, and it would have made a great ending for a lot of other stories. But Nightow has more where that came from.
Meanwhile, the fleet from earth still has to contend with a hyperpowered Knives above the planet. I don't like to give to much away, so I'll just tell you that the result is destruction the way only Nightow can draw it: shattered buildings, rubble, shards of spaceships, fused plants, large crowds, everything drawn with almost obsessive detail and superbly synchonized.
But, naturally and fittingly, the outcome rests on two sets of shoulders. As large as the conflict has grown and as many people as it has involved, this is ultimately a family quarrel. Two brothers will have to settle it between themselves. Nightow draws on all his powers as a storyteller to show us how they settle it. There are certain qualities that Nightow has which make him stand out as an artist. The hard edge and the soft center. The unflinching violence and the unfailing compassion. The refusal to take the easy way out of any problem. The ability to make his beliefs real. To some extent, these are all qualities that Vash mirrors. The ending of the book and the series is the perfect ending for Vash the Stampede: because it's the ending only he could bring about.
As I look back from the end of the trail I can't help but stop and think about the journey that brought me here. Sure, it had its ups and downs, and plently of bumps and bruises. There were times where I wasn't sure exactly where I was going or what had just happened. But you know, that's the funny thing about Trigun. Almost anything the detractors say about it is true: it's confusing, it's rough around the edges, it's got goofy comic relief and the visual style can get just plain bizzare. But so what? Trigun isn't perfect. It's better than that. It's really, really good. I wouldn't have missed the journey for anything - and I look forward to taking it again.