Trigun Vol. #1 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, February 18, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, March 28, 2000
I'll get to the point, as I basically agree with most of the technical points on every past review. Yes, the shiny packaging is awesome; yes, the video and audio are very well done; and yes, the menu is clever, if a little short on special features.
However, I feel this series has been getting the short shrift from the past reviews. While everyone has described it as the very least, "good", many have complained about a general lack of connection between episodes and a sense of shallowness. In other words, something on the level of a Sailor Moon or Ranma 1/2: clever, silly, funny and cute, but not much else going on.
I can see why people could and have drawn this impression. The plot, such as it is, involves two insurance girls-Meryl and Milly- chasing after the infamous Vash the Stampede. Vash is a legend so dangerous and destructive that the government put 60,000,000,000 double dollars on his head. He is also a liability to insurance companies, who have to pay for everything that gets destroyed, and so the girls must find him and conduct constant 24-hour surveillance. The only problem, and one that causes most of the situations on the first disc, is that no one really knows what Vash looks like. Although we know from the cover that he is the blond man in the red coat, whenever anyone meets him, they simply don't believe him. He can the world's best gunman be such a nerdy goofball?
Ok, so, the series sounds as silly its hero. And the plot is very Ranma-esque: The girls constantly run into the man they're looking for, but don't believe it's him! Hijinks ensue! And then everything is as it was. Next episode.
However, there is much more under the surface of Trigun, which is what I think has gone unnoticed in the past reviews. The series just blew me away with its original design and great ideas. Ok, so, mistaken identity hasn't been an original concept for 1000 years, but I'm not talking about that. What is amazing is the inherent theme of peace over war. It re-invents the Western: combining Dick-Tracy like villains who drive in 70's pimping Cadillacs and stand over 9 feet tall with an incredibly designed main character who is, ultimately, the world's greatest peacemaker.
Watch closely after getting the basic plot and jokes of the first four episodes. An army after his head, and he finds a way to undermine them without firing a shot or mortally wounding anyone. When a bounty hunter demands a duel, he smiles and says, "I'm sorry, I don't like the sight of blood." He stops a robbery just by bluffing with his finger. He saves a girl by strategically spitting a piece of gum. In fact, during the course of the show, he manages to get out of every scrape without EVER firing a shot.
It gives new meaning to the term enigma- we're never sure how much of Vash is goofball and how much is the 'greatest gunman who ever lived'. For every goofy aside and dumbass move, he counters with a knowing look and a wise choice that saves lives. We also learn a little bit about his past- who he got his gun from, how he kept his identity a secret, that he loves donuts, etc. But we don't know who he really is yet.
The other thing that ties the episodes together are the insurance girls - they're funny and na´ve, but they're also smart and independent, they know how to do their job. I know this sounds trivial, but it's nice to see characters that achieve all three dimensions in a comedy anime series.
This series, in affect, undoes all the crap that has been created by Wild Wild West. I have never seen a Western that was this funny, exciting, wacky, and fundamentally honest. The grand ideals are carried out through action and not through speechmaking, as Vash spreads "Peace and Love" through his travels. (He does this great comic effect in the final episode of the disc) All that, and its great anime to boot.
At one point, someone casually asks Vash what he plans to do with his gun. He makes a serious face and replies, "I PLAN TO USE IT FOR WORLD PEACE!" The beauty is, while every is laughing at his goofy joke, the camera stays on his face and we know that he is only half joking. The series is often hilarious and fun, and it has one of the most intriguing heroes I've seen in a long while. In other words, I found it to be more than just a silly, funny series, and I hope I'm not the only one. Highly, Highly Recommended.
Philips Magnavox Region One DVD Player Model DVD405AT, Magnavox 14" TV/VCR with Sony Speakers, Regular AV Cables
Mania Grade: A+
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A+
Menus Rating: A-
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2