Trigun Maximum Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Tuesday, July 06, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, June 01, 2004
Translated by:Justin Burns
What They Say
VASH THE STAMPEDE RISES AGAIN!
It's been two years since the mysterious and super-nice gunman went into hiding, and the people of this desert planet are suffering. It takes a friend in peril to bring him out, and when he does, his enemies come chasing... as well as those insurance girl, Millie and Meryl. And Wolfwood the wandering priest? Well, that's who found him in the first place! The gang's all back, and the trouble is coming in Trigun Maximum.
Much like the packaging for Trigun, Maximum maintains most of the wonderful packaging concepts originally used by Shonen Gahosha for the Japanese production. Dark Horse and Digital Manga use the original cover art and logo and even keep the kanji reading of Yasuhiro Nightow on the cover and spine. This cover features a close-up of Vash and his custom gun. The image is filled with yellows and reds, but the large gun provides a contrast the draws the eye towards the barrel (where the subtitle happens to be placed). Upon turning the book over, the opposite cover has the original art underneath a small blurb for this volume. Inside, there is art that was under the dust jackets inside both covers, the original volume and chapter headers are present (with kana), and an ato-gaki from Nightow called Gun Love Island!!, which describes the transition from Trigun to Maximum. The printing is very good and with this graphic novel being a little wider than normal B6 size there are no alignment issues. Wonderful presentation.
While I am not a real being fan of Nightow's art at this time, I am really impressed by the creativity shown in his character designs. Characters are a little on the long side. In general, I still cannot tell if some women are women (because of wide shoulders, long jaw lines, and the lack detail in his non-close-up faces). Nevertheless, I love his costumes. They range from laid back casual to straight out of KoF - leather, buckles and cool hair. As crazy as those designs can be, he usually makes those costumes work aesthetically and violently. After saying all that, I do think there is some improvement from the two volumes of Trigun that preceded this series. What was once stylish but lacking form is now coming into its own. The layout is okay. I have to admit I think this volume has better panel placement and more variety but in general its pretty simple and the text bubble placement is often more confusing than pleasing to the eye.
This volume is right to left in a wide B6 book. SFX are not translated. What is disappointing here is that there are a lot of them in this one and they vary because of the mix of comedy and action, so readers will miss those nuances that are brought out by those SFX. Knowing that Dark Horse does this so well makes it even more frustrating.
The translation here is very good. Honorifics that are used are there. So are some other Japanese words like "sempai" (which was nicely translated in the gutter for those who are not familiar with those phrases).
Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
It has been two years since "that" event. Two years since this world has experienced a violent act so horrifying it is remembered almost every night. Time cannot heal the pain from this tragedy, which happens to be the second chapter in an already fantastic legend, but now opinion seems to be changing in regards to the one known as "the human natural disaster." Now, Vash the Stampede is not only feared for being a walking typhoon, but he is hated... and for good reason. It has been two years since he destroyed his second major city (two out of seven) and blow a hole into a moon!
Nicholas D. Wolfwood, a man of the cross (a really big cross), was there as a witness to the destruction of two years ago. He has been searching for Vash ever since. At the start of this follow-up series to Trigun, Wolfwood runs into a Vash, possibly one of many during his search. And as expected even though this Vash has the same fondness for red and black leather, buckles and spiky hair, the Vash in this town was out to make trouble and not stop it.
Those familiar with Trigun, would recall that Vash is called "the Human Typhoon" because of the destruction that is left behind him. Rarely does he ever cause the damage himself, but the actions of those he tries to protect based on financial motivations have often lead to irresponsible behavior. Therefore the eye of the hurricane, Vash, does no harm but everyone around him usually end up destroying towns and their own peace and happiness over money. Having a ridiculous bounty on your head can do that, but now some imposter has taken advantage of the negative aspects of Vash's legend. However, there is someone in this town that will not stand to see the weak being taken advantage of. Therefore, as the violence progresses, like a martyr, he sacrifices himself to spare the lives of others. Humiliations, physical harm and mental stress mean nothing to this person for he has experienced times much more painful that what most people can ever go through. Nicolas found Vash today, naked, bearded and beaten, but Vash, the real Vash, did not want to be found.
With his cover now blown, Vash's only real option was to go back to his old life. The peace and sense of home that normal people experience with more frequency would have to be put aside in favor of helping those in need. This does not come without a price, obviously. Not only does Vash lose the simple things in life, but also he loses his friends and freedom. Worst of all from this point on he will have to regularly confront the memories of his past as they will come back to haunt him again. Therefore, Vash would have to make himself stronger. Through training, better equipment, closer relationships and more first-hand experience, Vash can preserve the ideals he believes in. But is Wolfwood right? Are days be numbered if he keeps this up?
Continuing the world of Trigun that ended when Nightow moved this property from Tokuma Shoten's Monthly Shonen Captain to Shonen Gahosha's monthly magazine Young King Ours, Maximum starts off trying to catch up with the time lost between the two titles. As he does this, he works on the sympathy of his readers by giving a reason for the hiatus. Nightow does this perfectly. With a main character like Vash, whose life is constantly in flux, being able to escape the harshness of his world for whatever the duration is something that he could not pass it up. Furthermore, considering his position at the end of the previous series one could easily forgive Vash trying to escape the limelight. Vash, whatever he may be, is still human and as such, the man wanted to run from the pain he caused and from the life he lived, therefore the manga would have to go on a break as well. Cannot have a manga if the star has gone missing, right?!
Once Nightow goes back to his plot, he does a solid job transitioning between the two series, by slowly introducing old characters and plotlines. Unlike other mangaka, Nightow keeps his flashback filler to a minimum. Moreover, he adds additional depth into the motivations of his characters. Those who read the end of Trigun can recall the devastation and the fear. These characters experienced the horror, as we did, and Nightow's idea to take his readers through that is something that is rarely seen in manga. Character development with the main cast is a major point here, as they all have to make decisions on how to go about their lives now that they have the opportunity to reunite for their selfish reasons - friendship, ideals, and love. Whether its an insurance representative, a man of the cross, a murderous villain or a life-loving hero they all have to decide to come back, change the lives that they have been a part of for the past two years and finish their jobs. The choice is not hard. There really is not much out there for most of these characters. But really, would you choose the high possibility of death over a dull life of paper pushing or orphanage fundraising? In the end, those choices and the process of going through them moves the plot back to where it was originally going, so the manga progresses and grows with it.
Trigun Maximum starts in unique fashion. Not only does it expect you to have read the series that preceded it, but it wants you to wait as it slowly comes back from vacation. Those who are not familiar could easily be confused with this transition, but those who have followed Vash from the start would only consider this appropriate for this title. His personality is such that one would expect a few funny twists and turns here and there. Nightow's humor and sense of humanity takes us back to the lives of his characters when they are at a turning point. The manga itself has changed a bit, and it will take a little bit of time and some thought to get back on track. The wait was not really that long for North American readers, so the effect might be lost, but the experience was still entertaining and got me into the mood for more. And that's a good thing as this is a series that I cannot wait for more of.
Mania Grade: A
Art Rating: B
Packaging Rating: A+
Text/Translatin Rating: A
Age Rating: All
Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
Size: Wide B6
Orientation: Right to Left