Trigun Maximum Vol. #03 (

By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Tuesday, November 16, 2004
Release Date: Friday, October 01, 2004

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Yasuhiro Nightow
Translated by:Justin Burns
Adapted by:

What They Say
Vash the Stampede carries a big gun, unmatched speed and skill, a seemingly unkillable body, and a rock motto... "Peace and Love!" But he may have met his match this time, up against two of the toughest Gung-ho Guns: the Puppetmaster and Gray the Ninelives. These are two of the most mysterious and hard-to-stop bad guys, and they won't let Vash and his reluctant buddy Wolfwood get away without measurable injury, both mental and physical. Learn more about Vash's history! Capture the crazy gunslinging action of Trigun Maximum!

The Review
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 Vash the Stampede behind his favorite insurance ladies Millie and Merril. Upon turning the book over, the opposite cover features the Gung-ho Guns 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 (with kana), and an ato-gaki from Nightow (where he describes his trip to San Diego ComicCon). 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, as it is now coming into its own. Nightow’s layout is still his biggest weakness. 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 and perspective 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 "senpai" (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)
Fear, vengeance, ignorance and the need for power can drive people far beyond their potential. The power of the will is something that can turn the tide in many circumstances. In this case, it is causing nothing but agony and pain for Vash the Stampede and his friend Nicolas Wolfwood. Since the start of this series, they have been hunts down and each took a different stance on how to defend themselves and their ideals. In addition, with every new encounter their ideals are tested by each other as much as they are by their hunters. Can a man of the cross learn how not to kill? Can a gunman and natural disaster not kill?

Fear and revenge can also cloud people's minds. When focus is so critical, losing sight of one's self-being when obsessed over others can be fatal. If there has been a common theme with each of the Gung-ho Guns it has been how caught up they become in their games. So far, it has proven fatal for each that has faced Vash. In this volume, it is a puppeteer and a man with "nine-lives" who would take their chances. Their fear and pain will drive them to the brink and it will lead them to their tragic death. It is as if they wished for their own deaths, especially when an opponent like Vash does not wish for death.

What Vash wants more than anything is to experience life. Vash's life is long and filled with memories of the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, that he has met along the way. He has seen people in their youth. He has drunk with others going through the struggles of adulthood. From the looks of things, many of his friends tend to be on the old side. However, he cannot relate to most of this. He is still a young man, even if he may have been around before practically everyone else on this planet. Life is so fleeting for someone like him, which is why he uses his guns to prevent deaths.

What good is a gunman who does not use his guns to kill? Would they be protectors, peaceful protestors or vagrant rogue using his firepower for space? There is no doubt that Vash has firepower, but it is not giving him any space. Instead, the Gung-ho Guns force themselves into his space to take him away from the peace he wants. They try to trick him by using his ideals against him. They never give up when there is no victory is impossible. The Guns are typical gunmen. They shoot to kill, take arms to defend themselves and show their strength to solve their problems.

The long battle with the Gung-ho Guns continues and with each new fight, Trigun Maximum continues to move further away from what made Trigun so great. Vash is what makes this title so unique. However, even though he still plays the biggest role in this volume, his role has changed from comical martyr to awkward warrior. Wolfwood's character completely overshadows Vash, as he does not hold back, despite his own downfalls.

As the manga continues, Vash's character reminds me of Himura Kenshin (Rurouni Kenshin). He comes from a different time where survival was so crucial, he is a warrior of great strength but he uses that strength now to protect his ideals not for vengeance or hate. They are both kind souls that appreciate life's subtle moments and protect the weak unconditionally. Where they differ is their "personas." Himura is often reserved, humble and mature; Vash is naturally funny, playful almost child-like in some ways. He is just as stubborn, but he falls for the traps set for him every time because of his ideals. And when he is taken out of his normal context, situational comedy mixed into action, he falls flat. It appears to be an obvious ploy by Nightow, as readers can see the struggle Vash's comrades have with his personality but to me it is getting old. The Gun-ho Guns can do angst, but Vash, by his nature, is the opposite of angst and it is bringing down the manga.

I consider the Trigun property one of the better lines available in English. There is no way to ignore the great production from Dark Horse and Digital Manga. Vash leads one of the better casts in manga. Nevertheless, with every new Maximum volume I start to long for original Trigun. I have to pin it on Nightow for being over dramatic, falling into a "gunslinger of the month" mode and leaning heavily on action that he still has trouble properly presenting through his layout. This title has so much room for improvement and has been great at times. Having to wait for those moments could drive me to murder, though.

Mania Grade: B
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: A
Text/Translatin Rating: A-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: Dark Horse
MSRP: 9.99
Pages: 192
ISBN: 1-59307-266-X
Size: Tall B6
Orientation: Right to Left