Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Anime Review: Trigun

Hmm, I spent a lot of my summer watching old school anime didn't I? Funny enough this wasn't one I was checking out from the local college library (although they did have it), I saw the first bit of the show dubbed on Netflix, saw the movie, found that the show was removed from Netflix, moped, and then discovered that it was avaliable subbed and dubbed in it's entirely on hulu. Whew, but hurray for having a variety of legal sources out there (even if the fact that some of  hulu's commercial breaks are oddly placed which always manages to bug me) and it's especially nice since the show is a relicense and for one reason or another those shows normally don't get streamed online, really wish Trigun wasn't a rarity in that respect.


Summary: Vash the Stampede, aka The Humaniod Typhoon and the bane of insurance companies everywhere, is actually a really nice guy who just happens to get involved in a whole lot of trouble everywhere he goes. Then again, normally it's because he's such a nice guy who can't stand by and watch people get hurt that he gets involved and gets hurt himself, as well as causing damage to everyone around him. So Meryl and Millie are sent from a local insurance company to try and find this man and keep his damage in check, although as the series goes on it turns out they aren't the only ones who want to find Vash and deal with him, most in a more permanent way.

The Good: It may not have a lot of space in it but it's a fun space western with plenty of shoot-outs, improbable shooting skills and the hero always saves the day kind of fun. There is a central plot thread for those who don't like strictly episodic series and character development that is vital for any series (interestingly enough, Vash probably isn't the character with the most but he has so much backstory to start with that this makes sense and his backstory answers a lot of questions about the series). It's a good mix of those things so it's easy to see why a lot of American fans loved this series and why Funimation decided to rerelease it.   

The Bad: For me, the shift between the more light hearted episodes early on in the series to the darker ones later one was a jerky one that could have been paced much better (a problem that is partially explained by the fact that the manga was currently running as the anime was airing, it wouldn't finish until almost 10 years after the anime did). It seemed like the Gung-ho Guns subplot was introduced too late into the series and a lot of backstory was revealed in the last episode which, as a general rule of thumb, isn't a good way to go about it. I also disliked how Meryl's growing feelings for Vash made her go from a capable and cool character early in the series to someone who couldn't do much at all, why couldn't she be capable and in love? Similarly, Millie's attraction to Wolfwood came out of nowhere and only seemed to be around to make certain events more poignant and by that point in the series I was just getting more and more annoyed at the characters and these little details didn't help.  

The Audio: The opening and ending song for this series actually fit rather well although I prefer the instrumental opening to the slightly odd ending song myself. As mentioned earlier, I watched this dub (mostly because I simply wanted to) and it's a pretty good dub for the early 2000s. Some of the characters always sound a little flat (and a good number of the one-off background characters simply sound awkward) but the main cast is solid and improves as the show goes on.

The Visuals: It seems that the Japanese release of Trigun featured an altered opening sequence each time to reflect what characters would be in each episode but the English release didn't do that (or if they did I didn't see, normally I don't watch through the credits more than a few times). However, what people are going to notice the most is that this isn't a new show and it looks like one. It's a bit low quality when viewed full screen, the aspect ratio is different from today's anime which means that it's going to be letterboxed (which funny enough is less noticeable if you view it full screen) and it's all hand drawn, cel art so the colors look a bit different as well (although, unlike many mid-90s anime, it's all plenty vivid on it's own). I have heard that it doesn't look that nice played through a PS3 or on a nice big tv screen today but the way I was viewing it it doesn't look awful. Far from it, it doesn't look like the most amazing thing Madhouse has ever produced (considering they make some amazing things these days that's hardly a surprise) but all the animation seemed solid so I think it's alright. 

Much like Wolf's Rain, I started out liking this series, took a break watching it, returned to it and then just didn't like the series as much until the very last few episodes and then found the ending kind of unsatisfying, it's eerie how close my opinion on both shows is. Also, and this one is bugging me, I feel like Vash and Knives embody a trope (I have no clue what the name would be, The Chosen One perhaps) that really bugs me: a generally low tech/magic world but the main characters have these incredible powers which could destroy the world and therefore it's their actions that become the climax of the series and that one just rubs me the wrong way. Perhaps it's because I hate series which fleshes out the secondary characters and then they never get to do anything in the climax, that's always felt silly to me and I was frustrated when Trigun didn't use some of it's characters to the fullest in the end.   

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