To say that Trigun has been around the block a few times would be an understatement. The 26 episode series was produced by Mad House and was originally released in 1998. It soon found its way to America's shores and quickly became a fan-favorite. The fantastic action sequences, fun characters, and over-the-top style of humor set it apart from the rest of the pack back in the do. To be perfectly honest few shows have been able to capture the spirit of Trigun, and to this day has left the franchise feeling like it's in a league all its own.
With all the praise and all the hype (and even the fact that I enjoyed the show), I do have to say that Trigun is far from perfect. It's a mix of good and bad elements, but together they make an entertaining picture as a whole. It's not even like the bad elements are easy to overlook. They are just a part of the experience; a chip in the armor if you will, though by and large the show is as classic as the definition goes.
In case you're unfamiliar with Trigun it takes place on an alien world named Gunsmoke. The planet is a desert wasteland and very reminiscent of the Wild West in some respects. Humans populate the world though a great deal of technology exists and there are some fantastical things, cyborgs, and the like. One of those fantastical things is a legend revolving around someone known only as the Humanoid Typhoon. This outlaw has a $$60,000,000,000 (that's right, a double dollar) bounty on their head and they are renowned the world over for being a devastating individual.
Two members of the Bernardelli Insurance Society, Meryl and Milly, are sent out to investigate claims revolving around damage from the Humanoid Typhoon, and if possible to find the villain himself. What they discover, however, is a goofball named Vash the Stampede. It's a little tough to believe at first, but the peace-loving kook they meet who seems like the kind of guy that couldn't hurt a fly is actually the Typhoon himself. Though he's an oddball Vash is actually a highly talented gunslinger. He can get through any fight with barely a scratch and in the end all who stand before him are cut down to size. With that in mind, it's kind of funny to note that he's a pacifist. In every encounter he has had there hasn't been a single fatality and that merely adds to the enigma that is Vash.
The exploits of Vash are the gears that keep this vehicle moving forward. His mysterious background, plucky attitude, insane skill, and occasional flash of seriousness keep him constantly obscure. Another character named Nicholas D. Wolfwood is introduced early on and he plays the straight-man in the series. He is very grounded and not goofy in the least, and he doesn't necessarily share the optimistic sentiment that Vash does.
For the first half of the series the show is mostly episodic, which kind of hurts the experience a bit. Vash's goofiness combined with the occasional bounty hunter that comes out of the woodwork to take him down is entertaining, but very light in the grand scheme of things. It's not until around the halfway point that things really become interesting when elements of Vash's past are brought to the forefront. We finally get to see why Vash is the way he is and ultimately that's what makes this trip worth taking.
The strength of the series lies entirely in its characters. Vash, Wolfwood, Meryl, and Milly are all great personalities and the show does a great job of giving them time to grow and get closer to one another. Now, with that being said there were times where I absolutely could not stand Vash. His idiotic behavior was a real turn-off and the brand of humor was a little to haphazard for my taste. With that being said, it's only a small part of the experience. The show as a whole is good, but the humor and episodic nature hold it back from being a classic among classics. Trigun is still a great show that everyone should check out. Just be aware of the ups and downs and you won't be disappointed.
Trigun is presented on DVD with its original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio. The show looks great with bright colors and sharp lines, though it's not as good looking as more modern shows. There are little nitpicks here and there such as edge enhancement and compression, but these are totally understandable. After all, the series is more than a decade old. The real draw for the series is the sense of style, design, and animation that went into the production. Mad House did a wonderful job with the show and their production withstands the test of time.
For audio options Trigun offers English and Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital surround tracks. The technical quality for both is rather subpar and one can't expect a great deal of immersion. The occasional bullet will whiz through the rear channels and the music is prevalent there, but ultimately the audio is front-centric. It's not a bad thing, but those hoping for a robust 5.1 are going to be left wanting. Now, as far as the dub is concerned, this is one of those rare instances where the English cast actually does a better job than the original Japanese cast in my opinion. It simply doesn't happen often that I find myself preferring the English over the Japanese as far as dub tracks are concerned, but Trigun pulled it off!
The only bonus material here are clean animations and some trailers.
Trigun is deserving of its popularity. The show features a solid premise, it's wildly entertaining, and the action speaks for itself. The things that hold the show back from true greatness (whacky humor and an episodic nature) simply aren't enough to bring the experience down, though they do ground the show a bit. The bottom line is, if you haven't seen Trigun before, then FUNimation's recently released collection is the way to go. It's a classic show that's deserved of the praise it gets, but don't let the hype think it's the next best thing to sliced bread.
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