Trigun is one of the most popular anime shows in recent memory, and for good reason: it's fun, exciting, dramatic, and highly entertaining. Premiering in 1998, it gradually grew in popularity, eventually mounting an cult following in both Japan and the United States. Unlike most TV shows that run until the gas tank is empty, the story of Trigun was planned to run for just 26 episodes (roughly one season). Any respectable fan of anime is probably familiar with this show in one form or another, and anyone unfamiliar with the story should pay attention! This is easily one of the finest, most accessible cartoons of the last decade, and deserves every ounce of praise and adoration.
In short, Trigun is the simple tale of Vash the Stampede, a legendary outlaw with a $$60,000,000,000 bounty on his head. Feared and respected by many, his reputation with a gun precedes him, but a few bounty hunters are looking to cash in anyway. The problem is, no one really knows too much about this guy, other than the fact that his capture could make them rich beyond their wildest dreams. As the story begins, we learn that Vash isn't quite what most people would expect: he's a skinny guy with blond hair, unique sunglasses, and a bright red trench coat. However, he's still handy with the steel, but isn't out to kill anyone...he's usually just a victim of circumstance.
I was first introduced to Trigun a few years back at the Otakon Anime Festival, and got hooked right away. Although I've seen the majority of the series' 26 episodes, I don't own any of the discs yet (largely due to the stiff $29.99 price tag for each one). Thankfully, Pioneer has come to the rescue! This first disc, The $$60,000,000,000 Man, is a re-release of the original DVD, now under the "Pioneer Signature Series" banner. While some might be expecting a more deluxe edition of the first release, it's more like a 'Greatest Hits' version (if you're into video games, you'll know what I mean). Essentially, this is identical to the original release---save for the cover art---and it's offered at a reduced price of $19.98. Needless to say, any previous owners won't be interested in this disc, as it's designed to cater to new viewers. This disc contains the first four episodes in the series, which are listed below:
Episode Descriptions: (Spoiler warning)
Episode 1: "The $$60,000,000,000 Man" - The premiere episose of Trigun literally starts things off with a bang, as we are introduced to the three lead characters: Vash the Stampede, Meryl, and Milly. Vash is somewhat of a klutz (easily keeping his identity a secret), but is blessed with equally high amounts of luck and skill, and can seemingly get out of any tight spot. As for Meryl and Milly, they introduce themselves as investigators for an insurance company. This episode is high on action, as Vash reluctanly battles several groups of bounty hunters, and we even learn of his fondness for donuts. Oh yeah, a whole town gets destroyed by accident! Good times. Episode grade: A
Episode 2: "Truth of Mistake" - In the second installment, more trouble follows Vash and company in a drought-infested town. A rich businessman named Cliff Schezar is interested in hiring Vash as his personal bodyguard, but Vash still keeps quiet about his true indentity. Cliff has made a lot of money off the local townpeople, selling water at ridiculous prices. Through a series of mishaps and sheer luck, Vash is able to give the people what they need. Episode grade: A-
Episode 3: "Peace Maker" - On the lookout for a legendary gun repairman named Frank Marlon, Vash and company are able to track him down at a local bar. However, he's lost his passion for the business, revealing the tragic death of his family (who, ironically, were killed by guns he repaired). The town is also under attack by bandits, and Vash and Frank join forces to try and thwart their plans. After the incident, Vash is given a fully-repaired gun by Mr. Marlon, and the three lead characters leave town seperately. Episode grade: B+
Episode 4: "Love and Peace" - In the fourth and final episode on this disc, a young girl is kidnapped for a stiff $10,000,000 ransom. Her father, Earl Bolstalk, is informed of this plot, and enlists the help of some bandits to take out the kidnappers. However, everything is not what it seems, as Earl's dark past is revealed...as a result, the roles of hero and villain are blurred. After a duel between Earl and the leader of the kidnappers, Vash steps in (with a nice assist by Milly). Overall, this was one of the better episodes, and it was a great way to end this disc. Episode grade: A
With a fun and engaging storyline, Trigun is an easy series to get hooked on, and only gets better as the series progresses (trust me)! This new re-release will hopefully introduce a whole new crowd to this great series, as the low price has been needed for a long time now. Once again, this is an exact duplicate of the original release, as this Signature Series disc features a decent presentation of the series...but the extras are a little thin. In any case, here's what we get:
Quality Control Department
Being a relatively new series, it's obvious that Trigun is pleasing to the eye. The overall image is very sharp, with an excellent level of color and overall contrast. The 1.33:1 original full-frame aspect ratio is relatively clean, but there was a modest amount of dirt in a few scenes. Additionally, some of the blacks weren't as solid as I hoped, giving a few scenes a somewhat washed-out appearance. Still, these are the first episodes of the series, and the overall look improves as the show progresses. While I'd have preferred a new transfer for this re-release, it's still the best Trigun has ever looked!
While the video could have been a little better, the audio is much more consistent. Presented in Dolby Surround (in either the original Japanese with optional subtitles, or English), this is a great-sounding disc! The many action-packed scenes come to life in a big way, and the aggressive nature of the soundtrack will really take you by surprise! One sidenote: although I'm just wishing here, wouldn't it be great to hear Trigun in DTS? After hearing the excellent Japanese DTS audio upgrade for the Cowboy Bebop: Perfect Sessions 2-disc set, maybe I'm just spoiled. In any case, the audio is top-notch and really puts you in the middle of the action!
Menu Design & Packaging:
Relatively simple menu designs are used here, but to great effect. The soundtrack is present during these Western-style menus, as well as slick animated transitions (although navigation could have been a bit quicker). The packaging itself features the same art from the original release, although a somewhat-hideous hot pink "Pioneer: Signature Series" banner is now added. Oh well...for $10 less than the original price, I can live with that!
Extras are somewhat limited, and consist of Character Designs and an Image Gallery. Both of these are nice inclusions for anyone interested in the art of Trigun, although I know I'm not alone in wanting more extras! How about some interviews with the creators and artists, or even some voice acting footage? Although I really do appreciate the price drop here, I'd have gladly paid a little more to get some quality bonus material. Oh well, maybe next time...
Fans of Trigun who have shyed away from the expensive, original DVD releases will no doubt gobble this one up! With an attractive MSRP of $19.99, there's no excuse to leave this one on the shelf (unless you already own the original, of course). The complete saga will continue to be re-released under this new "Signature Series" banner, and I can't wait to get 'em all! With a uniquely funny and dramatic plot and a host of interesting characters, Trigun is deserving of its massive popularity within the world of anime, and belongs on the shelf of any animation lover. If you're new to the saga, you'l definitely want to pick this one up! Highly Recommended.
Other Links of Interest
The Otaku - A Trigun Fansite
Official Site for the Otakon Anime Festival
Randy Miller III is an art instructor based in Harrisburg, PA. He also does freelance graphic design projects and works in an art gallery. When he's not doing that, he enjoys slacking off, general debauchery, and writing things in third person.