The story of Trigun is set during a time when man has decided to venture forth into outer space with the aims of colonizing the stars. Things haven’t gone as planned however forcing the interplanetary settlers to crash land on a barren desert world. As you can imagine, life on an inhospitable planet is hard and is made all the tougher by the threat of Vash the Stampede, a notorious outlaw who is known for destroying any settlement he comes across. Vash’s reputation has earned him an outrageous sixty billion double dollar bounty for anyone brave or foolish enough to bring him to justice.
What most people aren’t aware of however is that Vash isn’t the menace many portray him as. He’s actually a pacifist who follows the mantra of love and peace. Yes destruction follows him wherever he goes, but it is normally caused by the crazed bounty hunters trying to capture him. Clearly they use weapons a little more powerful that the pepper spray you would associate with Hawaii’s Dog the Bounty Hunter.
Volume one of the Trigun manga starts off with fast paced action that seldom gives the reader a chance to breathe. Things kick off with Vash fending off a group of desperados with nothing more than a toy sucker gun (he explains that using a real pistol is too expensive, as the cost of one bullet could be better spent on a stack of pancakes.) When word gets out that Vash is in the area the entire town decides to join forces to try to capture him. The poor folks are desperate for a piece of the sixty billion reward, as their town’s power plant is in urgent need of maintenance that they can ill afford.
The resultant chase is rather comical with Vash pulling off funny faces and making amusing quips as the populace unsuccessfully tries to nab him. Things get more serious however with the arrival of a giant cyborg that has a rocket punch that would put Mazinger Z to shame. After that battle the story switches to Vash taking a part-time job working as a guard aboard a Sand Steamer (basically a humongous locomotive used to traverse the expansive desert that separates towns.) As you may have gathered, trouble has a way of finding Vash and his hopes for a peaceful trip are dashed when the infamous Badlands Gang hijack the train.
I have a soft spot for Trigun as the anime adaptation was one of the first shows I bought back when I first decided to build up a collection of Japanese cartoons. At the time the series was hugely popular as it was being aired on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. As a fan of the anime I have finally decided to begin reading the written source material, eager to see how the story will differ. I really love the series’ style, which would best be described as a sci-fi western. Trigun takes place on a desert world complete with saloons, gun totting outlaws and ten gallon hats, but mixed with the cowboy setting are remnants of the advanced technology that got the humans there in the first place.
The comic is a good read if you enjoy action with a good dose of comedy. Intermixed with the exciting gunfights is plentiful slapstick courtesy of Vash’s goofy personality. There are also some laughs to be had at the expense of the two ladies who have the unenviable task of following Vash on his adventures. Hired by the Bernardelli Insurance group, their mission is to keep Vash’s rampages in check as the resultant damages are costing their company dear. Good luck with that girls. I don’t fancy your chances of quelling the wrecking potential associated with the book’s protagonist who in certain parts is better known as “the humanoid typhoon.”
Overall I think volume one of the Trigun manga is a decent start to the series. For the most part it follows what I have previously seen in the anime, although the events play out in a slightly different order. Some filler from the cartoon has been excised, although to be honest I miss those episodes as they did a good job of keeping you guessing on whether the main character we are following is the real Vash. One couldn’t help but speculate if the protagonist was an imposter given how he appeared to be a buffoon who’d win via sheer luck as opposed to skill with a gun. One area I would have to penalize the manga on would have to be the quality of the artwork. It’s so sketchy that at times it is hard to tell exactly what is going on. Hopefully things will improve in that regard in the later installments.