Vash’s new journey in Trigun Stampede introduces him to Nicholas D. Wolfwood, a wandering undertaker who can fire intense lasers with his massive cross. But what Vash doesn’t know is that Wolfwood’s presence is yet another pawn on Knives’ chessboard as he plans the next stages of his plan to corrupt Vash.
The biggest standout from this episode was the introduction of the wandering undertaker, Nicholas D. Wolfwood. The first anime gave him some decent rapport with Vash as his brash, rude demeanor counterbalanced our hero’s goody-two-shoes tendencies. If Vash was worried about being violent and used his skills to avoid death, Wolfwood was the guy who embraced whipping out all of the artillery he could to come out on top of a given fight.
In Stampede, he follows a similar trajectory as he comes at odds with Vash’s kinder disposition. I think if anything is different about their dynamic, it’s centered around how Vash carries himself in the reboot. Because Vash leans more into his compassion than his sillier side in Stampede, Wolfwood isn’t exposed to exactly how willing Vash is to debase himself if it means avoiding violence.
Because of this, most of Wolfwood’s antagonism comes merely from Vash’s hesitancy towards resorting to violence which has Wolfwood wanting to urge him to let loose a little. It didn’t help that Wolfwood came along while Vash was still reeling from the situation in the last episode, causing him to be in more of an emotional state about the death he comes across and Wolfwood’s lackadaisical approach towards life.
At the same time, it’s nice to see that this iteration of Wolfwood has great chemistry with the cast. On top of being flustered by Vash’s flowery impression of Wolfwood’s moral character, he has some fun banter with Meryl and Roberto. This is especially great considering that Meryl easily takes the bait with Wolfwood’s antagonism and the vices he shares with Roberto make him prone to mess with him like stealing a cigarette from him. It makes for some nice comradery.
The comradery that will only lead to betrayal! Yes, Wolfwood was mainly hired by Knives to escort Vash safely through his journey to corrupt his kind-hearted brother. It was always silly considering how he still has the Gung-Ho Gang try to kill Vash, and just coasts off of the idea that he and Wolfwood would be talented enough to survive his own hitmen. And then if Wolfwood kills any of them, that should pose a morale issue for the gang if Knives would actively hire people to kill his own hired guns.
I am curious about the role they’ll give Zazie the Beast given that Wolfwood is conspiring with him this time around. Vash’s greatest outburst in the old anime came from Wolfwood blasting Zazie to kingdom come when he hunted down Vash’s party. But here, we see them actively collaborating, which would further complicate things if Wolfwood ever defies Zazie or Knives in the process of coordinating their bouts with each other.
It makes for a unique twist, given how it means that Wolfwood probably also has to collaborate with other members of the Gung-Ho Gang to allow Knives’ vision to come to reality. Whether that means preserving Vash until he breaks or getting too emotionally invested to allow the Gung-Ho Gang to emotionally scar Vash will come to question when we see more of what Wolfwood has under his sleeve as a double agent in Vash’s party.
“We interrupt this space western anime to bring you Frank Herbert’s Dune.” *ding*
And I had a hunch that kid was Zazie the Beast. Which immediately turned into “I knew it!” once he met with Wolfwood after the battle. (Trivia: Zazie in the old Trigun anime was voiced by a young Hiroshi Kamiya. Coincidentally, he celebrated his 48th birthday this January 28th, the day this episode was released.)
I can also see Wolfwood’s Punisher cross was stylistically inspired by the weaponized guitar cases carried by El Mariachi’s companions in Desperado. Speaking of Wolfwood, Yoshimasa Hosoya does a pretty passable impression of Shou Hayami’s kansai-ben, though at the same time, this version of Wolfwood is more visibly dour than the one from the old anime. Which I guess is more fitting for the more serious, closer-to-the-manga[?] retelling Stampede is going for.