「祝福の子供」 (Shukufuku no Kodomo)
“Child of Blessing”
Trigun Stampede’s latest episode questions Vash’s ethics as a neglectful mentor as he was unable to save Rollo from being sacrificed to Knives. And because of this inability to save Rollo, he is now forced to fight his old pupil now that he has been transferred into a giant behemoth.
LET ROLLO DOWN
I’ve been relatively silent about my complaints on the show, but if there’s anything I have a larger issue with, it’s how Vash is characterized. His body language is still 100% Vash, but when it comes to his own personality, he lacks the clever craftiness and humor that the old Vash had.
The first anime spent plenty of time establishing Vash both as a capable sharpshooter and making a huge joke out of himself to disarm his enemies. It gave us a reason to be upset to see Vash struggling when we’re familiarized with the kind, funny guy who we understand is playing the fool because he truly cares for those around him. His altruism is complimented by his funny personality, and without that, all you get is this sad, forlorn hopelessness from Vash.
He’s kind and compassionate, but in Stampede, his self-defeating tendencies are placed on center stage since his kindness is constantly undermined by his failure to protect those around him. Instead of saving others from despair, he seems to wallow in every failure as he’s constantly marred by his inability to save others. It’s not that he needs to be Mr. Perfect, but between the town destruction and his failure to save Rollo from being sacrificed to Knives’ gang, Vash is only ever given the chance to grieve his failures.
At the moment, Vash’s screwups only manage to give Wolfwood more to work with as Wolfwood has to constantly remind Vash that he’s hypocritical for wanting to save those around him, but neglecting the people he needs to save for far too long to do all of this on his own. It’s not worthwhile to promise to save others if you can’t deliver, so you don’t have to feel bad about neglecting people if you never promised to be their savior, to begin with.
But still, it’s the kind of message that could only come about in Trigun Stampede, where Vash is impotent, angsty, and couldn’t save an ice cube from melting. Because Vash is meant to be taken down a peg in this adaptation, we have to deal with the possibility of Vash being a neglectful screw-up who is paying the price constantly for letting his guard down.
I suppose that, along with the altruism questions in the first couple of episodes, having Vash hash over the concept of mercy killing is breaking new ground for the character. But you really have to twist and distort Vash’s character and capabilities to get to a point where Vash would have to be grilled about whether he should’ve mercy-killed the kid he made false promises to. It’s kind of an ugly message, to be honest since it takes knocking Vash down a peg to make Wolfwood the voice of reason for telling Vash he should’ve put the kid out of his misery if he wasn’t planning on staying around for him. There’s this weird cynical edge that has seemed to win out so far, but I’m hoping that it doesn’t consistently just leave off on a sour note where Vash constantly fails at playing the hero.