「HIGH NOON AT JULY」
Trigun Stampede’s season finale captures the final battle between Vash and Knives in stunning, glorious detail. But even with its flashy animation and captivating choreography, can it manage to give Vash an ending that will be kinder to him? Or will he be forced to have an even larger target on his back in spite of his love for humanity?
WHAT’S THE WORLD REALLY MADE OF?
The main takeaway from the last episode of Trigun Stampede is that Vash is content with being a martyr. Even as Knives interrogates him as to why he’s so resistant towards the idea of seeing eye-to-eye with Knives’ view on liberating the Plants at the very least, Vash is happy with being seen as either a slave or a fugitive if it means he can settle down with humanity eventually. At that point, I couldn’t help but understand Knives’ frustration.
Yes, the end of the world stuff for humanity is very bad, but there isn’t a brush that could paint what humans have done with Plants or Independents as a salvageable thing. Compared to other Trigun titles that try to endear us to the human characters to give Vash more and more reasons to save them, we’re just left to understand humans as the horrible beings that treat Vash either like a workhorse or a blight on society.
Even after saving them, Vash is still blamed for Ju Lai’s destruction and has his bounty raised even higher. It would’ve been nice to build up Vash’s own personal experiences with the people on Planet Gunsmoke instead of relying solely on Rem’s motherly love to turn him into humanity’s Pick Me. Yes, placing too much trust in humanity to like him was already part of Vash’s character. But when he has nothing else to his character other than grief and martyrdom, it comes off as another attempt to turn Vash’s optimism for humanity into Vash’s masochism.
My suspicions were true that they were going to save Milly Thompson in the end, but it was disappointing that it was more like the Batman Begins showing The Joker’s calling card than a full 3D model. I expect that they didn’t want to spoil things all the way through, especially since they’re already threatening Meryl with the possibility of working for the same insurance company she works for in the first Trigun
On a more hopeful note, they do introduce Eriks as an ending teaser. He makes a brief appearance in the old show, but his presence is what kicks off the plot of Trigun Maximum, making it an exciting prospect to see whether they’re more likely to follow the material for Maximum.
I wanted to be a bigger fan of Trigun Stampede. The artwork and art direction is very beautiful and created a vivid image of what all of the survivors make of being part of the remaining wasteland they reside in. It was also a great opportunity to flesh out many other characters since this series gives us a better glimpse of what they’re contending with.
Their treatment of Wolfwood alone makes it a worthwhile watch if you’re a fan of Trigun. The way they give greater detail to his backstory and motivations, and shows us how Vash helps to humanize him by giving him the incentive to warm up to others. His connection with Livio also leaves him prone to wanting to hear out Vash considering how Vash’s altruism gives him a glimpse of hope to save both his old friend and his old orphanage.
Their approach with Knives was also greatly appreciated considering how little attention he received in the old anime. Whereas they aimed to make Knives a more illusive villain there, the Knives of Stampede is confrontational and intends to directly reach Vash to have him be an instrumental part in his plan to overcome the human race.
I suppose that means the main reason I hadn’t come out of Stampede liking the show was how they handled Vash. Giving Vash time to grieve makes sense considering how even the old Trigun never shied away from giving him emotional sections of the plot where he’s left indisposed by his depression over breaking his moral code.
But having each and every episode past Episode 03 feature a Vash who is either mournfully calm or flustered in rage is exhausting. It makes every episode feel like watching a funeral when Vash’s undying optimism and hope for the human race are muted. He barely registers as the same character who once joyfully espoused his belief in a world of love and peace.
Not that he needs to be 100% goofy and silly like in Badlands Rumble, but it feels like a missed opportunity for Vash not to have his moments of levity. Having his constant failure take center stage transforms a character who hides behind a cloak of silliness to protect those around him into a sad, impotent shell of his former self.
It would’ve been nice to check up on Meryl since she was one of my favorite characters, but I feel that her presence winds up compromised by Roberto’s authority. Rather than having a feisty yet understandable Meryl, we’re given a Meryl who is constantly left baffled, confused, and startled by her surroundings. It’s definitely meant to play off of Roberto’s familiarity with the world alongside his drinking tendencies and casual approach, but this causes Meryl to have to wait until the tail-end of the show to take on her own initiative to challenge those around her. It’s almost like Vash’s willingness to look like a silly novice was shoved onto Meryl instead of Vash retaining those elements of himself.
My own perspective of Trigun Stampede isn’t 100% reliable considering how my feelings on the show are vastly different from many others’ experiences with the anime. Its gorgeous 3D artwork, the character dynamics (especially with Wolfwood), and the fresh new take on the Trigun universe were refreshing to many viewers. I wasn’t a fan on how it depicted Vash and it ruined my own experience with the show, but if Vash being a somber character doesn’t bother you, you’d definitely have a really good time with the show and its remaining phases.
It sounds like the writers gave Vash the bew 52 treatment. Comic book fans will understand but essential, the writers stripped away all the fun because they don’t think heroes like Vash are allowed to be happy and must be miserable 24/7.
While I hate the depiction of Meryl, I think this is setting up for their version of Milly, who will be naive and clumsy, just like Meryl was at the beginning of Stampede.
I’ve always seen Vash as an overpowering gunslinger and I loved his optimism. Yet after knowing the truth of what he is and who he has become after a century living on essentially a hostile planet with its habitants, I can’t blame the “realistic” perspective his character was given. It’s good to be hopeful but there’s such a thing as toxic positivity. It’s poetically sad that any allies he gets only means short-lived comfort in his solidarity pursuit of acceptance from beings that won’t meet his ideal. And if living that long with the wisdom that comes with maturity he must come to terms of what may be is what it is for him to continue his coexistence. There’s a lot of thought-provoking themes but I simply enjoyed the entertainment of this remake in anime history.
Season finale begins with a flashback to Rem and the Project SEEDS colony ships… Quite the nice book-end.
(Mad scientist dude): “He will artificially impregnate all of the PLANTs and create new Independents, similar to how he and Vash were born.”
So that’s why… Still can’t shake off the raep symbolism, though.
I’ve said what I’ve had to say about fears that Stampede might be rushing through its source content too quickly (as well as Vash being too angsty in this adaptation and Kuroneko-sama demoted to a one-scene .JPEG cat)…but as it turns out, it really is a prequel (if not an outright clean slate retelling) all along. (With Vash getting that distinct spiky hair, revealing his Angel Arm, blowing up July City [and part of Planet Gunsmoke’s moon, IIRC], and getting the $$60-billion bounty near the end. Also, Milly Thompson getting assigned to Meryl, and Knives’ laboratory/stronghold actually being a ship.) Guess it was just my fears of being disappointed by a new adaptation rearing its ugly head.
Credit where credit is due, Vash’s duel with Knives has some of the most fluid animation (and epic wide-angle tracking shots) I’ve seen in the series. And that stinger with Earth about to send an expeditionary force to Planet Gunsmoke after developing faster-than-light technology was a pretty good sequel hook (ditto Vash’s identity/life as Eriks). Guess there’s some hope of a better anime adaptation of the Trigun + Trigun Maximum manga after all!
I recall another forum post where the poster’s opinion was that Stampede seemed to be emphasising Vash’s character weakness of being wishy-washy, a quality they felt was present in the OG series.
“I have to agree that Vash was always a wishy washy character and he’s even more so in this new iteration. But, this time, I think that’s part of the point the show is building towards. Vash is wrong atm. He’s completely paralised by “wanting his cake and eating it too” and has been ever since they crashed on that planet. I’m pretty sure that the show will only properly start when Vash realizes that he has to stop being paralyzed and needs to start making harsh decisions instead of, effectively, running away.”
If you knew anything about Vash than you would know he was far from wishy washy. He acted the fool but he was competent when the time came. Frankly this show knows very little about vash or his world besides surface level details
That’s a really great point. It seemed like Vash’s biggest conflicts in the original anime were how he’d want to save everyone but stumble into situations where he wouldn’t be able to dispatch people by simply disarming them. The whole Legato affair breaks Vash because it’s the first time he was directly responsible for saving lives by ending one.
In the process, Vash’s resolve to finally confront Knives after abandoning him is born from his realization that he can’t be wishy-washy if it means watching the people he loves die at the hands of Knives and the remnants of the Gung Ho Gang.
The ending incorporating elements from the OG anime like Vash’s hair getting spikier, his bounty getting larger, and Milly wanting to tag along with Meryl makes it seem like the next big project attached to Stampede would have Vash become more comfortable with handling conflict.
I was crabby about how Vash was during this season of Stampede, but it makes sense given how it’s a reimagining of the kind of character Vash was before he had enough control of sticky situations to disarm people with a smile and a wink. He might not be immune to falling apart again, but hopefully, it is a sign that these 12 episodes were meant to be Vash’s coming-of-age story where he’d use his experiences here to having an easier time winning over the humans he’s been hoping to curry favor with.
Oh yeah. What about the Gung Ho Gang? They just disappeared seemed like.
I havent watched the original since it aired on cartoon network way back when but i do know this…I enjoyed it way more than I enjoyed this show. Totally agree that Vash in this series came off as depressing for too long and i wod add – incompetent. Vash original had silly moments but it showcased his skill and his baffonery hid depth.
If I was gonna recommend a Vash series I would recommend the original first and mild recommend for this series. It wasn’t bad just ok.