Trigun Series Review: He’s The Most Wanted Man Ever But He’s Just Looking for Love and Peace

I had to wonder when I first started watching Trigun what all the fuss had been about. It was a not so well drawn, cliché comedy with a main character whose blonde hair just kind of made me want to pour a bucket of water on his head. Sure it came from heavy-weight studio Madhouse and yet I just couldn’t see why so many people had recommended this anime to me.

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Trigun - Vash the Stampede
And here is Vash in all his goofy glory.

Really, really, glad I didn’t stick with my first impulse when it came to Trigun.

Because everything about this anime grows over time and while the beginning might seem a little vapid, the journey is well worth it. In one season this anime tells a complete story, makes you really care for the central character, and gives you laughs, drama and action along the way.

Trigun – Worth sticking with even if the first episodes don’t appeal.

Yep, Trigun starts out as a screwy comedy with a character who hops around in the desert, dodging bullets like Daffy Duck, and B Grade villains who really need to learn the meaning of restraint but don’t seem to offer any genuine tension. And that kind of hurts the show because of the sheer number of viewers who will probably walk away in those early episodes.

I definitely would have if I’d watched this for the first time now when I have access to so many other titles.


Somehow, after you get to the end of the series, you realise this show couldn’t have started any other way.

Trigun, and the journey of Vash the Stampede, is one of those shows where you don’t even know where the tone changed, but by the end of the series you are left feeling you’ve just watched a dramatic masterpiece.

Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration (alright definitely an exaggeration but you get the point), but for something that starts the way it does, the character development and the way the plot is revealed just work so well. There isn’t a moment where you think, okay now it will get serious.

It’s just that the blend of comedy and drama in each episode shifts more and more to the drama end of the spectrum while still holding onto some of the comedic elements and you don’t even realise its happening.

Vash the Stampede is sick of your rubbish - Trigun
Things do get serious occasionally, particularly toward the end.

Part of that transition comes because a lot of the story is filtered through Meryl’s perception of Vash and it takes her awhile to a) recognise who actually is Vash and b) begin to understand that there is more to Vash than the goofy persona he deliberately chooses to portray.

Meryl’s growth as a character and her increasing empathy for Vash work well as a frame for so much of the story. Because, like Meryl, the audience is coming in to this half-way through.

Vash has a very complicated back story and while I’m still not entirely convinced by the seemingly subjective amnesia or the overall villain’s plot or even some of the twists that lead us to the conclusion, it didn’t matter while watching. I was engrossed by these characters as they slowly revealed themselves.

I do want to talk about Wolfwood though.

Wolfwood - anime priest (kind of) from Trigun

He’s an interesting character. Like Vash, he plays the fool far too well, though his facade has a lot more chinks in it than Vash’s. More importantly, Wolfwood get’s the distinct role of playing a character while knowing he isn’t convincing anyone but pretends he doesn’t know that he isn’t convincing them.

It’s interesting to watch given the animation isn’t amazing and yet Wolfwood’s nuanced expressions and the subtle (and sometimes less than subtle) shifts are well used to show us that he is well aware his antics aren’t convincing and yet he’s enjoying the chance to just play for awhile.

Far and away Wolfwood is my favourite character of the series because of his similarities to Vash, and yet the distinct path he chooses. And they use the contrast well. While they both play the fool, at the end of the day, Vash is an idealist whereas Wolfwood is firmly grounded in reality. Which is probably why the outcomes for these characters vary so deeply.

And at some point I really should give Wolfwood his very own post because he’s just an awesome character.

So should you watch Trigun?


Trigun - Vash and Wolfwood

It’s funny and heartbreaking and has fast paced action followed by some excellent characterisation. It builds a rich world where humans fight for survival and shows the history behind the current circumstances. Characters respond in not necessarily realistic ways, but in consistent ways to the conflicts surrounding them and there are some very cool characters who will appear throughout the series.

While the villains are of the over-the-top and bad for the sake of it nature, the hero is also good for the sake of it so it kind of balances out and ultimately the story isn’t about who is good and who is bad but about choosing your own path.

That, and there’s a lot of gun fights and some fairly great weapons to admire. I love Vash’s sunglasses and coat but really would love to fix his hairstyle. However, since writing my review of this initially, I met a cosplayer who had the single most awesome Vash the Stampede look you could imagine and after seeing it in real life I kind of don’t know that Vash could be any other way.

Have you watched Trigun? What were your thoughts?

Images from: Trigun. Dir. S Nishimura. Madhouse. 1998

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

20 thoughts on “Trigun Series Review: He’s The Most Wanted Man Ever But He’s Just Looking for Love and Peace

  1. I watched this back in the day on Adult Swim because my daughter thought it was cool.. I thought it needed a bit of significant foreshadowing in the first episodes to keep my interest. One of those anime that the “3 episode rule” doesn’t work for.

  2. I’d forgotten all about this show – they played it on a local TV channel many years ago and I caught a few episodes of it back then. It’s coming back to me now… Thanks for the review!

  3. This is one that I’m slowly making it through. I’m enjoying the ride. I only watch maybe one episode a month but I don’t want to marathon it yet.

  4. I haven’t seen Trigun for at least 10 years so there’s much I forget about the show. I remember thinking the pacing of the series felt off, that the climax of the series came too early and then kinda petered out at the end like they were working towards a second season that never cam – but – as I’ve forgotten the specifics, I don’t know if that’s still how I’d feel. I also remember really liking Wolfwood.

    I find it interesting that the director of Trigun, Satoshi Nishimura, directed almost nothing else after 1998’s Trigun until he moved to Studio Voln and directed their Ushio to Tora in 2015 and the currently airing Karakuri Circus. I guess if your adapting 1990s action shounen manga into anime, it’s a good idea to get a 90s action shounen director. 🙂

    1. The pacing of the series is odd, I’ll definitely agree. I did feel however it came together well in the end and ultimately that sightly off pacing is just another thing that makes Trigun distinctly Trigun.

  5. I haven’t seen Trigun, something I want to check out along with Cowboy Bebop at some point.
    Also those words “Love and Peace” remind me of Prince Hata from Gintama 🙂

  6. This is one of my top five anime of all time. I have watch this series several times easily without getting fatigued at all. The music is inspiring! (Sound Life by AJA is pure bliss.) The characters were captivating! (Meryl was my girl!) The show just had the feels. Fun, charming, but rooted somewhere dark and when you realize this, your mind just explodes with an understanding and appreciation.

    1. This one makes a lot of viewers top lists and I will admit when I first tried it I had to wonder why. It took awhile to warm up but once it did this one was amazing. And going back and rewatching it, you realise it just couldn’t be done any other way. The way the series starts is necessary for the stuff that comes later to have real impact.

  7. I love Trigun. I feel like the early episodes were an essential demonstration of how Vash wants to live, while later episodes show how others force him to live. And it’s a nice a critique of “presuming first impressions are the entire picture,” which is a big part of what the series is about, how others misjudge this one character based on limited information. I also loved the underlying philosophical debate inherent in the conflicts.
    While the later episodes have more depth, I often return to the earlier ones for simple, lighthearted fun.

    1. The whole series just works. While it did throw me at first because I didn’t really get where it was going and it just felt a bit silly, it all just kind of comes together in a way so few series manage. And yes, I agree some of the ideas and messages here are pretty solidly developed. Thanks for your comment.

      1. Agreed. When I started out there were a handful of anime that stood in high in my eyes: Lain, Evangelion, Cowboy Bebop, and Trigun.

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