Trigun Maximum 14

May 5, 2009

And here we have the end of a legendary series.  It’s got an awesome cover, too (the back has Vash’s hand making the “love and peace” gesture), but I wish it had been called something besides “Mind Games,” since I’ve had the John Lennon song stuck in my head all day.

Trigun Maximum… it’s hasn’t really been good at all since Wolfwood left.  As excited as I was about finally getting to read the end of this series, I started the volume and was nearly in tears because I just did not understand what was going on.  The fights are visually confusing.  As I mentioned last time, it’s suddenly revealed that Legato fights using invisible wires.  This is referenced a few more times here, but… the wires are invisible.  You can’t see them.  I can’t follow what’s going on if I can’t actually see the weapon.  I understand that he’s supposedly holding Vash stationary with the wires, but I do not understand how Vash is breaking free, then.  It does not make any sense.

A new element of confusion is added to their fight when he mentions that Vash is fighting with tipped wings, or something.  This isn’t clear, either.  You just see speed lines.  It’s so frustrating, because I wanted so much for this fight to be good.  But it’s not.  It’s just not.

The aftermath of the fight is spectacular, though.  Vash wins, but doesn’t kill Legato.  Legato doesn’t like the fact that Vash chooses not to kill people, so he offers Vash a choice.  The outcome of this choice is pretty powerful stuff, and goes back to what makes Vash an awesome character.

Then there’s the fight between Knives and the Earth Defense Force (or whatever they were called, the colony ships from Earth he’s fighting).  I couldn’t even begin to understand what was going on here.  The important parts are pretty clear though, like the fact that the Earth Defense Force is using measures that could kill the civilians and wipe out cities on the planet’s surface.  The final solution is to blow up the planet and kill everyone along with Knives.  They are afraid he’ll just jet around the galaxy and destroy other colonies if they let him live.

The decision to sacrifice all the lives on the planet takes the story back to Vash’s philosophies about how every life is precious.  In order to stop this, a colony on the planet tries to stop Knives in their own way, and Vash helps the best he can.  The problem is that the humans have been abusing the plants for years, which is why they fused with Knives, so Vash has to try and convince people to treat the plants better and get the plants to believe that they should help humans.

Which leaves Vash and Knives.  The entire series builds up to this fight.  I was… disappointed, to say the least.  Disappointed and deeply confused.

And there’s some silly aftermath that takes the series full circle.  The series ends on a lovely 2-page color spread of Vash the Stampede, which I did not expect.  It was a nice parting gift after all these years.

Now, Trigun wasn’t the first anime I watched, but it was the first one that I fell hard for.  I’ve never liked an anime in the same way I loved Trigun back when I first watched it.  I was super excited when Dark Horse licensed the manga too, and I’m beyond happy that I finally got to see the end of the story after… well, it’s been ten or eleven years since I’ve seen the anime, I guess.  It’s a shame that things got so messy in the end, and perhaps a re-read is in order to see if that clarifies anything.  I may have been too harsh with it.

In any case, Trigun will always hold a special place for me, and I will always love Vash the Stampede.  He’s just an awesome character.

Trigun Maximum 13

January 4, 2009

Oh… man.  I know I complain about how you can’t tell what’s going on in the fight scenes all the time, but… all this time, I was under the impression that Legato’s powers had something to do with mind control, or he paralyzed you with psychic powers or something.  That’s enough of an explanation for me.  But… he used wires?  What?  So does that mean the wire I saw last volume and was puzzling over so hard was Legato’s effort?  This… this has been a misconception for 16 volumes, counting the original series.  Goddammit, Trigun.

Anyway, there’s not too much to think about in this volume.  The invasion forces coming in are secondary to two main battles, a fight between Razlo/Livio and Elendria the Crimsonnail, and a fight between Legato and Vash.  Both are suitably epic, and surprisingly, it’s pretty clear what’s going on through most of them.

Well, maybe.  I liked Elendria and Livio’s fight a little better, if only because Elendria kept killing him and Livio kept coming back to life for no really good reason.  Plus, Elendria’s weapon, a suitcase that shoots GIGANTIC nails, is pretty cool.  Both go all-out, and eventually Livio lets Razlo take over and fight for him since Elendria is too good a fighter.  I’m not entirely clear on whether or not Razlo or Lazlo is actually hurting Elendria, or if Elendria is always shocked and insulted because Trip of Death is putting up such a good fight.

Legato and Vash’s fight is good, but a little more vague.  Legato really wants Vash to kill him, but of course Vash will not.  At one point, Legato puts his mouth on Vash’s gun and tells him to pull the trigger, because that’s the only way he’ll get through.  Apparently the coins collected from the Gung-Ho Guns were actually part of a device that handicapped Legato so that he couldn’t kill him with his wires.  The one truly ridiculous thing I couldn’t figure out is when Legato literally pulls a mallet out of nowhere.  I… wasn’t sure what to think of that.  But their fight is pretty good all the same, and unresolved as of the end of the volume.

The next volume is the last, and I’m really glad we don’t have to wait that long for it.  April will bring what I assume is the end of the Legato-Vash fight, and what I can only assume will be a final faceoff between Vash and Knives, and possibly a fight between Knives and the people trying to save the planet.  As much as I complain about this series, it’s still pretty awesome, and it will always be one of my favorites.  I can’t wait to see what will become of Vash the Stampede.

Trigun Maximum 12

March 31, 2008

Oh man.  Nothing is ever going to change the fact that I love Trigun and will blindly keep believing it’s one of the best series ever, but Jesus Christ.  This volume made absolutely no sense whatsoever.

It makes no sense in the same way that Hellsing makes no sense.  You KNOW something cool is going on, and you can get on board with that, but some of the details of what is actually happening on the page are clear as mud.  I mean, it’s cool that somehow there are spaceships firing on Knives from space, and Knives then takes over these ships from the ground and makes them start firing on each other.  At one point, these ships fire some sort of warhead at Knives and his ark, and he just teleports away.  That would actually be one of the most awesome things I’d seen in awhile if I hadn’t just been making my way through Berserk.  But I wasn’t sure why this was happening, or how it was happening, or what happened to stop it other than it was something that Vash did.   The teleportation scene nearly had me in tears because you don’t know what the hell is going on until several pages later after you piece the different reactions together (to be fair, the people in space pretty much come right out and say it, then I had to reread that part to make sense of it).  I finally figured out how it was that Knives was influencing the spaceships and how it was that Vash stopped him when a few nonsense panels clicked into place for some reason, but maybe others would figure out what happened right away.  I don’t know.

After this big confrontation with its vague action, Vash and Knives finally have the showdown you’ve been waiting for.  It is cool beyond belief, and while Knives is using everything at his disposal, Vash seems to be one-upping him with only his gun, and Knives apparently can’t channel his power in the way Vash can.  Vash tells him he’s just dealing with a simple gunman.  The action is all… I mean, they’re fighting with vaguely-defined powers, so you really can’t tell who’s doing what, and what exactly is being fought with other than Vash is apparently firing vaguely bullet-shaped energy and doing various kinds of harm… and possibly doing other things?  Knives gives commentary so you can tell who’s winning when, which was good enough for me.

We finally see how Vash lost his arm.  It was odd that it never occurred to me to think about this, but it was definitely one of the more awesome moments in the series.  Was an alternate version of the story shown in the anime?  YES.  Yes it was, I remembered just now.  In the anime, I think he supposedly lost it when he blew up July.  Yes.  Trust me when I say it’s much better in the manga.  It involves more raw emotion and not just a release of power.

We are also finally given the reason why Vash chose to live among the humans as a sort of superhero.  The explanation isn’t really definitive, and I actually had to infer meaning from what was said, but it’s still a good story, and is related to when he lost his arm.

During the battle, you have to wonder how much Vash has left in him since his hair has turned totally to black, and the answer comes by the end of the volume.  Also, maybe you were wondering about what the last of the Gung-Ho Guns were doing during this fight, or even what happened to Legato.  We get a superb Legato flashback that I was not expecting, and it explains how it was that he came to follow and worship Knives.

This volume was maddening to read and piece together, and I’m still not entirely sure what happened, but it is certainly the climax of the series.  It’s got several choice scenes along with a great final battle, so there’s not too much I’m looking forward to in the next volume other than Vash’s ultimate fate.   No amount of missing bits, confusing action, or detailed-to-a-fault art is ever going to convince me that Trigun is anything but awesome, but… yeah.  Some of the faults are really starting to show in these final sequences.

Trigun Maximum 11

March 14, 2007

I didn’t really want to read this volume. The series could have ended on the last page of volume 10, with loose threads galore, and I would have been happy. Following up the pure awesome of last volume with another made this one leave a bad taste in my mouth, but it was a bad Trigun taste, which is something I’m willing to put up with considering the next volume probably won’t come out until the end of the year.

Though Nightow has given us a few red herrings concerning the end of the series, it looks like it may have pretty well wrapped up with the most recent issue of Young King Ours, and the last chapter will probably come out at the beginning of March.  Which means that we’ll either get a large volume 14, or I’m completely wrong and there’ll be another volume’s worth of chapters, and we’ll get 15 volumes total.  There’s my prediction.  12 came out in Japan in July, but Shonen Gahosha just seems to be slow about releasing graphic novels, as what should be in 13 has completed serialization some time ago and there’s no coming soon for that one.  But yes, the end.  How exciting.

Mostly this is more exposition, and we learn that the fleet from Earth is indeed on their way, know more about the planet’s situation than you’d think, and that Vash and Knives also aren’t that unique. The coin set is complete save for one coin, the one Gung-Ho Gun that is not dead or converted, and this character comes back to have a chat with Knives that does not end amiacably.

Also, my predictions about Legato Bluesummers was wrong. He is much more… durable than you’d think. Also very loyal. Characters like Legato Bluesummers only exist in the crazy, insane, ultraviolent world that series like Trigun and Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure and Hellsing live in. Only the best series, yes, and they exist in a kind of manly paradise, perhaps where they watch Road Warrior with Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star all day. Those four series serve to put the appropriate amount of hair on my chest, I suppose.

Trigun Maximum 10

March 14, 2007

Now, I’m not going to tell you this is my favorite series.  I’m a shoujo girl at heart, and this one is not even in my top five (though two shounen series are, and this one is probably like six or seven).  But when I tell you that this was one of the best volumes of manga I’ve ever read, believe it, because it’s true.  I cried pitifully through the second half.  I’ve read nearly a thousand volumes of manga, and there are probably less than ten that have made me cry.  Make of that what you will.

Because Wolfwood has got back up, of course Vash appears out of nowhere to help him out with Razlo the Tri-Punisher of Death, the last of the Gung-Ho Guns (though not the last to go down, as we will find out next volume).  There are many chummy moments interspersed through the gunfight, and Wolfwood puts on one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.  Ignore the fact that Trigun action scenes employ a cryptic visual language that is difficult to decipher and makes it near-impossible much of the time to follow what’s going on, Wolfwood steals the spotlight here.  He does all sorts of crazy shit, and it’s only the dead coming back to life that put a stop to everything.  He stays true to what Vash has taught him though, while Vash cries punisher-like tears off to the side and lets Wolfwood take down the main bad guy.

The two shared a hug mid-battle.  When Vash stepped in out of nowhere, it was beautiful.  There was a scene where Nicholas asked Vash what he was doing there, and when Vash just made a stupid face, Wolfwood made a joke about how Vash was over a hundred years old and still couldn’t find the words.  Ah.  Manga.

After the battle, Wolfwood says that he hasn’t had a drink with Vash in awhile, so the two go outside to have one on a couch while the ark flies overhead.

Excuse me while I cry some more.

Trigun Maximum 9

March 14, 2007

So, because Trigun Maximum heard the anguish I expressed with the lack of action last volume, we get a TWO-VOLUME LONG GUNFIGHT. I’m not going to tell you about volume ten just yet (though I will in about two minutes), but let me tell you about this one.

This volume is entirely dedicated to Wolfwood, so the gunfight is basically him v. whoever wants to take him on. In this case, there are 12 men that have taken his old orphanage hostage. Really, the fight is between ten people who don’t stand a chance and three members of the Eye of Michael, including his old teacher and an old friend of his, also an orphan. His old teacher seems rather insistent that Nicholas is no good, though he says these things and cries because he is perfect… or maybe I misunderstood.

Wolfwood turns into a DEMON in these fights. You can see he’s hung out with Vash too much, because everyone is just left writhing on the ground in mortal pain rather than dying. By the end of the volume, Nicholas has been blinded and humbled while his teacher gloats, but the thought of Vash brings him back to his feet.

I actually don’t want to talk about this volume very much. As awesome as it was while I was reading it, the next one completely blew this out of the water and made it look like pithy exposition.

But one thing about this volume… during a completely serious flashback to Wolfwood’s assassin training, his teacher hands him his cross gun and tells him that he’s lucky to get a “Punisher,” which is the name of his gun and Wolfwood’s actual assassin title. While he’s being handed the Punisher, you notice that the circular hand piece in the middle where the cross forms… is a skull. A rather deformed, cartoony skull, but a… homage, nonetheless. Thank you, Yasuhiro Nightow.

Trigun Maximum 8

March 13, 2007

I don’t know what to think about this.  The manga has built the Knives situation into kind of a hopeless one, and with the amount of time spent trying to convince him otherwise and stop him, things are quite bad for the human race.  This volume was ENTIRELY about Knives hostile takeover and people trying to stop him.  While it was suitably epic, for some reason I also felt starved for action.  This may have something to do with Vash being in a cage most of the time.  My favorite part was probably in the very beginning when Vash and Knives were just talking.  Vash made some good points, not just philosophically, but practically too.

We do get an explanation for the Eye of Michael this time, so it wasn’t mentioned before.  That’s good.  The action we get in this volume is basically in the form of Wolfwood fighting the other two assassins.  Actually, it’s less of a fight and more of a slaughter.  This is basically where the jokes about Wolfwood not being able to die start, because dammit, nothing kills him if that didn’t.  Also, Legato?  Is this the last we’ll see of him?  The man has been folded in half, I suspect he’s still hanging around in his capsule somewhere.

I read from here through about the next three volumes in translations when I was following the series a few years ago.  While this stuff is somewhat familiar, it actually makes sense now, too.  You just can’t notate in a translation that Knives is killing all the people in the southern hemisphere and absorbing all the creatures from the plants.

The situation is rather grim.  I kinda don’t like the dangerous territory where this is starting to tread, but maybe we’ll get some epic gun battles out of it.  Vash also used his powers a bit at the end here too, which was totally awesome.  I’d love it if that became a regular thing.