Geneon // 1998 // 100 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Adam Arseneau (Retired) // March 4th, 2004
In the distant future...on a deserted planet...there is a legendary gunman...His name is...Vash the Stampede.
If you don't rank Trigun as one of the funniest, most entertaining, accessible, dramatic, and overall fantastic anime series ever, chances are you are wrong.
It's okay. We all make mistakes. Now is the time, however, for you to correct said blunder -- Trigun has been affordably re-released on DVD and just waiting to find a new home on your movie shelf.
You hear his name whispered in the streets, like an ill wind. He is the most feared gunslinger in the entire world; he is a devil, a monster, and a destroyer of entire cities. He is the Human Typhoon, spoken of only in rumors -- for nobody survives an encounter with him.
At least, that's the rumor. Of course...if nobody survived an encounter with him, who would there be to spread the rumor around?
He is Vash the Stampede, the most dangerous outlaw in the entire world, and yet, despite the swirl of deadly rumors surrounding his person, curiously, there has never been a recorded instance of him actually taking a life. But the sheer wanton destruction that follows him is more than enough to send people screaming in fear. It is no surprise, then, that the largest bounty ever has been issued on his head -- the staggering price of $$60,000,000,000.
Those who hunt him to try to cash in on the huge reward usually walk away injured, beaten, and utterly humiliated, with their heads spinning. But most of the time, those who encounter Vash don't even realize it, for one very important reason: who would suspect that a gigantic, outlandish, ridiculous, comical, donut-scarfing buffoon could be the most dangerous man in the world?
Who is Vash the Stampede? Are his destructive escapades nothing more than random luck and blind chance? Will anybody be able to catch him and cash in the huge, $$60,000,000,000 reward? And, most importantly, can such a ridiculous clown really be the most feared outlaw in the world?
Part of its new Signature Series line, Geneon (previously Pioneer Video) has re-released some of its older anime catalog to the market, but at heavily discounted prices. This is such a fantastic thing that I may start to weep out of unabashed pleasure and happiness.
Anime on DVD has always been a serious financial investment. The Trigun series, for example, runs eight discs, and previously had a MSRP of $30 per disc. Ouch. Many a fan has pulled out his/her hair in frustration trying to figure out how to take a second job at night to afford their favorite anime series on DVD; and many, out of frustration, have turned to less-than-legitimate sources to acquire them, more out of financial necessity than misanthropic intent.
This is the best possible thing to have happened to a series like Trigun, a series that enjoyed extreme success on the Cartoon Network, but on DVD has always been financially out of reach for all but the most hardcore fan. Now, all the curious, the casual fans, or those simply scared away by sticker shock can get into the show properly. Exactly as it should be!
Trigun has one of the most slow-building, progressive, marvelous plot developments of any anime series. It starts off so carefree, light, comical, even slapstick, before slowly progressing into more serious subject matters. Slowly, the story gets darker and darker, more grim and dismal, until the incredible, apocalyptic climax. It is hard to believe that Trigun, when comparing the start and ending of the series, is actually the same show.
This means Trigun has it all -- action, adventure, romance, science fiction, cowboy gunslinging, pathos, misery, sadness, and on and on. You name it, and it's here somewhere. Even more impressive, all the elements seem totally harmonious with one another; the romance never overshadows the action, the humor never overshadows the grimness. And boy, does it ever get grim!
This balance sets Trigun apart from other one-trick animes. Other shows do action better, for example, but not comedy. Or other shows do comedy, or drama, or science fiction better, but suffer in other departments, this lack of balance manifesting as an inherent flaw, an unbalanced state of enjoyment. The most amazing thing about Trigun is that, after all is said and done, watching it is one of the most enjoyable experiences you are likely to find in anime, not because any of its individual elements are particularly stunning, but because they are so immaculately balanced to perfection.
Simply put, Trigun is just awesome. The story is amusing, yet gripping; the action impressive, but never over-the-top; the character development is diverse, detailed, and full of feeling and genuine empathy -- the characters literally go through hell by the end of the series and suffer dramatically for it. No secret, obviously, that this is personally one of my favorite anime series; I tear pages out of my thesaurus in frustration, for I lack enough positive adjectives to accurately express and describe how flat-out good Trigun is.
It's good! Er...really good! Like...totally good! It's so good that you won't even believe it. Really! It's...like, um...
...Great? Yeah! That's it!
These reissued discs are identical to the previously released versions of the series, each disc getting approximately three to four episodes and a handful of extras. Trigun: The $$60,000,000,000 Man features episodes one through four of the series, plus a few character sketches and photos of lukewarm appeal. Interestingly, all four episodes are included on the same DVD track, separated by various chapter stops. This seemed to be a strange system at first, but it does allow you to watch all four episodes continuously, back-to-back, which is insanely convenient for marathon watching.
Both a Japanese Dolby 2.0 and an English Dolby 2.0 track are included, and while the English dub does a fine enough job, relatively speaking, it cannot hold a candle to the native Japanese track -- Vash's character is too over-the-top hilarious, and the English voice actor fails to capture his vitality and charm accurately. Still, it should be credited as a completely functional translation, neither corny nor ridiculous nor poorly translated. Both tracks sound virtually identical, with well-balanced stereo sound and excellent bass response. However, the English dub seems more conservatively mixed, with the dialogue in particular being meek and unobtrusive, almost hard to hear at times. In comparison, the Japanese dialogue seems punchier, much louder in the mix, almost to the point of being overpowering and boisterous.
Trigun has one of the best anime soundtracks around, an eclectic fusion blend of slide guitar, cowboy riffs, and electric rock and roll, complete with shredding guitar solos, horns, and rock drums. The diversity of the musical influences on the soundtrack and its unique style has the potential to attract many interested sets of ears, far beyond the normal niche genre of anime soundtracks (strictly otaku-only, for the most part), and well worth shelling out your hard earned money for.
Visually, the transfer is sharp, clear, and fairly clean, with vibrant reds, a solid black level, and only the occasional smattering of dust or dirt. The image suffers some problems, however; while black lines are detailed, some particularly nasty edge enhancement is noticeable, along with a peculiar chromatic shimmering where black lines alternate colors back and forth rapidly. And, even more peculiarly, the second episode is radically different from the other three, almost blurred in its inherent softness. Unlike the relative sharp, muted tone of the other episodes, the second episode is murky, blurred, and very color-saturated; the colors tend to bleed everywhere, and everything appears out of focus. It doesn't look bad, mind you, just very noticeable in comparison to the other three. However, every version of this episode has looked this way that I have seen, so I suspect this is simply how the original source material looked. Overall, the visuals ain't perfect, but they still look impressive enough.
Nothing can make me happier than seeing a fantastic series like Trigun re-released affordably on DVD. Nothing. Not even gold-plated kittens with ice cream sundaes being held by naked girls.
Kudos to Geneon on this one -- though I love the show, I have long held out from acquiring Trigun on DVD simply because it was too gosh darn expensive. But now, I could not possibly be happier to pick up every single episode, like I always wanted to.
If you haven't yet experienced one of the most accessible, enjoyable, and memorable anime series ever conceived, then time to saddle up, boy, because now you've got no valid excuses.
So not even guilty, my friends. A pat on the back for Geneon, plus a sugar cookie!
Also, all naked girls with gold-plated kittens and ice cream sundaes are hereby ordered to the judge's chambers.
The gold-plated kittens are optional. The ice cream, too.
Review content copyright © 2004 Adam Arseneau; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 1998
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Concept Sketches
* Photo Gallery
* Trigun @ TheOtaku.com