Trigun Ends

So I finally finished Trigun this week. Ultimately, I wasn't very impressed with the series and I would probably rank it near the bottom of what I've seen. Most of my initial thoughts of the series still hold, with some minor shifts in focus.
  • Vash continued to be a likeable character - a Columbo-esque bumbling gunman - though towards the end of the series he takes on a more whiney emo style. I found this somewhat annoying, especially since the series kept covering the same thematic ground (there is one particularly tragic moment in the 24th episode where this could be appropriate, but even then, they overdo it).

    Vash the Stampede

  • The tone of the series continued to vary wildly from a silly, practically slapstick comedy to a stoic and deadly serious drama to madcap action sequences. For the first 15 or so episodes, the emphasis was pretty firmly in the slapstick realm, while things got progressively more serious and darker as the series ended. As you might expect, the exaggerated and stylized expressions continued to appear, though their frequency decreased as the series progressed (i.e. as the series got darker). The series also strays a bit from its steampunk Western roots and incorporates more and more science fiction into the mix. However, I found much of the SF presented to be just as problematic as the steampunk elements in that I found myself getting caught up in the minute details and missing the forest for the trees.
  • The series definitely contains too much filler, and could easily have been fit into 13 episodes. Indeed, the person I had identified as the primary villain in the previous entry isn't actually the primary villain. You don't find out who that is until the 16th episode in the series. Minor spoilers, the main villain is Vash's brother. It turns out that Vash and his brother Knives are not human, though it's not clear what they are or where they came from. They seem to me to be genetically altered humans or something, and the flashbacks make it clear that they are superior to humanity in several ways. Vash seems to take this to heart and loves humanity (as he is taught by his primary caretaker, Rem), while Knives seeks to destroy the inferior race... though I'm a little unclear on why he wants to do this. Such villainy is difficult to understand, and the series never quite establishes the real motives behind Knives' compulsions.
  • There are a couple of flashback episodes, but the series still generally conformed to 1 or 2 episode arcs with a video game style boss-battle at the end of each arc.
  • The animation remained poor, with continued overuse of the single cell panning technique described in my first post.
The series does go for a couple of plot twists, but I found myself somewhat unmoved at most of them. This is probably because the series never really drew me in and thus I never really made a great connection to some of the characters. For instance, there is an unexpected death somewhere in the last few episodes. The death itself didn't really bother me, but I was somewhat moved by Milly's grief (surprisingly, Milly seems to have more of an arc in the series than Meryl, who doesn't get much in the way of closure).

The ending makes a certain thematic sense, but I found the execution be somewhat dull and anticlimactic. It was pretty obvious what was going to happen - it's not like the theme hadn't already been established over and over again throughout the series. I suppose there is an element of ambiguity in the ending, but I have to say that I'm not particularly interested in exploring various interpretations.

So this is the first series I've watched and pretty thoroughly disliked. It had its moments, and for a good portion of the series, it was watcheable, but something didn't really jive with me. In the comments to my last post, I said:
I have a hard time articulating what it is that I don't like about this series. Everything I come up with seems like a nitpick or a rationalization. Nitpicking is almost always symptomatic of a deeper distaste for something, I just haven't really figured out what that is. It might be the tonal schizophrenia, but then, I don't mind huge shifts in tone in other things. Indeed, watching a movie like From Dusk Till Dawn, the best thing about it is the tonal shift (IMHBCO). Perhaps I can like FDTD because it's only one big shift, and the two tones are similar in structure, if not in content. Maybe it's the combination of things. Tonal schitzophrenia, steampunk, wacky animation, and a story with too much filler. None of these things inherently bothers me by itself, but combine them and I'm not doing so well.
I've got no new insights as to why the series didn't click, it just didn't. In any case, I've got several other series in the queue. I think Noir or Samurai 7 (I'm leaning towards this because it's on Blu-Ray, and is thus only 3 discs) will be next.

As usual, more screenshots and comments (and perhaps some major spoilers as well) after the jump...

The SEEDS Fleet

The sixth disc started with an episode that had this image of a fleet of starships. I momentarily thought that I screwed up my Netflix queue, putting Banner of the Stars II ahead of Trigun, but it turns out that this image begins a lengthy flashback that describes Vash's past and how the planet was colonized. I was a little disappointed that I wasn't watching Banner II, which just goes to show that I didn't like Trigun much.

Vash and a fallen ship

I just really like this visual, though it's indicative of what I don't like about the series' overuse of panning on still shots.

Regular Knives

Maniacal Knives

On the other hand, this series of two shots shows how effectively human emotion is communicated through a couple of simple (ok, exaggerated) changes to facial expressions. Still, the continual use of cheap animation techniques was somewhat grating to me.

Legato vs Vash
Legato vs Vash

I loved this shot of Legato's final showdown with Vash. Major spoilers! In the showdown, Legato's real purpose is not to physically defeat Vash. Rather, Legato seeks to force Vash to break one of his own rules. Vash has sworn to never take a life, so Legato set up this situation in which the only way for Vash to survive would be to shoot Legato. The reason the shot is brilliant is that Legato is higher in the frame, towering over Vash. This position is usually a sign of strength, and thematically, Legato does indeed have the upper hand in this situation, despite the fact that he is unarmed and Vash is pointing a gun at his head. I found this bit of visual dissonance rather clever, but unfortunately, the next couple of shots ruin it by having Vash stand up and showing Vash from a low "camera" angle (which visually ephasises Vash's power, despite the fact that Vash is actually succumbing to weakness).

Knives vs Vash
Knives vs Vash

Unfortunately, Vash's showdown with Knives is not as visually interesting and is indeed anticlimatic. The battle takes maybe 5-10 minutes of screen time, but I was distinctly reminded of the pointless fight sequences in the Matrix sequels.

Wolfwood and his big gun
Wolfwood's Big Gun

At some point during the last 10 episodes, you see the full power of the cross that Wolfwood carries around. I'm not positive, but I'm pretty sure they only animated this one pose of Wolfwood holding his weapon, and then changed the backgrounds on at least 2 or three separate episodes.

Big Smile!
Big Smile!

Though it is curtailed in the last 10 episodes, the absurdly stylized art is still present.


And I shall leave you with one more pic of Meryl, because, well, because I want to. It's a good pic, right?

That does it for Trigun. Again, not positive what Anime I'll be watching next, but it'll probably be Noir or Samurai 7.