Trigun (Toraigan) (1998)
The final shoot-out!
While hardly so divisive as the ending to Neon Genesis, there are a fair few disappointed folks out there when it comes to Trigun’s conclusion.
It’s not an unfinished series, and it’s not the discontent from “it’s not like the manga” that I’m throwing out here in this post either, but something I guess somewhat different… but more on that below.
[Spoilers of varying degrees from this point onward]
So, the leading episodes first.
Wolfwood is quite the scene-stealer and I think you could argue that he does this in the final arc, as his exit during the previous episode hits pretty hard. It’s a bitter end to Vash and Wolfwood’s friendship, to the influence they have on each other too, and the ramifications continue into this arc.
You could certainly argue that his death is in service to Vash’s character development but it certainly functions within his own storyline too.
I say that because, like many other deaths or injustices in the series, they seem to operate (not only) as justification for Vash to finally, directly take a life. Legato and Knives have pushed Vash so close to the edge that, when he must chose to save Meryl and Milly by killing, he does so – and the pain that act causes is a neat, cruel time-bomb left by Knives.
But again, I think of it as necessary in order for the audience to accept Vash’s action, after all the pain he bore to save lives and prevent death in the preceding 20-odd episodes.
Okay, to the ending itself finally.
As I said before, I think the conclusion to Trigun is inevitable and it’s also very clearly set up. That doesn’t mean I found it entirely satisfying, but I don’t think the anime could have ended any other way – Vash was always going to save Knives, rather than take revenge.
Here’s why I think that:
- Vash is shown to be a pacifist, often and convincingly.
- Rem is kind of Angel-like and her memory functions as a paragon, and one Vash has been striving to live up to for over one hundred years.
- Rem charged him with “taking care” of Knives, which doubtless means not just protecting, but redeeming his brother somehow.
- When Vash kills Legato, we see that even killing an enemy has quite the impact on him (and the storyline paused to show us that with episode 25) making it clear that he’d never be able to do something similar to his own brother.
Okay, so, having made that list, I definitely wish that Knives had experienced a different consequence for his sociopathic reign.
It did not feel to me that he’d earned forgiveness, nor Vash’s almost infinite patience, and so the final shoot out between them, while impressive, had less of a visceral impact for me. In fact, I think the final flashback (of their years together after the crash) ended up being more compelling.
And I’ve always wondered, actually, what would the final episode be like if we saw the shoot-out first and then the long stretch of their past together?
… and there it is, six posts on one of my favourites 🙂 If you’ve never seen Trigun and it’s already on your list then I think you’re in for a fun ride. It’s one of those shows that feels like it has stood the test of time pretty well – and coming up on 25 years old soon!
But before I finish up (for now) I’ll quickly mention a few quick things like usual:
- I’ve always wondered whether the narrative ‘punishes’ Wolfwood and rewards Vash for their respective lifestyles.
- Poor Milly!
- (I forgot this last post, but ‘Empty Smile’ guitar piece from the OST seems usually to be directed at Vash but its obviously aimed at Wolfwood instead during #23).
- Animation quality goes up here in the last few eps.
- Of course, as with many villains, Knives is deeply hypocritical – he still uses Plants himself for example.
- …and finally, Milly’s laugh after the boulder is pretty great.
I think I will do a gallery/extra bits and pieces post tomorrow for fun – so one more Trigun post coming tomorrow sometime!