OWLS: Legacy Blog Tour

For my first OWLS post (excited to be a part of the tour!) I wanted to take a quick look at someone who might not be a traditional mentor maybe, but whose legacy I think is pretty similar in some ways:

Nicholas D Wolfwood.

I chose Wolfwood because I think his influence on Vash is probably the most significant in the anime, though I haven’t read the manga yet. In the television series it’s pretty clear that Meryl and Milly have an impact on Vash, as do figures from his past like Rem and Knives, but Wolfwood is probably the strongest catalyst for change when it comes to the present.

I’m going to dive right into spoilers here, so apologies if you catch a glimpse of something – but perhaps the most obvious way Wolfwood’s legacy appears in Trigun is a very ‘plot-based’ manner right near the end with his Punisher.

Yet, Wolfwood’s life and death clearly have bigger repercussions for old Needle Noggin’.

Over the course of Trigun we see Vash struggle often with Wolfwood’s approach to justice. They respect each other despite differing methods and common goals tend to ensure they work together well.

But Nicholas spends a fair amount of time basically urging Vash toward violence. Of course, Vash always resists this and it takes a few big events, including Wolfwood’s death, to finally drive Vash to break his own moral code. I think it’s possible to argue that without Wolfwood’s death weighing upon him, Vash might not have been able to actually kill Legato.  

Equally, I think Wolfwood tries to absolve Vash of some of the guilt he obviously feels at not being able to save everyone he meets. This must help a lot. For Vash, wandering Gunsmoke for such a long time, human but clearly not human also, who actually remains that could offer such solace or understanding? Not Rem and certainly not Knives. Maybe Sensei? But I don’t think Vash would want to burden Sensei whereas Wolfwood’s job is to take on burdens… so maybe Vash accepts that?

In the end, Wolfwood’s legacy seems to allow Vash some absolution during life but also to be inexorably tied to a (temporary) breaking down of his pacifist views, and so maybe it’s a mixed one?

Trigun: Badlands Rumble (Toraigan baddorando ranburu)

Trigun: Badlands Rumble (Toraigan baddorando ranburu) 2010

I’m sure I’ve led a review with something like the following statement before, but I imagine following up on a classic, even with the same team, must be both exciting and daunting. For me, I feel like Trigun: Badlands Rumble had a lot of the familiar elements I was hoping for, along with some fun new stuff too. Ultimately, it’s unfair to compare a single movie to a series but I imagine fans of the original will still enjoy Badlands Rumble without being necessarily over the moon about it – and I myself liked it plenty 😀

The film opens with a great, self-contained prologue that has tension, comedy and action in typical Trigun fashion. It works as a great reminder for (or introduction to) folks about the tone of the storytelling and the setting too – along with doing a great job highlighting Vash’s trademark goofball pacifism.

The story is essentially about catching a thief but there are a few players whose hands are not revealed too quickly, and a lot of competing interests which kept me guessing at times. I believe in the lead-up to release of the film there was some talk of the movie being ‘Vash vs Wolfwood’ but that’s not the meat of the story at all. It’s also still firmly a western but includes those sneaky sci-fi aspects too.

Obviously, as a feature film the budget and animation quality is higher than the TV series (which predated the movie by 12 years) and it’s a welcome update for sure, but the characters were the main draw for me going in.

In terms of character, when I saw Badlands it was a lot like that ‘meeting up with old friends’ cliché and so it was hard to untangle nostalgia from the experience. But still, Wolfwood’s appearance is a great little surprise, and while I’m always craving more time for he and Vash to interact, the film widens the scope beyond the usual team to give thief Gasback (one of the main antagonists) and bounty hunter Amelia more screen time, which I really enjoyed because it expanded the world of Gunsmoke nicely.

One thing I wanted to also quickly mention was the ‘sympathy for the devil’ trope that’s pretty popular across all entertainment mediums – I always consider it a bit manipulative on the part of the writers, since it makes it easy to forget that the character it refers to is actually a bad chap or chapette. Of course, it’s also a sign of more nuanced characters so that’s always a plus.

It was also really nice to have Tsuneo Imahori responsible for the OST again, as I really loved Sandstorm for one, but it’s equally gratifying to see the original voice cast reunited too – as ever, I reckon Masaya Onosaka kills it as Vash. (Oh, and for an idea of the increase in production values check out the saloon rumble!)

4 Stars  

Where’s Wally – or Vash, anyway

Blood Blockade Battlefront (Kekkai Sensen)

This’ll be a fairly short review today but it’s still a great watch, I reckon.

Blood Blockade Battlefront (Kekkai Sensen)
2017

As Trigun fan I was curious about Blood… when I first heard about it; it’s a couple of years old now but I remember being excited too – I was expecting action and Yasuhiro Nightow’s kinda zany humour, and I got em both in this one.

Maybe Blood Blockade Battlefront falls down a little for me in terms of the way some of the plot threads are handled – there’s much left to the viewer to infer from knowledge that is probably clear in the manga but absent from the anime.

Still, what it lacked in that department was more than made up by the purposefully flashy (and fun) other elements like the battles, creature design, setting and bold characters. Will definitely be seeking out the second series – but a quick warning, if you do watch this one be ready for Episode 6 which is far more sombre than the rest of the series.

(Another plus – the end credits theme song is pretty snappy, most folks seem to like it better than the intro from what I’ve read :D)