Thursday, March 25, 2021

. . . And Between the Wasteland & Sky

Wolfwood: "Well I'll be. I'm actually surprised that you can smile like that."
Vash: "Huh? What do you mean?"
Wolfwood: "You had me kinda worried. I noticed you always smile and seem really friendly, but the way you smiled was so empty it hurt to watch you. You're hurting like crazy on the inside, yet you grin and bear it."

It's been a very long time since I talked about the subject this blog was named after. I've always thought Trigun deserved more recognition than it has but never felt the need to really go into detail about it. To be quite honest, I didn't feel like there was much of a point of bringing it back up until I remind myself just how much it influenced what I do now. So that will be the subject for today. I think I owe it a bit more proper focus than I have given it in the past.

For those unaware, the title of this blog Wasteland & Sky comes from an episode title of the anime Trigun. The full moniker is . . . And Between the Wasteland & Sky and it's the title of the eighth episode. The reason I chose it is a bit hard to explain aside from the fact that it neatly sums up the whole series and is a phrase that stuck with me since I first saw Trigun back in the '90s. Choosing it as the title seemed to fit perfectly with what I cover here.

What struck me specifically is what the main character, Vash, says during the preview for this episode. Every episode has, instead of a typical episode preview describing what happens next week, Vash usually describing something tangentially related to the events of the story. But this one was a slight bit different. It marks a turning point in the series and gives the game away as to what the whole shebang actually about.

"People who sin say this: that they had to, to survive. People who sin say this: "It's too late now to stop." The shadow called sin dogs them steadily from behind, silently without a word. Remorse and agony are repeated only to end up at despair in the end, but the sinners just don't know that if they'd only turn around there's a light there, a light which keeps shining on them ever so lonely. A light that will never fade."

I wasn't in a very good place when I first saw Trigun back in the '90s but it is a series that helped me work a lot of things out when I least expected it to. That isn't very common with me when it comes to art. So, if anything, I felt I owed it something in return. Hopefully a blog title by a weird action writer will suffice. And if I by chance sell you on watching it, then I consider this entire project worth the effort.

For those unaware, Trigun was originally a manga series by Yasuhiro Nightow that ran from 1995-2007 across two different magazines. It began as shonen, an action series for boys, for its first couple of years before it was revived after the magazine went under as a seinen, an action series for adults, for the last chunk of its run. It had a bit of a troubled production history behind the scenes, but the manga was a huge seller nonetheless.

Nightow began his career as most do with one-shots, most of which you cannot easily find online and have never been printed in English. He has a bit of an odd view of the world in contrast to most mangaka in that he never utilizes mindless violence just to set mood--every life is viewed as precious and everyone is worth saving. Its a theme that carries over to every work he has done. This might come across is a sort of simple humanism, and maybe it began that way, but it certainly changed as he went on. It definitely changed with Trigun.

After publishing a one-shot for the popular SNK fighting game Samurai Spirits (Samurai Shodown in the west) he was able to quit his job selling apartments and began a career in the manga industry that has lasted to this day.

"When I look at you, I’m reminded of everything I hate about myself. You know, it hurts." ~ Nicholas D. Wolfwood

When he began research for his first series, he wandered into learning about Christianity, specifically Catholicism, and it changed his thought process tremendously. This ended up being the backbone of Trigun, and everything he's done since.

At this point it's a bit controversial, since the internet keeps scrubbing old information, and that the Japanese don't like talking about their personal beliefs in public, so I can't outright say Nightow is a Catholic, but I can say it definitely affected the way he approached storytelling from here on out. Nothing he has ever done has gone against it, retaining that moral core he started with way back in the 1990s. I'm not going to speculate except to say that there is a reason his works have such a strong western appeal.

Before we go any further, let us first talk about what Trigun is actually about. I'm going to start with the anime because that is the version that is best at summing up the back story and adding additional stakes to the proceedings. It also retains a bit more wonder and is what I believe the superior version of the story, though both are worth experiencing.

Be warned there will be some vague spoilers, but that is really unavoidable in this case. I would recommend simply watching the series if such a thing bothers you. I can't imagine being into anime and not having seen it, to be quite honest.

In the distant future, humanity has left Earth behind for the stars. In the anime we are never told what precisely happened to cause it except that we wasted what we were given. All we have left is hope for a better future than the past we left behind. On the way towards a new home world there is a disaster and the ships are forced to land on a desert planet in the middle of nowhere. From these ruins, the remnants of humanity attempt to survive their seemingly doomed fate.

Hundreds of years later, humanity is now a lawless group living like outlaws in the west. Violence comes quick and hard. A bounty is set on a man named Vash the Stampede, the Humanoid Typhoon, an outlaw known for destroying everything he comes across and has 60 billion double dollar bounty on his head. The series starts as we join two insurance girls as they follow the rumors and attempt to catch up with him to prevent further damage from happening. But the man they meet up with is anything but what the rumors suggest.

Who is Vash the Stampede and why is the world the way it is? These mysteries form the backbone of what happens next.

For the first half of the series, we follow Vash around as he gets into crazed situation after crazed situation, somehow managing to appeal to the good in even the most monstrous man and somehow bringing that to the forefront. He is a gunslinger, but does not even fire his gun until episode 5. He acts like a goofball who lucks himself out of bad situations. Is this the legendary outlaw? Whoever this man is he doesn't seem to be what he presents himself as.

And he isn't.

During the episodic adventures of the first half of the series, Vash stumbles across a preacher in the desert. This man, named Nicholas D. Wolfwood, states to be wandering the land attempting to spread the Good News, but simply has no luck and always ends up in situations like this. He and Vash get along surprisingly well, having a lot in common, and more than the audience thinks. Though that is explored in more detail later.

"Luck and persistence won't work forever." ~ Nicholas D. Wolfwood

The hard turn around the middle of the series throws a lot of people off who were hoping for or expecting a lighthearted action adventure series. However, this turn was always hinted at earlier in the story. When we begin to learn what Vash is and who his enemies are, the series moves from being highly enjoyable into being a classic. This relationship between Wolfwood and Vash ends up being pivotal to the entire story.

Now there will be real spoiler talk. Avoid if you don't want to know what happens in Trigun, but again, definitely watch it for yourself regardless.

As the series goes on, the tone changes, but it only really changes to reveal what was already there to begin with. The anime writer and director were just very clever about subtly hinting at everything to come.

The first episode alone hints at a number of things that will come into play later, even if the events themselves don't seem to matter too much. The point is that this is who Vash is and this is his life, to be hated and persecuted by those who misunderstand his cause. It isn't a shaggy dog story, not everyone spits on him, but that who he is matters a lot more than we are first told. It ties in very well with the overall themes of the series.

This is an old video by the defunct JesuOtaku which went into the production process behind Trigun and talking about the first episode, but the series covering it was never finished. Only a chunk of the first half was explored. It's very interesting if you desire to know more about the anime. You can see the first edition here:

Let us talk about one thing that the first episode sets up.

One aspect of Trigun to note is how the dual suns on this alien world are used. It's very subtle and hard to miss at the same time, but it becomes more obvious as the story goes on that they are meant to represent eyes. Whose eyes? Well, that becomes more obvious as the series progresses. But the hints are there in the very first episode.

It's also hinted at in the episode quote above.

Let me emphasize:

"Remorse and agony are repeated only to end up at despair in the end, but the sinners just don't know that if they'd only turn around there's a light there, a light which keeps shining on them ever so lonely. A light that will never fade."

The writer and director all but spelled it out.

The first time the dual suns are shown is looking down on Vash as he encounters danger, right after his first reveal, and the second major framing on them as at the end of the episode as he walks away from town and the townspeople joke of a "Miracle without God" and laugh before the camera pans up to the eyes silently watching what has just happened. This is the first hint as to why they are used the way they are.

Every point after this the suns are used to look down on characters during pivotal emotional and plot-related turns (including being particularly blurry as if crying when someone is made to execute another character) as if silently watching but actually with them as they act.

This sets up the theme of the story early, being heavily weighted around Christianity and sacrificial love, a God that always remains with you. You might not even notice this touch on a first watch, I sure didn't as a teenager, but it will still affect you while you watch in ways you won't even understand. When you see what the series is actually doing you won't be able to do anything but have a higher opinion of the entire project. The thing is, it's so good at doing this sort of thing subtly that it puts most "Christian" art to shame.

This expands to the backstory, which explains how the humanity that doggedly pursued progress despite ignoring the sins they left behind ended up here. Their past mistakes is what caused their downfall and near extinction at the edge of the universe.

It ends up being two characters, Vash and Knives, that change them forever. And they aren't even human.

Humanity escaped to the boundless recesses of space, away from the world they were given. Lost among the stars they came upon two strange babies on their way through endless space. It is hinted that they are plants--beings that live in the energy reactors and supply life to humans on their voyage. But this pair aren't quite plants, in fact they are somehow a lot like humans. They learn, adapt, grow, and even love. What they really are is never really explained, and it is for the better. As they get older, the two brothers, Vash and Knives, start to see the human world they were born into quite differently. And neither one of them are necessarily wrong about it, just incomplete.

Raised primarily by a young woman named Rem, the two youths are given a glimpse into her hopeful vision of the future, a world where humanity can live in peace. Rem lost everyone she cared about back on Earth, including her fiancé, leaving her with nothing but this journey towards the future to stake her life on. She explains to the pair how humanity has failed time and time again, but that they learn a little bit more each time. Eventually, they will reach their own Eden. It's an inevitability.

Vash buys into this right away, since he has a more hopeful view of humans after meeting the ones he has on the ships. Knives, however, sees a truth that the others are skimming over a bit and it ends up sticking with him. It is significant that these holes in Rem's ideals is what allows Knives to come to the opposite conclusion. Because his conclusion, while ultimately wrong, cannot be argued with by her one-sided ideals. And because they can't give him an answer, one that explains humanity's penchant for sinning (though he doesn't use that word, he doesn't have the vocabulary), it ends up destroying them all. This is a significant point, one we will always deal with even here on Earth. It's not one we can shed by escaping to the stars.

Humanity destroys, they leech, the pervert, and they hate. For every step forward, there is always a step back that quite often undoes any good we do. What guarantee do these people have that they are any different than the ones that ruined Earth? That they won't spread their poison to other worlds and do even worse than they did there? How are humans worthy of being allowed to exist? Earth being destroyed was a sign, wasn't it? A sign that humans deserve destruction.

Knives asks this, not maliciously, but as a naïve child who wants to know the truth. But Rem can't really answer it except to say that she has hope things will change. For a kid who wants answers, this sounds like an excuse, and it eats away at Knives, especially as he sees the vices the other crew members engage in, which are the same as the ones back on Earth. These people are lying, he decides, they are no different at all.

As time goes on, Knives slips into madness with these thoughts, unable to accept that these evil creatures be allowed to pollute other worlds. He sabotages crew members and, eventually, the ships themselves. They can't allowed to pollute the universe further: they must die. He is the one that forces humanity to land on this barren rock, though he was hoping for them to die in the wreckage instead. Thanks to Rem's self-sacrifice, Vash, Knives, and the rest of humanity is saved, though barely. But it comes at a great cost.

While humans struggle to survive on this dead world, Vash and Knives continue to argue, their conflict reaching a fever pitch. One night Vash stands above his sleeping brother, ready to crush his head with a large stone, but can't do it. He doesn't understand how he can protect all life when he considers it so valuable. how can he justify killing at all? Wasn't this world supposed to be different? Knives takes advantage of this weakness, and the two's relationship explodes in violence with Vash shooting someone for the first time--his own brother.

Their conflict only grows fiercer as the years go on. Eventually, it begins to take down entire towns and settlements, though from the shadows. Humanity is hanging on by the barest threads. How can Vash protect them if he can't control the monster inside of him?

"I was dreaming, Rem. Everything was so horribly dry there on that planet, even people's hearts. As I watched the people who lived there from far away, I kept wondering why they went on living, how they kept on living. Rem, listen to me, Rem. I did a bad thing. I did a bad thing. Tell me? What should I do?"

For hundreds of years afterwards, as humanity rebuilds, Vash wanders the land helping people from behind the scenes, doing what good he can without any thanks or recognition. His body covered in scars and his memories filled with those who have died, he carries on alone. His red coat symbolizes the dream of Rem he carries and hopes to fulfill--it is the color of her favorite flower. No matter what happens, he will someday defeat Knives. Despite this endless battle, he is a little happy. It is enough for him to see others prosper, even as he suffers his own battles alone.

Knives, almost fatally injured from his last encounter with his brother, heals his body like a plant would, removing his scars and keeping his rage buried in the pits of his stained soul. He spends most of his years hiding in the dark and licking his wounds. Nothing changes for him. He still wears the exact same outfit he did when they first landed on this rock, strongly asserting that he has not changed at all, and never will. Using his rage and vicious intellect, he recruits soldiers to his cause: Humans who have given up on humanity and have accepted their punishment of oblivion. It isn't as if he had to try very hard to convince them when you see the wasteland the remnants of humanity lives in. They will be the ones to wipe out our existence, but not until they first destroy Vash the Stampede.

One such character that epitomizes the ultimate form of Knives' beliefs is a man named Legato Bluesummers, a pure nihilist who sees no value in any existence, including his own. thanks to all the mutations and cybernetics that occurred due to landing on this world, he has powers of his own. Legato has the ability to control bodies to his own whim, able to show human beings what they really are when faced with their impending mortality. Of everyone in the series, Legato  has the highest body count next to Knives. His confrontation with Vash is possibly the most important one in the entire series, especially as the ultimate ideal of Knives' ambition.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Wolfwood. Wolfwood is Legato's polar opposite and the full fruition of Vash's ideals. But not as we see them while they are alive. Both Legato and Wolfwood only reach their ultimate form as they die, giving both Vash and Knives the final push they need for their final stand off. It is only in death that we become the ultimate form of what we strive to be, and so it is here.

"Why don't you go ahead? I would welcome this to be my time. After all, there's no reason for such an egocentric, incomplete life like mine to be allowed to continue anyway. Give me the gift of nothingness. Give me death." ~ Legato Bluesummers

You see, while the series can be said to ultimately be about Vash and Knives and their conflict, it is actually about the competing and complete views of Wolfwood and Legato that they achieved on death. Legato achieved the nihilist wish of oblivion in his attempts to drag others to hell, and Wolfwood achieved atonement and forgiveness in his attempts to save others. One was lead to Hell, the other to Heaven.

It is also significant that the two never actually interact with each other through the story. It is only through Vash and Knives that their influences are shown.

Wolfwood and Legato both lived through the same misery on this planet at the edge of the wasteland, but they each took different paths through life. Legato gave up on everything, accepting that his role was to inflict the misery human beings deal out back on them as a just reward. Wolfwood struggled with meaning in life and death before finding the cross to hold him up through the endless tribulations that comprised his existence.

An aspect of Wolfwood not usually discussed is his role as a supposed priest. The thing to note is that he isn't one, it's his cover. But it also isn't a total lie. He is a follower of Christ, using this faith as his only light through the darkness of the desert around him. He has killed because he had to, never because he wanted to, but his proficiency with weapons and violence has always eaten at him. What if Vash was right? What if there was another way? What if he was the one who was wrong? That he is recruited to be a member of Knives' forces is notable because the enemy has misjudged and misunderstood him. They wanted him to be a priest for Knives' oncoming apocalypse, but he couldn't go through with it because of who he actually is inside. He could never harm innocents, not after being reminded by the very man he was meant to kill that all life is precious.

Much is said about Wolfwood's death scene, and it is definitely one of the most powerful scenes in anime, full stop. Where Legato's death is a victory for the character in one sense, it is ultimately a defeat for him in another. Wolfwood's death comes from a defeat, but it is ultimately a victory for him. As he leans on the cross in an abandoned church, he makes a confession--something he could never do before, spilling everything out for God to hear including things he had nearly forgotten about. He laments everything he has done wrong in his life and what he could have done better, making the scene far more emotional and impactful than you would expect for a space western adventure story. It is at this point he realizes there is always a chance at redemption, a second chance. Despite the absolute misery he has been through and his struggles to do the right thing, he still clings fast to the knowledge that this world is worth saving. We all have value.

"Has everything I've ever done in my life been a mistake?" is still a line that gets me today when I re-watch the series. It is a question neither Legato or Knives could ever utter. Despite his regrets, Wolfwood dies peacefully under the cross, embracing the Living God who forgave him of all his sins.

"Would I be wrong to ask for your forgiveness? I did not want to die this way."

Both Wolfwood's and Legato's deaths destroy Vash. Someone who clung to Rem's ideal that life was precious and everyone could be saved, that the future was always open, was proven wrong. Legato devalued himself to the level of trash and made Vash take him out like he was nothing, turning the gunslinger into a sinner. Wolfwood was his greatest friend, the missing half of his personality, and he couldn't save him from death either. For someone who has the ability to avoid killing as easily as Vash does, someone who is supposed to protect humans with his superhuman skills, to be forced into such a helpless state of sin obliterates his soul.

It is only from understanding the true nature of forgiveness and hope, the reality of sin, and the words of Wolfwood, that he is able to recover from his spiritual death spiral. His naïve humanism wasn't enough to save anyone, least of all himself, sending him into this pit of despair. Legato was right, there will always be those who choose evil willingly. So what is the point of hoping for an Eden that will never come? But it is through his experiences, and those around him, that bring Vash toa new understanding. What he needed was more than Rem's gullible hopes and words: he needed to be complete. Inheriting Wolfwood's cross, Vash was now fully realized and could take on his brother, ending this conflict for good.

Vash would fulfil his promise to Rem. He would take care of Knives.

Much has been said about the final episode of Trigun, so I'll keep it brief. When Vash and Knives meet for the last standoff, they are now the fully realized versions of themselves. Vash has his optimism and hope, but he also has the cross to hold him up, and a drive to do what needs to be done. He must stop Knives from harming anyone ever again. Knives is also complete, fully empty, haggard-looking, and still wearing the same garb as he did hundreds of years ago as if nothing had changed. They are now the perfect ideal form of both Legato and Wolfwood, and the final confrontation is set to prove just who was ultimately right in their view of humanity.

However, the final decision Vash makes at the end of the series is still controversial for a lot of people. Many think the ultimate message is that he didn't learn anything or that doing nothing is morally right. After all, how could he spare Knives after all he has done? But those reasons are not why Vash chose not to kill Knives.

To understand his decision, you have to understand two major things. The first is that Vash used something he never had before to defeat Knives--the cross. He used it to obliterate Knives' ideals for good--you can see it on his face after he has been shot to near death. The second are his final lines in the series. It is his speech to Rem where he thanks her for everything she did to get him here. But he also tells her that he has to move on, and throws his coat, the one he wore to carry her spirit, away. He is not acting under Rem's guidance when he chose to spare Knives, but under his own new understanding of the value of life.

Vash isn't the same person he was at the beginning of the series and the reason he chose to spare his brother is because he now comprehends redemption and forgiveness, forcibly putting his brother's evil to pasture and leaving him utterly annihlated spiritually. Now he has the chance to save his soul, something he couldn't do for Legato, and takes up this cross for himself. It is Vash's first new step in the new world he will create for himself, and the rest of humanity.

"Repeated tragedies, repeated pain, the wishes of man are so strong and yet so frail and weak. To live, to stay alive, who would have known survival was this hard...this painful? I must choose. I must make the choice, in the moment that intertwines life and death. Can I choose to remain a human?"

The series ends with a water well being discovered in the nearby town for a reason. The world is not over, and Armageddon has passed. Now they can build a future, better than the one Rem imagined possible.

Suffice to say, Japan really didn't know how to take this ending. You see, the manga for Trigun hadn't yet ended when the anime aired. The manga had been put on hiatus and had been brought back in a new magazine by the time the anime had been greenlit. This meant that Nightow, the head writer of the anime, and the series director, all more or less had to create a new ending for themselves. What happens in the manga isn't quite the same, though it is good in its own way. It's just not as powerful as the anime, which isn't a fault. Few things are that powerful.

As a consequence, the manga's story goes off in a bit of a different direction, being more in depth in back story and introducing a whole swath of characters that never showed up in the anime. Manga readers were taken aback. The more subdued and grounded, and explicitly Christian, ending of the anime also bewildered Japanese audiences. As a result, while the manga was a huge hit, the anime never grew beyond a cult favorite in its home country. It was only when it went overseas that it became a phenomenon, and achieved its fame.

We've already discussed what was going on with anime at the time. There was a shift happening away from action and adventure towards insular otaku bait. An outright bonkers and foreign concept like Trigun was completely out of their wheelhouse, even with a studio like Madhouse behind it. Nonetheless, time has been kind to it and Trigun is recognized as a classic today all over the world. Its popularity was enough overseas that it even received a movie. They really don't make them like this anymore, if they ever even did beforehand.

For another analysis of what makes Trigun tick, check out this one by SuperversiveSF:

Stepping away from spoilers, I also wanted to mention a few other things about those who made it. Let us first start with the dub cast for the series. 

Trigun is one of those few series actually is the better experience as a dub. Some of the character voices might be a bit wacky for one-off characters, but the casting for Vash, Wolfwood, Meryl, Millie, Legato, and Knives, are far above the Japanese version. Nightow saying the canonical language being spoken in the series being English also probably helps to get what he wants across, too. Nonetheless, there is a reason Johnny Yong Bosch hit the big time here after his first voice-acting role as Vash. He is pitch perfect.

Another party to note is the soundtrack. Composed by Tsuneo Imahori, the music consists of a mixture of hard rock, acoustic ballads, western twang, rockabilly, blues, and even both traditional western and Japanese stylings. You can hear an example of it below. Imahori is my favorite anime composer for a very good reason, and the Trigun soundtrack remains one of the best. Special mention should be made of the electric guitar riff and feedback on every episode title, signifying a distant arrival on some intangible force or revelation sneaking up on you. It is excellent stuff.

But much of the credit has to go to three individuals who really pushed the series forward. Without them, Trigun would not be close to what it is now.

The first is the aforementioned Yasuhiro Nightow for writing the original story, concept, and characters. Trigun put him on the map, and let him to create two more series with just as explicitly Christian themes after this. The first is Gungrave, a story meant to be the opposite of Trigun in showing a descent into sin and despair from a rejection of the Good. The second is Blood Blockade Battlefront, a story about the supernatural crashing into the natural and what can be done to balance the chaos towards peace. Both of these were also hits, proving his talents are quite real.

Next up is the director, Satoshi Nishimura. Nishimura is a lover of action and was quite the fan of the Trigun manga when brought on to direct it as his first series. He butted heads quite fiercely with the head writer, who wanted restraint and asked Nishimura told hold off on Vash shooting his gun for five episodes. It's because of this restraint that allowed Nishimura to really fly off the handle when the action was able to be let loose. It's his direction which balanced both Nightow's intent with the head writer's vision that gives the series the striking image it has today.

Nishimura would go on to direct other anime favorites with Hajime no Ippo and Ushio & Tora as well as involved staff in a lot more projects, including many others you certainly know quite well. I'd list them, but he's been everywhere and done everything. Looking at the amount of things he's worked on, you can tell he knows how to handle action and was the perfect choice for director.

Last, but not least, is the head writer, Yousuke Kuroda. He is a prolific anime screenwriter whose name should be far more well known than it is. It is because of his leadership abilities and focus on story above all else that lead Trigun, a story that didn't yet have an ending, to receive a complete anime adaption that managed to surpass the source material and break out big overseas. He didn't write "anime", he wrote stories for anime, and that's quite a big difference. Though he and Nishimura apparently had a volatile relationship over this struggle of their extremes between action and themes, it ended up helping the series and allowed both their talents to be used to the best of their abilities. They are both well aware of how important Trigun is to a lot of people. 

For examples of Kuroda's work you might know, he has worked on the following anime series as head writer: Gungrave, Excel Saga, Drifters, Hellsing Ultimate, Honey & Clover, Infinite Ryvius, s-CRY-ed, Magical Girl Pretty Sammy, Mobile Suit Gundam 00, Gundam Build Fighters, and My Hero Academia. He was also one of the writers on Tenchi Muyo and Tenchi Universe, as well as the manga. Suffice to say, if you know anime, you know his work.

It is no coincidence that these three talented individuals not only created the Trigun anime, but also many other great things before and after it. You would have to be talented to make this series. Trigun is anime at its peak.

So, in conclusion, that is why this blog exists at all. If you detest anime or hate it, you might not understand any of what was just written. But it is what it is. Without Trigun this blog probably would not exist, and neither would I as a writer. It's a series that deserves more attention than it has gotten, especially from the weeb crowd who cling to far more subversive material from that time period instead.

If you've never seen Trigun, go see it. If you haven't seen Trigun in years, go see it again. If you have no interest in anime . . . well, that's a shame. you are missing out on a fantastic action adventure tale about faith, redemption, and sacrificial love. Consider this the strongest recommendation I will ever make on this blog. Go watch Trigun. There is nothing else like it.

I can't say it'll affect you like it did me, but that's just art. You never know which ones will click the most for some people. But it does highlight a lot of what I intend to do on this blog.

We also stand in the border between the wasteland and the sky, fighting our way through. Sometimes all we need to do is pay attention, to look over shoulders, and we might find that light shining down upon us. Who really knows what might be waiting for us ahead?

That's what makes it so interesting. No matter how many times you stumble you can always get back up. No matter how low you fall you can always see the light shining from behind you. And that is a world worth fighting for.

Stories of light on the edge of despair


  1. This is a great exposition on a great anime JD. It did make me want to go watch Trigun again, as it has been years since I've seen it.

    I never realized where the name of this blog came from, so thanks for the explanation.

  2. Thank you for linking to the Superversive video!

  3. I will say you are the first and only person Ivknow who say the anime improved on the manga.

    That said, there are few scenes more iconic than the moment Vast slams his hand into the ground to reveal the waiting Cross.

    1. I know there are purists who prefer Nightow's comic book approach to the manga more than Kuroda and Nishimura's more cinematic take, but I do think the anime boils it down to the essentials which makes it hit harder overall.

      That's not to sell the manga short, but the anime is definitely the preferred way to experience the story.

  4. Wow I've finished Trigun a few weeks ago and been thinking about it since. I'm always happy to see Christian themes in any art and I'm glad it was in Trigun.
    Good work on going into an analysis of the Christian themes and mentioning that Wolfwood exists! All the other reviews I've seen on Trigun don't mention the Christian themes at all, not even a little bit, and they don't even mention Wolfwood as a character. Well Good review and analysis on a great story!

    1. Thanks for reading! It was a long time coming, so I'm happy to finally give the series the treatment it deserves. It's good to hear that people are still watching it, too. Trigun really deserves the attention.

  5. The issue that Vash had is that hid philosophy due to things like the July incident had become warped. His original goal was to try and save everyone but he turns it to "Never kill", convinced that killing people makes him a sinner, thus broken. Hence his motivations were always on some level selfish.

    Only after killing Legato does Vash grow enough to recognize that hyperfocusing on how his philosophy affects him is actually a selfish way of looking at things.

    He goes into the Knives battle with his philosophy matured - he will try to save Knives, but if he needs to kill him, he will. Thus when Vash is fsced with the option, he rejects the perspective of Wolfwood and chooses life, as he has all along - but this time with his conscience clear and his motives pure. He isn't sparing Knives because killing him makes Vash a sinner. He spares Knives because he believes that is the right thing to do.

  6. I followed your blog because .. How could I not love another Origin fan? Thank you for writing this! I will share it with my daughter, who loves the series too.

    1. I should add that I did not appreciate how well the storytellers wove Catholicism into their story. Which explains this:

    2. Yes, I think the wrong word was used in that scene, probably due to trying to have it make sense for Japanese audiences. It was more that he was realizing the world he wanted to be in was not one he could have in this life. The wording might be wrong, but the intent was clear.

      Thanks for reading! It is a great series.