Trigun, the Manga

A quick comics note here. A couple of people, upon seeing that the “Trigun” manga was in my stack felt obliged to warn me about it. Hoo-boy, were they right.

Trigun was one of the titles I looked at during my big anime experiment. I was finally trying to get into anime, see what the fuss was all about. One of the titles that seemed interesting was Trigun, a blend of sci-fi and western elements. The lead character, Vash the Stampede (who doesn’t look at all like someone who’d be selling DVDs at Borders books) is an ace gunfighter with a huge bounty on his head, yet two insurance agents sent to keep him out of trouble find he’s actually a shy pacifist. Seems okay.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the high level of goofy in the anime. It turns out that the thing is supposed to be a comedy, and in this case largely involving wacky hijinks and broad physical humor. Everything that appealed to me about it was canceled out by the sheer silliness of it all.

When I saw the manga versions of it available, I thought I’d give it another chance. After all, I still liked the concept, and I liked some of the designs, so perhaps it would work better in this form. After all, as a rule, I don’t like watching much stuff on TV, so this was perhaps part of why I couldn’t get into anime in general, and this one in particular.

The warnings from John Jakala, Shawn Fumo, and others were spot on. The manga suffers from the problem that it’s nearly incomprehensible in many parts. Despite being a comic book, neither the words nor the pictures convey the action. There are two storylines in which, despite re-reading it several times, the conclusions are completely unfathomable. Something happens at the end of it, Vash does something that solves the problem, but damned if I can tell you what it is. There are also entire pages that feel like panels randomly selected from other comics, that don’t seem to be holding together any kind of plot at all.

I don’t know which came first, the manga or the anime. I know that some of the bits in the manga were in the anime, but I can’t tell you if they were handled better there (though, out of my problems with the anime, not knowing what the hell was happening in it wasn’t one of them.)

It’s really a pity because, like I said, I like the idea, I like the character of Vash, and the manga hints at a backstory that I’m curious about, but unless someone can tell me that the art and writing improve significantly, I’ll never know how it turns out. I will say that the sheer goofiness of the anime didn’t come across so much in the manga (though it was definitely there) so it’s really just the art and the writing — which some may argue are the defining traits of a comic book — that are holding me back.

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