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Manga in Minutes: Trigun, Vol. 1

Trigun, Vol. 1Trigun, Vol. 1
Created by Yasuhiro Nightow
Dark Horse, 360 pp
Rating: 14 +

One of the stand out anime hits from the 90s, thanks to frequent airings on Adult Swim, Yasuhiro Nightow’s Trigun is a mash up of sci-fis, westerns, action, comedy and more!

With Dark Horse in the process of re-releasing Trigun Maximum in omnibus style collections, I thought it would be a good time take a look Trigun. The story follows Vash as he wanders a futuristic desert world, roaming from city to city seemingly aimlessly as he gets into one misadventure after another. The first volume doesn’t really have much of a central plot, it’s all set up, establishing the reputation of Vash and introducing us to the duo who form the core of his supporting cast, Millie and Meryl, a pair of insurance agents assigned to follow and help mitigate any damage Vash causes. Along the way we’re given bits of backstory, hinting at the world’s origins and the reasons for Vash’s odd status as a living, walking, disaster area. Vash’s pacifistic streak and murky past seems to cast him into a similar role to that of Kenshin from Rurouni Kenshin, and both characters do seem to have quite a bit in common.

Visually the book’s a bit of a mess at times. It’s detailed, dynamic and stylish, but the panels can feel incredibly cluttered and the action scenes are laid out strangely at times, with odd choices in the transitions, angles, specific shots and such. The gun fights are often hectic at times, and it seems like the panels are barely able to contain the action Nightow wants to jam into them. His character designs are always unique and there’s a variety of body types and faces used, something that’s often underrated or overlooked in modern manga. His character designs here are pretty solid, with Vash being the obvious stand out. Even in black and white the long coat, spiky hair and sunglasses make him for an eye catching and memorable design.

I was a little hesitant about reading Trigun after my first taste of Nightow in the form of Blood Blockade Battlefront. Sure, I enjoyed the anime, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the manga will be readable and, frankly, Blood Blockade Battlefront really didn’t do much for me. Trigun was definitely fun, though the artwork could get a bet impenetrable at times. Despite that the characters and story have all the charm, humor and action that made the anime such a hit.

Trigun, Vol. 1 is available from Dark Horse Comics.


The manga is interesting to compare to the anime. You get more information about the Plants and their life cycle. Millions Knives makes more sense as a character name when his power is to create energy knives. The people of Gunsmoke are in a bit more of a serious situation in the manga. There are various things like that which were either changed in the anime, or cut entirely.

On the other hand, the manga is a bit of a mess.

But that isn’t the real problem.

The real problem with the manga is Trigun Maximum. Nightow didn’t stop once the anime aired. He went on and wrote around 15 more volumes of manga. And Maximum just goes on and on. Some bits are pretty good, but mostly it stays a mess. Worse is when Maximum duplicates storylines from the latter half of the anime. Wolfwood/Millie is a lot clunkier in the manga, looking very much like it was shoehorned in to match the anime. (The manga doesn’t do that great a job on Vash/Meryl, either.) So does Vash shooting at the moon, not when the manga has set up a very important reason for him to not do such a thing.

I’m a Trigun fan, but I honestly can’t recommend that anyone read the entirety of the manga. Probably less than halfway through Maximum, I was just hoping for it to end, myself.

@Billy – Well, I’ve got the second volume of Trigun, so I’ll be cracking into that one in a few weeks and I’ll be posting a review of it afterwards. Whether or not I decide to give Maximum a look really depends on how I’m feeling about the series after Trigun, Vol. 2 at this point.

I’m a little bummed to hear that you think it’s something of a mess though. I loved the anime so much that the idea of finding out more about the world and characters is pretty tempting, but there definitely seems to be quit a bit of negativity surrounding Maximum from the fans.

Him adding in elements from the anime series is… interesting though. I can’t think of too many other times were a manga series which served as the basis for an anime was influenced by its own anime adaption. o_O

Any interest in the Trigun one shot coming out later this year? It’s apparently a collection of short Trigun stories by other manga creators, and it includes Nightow’s “Badlands Rumble” manga short as well.

I got the first manga at a used bookstore, because it was cheap and I enjoyed the anime. But the art was a real sticking point; the layouts and characters were drawn so stylistically that they were hard to follow. Thankfully this was toned down during the anime, where it didn’t seem like characters had four-foot-wide shoulders.

There are parts in the latter half of Trigun(Maximum)that are good but my sticking point was that the art became incomprehensible. I am eager to get the oneshot. from what I’me seen it’s could be great.

@Neil Kapit – The Anime’s action scenes were a lot easier to follow, that’s for sure. I actually like most of the over the top character designs, but I can see where it could turn some folks off.

@Diarra Harris – The art gets worse as it goes on? That… seems horribly backwards. You’d think it’d improve over time. Oddly enough, this makes me want to read it more just so I can see how bad it gets. XD

The manga is definitely guilty of being over-cluttered with action and it really does botch building character relationships. Fine.

But, that doesn’t mean that Trigun Maximum is bad.

I disagree that the drawing style gets worse. In fact the character designs get better, if anything. Look at Vash’s design between Trigun and Trigun Maximum and you really see Nightow refining his style.

But, the main point where the manga really shines is with the villains: Knives, Legato, and the Gung-Ho Guns. Nightow gives most of them well drafted backgrounds that diverge greatly from their anime counterparts. While these characters didn’t really need much development, honestly it enhances the characters. In the anime, many of them felt really flat. Revealing actual motives for the characters really enhances their role in the story. Hell, for this reason, the manga-only GHGs are some of the best characters in Trigun.

Legato and Knives are a lot more interesting in the manga, too. Not only do they have motives that make more sense, but their abilities are also a lot better explained.

Also, the manga’s a lot more sci-fi with an abundance of futuristic tech that the anime barely scratched. It definitely enhances the sci-fi western aspects of the story and action.

I recommend you keep going, especially if you’re a fan of the anime!

The possibility of finding out more about the Gun-Ho Guns and the world and it’s history is one of the things that’s had me interested in the manga for a while, so it’s nice to know that if I continue with it I’ll be getting more of that stuff.

I’ll probably give Maximum a try, unless the second volume of Trigun really goes south all of a sudden. Beyond that I guess we’ll just wait and see though.

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