Since I started this blog, a few people have asked me why I decided to name it REDGUNNER5. Well, the easy answer was I’m not necessarily creative when it comes to titles and that happens to be the name for my old AIM account. There is a more sub-conscious reason for me choosing the name, however, and it might ultimately be bullshit but here we go anyway. It is a nostalgic reference that goes hand in hand with my blog’s intended purpose towards communicating my feelings towards particular art and entertainment. The name is a reference to the anime series Trigun.
I’m sure plenty of you already know about this series, but for those of you that don’t here’s a brief summary. Trigun is a 26-episode anime series based off of Yasuhiro Nightow’s eponymous manga, that aired in Japan in 1998 and later on America’s Adult Swim in 2003. The story is set on a desert planet in the distant future, that seems to be a mesh between Tatooine, Dune, and Robert Rodriguez movies. It focuses on an outlaw named Vash the Stampede, a mysterious gun slinger in red who many people blame for causing colossal damage and mayhem where ever he goes. Thing is, we find out almost immediately that Vash is the victim of a misunderstanding, as he’s a pacifist, a defender of the innocent, but perhaps most blatantly a goofball. Those expecting Trigun to be a bloody shoot em’ up will find themselves shocked, as the series actually starts out very much a comedy, but its second half actually becomes dark and serious once we discover our protagonist’s past. Joined by a group of similarly affable characters, Vash very well goes on a journey to save the world from an impending evil threat. If my synopsis does the show justice, than hopefully you’ll feel that it sounds fairly familiar in regards to other anime series. It is in a way, and that’s exactly why I was drawn to it!
I was 13 at the time, and had recently discovered how Japanimation really fit my sensibilities. I had been playing a lot of RPGs at the time, and I was really attracted to stories that had cool sci-fi technology, exaggerated weapons, and a real sense of epicness to them. It didn’t take long for me to decide that I wanted to collect anime (rather than watch it edited on Cartoon Network) and I found Trigun was a hot topic at many comic book stores. Yes, this is before Trigun aired on American television, and I immediately found this was a series I needed to own, watch, and obsess over. I asked for it for my 14th birthday (on VHS!) and wouldn’t hesitate to say it’s on the shortlist for best birthday presents I’ve ever received.
I did indeed love the bejeezus out of Trigun. It was everything I wanted from an anime as it was action-packed, emotional, colorful, and had plenty of cool characters (including bad-ass villains!). I laughed, I cried, I felt completely immersed with this crazy cool space western that was seemingly made for the inner teenage boy in all of us. It’s funny too, as I remember in the weeks before I saw the show I was growing a bit disinterested in anime. I remember some of my peers would ridicule me for watching “cartoons” and my family didn’t understand why I liked it either. Trigun, however, turned out to appeal to some of my friends after I introduced it to them, and we all bonded over it.
I feel that everyone (fanboy or otherwise) had something from their teenage years that they cherish as being their one and only favorite, and Trigun was definitely mine. It wasn’t obscure enough for me to feel like an outsider for being a fan, but it wasn’t nearly as recognizable as others. It felt almost like a great personal secret, that was just for me and a few lucky others. It was my favorite anime series at the time, even amongst Cowboy Bebop and Neon Genesis Evangelion which I can now admit were better. Trigun, however, really identified with me and it’s likely because of it’s protagonist of Vash. Vash was kind, inquisitive, and naive, very much like I was back them and in a way still am. I remember I used to tell people that I loved the show’s team of villains (The Gung-Ho Guns), but now I realize it was because they added depth to Vash’s plight. I found it fascinating that Vash had an oath not to kill, even when confronted by these evil pieces of shit that would mercilessly gun down civilians just to fuck with poor Vash’s head. I was legitimately choked up by the series, and felt bad for the hero.
I remained a Trigun fan throughout high school, rewatching the show, adorning my wall with posters, and collecting the entire manga series, but this acted as both a blessing and a curse. Every so often I’d find a new schoolmate that would like the show, but I found that my friends in my year were moving past it. I remember feeling upset whenever someone told me they didn’t care for the series, especially when they said it was for the same reasons that I loved it. I myself eventually saw myself grow more interested in checking out American comic books, just as Marvel movies were become ginormous! Still, I have no regrets for being a long standing Trigun fan. Purchasing the manga (which I now kind of consider a jumbled mess that’s inferior to the anime, but that’s another story) showed me the benefits of being a comic book collector. Plus, the series really let my imagination soar. I constructed in my head a whole sequel series to Trigun, where I lifted both elements from the manga and of my own into it. While I would often discuss with my peers how I hoped they would one day make a Trigun sequel, in actuality I was just fine with the one I had constructed in my head. After all, I feel half the fun of liking any fiction is filling in the ambiguous blanks, thereby making the universe partially your own to play in as well.
Eleven years later, after I received all eight tapes from Pioneer’s original release of Trigun, it’s impossible for me to look back at the series without a smirk arising on my face. I am now at the point in my life where I can read a Don DeLillo novel or discuss the hidden meanings of Ingmar Bergman’s Persona, but that shouldn’t make me forget the fun and liberation I received from this “teenage-boy show”. Since the time when I stopped following anime, I do realize that a Trigun movie has come out, yet I have not watched it nor plan to anytime soon. Instead, I think I’ll save it for a special occurrence in the future, when I decide to revisit the series (hopefully with a kid of mine). Until then however, I just have to say this: Thank you Trigun! I couldn’t have asked for a better course on nerd 101!