A signal reaches into the darkness of space. This signal is the hope of the people of planet Gunsmoke, a desert planet that is just barely able to support life. It’s resources are dwindling and the plants are dying, humanity can’t hold out for much longer. Wolfwood, a gun slinging priest, lets out a prayer “Grant us hope to reach tomorrow… Amen”.
Call it an act of god, a miracle, or just plain luck, but at that very moment “Hope” was received. It’s a signal of acknowledgement from fellow earthlings. Things have gotten better and humanity has once again settled on the blue marble we call earth. Warp drives have been invented, and rescue ships are incoming. Now, it will be only a matter of years until that hope comes fruition. A celebration breaks out, Vash and the gang join in… After the party Vash wanders the derelict spaceship and he feels the anger of someone truly terrifying.... Knives
Knives has decided not to outright kill Vash, but to “Cause him ultimate suffering”. Two men ponder on their impending doom. Midvalley The Hornfreak, a musician who uses a baritone saxophone to kill his enemies with sound waves, and is forced to be a tool of destruction for knives. Midvalley wants to leave everything behind and abandon the Gun Ho Guns. Then there’s Hoppered The Gauntlet a man who has abandoned his humanity to become a human bullet. He is driven by a lust for revenge to “Vash The Stampede” why is that I wonder? I’m not too sure myself, but one thing is for sure. They have no intentions of obeying Knive’s order, to simply cause him “Ultimate suffering”. No, to achieve what they want they must kill Vash The Stampede no matter what!
Meryl and Millie have been really underrepresented so far. Thankfully they’re both back and in full force! I don’t think there’s a single chapter where the two aren’t present. There are plenty humorous moments with these two (Like the picture above) and they play off of Vash and Wolfwood perfectly. However that isn’t all their characters contribute to in this volume. In what I’ve read of the manga and in latter half of the anime Meryl and Millie felt little more like passive onlookers to the story rather active participants. They never felt like they were vital to the main story, and when it came time to do battle with the Gung Ho Guns they never really helped out. This is addressed in this volume as we see shear ferocity and supernatural abilities of the Gung Ho Guns. These guys are on a whole other level than them as they are just regular human beings. This is made apparent when the Gung Ho Guns kidnap Meryl to use as bait to lure Vash. Millie is eager to help her friend and is determined to go with them but when she faces one of the gung ho guns she freezes up and panics. In the meanwhile Meryl, bewildered by the gung ho gun’s purpose, gets filled in on just what Vash is and about his brother Knives. Through meryl we get to see more of vash’s backstory, as Vash shares his painful memories with her via his angel arm. While Meryl does become a damsel in distress, it never feels like it does so just because she’s a woman but because she’s just a regular human being. When she does get free she becomes the ace in the hole for team Vash in a “Reservoir Dogs” type standoff. Also, while Millie is very weak and is incapacitated by Wolfwood to have her stay out of the fight,she comes through in the end and saves Vash from an ambush. Something I appreciate as well is the lack of “fan service”. Most Manga would have very dubious angles often used to reveal cleavage and underwear. However, so far in the Maximum series I haven’t detected any of that. As a matter a fact Millie’s character design feels like anti fan service. She’s very big and tall and has a body the shape of a rectangle and at times looks very mannish. Her somewhat intimidating character design is contrasted with her genuine and childlike personality but she’s far from weak. She has a cool looking gun that fires a large metal “X” meant for incapacitating rather than killing. It’s a very unique looking gun that suits her perfectly. Meryl on the other hand has a more traditional character design but is never sexualized in any way.
As the manga progresses the story gets more and more separated from the anime. For one thing in the anime there was never any indication that Gunsmoke was becoming inhospitable. However here we can see that there is a new story arc that involves getting the people off the planet Gunsmoke and back to earth. I find this quite interesting as it brings out the more Sci-Fi aspect of Trigun. We meet the last of the “Gun Ho Guns” some of which are presented very differently from the anime as well as some new characters that are exclusive to the manga. Also, as you can see in the above image, there is more conflict between Vash and Wolfwood than just morals and personality. Newcomers to the manga should find lots of new content and characters never seen before in the anime.
The gung ho guns have been dropping like flies; it’s been obvious that they won’t be able to kill Vash. It’s become formulaic and it’s quite apparent that Vash has plot armor (Albeit with a good explanation). Thankfully it seems Nightow has realized this. Hoppered and Mid Valley talk about their clash with Vash and how they’ll probably die like the other “Gung Go Guns”. They contemplate and come up with a plan. They’re motivated by different things: Hoppered is trying to take his revenge on vash for destroying the city of July. While Midvalley is trying to escape his inevitable death. This makes them a bit more sympathetic in my eyes as all other Gung Ho have been somewhat one dimensional. Their back stories are revealed albeit somewhat vague. The most fleshed out of the two is Hoppered as he used to live in July. It’s more or less how it was in the anime however we get to know about the people who lived there. As well as what kind of life Vash was living as he bonded with people he considered his friends, only to destroy them with his angel arm. It’s some great stuff that adds depth to Vash’s character as well as to Hoppered (For as short as we knew him). Also I have to mention Legato, while he’s technically not a Gun Ho Gun he still has a lot of presence and is very intimidating. He’s a very dark character and provides some of the more interesting art in this volume.
As the story goes into a different direction, comes darker moments. While in the previous volumes had its fair share of dark moments, this volume is filled with them. The backstories of the gung ho guns are explored, revealing tragic and bloody scenes. Knives also contributes to this as he’s literally massacres an entire city. While not entirely explicit it can be disturbing for some people. This is especially true for fans of the anime. You see, Trigun was originally published under a Shonen manga magazine. For the people who don’t know what Shonen means, it’s essentially a demographic term used to refer to “Teenage Boys”. Later Trigun was moved to a Seinen magazine the demographic being: Young Adult Men (Both of these terms are a bit more complex than that but let’s leave it at that) I mentioned in my review of Trigun Omnibus that I had suffered a “whiplash” of sorts when trying to get into the manga. This is because I was expecting it to be just like the anime, but the reality was different. So let me reiterate: This is NOT like the anime. It hits a lot of the same notes of the anime but it feels very different. The dark tone may put off some and attract others.
It’s taken me a while to review this, and I’ll tell you why. I had a very hard time following the dialogue in this volume. It was very confusing half the volume I was saying in my head “What the hell are they talking about?!” there’s huge lack of explanation in the Gung Ho Guns’s backstory. For example one of the Gung Ho Guns backstory he is quite literally just a torso riding on a skateboard. Then we see him taking care of a blind woman… who is for some reason with this guy. It’s never really explained, I mean, I get that it’s better to show not tell but that’s not what’s happening. It’s just something you just have to figure out for yourself. However if you want your villain to have pathos then you have to give me a reason to feel sorry for him, but if you give me no explanation as to who this woman is to him then you can’t have that pathos. Then there are the scenes with Hoppered and Mid Valley. The dialogue feels very off, the first time I read it had no idea what the hell they were talking about. Upon rereading it for the third time. I found that the dialogue more comprehensible. But that was my third time through I had already read the moments it was foreshadowing and had looked up the explanation on wiki, and even so the writing felt very…. strange. I don’t know what it is; maybe the translation is too literal or perhaps it’s just bad writing
This volume was very mixed for me, on my first reading I didn’t really care for it. The dialogue was cryptic and confusing and left me feeling puzzled. It could be something that’s lost in translation but as it stands I’ll chalk it up to poor writing. However on my second and third reading I took my time and was able to understand it better. While my point still stands it I still enjoyed it and appreciated Meryl and Millie’s presence in this as it is much better. This volume also cements the fact that Trigun is very different the anime.
Trigun Maximum Omnibus #2 is available on Amazon The entire series is also available Digitally on Dark Horse Digital