On the desert world of Gunsmoke, outlaw and absolute pacifist "Vash the Stampede" is being sought after by two young women: the tall, ditzy Milly and the tiny, short-tempered Meryl. They work for an insurance company that's getting bankrupted by all the property damage caused by Vash, collateral from the ridiculous fights he tends to get into, resulting in his nickname of "The Humanoid Typhoon". The reason? Vash has a bounty of $$60,000,000,000 (sixty billion double-dollars) on his head, and every Bounty Hunter on Gunsmoke aims to collect in true Wile E. Coyote fashion.Wacky hijinks ensue for a few episodes, then the mood darkens. Lots of people die, in many cases slowly and horribly. Survivors discover new things about themselves. Personal growth takes place. There are hints of romance. Mood gets still darker. For the eggheads out there, there is even a fair amount of analysis of certain aspects of Christian theology (though Jesus is never mentioned by name), as viewed from a very Japanese perspective, having to do with the contrast between pacifist ideals and the moral obligation some characters perceive to protect the innocent even if they must kill in order to do so.In 2010, Yasuhiro Nightow started a modest series of new works for the Trigun universe in anticipation for the movie: Trigun Badlands Rumble. First it was a two-chapter story, going by the same name as the movie, drawn by Yasuhiro himself it serves as a preview for the movie. The second was a One-Shot, Trigun: Rising, it is a short tale about Rai The Blade, one of the original Gung-Ho Guns, drawn by Yuusuke Takeyama. The third, and final, was another One-Shot, entlied Trigun: The Lost Plant, a story set 6 years after the original manga ending; it was drawn by Boichi and later published as an extra for the 12th Volume of his own series, Sun Ken Rock.This series has a character sheet. Feel free to expand on it.An exceptionally thorough and entertaining analysis of the first fourteen episodes of the anime can be found here. The English dub was one of the flagship shows of [adult swim] (along with Cowboy Bebop) and helped to set the mood that the sub-channel was simply for mature audiences and not necessarily "adult" audiences.The show, formerly licensed in the US by Pioneer/Geneon and now licensed by Funimation, is on YouTube, Hulu, and Netflix.
And Now for Someone Completely Different: Trigun The Lost Plant, introduces Verona Tsubasa, a woman following Vash around on search for the titular lost plant; the setting is placed six years later the original manga ending, Verona is the real focus of the story, Vash is just kind of there, and no other characters make a return, in fact, they are not even mentioned.
Aerith and Bob: With names like Vash the Stampede, Legato Bluesummers, and Millions Knives...names like Meryl Strife and Milly Thompson don't exactly seem to fit.
Averted for Meryl and Milly. Strife = Battle, Conflict, and/or War. Thompson, as in the Thompson sub-machine gun, the defining firearm of 1920s-'30s American gangsters.
The whole world is a mess of Midvalleys and Brads, so not genuinely averted, even if the main cast gets a pass. And Nicholas D. Wolfwood manages to straddle the line with a perfectly normal Awesome Mc Cool Name.
Their names are probably based off of Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin, the actresses.
After the End: Just living on Gunsmoke, the planet, in the first place. The fact that they wound up there after an attempt to escape a ruined Earth went wrong. And then in the manga Armageddon-via-Knives kinda comes and goes and the story carries on.
A God Am I: Knives's megalomaniac tendencies and belief that he is a kind of noble crusader or even a kind of Jesus figure. Then it gets worse.
All Love Is Unrequited: The anime has Meryl's growing love for Vash, but both adaptations can have this with Rem.
Almost Lethal Weapons: Vash does everything he can to never take a life. Oddly enough, when there are casualties, it's either because the Monster of the Week stepped in, or the townspeople were hurting each other just to catch the guy.
A Man Is Not a Virgin: Subverted by Vash, especially in the manga (though his totally-not-sexual-harassment-but-excruciatingly-inept-flirting-with-ladies in the anime can be seen as a sign of sexual frustration). He fakes being passed out in order to avoid the "favors" of already-paid-for-by-jovial-benefactor prostitutes, spends an inordinate amount of his free time thinking about his dead mother figure, doesn't want any woman to see his scars and avoids any kind of romantic or sexual relationship, be it with Luida, Meryl or Jessica. He may have had sex before, but his scars and the fact that Knives's henchmen endanger everybody close to him probably prevent him from doing so. As for manga Nicholas, the gag covers suggest he has a scandalous love affair with... a blow-up doll!? Make of it what you will.
Knives...is rife with sexual imagery. Dripping with Does This Remind You of Anything?Especially when he's absorbing his family members. It is also really damn hard to imagine him ever having any actual sex.
Badass Adorable: Young Knives. Vash occasionally even grown. The girls periodically.
When was young Knives badass and adorable at the same time?
It's hard to take Legato seriously when every time we see him, he's eating. Hotdogs, cakes, ice cream...
Badass Longcoat: Vash's coat is basically an elaborate red duster, which was inspired by the dusters worn by gunslingers in Westerns. Vash has probably one of the most extreme examples of this trope. In the show's opening and at other times, Vash's coat is shown billowing in the wind looking considerably longer than usual. But then, the Rule Of Cool applies here, I guess.
Also keep in mind that, in Japan, red is the traditional color of the hero. It's explained that Red Geraniums (Rem's favorite) mean "determination".
Barbie Doll Anatomy: Manga Knives lacks certain "parts"; similarly, the female plants lack nipples.
...the blankness on Knives may be mere artistic license censorship, given the way it's drawn. And given that if they'd been born with no genitalia they would have been default gender-id'd female, and Rem raised them as boys well before they had the bones or muscle development to suggest it...
Beard of Sorrow: In the anime, Vash grows one after he Heroic BSOD's after the incident with Legato during which time Meryl and Milly are taking care of him.
The Bechdel Test: Passes thanks to Meryl and Milly who may talk about something other than a man, especially at the beginning of the series. Then again, the only time they ever mention a man is when it comes to their paid-mission of tracking and following Vash.
Berserk Button: Vash snaps if he witnesses mass murders or if he gets mind raped; Knives snaps even harder than usual if Vash contradicts him; and Vash must be Meryl and Brad's Berserk Button...
Beware the Superman: What everyone tends to think of first when they start to understand just how special Vash is.
Wolfwood even has a disturbing yet awesome moment in Maximum where they're hanging out and brooding together, and he seriously considers shooting Vash (by this time firmly established as his best friend) in the back right then and there, just to get at least one of the twins out of the way. He doesn't, but Vash gives him a sad, knowing look later and Wolfwood sort of smirks and thinks, 'who am I kidding? He knew exactly what I was thinking, and he would have survived.'
BFG: The Cross Punishers and Angel Arms are the cream of the crop.
Or at least they would be, until Caine the Longshot's hundred foot long sniper rifle is taken into consideration.
One of the bounty hunters in the first episode has a gun that takes the cake for sheer impracticality: a two-barreled rifle, each barrel having its own long clip. In firing it looks like a propeller.
Don't forget the huge starship gun Chronica tries to blast Knives with.
Vash is often described with "carrying a big gun".
Bifauxnen: Though the voice and the name are clear giveaways, some people (i.e. viewers/readers) tend to doubt Milly is a woman when they first see her.
Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: The plants in the manga seem to have this until Domina and Chronica turn up from earth. In the anime we never get a good look at the girl plants. The flashback episode made it look like the infants had turned up in an airlock, implying they were extremely hardy aliens.
Well, the manga established them as a special subrace back in volume 7 when we had the flashback to the Tessla research documentation. She was a girl like them.
Bloodless Carnage: Played with; since Vash mostly aims for non-fatal shots, none of the damage he causes is really bloody. However, the manga strongly averts this and even goes to the extreme at times, and Legato in the anime does what he can to averts this. Though, on that note of the anime, the blood is usually Tomato juice or wine....Usually.
Boomerang Bigot: Done seriously with Legato. He was at least born human (prior to getting a ton of modifications), but is an Omnicidal Maniac who wants to kill all humans and anxiously awaits the day when his own boss will kill him.
There is no evidence Legato was modified—well, apart from anime Legato having Vash's severed left arm in place of his own. He's presumably a psychic mutant. This is not improbable, in the setting.
He could very well have been modded in childhood by the people he hated so much at the place where they were keeping him. At any rate they paid him more careful attention than your average boy whore, worked out he was planning to kill them all, and the simplest explanation for how they were able to use the method they did for killing him is that they developed the cancellation technology from the coin-box, and were using it. Given Legato couldn't stop his death-by-rape but after the building got sliced up a bit could brain-hack Knives enough to stay alive.
After he finally starts to learn how to use this (traumatically), the first time his angel arm instinctively puts up some 'feathers' to catch a bullet he gets stoned. And Meryl 'I Wouldn't Run Away' Stryfe breaks down screaming and hiding from him because that first time traumatized her, too. You gotta wonder why he doesn't just let us all die.
Also Knives and Vash in the manga back story. Poor, sweet little Knives.
Breaking the Fourth Wall: In the episode Little Arcadia, Vash breaks the fourth wall and says, "Hey, is that all the time I get?" It is also fairly obvious that he does it again a couple times in the series.
Bring My Red Jacket: Arguably the reason for the color of Vash's trademark coat. Debatable: In the anime at least, Vash inner-monologues about Rem and her love of red flowers while the camera pans over his coat.
But Now I Must Go: Vash, the initial premise being informed by just the type of Western that codified the trope.
Bullying a Dragon: Vash, in the manga after he reflexively puts up an angel wing to stop a bullet. The townspeople begin stoning him, which - since Vash is also The Fettered - makes the situation especially difficult for him, so he resorts to being a Stepford Smiler to deal with it. Happens also in the anime, when the townsfolk in the town he's recovering in find out who he is and proceed to tie him to the back of a pickup truck and drive around with him dangling behind.
Captain Obvious: Vash to Knives at least once in the manga. Vash tells him that his true fight should be with himself, meaning his priority should be learning to control his destructive urges. Knives misunderstands this and answers "Yes, the pain I feel is horrible. Thanks for enlightening me to the situation."
Cast From Lifespan: Vash's Angel-arm is ridiculously powerful, but every shot costs him life energy and shortens his lifespan.
Cast Full of Pretty Boys: In the manga, at least; the only seriously recurring women are Meryl and Milly, who are absent for at least half the story and fairly useless most of the time, and eventually Elendira. In the anime it's only slightly, as there are Meryl as viewpoint character and Milly as her stalwart companion, and regular appearances by women like Mary-Anne, Elizabeth, and Jessica. All the actually significant characters are still male, though.
Dominique is the only actual female antagonist, and she had only one trick and didn't last long.
Cerebus Syndrome: The manga, at least, had "moved from shounen to seinen magazine partway through" to blame for Nightow holding back and then cutting loose.
The anime just held the plot until halfway through, till they'd established the world and its people. This was probably a good idea. It would be hard to care half so much for what happens once the bad times start if one didn't already have a connection to the people involved.
Charge Into Combat Cut: In the opening scene of the first episode after an armed gang demolishes a bar that Vash was drinking in, he slowly stands up after finishing drink, adjusts his glasses and points his gun at the gang... cue a cut to another town, in which the insurance adjusters on Van's trail are introduced. We later flash back to what happened then and it turns out that his gun clicked on no bullets, causing him to run away.
Chaste Hero: Vash, possibly due to Yasuhiro Nightow's Christian overtones. Apparently, he's a Roman Catholic.
The Chessmaster: Knives. Steps up his game after the Last Run disaster reveals that he's actually mortal and just can't play around forever.
Church Militant: Nicholas in general. Chapel the Evergreen in the anime. Nicholas, Chapel and Livio as part of the Eye of Michael in the Manga.
Chekhov's Gun: Wolfwood's Cross after Vash takes it. It saves his life in his fight with Knives.
Clothes Make the Superman: Livio is only half competent without his beautiful hat and cape. Also, Vash's coat is bullet-proof and contains airco and bullets.
Cold Sniper: Some of the Gung-Ho Guns, but Caine the Longshot in the anime is the absolute embodiment of the trope. He has no lines, a huge sniper rifle, and straight-up suicides when Vash breaks it though at least in the anime, this may have been Legato's doing rather than purely his own choice.
Covered with Scars: Vash. The girls walk in on him after a shower. The prosthetic arm the audience knew about, after Monev, but the girls didn't have the angle. The scars are what he pays for trying to save everybody all the time. Of course, what some of those metal bits are doing on him is a deep mystery. What, does he have some pressing medical need to tack his skin to his spleen? Might be subverted due to him being a Plant, but apparently it would use up his energy and turn his hair dark if he bothered to heal wounds like that automatically.
Crapsack World: The world is full of gunslingers. Shootouts and property damage seem to be the norm. The planet itself is a desert and the competition for scarce natural resources is definitely bringing out the worst in people. The fear of the Humanoid Typhoon hangs over every town. Death is never far away...
This is highlighted by people like Knives and Legato.
Creepy Cool Crosses: Wolfwood. His main weapon looks like a giant cross with a gun handle in its middle. The elongated bottom spoke conceals a machine gun, the top spoke above it holds a rocket launcher, and the two side spokes slide outwards to reveal racks for about a dozen pistols. The anime also has Chapel the Evergreen of the Gung-Ho Guns, who also carries a giant cross, though his seperates into two heavy machine guns.
Man: "Whoa, this is HEAVY!" Wolfwood: "That's because it's full of mercy."
Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Vash is the definitive example, especially when he's played by Johnny Yong Bosch. He seems like a simple gangly fellow with a penchant for donuts and beer... until you piss him off. There's a very good reason why he has a $$60 billion bounty... if it weren't for the bounty being due to not only an incident he never meant to commit, but also the whole "tripping over your own feet to catch him" for the hunters after him, and the fact he, by coincidence, always ends up in a situation where he's either well-known or something bad is happening (take the Badlanders highjacking a ship for money, which he was on before hand as a passenger, or the fact he ended up in a town with a broken Plant that needed money to fix it, which lead into two notorious criminals being sent to catch him as the town couldn't).
Darker and Edgier: Again, once Legato shows up, everything goes to hell. To highlight it, we go from a rather cheery manga about a gunslinger wanted by the world, to having a shoe maker's head in a paper bag.
Despair Event Horizon: As it is set in a Crapsack World heavy on Rule of Drama and one of its major questions is whether idealism has any real meaning...so many characters, all the time. Especially in backstories, but the 'eternal suffering to Vash the Stampede' gives us a couple heroic ones in the main timeline. Meryl and Milly are actually notable for never falling to this point, in either version. (In fact, the odds of things not going completely to shit increase significantly in their presence. Too bad the guys never notice.)
Especially notable is the one Vash and Knives had when they were a year old. Their reactions were actually relatively similar—check out Vash's Slasher Smile after he stabbed Rem—but Vash due to not passing out from the starvation thing worked through his and got better, while Knives pretended to have forgotten and then...killed everyone. At least he feels kinda bad about how many plants were included in 'everyone' later.
Destructive Saviour: Vash is called the "Humanoid Typhoon" for a reason, and while he doesn't like people's homes being wrecked, the only Collateral Damage that's really important to him is human life. He's willing to die for you, but not for your car.
The dark side of this, as it were, comes up in the anime: apparently his wish to not kill anyone affected the Angel Arm enough when Knives set it off in July that he managed to wreck an entire city without directly killing anybody. But now they were a city full of refugees in the middle of a desert...
Determined Expression: Vash looks like this whenever he drops his facade of idiocy and decides to get serious. Only to be expected from a man whose byword is determination.
Deus Exit Machina: In the chapters where Meryl and Milly are protecting the oasis owned by the old couple, Vash is almost entirely absent. The plot instead focuses on giving us a better idea of who the insurance girls are. Vash even lampshades it at one point when he pops out to make a single assist.
Devil in Plain Sight: Legato out to lunch in a bar or having a sandwich on a village plaza. In the manga, Knives is seen hanging around in bars within flashbacks.
Also, Knives is swimming in bucketloads of Freud Was Right, especially when interacting with his siblings, who provoke genuine-but-psychotic emotional reactions from him. And the forced absorptions that are too rapey for words, especially the attempt on Vash. And when Vash first catches up to him after the Fifth Moon he's asleep after multiple fusions, with enough pieces of his sisters lying around not yet fully dissolved into his body that it looks distinctly like the aftermath of an incestuous orgy...
Drowning My Sorrows: At one point, Vash goes to a town and comes across a famous gunsmith who had become nothing more than an alcoholic. He had lost all energy into making guns, which were used by all the townspeople since there was no sheriff, after his wife and child were killed in a bank robbery. By the end of the episode/chapters, not only do everyone in the town (including the gunsmith) step up to take down a band of criminals, but the gunsmith stops drinking.
Environmental Symbolism: It was once stated that everyone in a town had become as emotionally dried up as the environment.
Mr. Fanservice: A few characters fit this trope, but Wolfwood is practically the archetype. Too bad his only mate is an inflatable doll, as the gag covers suggest.
Anime Wolfwood hooks up with Milly right before he dies. They complement each other nicely, and I'd hold the death timing against him except it wasn't his idea.
Even Evil Has Standards: Neon sticks to what he says and REALLY likes it when someone "sparkles" brightly. He outright refuses to kill Vash despite pretty much winning a duel they had. He even helps stop the massacre he STARTED because he agreed to do whatever Vash said if Vash won their duel.
Don't forget Midvalley! For one rather confusing fight, there was Midvalley in his white suit and Wolfwood in his black, both kind of ambivalent but fighting like hell, with the whole 'wolf fangs' theme going. Manga only.
Evil Gloating: The very minute Vash is trapped, assume this from the villain that's trapped him.
Evolving Credits: Each episode's opening (except for episode 2) shows a couple of scenes from that episode. Starting in episode 18, the wanted poster also changes to one warning people that Vash is coming.
Exactly What I Aimed At: Vash never hits a fatal spot, instead opting to hit areas like the shoulders and legs. Lampshaded in a fight in the manga: Vash is seen practicing his aim on a target board shaped like a person, but it seems he's unable to actually hit the vital spots. The villain of the chapter assumes that, because of this, he must be wounded. Turns out he was not only aiming for the non-vital spots, but he was actually able to hit those spots more than once.
Explosive Overclocking: Wolfwood after taking two vials of serum. He regenerates almost instantly from almost any wound, but burns out his life and dies shortly afterwards.
Expy: Knives has been accused of being a Vegeta Expy.
Monev the Gale is very intentionally a Venom expy.
Eye Scream: In the manga, Zazie's flies crawl in and out of his eyes. Midvalley's horn playing also seems to make eyes bleed/explode, and he even blinds Wolfwood.
The Faceless: Knives during most of the first Trigun manga and almost all the anime. Even when he does show up at the end of the first manga, much of his face is hidden by a mass of improbable curly hair — presumably because Nightow still wants to conceal his resemblance to Vash.
Face Heel Turn: Many characters, out of sheer desperation, will suddenly pull a gun on the guy they were once chatting with just for the $$60 billion bounty.
Fanservice: Lots of eye candy if you love big muscles.
Or long legs. Or glowering.
Fantastic Measurement System: Distances are measured in "iles" and "yarz," although it's never made clear whether those are actually miles and yards with letters removed and different spellings, or something different. Money is called "double dollars" ($$).
Fearful Symmetry: Vash and Knives in the anime. Very strange and gratuitous because it's extremely unlikely Knives would have the same gunfighting training and practise as Vash, having just left Sealed Evil in a Can state and being secluded from the real world.
Fill It With Flowers: Being a desert planet, the setting touches on this a lot, but especially in the episode "Little Arcadia".
Four Philosophy Ensemble: Wolfwood is the Cynic (or the Conflicted), Vash is the Optimist, Meryl is the Realist, Milly is the Apathetic (when being silly) or Conflicted (the rest of the time).
Freakiness Shame: Averted. Knives has people around him who think his freakiness is pretty damn awesome, but so does he. Meanwhile Vash could do with someone thinking his wings are beautiful, but no one can actually bring themselves to say it. His wings freak them out way too much. In fairness, they are pretty terrifying wings. (Manga) Meryl is so badly traumatized by the situation in which she first sees them that she burrows into Milly's arms and screams, the next time he reflexively puts up a feather to catch a bullet. 'Colorless Emotions' is a depressing chapter all round.
Friend to All Children: Vash. Playing with children is one of his many activities whenever he stays in one place more than a few hours, and if he stays more than a few days the local kids will all consider him their personal minion. Wolfwood doesn't play with them quite so much, but they're an even bigger part of his world.
From Bad to Worse: Frequently. Also, the apocalypse kinda comes and goes during the manga. Story proceeds.
Gallows Humour: The humour tied to Legato and Knives's insanity and to Vash goofing around in the most desperate circumstances gets particularly disturbing — so much that Nightow edited out some of the "offending" passages of the last three or four volumes, presumably under fandom pressure.
Gecko Ending: The anime — an odd example, though, as Nightow was in on the whole planning process, and many events play as a shorter dry run of things in the manga.
The show also underlines that even though it may seem so, evildoesn'tfeel good: Legato is suicidal, Knives seems to have a chronic nervous breakdown, Villainous Breakdowns abound, Wolfwood is terribly conflicted over his questionable actions, etc.
Or something. Knives appears to have spent a long time in a tank of something to grow back whatever bits of his body Vash blasted off in July. Vash doesn't really have the resources, and given he's put his apparently genius intellect toward calculating bullet trajectories and not much else all these years he may not even know he has the potential.
All of the series' writing is in English, and there is one point in the second episode of the anime where we see a flier for a "BODYGARD" who is a "CREAT SHOOTER LIKE VASH THE STANPEAT".
There's also a sign that says "Coffe & Restlant!!" in episode 5, and when Vash uses the computer in episode 26, it says "Searth Target, All People Relate to Lem Sayblam". In the manga, there's one instance where there's a container of salt labeled "solt".
The Quickdraw application in the eponymous episode is pretty legible, though. Maybe Wolfwood is just a better-than-average speller?
The whiskey labels are very faithful reproductions of actual brands.
Young Knives is voiced by Joshua Seth, voice of Tai from Digimon Adventure. It's very easy to tell, seeing as how he does nothing to differentiate Young Knives from his Tai voice. One could put a voice clip of Young Knives onto Tai and Digimon fans who haven't seen Trigun would be confused.
Rem is voiced by Bridget Hoffman, voice of Namie from Durarara!!. Now, try to imagine her suddenly as a mother figure to Izaya. On that note, young Vash is voiced by Masaomi. For what it's worth, Hoffman also played Belldandy in the Ah! My Goddess movie.
Hidden Eyes: The manga contains quite a few variations on this, including Scary Shiny Glasses. The latter is standard in the anime when Vash finally gets serious.
Hive Mind: Apparently kindasorta the case with the bulb plants, even before Knives starts subsuming them into his giant body. In the manga also to some degree the case of the sand worms, whose psychic network extends over most of Gunsmoke's native life and learns how to invest itself in a human vessel, giving Knives the Gung Ho Gun 'Zazie the Beast.' They have some kind of alliance with him against the human invaders, although this is never properly explored.
Hope Spot: In episode 21 of the anime, Vash looks like he's about to revive a wounded plant and save the ship...just when Hoppered regains consciousness and destroys the plant with a suicidal Last Breath Bullet.
How to Stop the Deus ex Machina: Vash is incredibly skilled with his weapons and probably capable of taking out every single baddie he ever faced, short of his own brother. What holds him back? Technical Pacifism. If he really unleashed himself, he'd hurt a lot of people, and he doesn't even want to hurt the bad guys. Unfortunately, attempting other options often allows harm to come to innocent bystanders.
Surprisingly rarely, though. In fact, the impression is given that before Knives sicced the Guns on him he pulled off a miracle practically every time, if at great personal cost, so his world goes through a bit of a paradigm shift while we watch.
Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Being at least two times taller than Meryl, Vash really has to bow down when he wants to hug her. That or he hoists her up.
Nicholas D. Wolfwood is also Nicholas the Punisher. And Chapel.
I Know You Are In There Somewhere Fight: Vash does this pretty much every time he meets Knives in the manga; from Knives's perspective, he must be the one doing it to Vash, which brings once again the question of whether the twins are by "nature" peace-loving or mindlessly violent.
Given their silent sisters appear to all be sweethearts, although easily influenced, Vash appears to have a leg up in this argument. Chronica, meanwhile, has a bit of a temper and apparently a rather military mindset, vaguely like a sane Knives, while Domina is sweet and spunky.
Improbable Aiming Skills: A must for any Technical Pacifist operating as a gunslinger. Vash almost invariably hits what he aims at, no matter how absurd the shot, though a combination of rigorous training and superhuman potential count for a lot. On one occasion a terrible hangover made him reflexively hit all the targets in a quickdraw tournament he'd been forced into, when he'd meant to miss some.
In the same episode, he throws pebbles from the sidelines to knock bullets askew and make sure all wounds are nonfatal during other people's duels. And moves so fast no one notices. Kind of disappointing after that that he was never reduced to 'throwing stones' as a combat technique.
In another, he concusses an opponent by flinging the bullets out the back of his gun, and blocks the hammer of another guy's gun with the bubblegum he had been chewing, apparently at range.
On the other hand, on one occasion his response to an ambush netted one accidental potentially-fatal blow somewhere on the abdomen, so he interrupts his role as John McClane in a Die Hard on an X episode to staunch the enemy's bleeding in alarm, to the consternation of his young ally. So he's not infallible or anything.
It's Personal: Vash's conflict with Knives becomes personal very early; his feud with Legato soon becomes this too, with Vash announcing loudly "From now on, YOU are the hunted!"
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Nicholas D. Wolfwood. The manga never quite explains why his True Companions inflict it upon themselves to put up with him in the first place, knowing that he never uses Honorifics and expresses his affection by distributing humiliating nicknames ("Tongari / Spikey," "big girl," "small girl," "crybaby Livio"), "playful" insults and various blows. Plus, his manga version is particularly macho and even tries to protect Milly from Midvalley... by pretending he'll shoot her if she doesn't leave immediately. Borders on Values Dissonance when his mistreatment of Vash is played for fun. It's even a wonder Nightow still manages to make him such a likable and well-written character for all his Knight Templar and Jerkass traits.
From the anime. Dying Wolfwood goes for a cigarette. Flashbacks
Kick Them While They Are Down: Vash, surprisingly, does this to Monev the Gale after shooting him in the face while in an Unstoppable Rage. Vash walks slowly up to Monev, lamenting over how many people have died and when Monev expresses his lack of caring, gets a boot to the face, showing us just how pissed off Vash is.
Knight Templar Big Brother: Knives is a big brother complex gone horribly wrong. He's pretty much of a Yandere over Vash, with huge emphasis on the "Yan." Also, he basically decided he was the older twin and it's up for debates which of them is the more childish.
Large Ham: Lazlo; Legato; Wolfwood; Knives very often; Vash, in quite a different style.
Laxative Prank: It's arguable that Kaite does this to Vash in episode 7 "B.D.N."
Little Useless Gun: Meryl's derringers are neither taken seriously as a threat nor used to deliver meaningful damage over the entire course of both series. This is because of the Inverse Law of Utility and Lethality; Milly's stun-gun can be used with impunity, but since Meryl's little guns can't invoke Rule Of Cool or the beaten-up-by-bullets effect and she's not a killer, they aren't allowed to actually do much of anything. Still good that she doesn't go around unarmed, and she does take some useful actions; the derringers themselves are just useless. Even though a real derringer can kill you very dead.
Part of this is that the only enemies Meryl might really need to shoot are effectively immune to the level of damage her guns can inflict; it's a shonen (later seinen) series, where being badass automatically renders you immune to things like ruptured arteries.
Living Forever Is Awesome: Vash doesn't age and has a lot of angst, but he's also a goof who spends his time helping the people of Gunsmoke. He doesn't like outliving people and the alienating effect it has, but there are definitely a lot of things that bother him more, and on the whole it's an advantage.
Love Triangle: Arguably, Vash has one with a lot of people. None official.
One official. Sorta. Legato and Elendira both like Knives. He hates them both, of course. Very uncompromising racist.
With extremely screwed-up sexuality due to his extremely screwed-up understanding of interpersonal relations, period. He probably would have been straight if he'd stayed sane enough to have something as plebian as a sexual orientation, though. Sorry, Bluesummers. The Crimson Nail has yet another leg up.
Also there's Jessica liked Vash and Brad liked Jessica and Vash was like 'can't we just pretend you're still seven like you were last time I saw you?'
The Magnificent: Most major characters have one of these. Whether the name was earned by exploits or assigned as part of Theme Naming by employers etc. seems to vary. At least one was inherited via Klingon Promotion. Meryl and Milly shake up the trend by having nommes de guerre that come before their proper names and do not involve prepositions. note Stun Gun Milly and Derringer Meryl, in case you're interested. They share with Nicholas the Punisher the convention of being named after your weapon.
Elendria the Crimson Nail. All Gung-Ho Guns have these. Unclear whether this is Knives' taste or Legato's, considering the level of delegation and that neither of them has one.
Manly Tears: Vash; Wolfwood; manga Knives; manga Legato; Livio.
Maybe Ever After: In the manga, after gradually becoming closer to each other and reuniting, Meryl eventually cries and hugs Vash before he goes off to battle Knives. He does something akin to blowing kisses by kissing his knuckles, prompting her to kiss hers and pressing theirs together. Later, after coming back to the ship and before going to finally finish Knives off once and for all, Vash uncharacteristically makes a promise he has never made before: a promise to come back to Meryl and asks her to please wait for him. After this, the relationship is completely left hanging as the Here We Go Again ending six months afterward comes in to play, and no further hints of a relationship are given. In the anime, while things are more one sided, Milly tells a crying Meryl to tell Vash about her feelings when he comes back from his confrontation with Knives. At the end of the anime, we see Meryl saying that Vash wouldn't keep a good woman like her waiting, and Vash does come back to Meryl and Milly at the very end, leaving us to guess what happens next for the two.
Mayfly-December Romance: Anyone Vash could hypothetically hook up with would be about a hundred years younger than him, and he'd still probably outlive them. Except...his twin brother? And potentially that plant woman Chronica in the manga? A major factor in his status as Chaste Hero, since he's the emotional type.
Applies to Knives, too, except he really doesn't care.
Meaningful Name: Rem can be translated to english as "the world," depending on the context. Knives somehow acquired, as an adorable child, a name much more suited to his future as a homicidal maniac.
Legato named himself. Presumably he meant something by it. It will forever be a mystery what.
Mexican Standoff: Happens a few times throughout the anime and manga, but by far the most over-the-top one occurs in Volume 5 of the Maximum manga. Those involved include Wolfwood, Zazie, Hopperd, Legato, and Vash... in a sense. Here's what happened: Wolfwood has guns trained on Legato and Zazie. Zazie has guns on Legato and Wolfwood. Hopperd is crippled and is trying to fire on Legato. Legato is holding back Hopperd with his powers and is also trying to contain Vash. Vash's involvement is debatable, as he's simply losing control of his Angel powers and trying not to freak out and/or destroy everyone. The standoff is broken by Meryl leaping up from beneath Vash and taking a shot at Legato. Guns go off all over the place, but the only one who dies is Hopperd.
Mistaken Identity: A bit of a running gag early in the anime. Due to there being no proper pictures of Vash, just a vague description, people with a red coat, blond hair, and a big weapon become mistaken for Vash. It gets to the point that two guys even mistake each other for Vash.
Averted in the manga, where there is explicitly a photo on his wanted poster.
The Mob Boss Is Scarier: A non crime case. In the anime, when Vash defeats Caine and offers him a chance to surrender, Caine promptly shoots himself rather than suffer Knives' wrath for failing. This also seems to be affecting Midvalley, who outright says that he has no choice but to kill or be killed in his fight with Vash.
Mook Horror Show: Vash sometimes plays up the horror factor that his reputation gives him, since it gets him out of fights and he actually has a strict moral code against killing. He's done the sneak-around-and-pick-your-dudes-off thing and the Implacable Man advance-while-singing-a-terrifying-ditty-about-genocide thing.
A note: singing "Total Slaughter, Total Slaughter, I won't leave a single man alive. Ladi-Ladi-Die, Genocide. Ladi-Ladi-dud, an Ocean of Blood. Let's begin the killing time" didn't work.
Further note: Kicking a rocket fired from an RPG by the terrified mook, AFTER singing that, into the ceiling DID work.
Monev the Gale found out the hard way how scary a genuinely angry Vash can be when Monev gunned down a bunch of innocent civilians. He compared Vash's Glowing Eyes of Doom to the eyes of the devil himself.
Must Make Amends: In the Trigun manga, Young Vash and Knives discover that there was another sentient plant called Tesla like them before and worse, they made several experiments with her and in the end lead to her death. The problem is that their surrogate mother was one of the researchers from the experiment. Knives after facing the truth, fell in a coma and Vash simply refused to eat. In an attempt to make him eat,Rem started peeling a fruit, Vash leapt for the knife in what was almost certainly a suicide attempt, but wound up stabbing Rem in the side when she put up a struggle for it. At first he seemed relieved but quickly started panicking and put her to bed in a med-birth and patched her up.
My Greatest Failure: Although it wasn't Vash's intention or even really his fault, his decimation of the town of July is the heaviest burden on his conscience. It was terrible enough that in the manga, when Hoppered and Meryl were privy to Vash's memory, they were both traumatized.
Obfuscating Stupidity: Practically the definition of the trope. Vash didn't even fire his gun once until the end of the fifth episode, surviving the previous episodes by making it look like dumb luck. Another early episode had him rocking out on his headphones and going into a bar seemingly ignorant of the current hostage situation, but carefully and methodically diffused the situation all while seemingly harmless.
This episode was based on an early one-shot chapter written in the process of developing the character, which has differences and is not actually in the manga continuity.
Oedipus Rex: Both in the manga and in the anime, Nicholas D. Wolfwood has a bad complex towards his tyrannical mentor/father figure. No mothers need apply.
On the other hand, Vash has only a foster mother, and has been accused of spending way too much time thinking about her.
Omake: The gag covers, and they're a doozy; also, the end-of-volume pages involving Super-Deformed Nightow prancing around in near-insanity.
Omnicidal Maniac: Legato wants to witness and be part of The End of the World as We Know It because he feels his existence is meaningless. Actually creepier than Knives, who (at least in the manga) has actual motivations and intends to save his species. The world would be way scarier if Legato was the Big Bad, instead of a young creep psychologically dependent on someone stronger than him.
Only Six Faces: All the non-Gonk characters must have only four faces or something. So much in Nightow's work that most "Kekkai Sensen" characters look like Trigun expies. Vash's face must be the most overused one, too, Livio even looks like Vash/Knives with a fancy tattoo.
Anime Vash and Knives have moderately different coloring. Some of the manga scenes are almost incomprehensible at first or second look, especially if both of them are in it and there are a lot of sound effects.
This looks intentional in the flashback to the twins as kids—wow, can't even tell which one said what, they're joined at the hip!—but problematic later.
Orcus on His Throne: Knives. Less than totally ridiculous example since Knives' only deadline is his and his sisters' lives expiring, which he starts moving pretty promptly after he learns about, and his only threat is his brother trying to pose one. Which he likes Vash doing. And which Vash is pretty bad at.
The Other Darrin: The dub of Badlands Rumble replaced everyone in the main cast but Vash.
Papa Wolf: Wolfwood, for any child he happens to encounter at all. Made his anime killing of Zazie all the more shocking (and even more of a gesture of attachment to Vash, but Vash wasn't really in a state to appreciate that.)
And then there are the Eye of Michael, who have slots in the Guns as an organization instead of individuals. Of course, even they as high-end assassins are less than qualified as simple professionals, since there was a plant-worshipping cult involved in their evolution as an organization.
Red Oni, Blue Oni: Vash vs. Wolfwood; Vash vs. Legato; Vash vs. Knives is a more complex case, as Knives is the more cerebral one but also the more impulsive and violent. In all these cases, it's often reflected in their clothing and/or background colours, though Knives often appears in red too — but often in darker shades such as crimson.
There is some degree of reason to what's become 'lost technology,' in that basically everything everyone needs to survive comes from the plants, which are generally municipally owned,note (there are presumably a variety of quasi-socialist arrangements to allow the plant-manufactured foodstuffs and things to be disseminated to the public and from there bought and sold, although probably some places are outright capital-feudalist about it and the public essentially belongs to whoever controls the plant in exchange for their lives) and therefore it all comes down to rationing.
Computers and miniaturized tech seem to have been mostly and most visibly lost. On a world of quartz this may seem odd, but many of the elements required, in Real Life, to get silicon pure enough for chips would be available only via plant manufacture. On the other hand, all that red sand? Iron is to be had far more conventionally.
Nevertheless, the entire society is completely schizo, since it's ruled be Western tropes instead of any logical progression of how being utterly dependent on the plants would impact social structure and lifestyle.
Sdrawkcab Name: Monev the Gale's name backwards is Venom, a Shout Out along with his costume to the Marvel character.
Sealed Evil in a Can: Knives is Sealed Evil In A Friggin Lightbulb for most of the anime and till the very end of the first Trigun manga.
The sandworms, among others, are an obvious allusion to Dune.
The name "Wolfwood" (Urufuudo) is an allusion to a Japanese band called "The Ulfuls" (Urufuuruzu) and the character in question is designed after their singer.
Many to American popular culture. Includes such gems as "double dollars", country-style music, and countless loans from western movies and American comics, noticeable both in plot elements and graphic references.
Often in chapter titles, such as the one to Quentin Tarantino in the chapter "Reservoir Dogs."
Monev's name and costume are a Shout Out to Venom from Marvel.
Vash seems to be riding a wheeled Vanship during the trailer for Badlands Rumble.
Blink-and-you'll-miss-it one in the very last episode. The photo shown for the man related to Rem that Vash was tracking down in July is a still of single-episode character Shiro Tokita from Neon Genesis Evangelion, right down to his outfit in said shot.
Slap Yourself Awake: In a variant, Vash concentrates on the pain from his previously injured finger to counteract a villain who uses hypnosis to paralyze people.
Slasher Smile: Knives; Legato; manga Wolfwood; Livio; Lazlo; Elendira.
Little Vash between when he tries to kill himself and when he decides to save Rem.
Sleeper Starship: Project SEEDS consisted of millions of humans on ice in thousands of ships, while a small awake crew looked for a planet to settle. Most of them were killed when Knives crashed the fleet into Gunsmoke.
Slipped the Ropes: Vash once slides out of ropes to protect a young woman from bandits. Said bandits catch him before he can get back into them... the second time.
Slouch of Villainy: Manga Knives, generally with a hand over his eyes of forehead to show he's Full of Upset.
He grinned while doing this at the flashback to Midvalley's concert. (At which, naturally, everybody died.)
Small Girl, Big Gun: The girl in this case (Milly) isn't exactly small; it's just that her gun is just that big. Meryl is an interesting variation, as her guns are tiny but so numerous she must be carrying her weight in derringers.
Spell My Name with an S: Lazlo/Razlo is a noteworthy and oddly controversial example. Also note Livio de Pupe (?), Chronica/Cronica/Kronika, Revnunt/Revnant Buskus/Buskuz/Vasquez, Tesla/Tessla, Kaito/Kite, and the names of several cities.
Rem is a particularly confusing example. Rem or Lem? Seibrem, Saverem, or Seiburem? It doesn't help that the manga lists her name as "Rem Seibrem" while the anime lists it as "Rem Saverem."
Squick: In the manga, when Zazie the Beast pulls a worm out of her crotch.
Stop, or I Shoot Myself!: Wolfwood seems to do this, to provide a visual example on how someone's chosen action will lead to the death of hundreds. It is quickly revealed however, that he never intended to put himself in any danger, and was using an empty clip.
There's a chilling scene in the manga, on the other hand, where to prove how serious he is, Wolfwood holds Vash's (loaded) gun to his own forehead while it's still in Vash's hand and demands, shoot. Saying if he could trigger a willingness to do what's necessary and keep moving in Vash, that would be completely worth his life.
Strike Me Down with All of Your Hatred: When the Gung-Ho Guns fail to kill Vash, Legato uses this as his final gambit to ruin his life. It works, until Meryl convinces him to snap out of it and finish his business with Knives.
Suicide by Cop: None literally, since there is almost nothing by way of law enforcement on Gunsmoke. However, this is part of the modus operandi of several of the Gung-Ho Guns, especially Legato.
In the anime, this is also an interpretation for Vash's complete failure to say a word or make a move in his own defense while being lynched by the town that recognizes him as the Stampede, in the episode after he shoots Legato in the head. He wasn't actually catatonic, as he demonstrates at a couple of points, but he kept acting almost as though he was while they tied him to the back of a truck and dragged him around on his face.
Also one of the many contradictory goals of poor Wolfwood, especially in the manga. He is perfectly willing to die for the sake of convincing Vash to actually kill the bad guys (specifically Knives) and really solve problems, because he's pretty sure Vash would fill his chosen role of righteous executioner much better and longer than he can.
Technical Pacifist: Vash, in spades. It even says 'pacifist' on his Quickdraw tournament application, if you look!*
Evidence that Wolfwood, who did the paperwork, had already been briefed on his target before their first encounter, since they'd interacted by fighting robots and sharing a bus, and the no-kill rule had not had a chance to come up.
Partakes of the irony of someone whose life is defined by combat but who still thinks in 'pacifist' terms.
Vash's character can be seen as a sort of deconstruction of the Technical Pacifist trope. Devoting his life to saving everyone around him takes a very, very heavy toll on him, as not everyone is happy that saving everybody includes the worst, most depraved monsters out there, and as Vash's Shirtless Scene shows, he's near falling apart because keeping everyone from killing each other is a very hard job. And by the end, he's forced to learn the hard way that he can't save everyone all the time.
The Fettered: Vash. Source of his philosophical dispute with Wolfwood; arguably the same with Knives; Knives is just much further on the other end of the scale.
The Magnificent: There are a lot of epithets on Gunsmoke. Some seem to be self-chosen, and/or assigned by their bosses; every official Gun-Ho Gun name comes with one. Vash, on the other hand, got saddled with his by earning them. The Humanoid Typhoon.The Walking Disaster Area.The Human Act of God.
And (manga) Wolfwood got Nicholas the Punisher because that's the name of his weapon, the cross punisher, and he made it kind of a signature thing. And picked up Chapel the Evergreen by shooting his mentor out of the role.
The Unreveal: Among other important plot points, the existence of independent plants is never explained and suffers from a borderline Handwave. In Fanfiction, many fans suppose that they are the result of plant engineers "playing" with plants, which is a likely explanation.
Genetically, it's logically more likely than their being mutant throwback versions of normal plant reproduction. Because all the plants are girls and the twins are boys. Story-wise, the latter is more likely, if only because the only person not in cryo on the ship in the time frame for Vash and Knives to get sired was...Rem. Also because the crew would have worked that out while experimenting on Tessla and intentionally reproduced the event if at all possible.
Those Two Guys: Those two girls, Meryl and Milly, fit the description to a large extent.
Thou Shalt Not Kill: Vash believes in not killing, ever. The ramifications of this are explored as Vash is shown to have been torn to shreds under his jacket from numerous wounds he acquired while winning fights without hurting people.
Time Skip: Two years passes after Vash blows a hole on the moon, transition from Trigun to Trigun Maximum. Six years passes after Vash defeats Knives and most Plants dies during the conflict, transition from Trigum Maximum to Trigun The Lost Plant.
Time Stands Still: Dominique the Cyclops pretends to be able to do this. In fact, she uses hypnosis to momentarily freeze her target.
Well, her surgical status is ambiguous and Villainous Crossdresser embraces scary trasgendered persons, given they have at least as much alarm capital to cash with the public.
Training from Hell: Vash; Wolfwood; Livio; Monev; Rai Dei hints at this too. Strangely enough, Knives's apparent lack of regular training doesn't reduce his deadliness and muscle mass, because being an Übermensch apparently gives you a near-unlimited supply of cool.
The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: In the anime, the (only identified) daughter of the Nebraska clan is an attractive teenage girl, while her dad is an ancient-looking ugly guy with three teeth and her mom is, basically, an Opposite-Sex Clone of Gofsef Nebraska, the deformed, cybernetically augmented giant, only without the cyber-mods.
Also Wolfwood, Livio, and Legato, for a given value of 'sweet;' they were respectively already bitter, already carrying an Enemy Within, and already vengeance-driven at the earliest points in their lives we see them, but by comparison they come across as heart-twistingly innocent.
Vash, by contrast, has forcibly changed as little as possible over the years leaving him ridiculously childish at times. Of course, it's not all genuine.
She is equally subject to censorship for being a "trannie" and for being terrifying. In a world of guns, Rai-dei got by with a sword and was appropriately observed to be crazy. In the same world, Elendria fights with a briefcase full of giant red nails, as in hardware supplies, and is very possibly the most deadly thing on the planet. (Only because Knives is lazy and Vash is The Fettered, mind.)
Wolfwood tends to be heavy on the Well Intentioned and lighter on the extreme, whereas Knives is the other way around.
Wham Episode: "Diablo", the twelfth episode of the anime, though episodes 7 and 8 arguably count as well. (Almost every episode after 16 tends to be jaw-dropping as well, particularly episode 24, wherin Vash kills Legato.)
Word Of God: Nightow says that Kuroneko-sama is female and that Vash and Wolfwood aren't in a gay relationship, yaoi Doujinshi notwithstanding. He has also provided Wolfwood with about half a dozen middle names to go with that 'D.'
The best obviously being Dokonokuminomonjawaresumakinishiteshizumetarokakora.
You Can't Go Home Again: Vash and Knives; Nicholas; Livio; Kaito. In the manga, all of these characters including Knives express nostalgia towards the 'more innocent times' of their childhood and regrets at not being able to go back in time.
Younger Than They Look: Vash and Knives in both versions of the flashback—they were a year old when the Fall happened. Wolfwood, in the manga. He's in his mid to late teens when introduced, and dies before he's twenty. Super Soldier Serum is involved.