Studio: Madhouse (Death Note, Ninja Scroll)
Manga author: Yasuhiro Nightow
Genre: Adventure, Space Western
First complete run: 1998
Regular episodes: 26
The mere fact that Trigun is a space western does not account for its innovative and ceaselessly amusing anime. But it certainly bears noting! For me, space western is one of the most interesting and incredibly rare genres out there; noteworthy exemplars include the Sci Fi series Firefly and the anime Cowboy Bebop. Trigun is a very deserving member of that group. Set on a far off planet, the show follows the life of an outlaw named Vash the Stampede. Vash is wanted for the destruction of a major city which takes place prior to the anime's pilot. But he's not a heartless criminal, he's a good natured cowboy who goes around gunslinging for justice and preaching pacifism wherever he goes. No joke. He is frequently preyed upon by government officials who recognize his mug, as well as goons who are after the huge bounty on his head. The show is absolutely full of humor; Vash is so much more competent than his pursuers it's literally laughable.
Trigun's entertaining blend of humor and action is a major selling point for this 26 episode miniseries. It goes by in an instant. It engages with some deep philosophical themes concerning life and death on a level that most shōnen anime fail to reach, but it does so in a light and humorous way. Trigun is like the antithesis of Neon Genesis. Vash and the various peripheral characters he meets in his travels are bright and funny people to watch. Sometimes, of course, things do get quite serious and suspenseful. The world of Trigun faces serious problems, but even the show's darkest elements are tinged with a comedic feel that doesn't trivialize them, but makes them easy to handle. It isn't the most powerful work of all time, but it can fulfill a viewer's thirst for space westerns, and it certainly is one of the coolest.