Vash the Stampede

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This article is about the anime and manga character. For the song by Four Year Strong, see It's Our Time.
Vash the Stampede
Trigun character
Vash the Stampede.jpg
Vash the Stampede as seen in Trigun Maximum
First appearance Chapter 1
Created by Yasuhiro Nightow
Voiced by Masaya Onosaka (Japanese)
Johnny Yong Bosch (English)

Vash the Stampede (Japanese: ヴァッシュ・ザ・スタンピード Hepburn: Vasshu za Sutanpīdo?) is the main character of Trigun, an anime and manga series created by Yasuhiro Nightow. Vash is the most feared outlaw on the planet Gunsmoke, and has a $$60 billion ("double dollar") price on his head. He displays a kindhearted, goofy demeanor and goes out of his way not to hurt anyone if he can help it. Most of the destruction blamed on him is actually caused by the extreme measures people take to capture or kill him for the reward; as a result, he has been nicknamed "The Humanoid Typhoon."

Vash's silly behavior hides the fact that he is a gunman of extraordinary skill, and he is almost always able to avoid capture by his opponents and defeat them easily without killing them. He spends most of his time traveling from town to town, getting into and out of trouble and making sure everyone survives, often hindered (and sometimes helped) by his fearsome reputation.

The character was well-received both for his personality and his two trademark items of clothing: yellow sunglasses and red duster trench coat. He was ranked #2 in the 1998 Annual Anime Grand Prix Male Character Category.[1]

Concept and creation[edit]

Nightow, Vash's creator, has stated that every one of his characters projects a "certain part of [him]", but in a way, Vash is the one most closely identifies with, saying that Vash represents his determination and some of his more-childish side.[2]

Nightow reported Vash's gun design to be a huge problem, because it had to be not only dangerous and reliable, but also cool-looking. The gun's original design had no way of opening to insert bullets, so Nightow found a real picture of an upside-down barrel and since it looked cool, he went with it. It was difficult for him to conceive the odd guns that came in later episodes, and the idea of 'baka guns'—weapons that fire unlimited magical bullets—slowly disappeared. The concept designer described creating the original angel arms with a feminine form, because the guns could create matter, and females create and give birth.[3]

When asked why Vash was made to be such a pacifist, Nightow explained that he always felt strange how people are always dying in action movies. He always wondered why they died so quickly. It's okay that they die, but he asks why was it so sudden. Because of that, he wanted to create Vash as a character who is a strong gunman but could say, "Hey, sorry. Love and peace?"[4]

Manga[edit]

Early History[edit]

Vash and his twin brother Knives were discovered by Rem Saverem aboard a SEEDs ship, a space ship colony containing the last few surviving humans that had fled Earth after its destruction. They were seemingly born from one of the Plants powering the ship. Rem raises them over the course of one year, where they quickly grow from infants to young children. While experimenting with the ship's databases, Knives purposely disrupts the navigation system, triggering an alarm and waking the dormant passengers aboard. Rem quickly corrects the system and sends the passengers back to sleep, but one awakened crewmember, Dr. William Conrad, discovers Vash and Knives. He agrees to keep their existence a secret after talking with Rem. Knives and Vash later accidentally stumble across a restricted area aboard the ship, and there discover that they were not the first independent Plants to be born. Another Plant, Tessla, had been studied by the crew aboard the ship, and was subjected to continuous scans and vivisections that eventually led to her slow and painful death.

Horrified, Knives declares his hatred of humanity. Afraid and feeling alone, as one of only two independent plants amidst millions of humans, Vash attempts suicide. Rem intervenes, and Vash accidentally wounds her in the process. At first calmed by the sudden catharsis of hurting a human, Vash becomes horrified by what he has done and saves her. Rem shares her own troubled past and convinces Vash to have faith in the limitless potential for the future, and Vash gains a newfound respect for life. Knives on the other hand, now unable to believe that humans and Plants can ever coexist, uses what he learned from his accidental tampering before to crash the Fleet on the planet known as No-man's Land (a name not coined until the end), intending to wipe out all the humans and save only those ships necessary for him, Vash, and whatever Plants that are left to survive on the planet. Rem sends Vash and Knives aboard an escape pod, but stays behind to try to correct the navigation and save as many people as she can, and so dies in the crash. Aboard the escape pod, Knives reveals his involvement in the fall, and started Vash's hatred to him. He later finds himself with no where else to go, and so follows Knives as they wander the planet, watching what few survivors there were build cities around the crashed ships.

Vash and Knives separated after Vash was captured in a small town and Knives killed all the people to save him. Horrified, Vash shot Knives in the shoulder, causing Knives to retaliate by cutting off Vash's left arm. Following their separation, Vash wandered No-man's Land until he was found by a group of humans that lived aboard a still mostly functional ship. Vash adopted the city as his new home, and there received his cybernetic arm. The infamous July Incident occurred before the start of the manga, when Vash traveled to the city of July in search of Count Revnant Vaszques, whom Vash correctly believed to be the pseudonym of Dr. William Conrad, who had used his knowledge of plants to build a wealthy life in July. However, upon arrival he is confronted by Knives, who has already forced Conrad into his service. Knives captures Vash and has Conrad study Vash's arm to better understand their abilities. Knives decides to attempt to activate Vash's dormant powers forcibly, but the plan backfires and the blast obliterates July, directly killing 200,000 people and severely wounding Knives. Conrad and Legato find Knives amidst the rubble, and saved his life, with Legato swearing revenge on Vash for what happened to Knives. The incident secures Vash's reputation as The Humanoid Typhoon.

Trigun[edit]

The series opens with Vash being chased by bounty hunters, only to be saved by the arrival of Meryl Stryfe and Milly Thompson of the Bernardelli Insurance Society who announce that Vash has been classified as a "Natural Disaster" and as such his bounty has been cancelled. Though initially happy to learn of the bounty's cancellation, he is dismayed when he learns the two intend on following him. As he travels, the Insurance Girls in pursuit, he happens to pass by a priest stranded in the desert. The priest introduces himself as Nicholas D. Wolfwood, and the two part on friendly terms. The primary story begins with the arrival of Legato Bluesummers, who identifies himself as a follower of Knives. Legato gives Vash a coin case, warning Vash that twelve assassins will come for him, each bearing a coin, and if Vash is successful in collecting all twelve "something interesting will happen."

The twelve are revealed to be the Gung-ho Guns, Knives's elite killers, and the priest Wolfwood has recently been contracted as one of them under the name Nicholas the Chapel. Vash is successful in defeating the first three, Monev the Gale, E. G. Mine, and Dominique the Cyclops, though he loses his cybernetic arm in the battle with Gale. Shortly after defeating Dominque, Vash senses Knives's imminent rebirth, and goes to confront him. When Legato instinctively moves to attack Vash, the reborn Knives breaks Legato's body, and then attempts to activate Vash's power again to wipe out the city. Vash resists, and instead redirects the blast upward, where it hits one of moons of No-man's Land and leaves a massive crater. Vash disappears afterward.

Trigun Maximum[edit]

2 years later, the priest Nicholas D. Wolfwood arrives in a city in search for Vash the Stampede. Once he discovers Vash, he convinces Vash to come out of his pseudo-retirement, telling of Knives's exploits and progress in wiping out humanity. Learning of Vash's locations, the broken but alive Legato declares that the killing game has begun anew, and sends Rai-Dei the Blade. In his confrontation with Blade, Vash learns that Legato and the Gung-ho Guns have discovered the location of his home. After Wolfwood executes Blade, the two have a near falling out over the morality of killing, but they agree to continue traveling together, going to Vash's home. There, Vash battles Leonoff the Puppetmaster and Wolfwood fights Grey the Ninelives. After their victory, Vash learns from the inhabitants that the ship has successfully made contact with Earth, and ships will be arriving to save them from No-man's Land.

Knives uses his powers to cut down the satellites used to communicate with Earth, and Vash resumes his travels when he learns of the severed connection and correctly guesses the reason. They reunite with the Insurance Girls, but as a result the two girls are caught up in the battle when Midvalley the Hornfreak, Hoppered the Gauntlet, and Zazie the Beast arrive. Hoppered, a survivor of July, seeks revenge on Vash, while Wolfwood's true goals are questioned by Midvalley as the two battle. In the battle, Vash's abilities are awakened again, and only Elendira the Crimsonnail's intervention defuses the situation. The Insurance Girls thus learn the truth about Vash's powers as a Plant. After burying Hoppered and Midvalley, Vash and Wolfwood continue their travels to Knives's base, where Vash and Knives battle once again. Vash is defeated and restrained by Legato, while Knives sets out aboard an extant ship named only "The Ark" with a new plan for wiping out humanity: traveling from city to city to absorb the Plants to increase his power and cut off humanity from their one lifeline. Wolfwood betrays the Guns and rescues Vash, revealing his true identity as Nicholas the Punisher of the Eye of Michael and the Gung-ho Guns, and how he betrayed the real Chapel to try to infiltrate the Guns and kill Knives. Wolfwood leaves shortly thereafter when he learns the last of the Guns and the real Chapel are heading toward the orphanage where he grew up. Vash rejoins Wolfwood and saves him from certain death at the hands of Chapel, only for Wolfwood and Livio/Razlo to continue dueling to the death. While Wolfwood unexpectedly beats Razlo and brings back Livio, he passes away a short while later from his wounds and the stress of taking excess regeneration fluid. Livio the Double Fang, Wolfwood's childhood friend, joins Vash, and the two head to Octovern, the last of the original "Seven Cities" left on the planet. Vash, after speaking with his friends, begins manufacturing bullets using his power, giving them the ability to shoot small black holes with similar abilities of the larger-scale holes he created in July and Jeneora Rock. As Knives and the Ark approach the city, the Earth fleet arrives in space. After teleporting to avoid the initial volley from the Earth ships, Knives begins simultaneously dueling Vash and attempting to thwart the Earth fleet via absorbing one of their independent Plants. During the fight, Legato reappears and begins to duel Vash with the sole purpose of keeping him from Knives, who is now focused entirely on the Earth fleet. After a lengthy and one-sided fight, Legato reveals that the now-completed coin case blocks his powers, meaning that the entirety of Vash's journey against the Guns has led to this climactic finish.

Vash defeats Legato, and finally breaks his vow not to kill when the defeated Legato threatens Livio. However, unable to stop with so much at stake, Vash continues on and helps break Knives's control over the Ark and the absorbed plants by communicating with them directly. The Plants abandon Knives and begin cooperating with human beings. The now-powerless Knives confronts Vash one last time, but Vash saves Knives from the vengeful ships from Earth and fly off. Knives and Vash make peace before Knives uses up the last of his power and passes away. Now essentially powerless as well, Vash continues his travels as a normal gunslinger.

Anime[edit]

Vash is actually 131 years old in the anime. Vash, as a Plant, requires a special weapon known as the Angel Arm to activate his powers to their full extent. This weapon is one of two that Vash's brother Knives created from the technology he salvaged from a crashed SEEDs ship. Shortly after he receives his Angel Arm from his brother, Vash discovers that the two guns were made to aid Knives in his plan of "cleansing" the planet of its human populace. Conflicted both emotionally and morally against his brother's goal, Vash remembers the morals his human care taker Rem Saverem taught him. He shoots Knives in the leg and after witnessing the pain and shock his brother has just experienced, Vash in a dismaying panic then takes both guns and flees into the desert as Knives painfully calls out to him to come back. He spends two years alone wandering Gunsmoke until he finally collapses from exhaustion. He is rescued by a group of humans from the only remaining functioning SEEDS ship on the planet, which didn't quite crash during "The Great Fall." While there, he makes human friends and is gifted with his signature red (duster styled) trench coat.

After a few months he leaves and ventures out into the world. Vash returns to the ship 80 years later in search of any relatives of Rem in its databanks and finds the last one alive: PASSENGER NO.300-89-9023AS, or "Revenant Buskus". Buskus had studied Plants and established a new plant-theory in July City. Vash goes to July City in the hopes of meeting him, but instead finds Knives standing over Revenant's dead body. In the ensuing firefight, Knives shoots Vash's left arm off. After regaining possession of the black Angel Arm, he then activates Vash's White Angel Arm in an attempt to destroy the city and everyone in it but Vash turns the Angel Arm on Knives instead, resulting in the July Incident. Vash's full name is never revealed, however when Vash first meets Wolfwood, he introduces himself as Valentinez Alkalinella Xifax Sicidabohertz Gumbigobilla Blue Stradivari Talentrent Pierre Andry Charton-Haymoss Ivanovici Baldeus George Doitzel Kaiser III. When Milly says Vash the Stampede, Vash tells Milly she should not use his 'full name' all the time. When Nicholas D. Wolfwood asks for Vash's real name, Vash answers, "Just between you and me, my name is irrelevant". Later in the story Vash "puts down his gun", hoping to leave his bounty hunted life and start over. He then goes by the name Kanan (or Eric, in the English version). Wolfwood starts to look for Vash, and finds him in a town full of criminal gangs in which their leader calls himself Vash The Stampede, and picks off the beginning of Trigun Maximum.

Abilities[edit]

Vash habitually carries a custom made .45 caliber silver- or nickel-plated revolver, a classic six-shot double-action with a top break reloading mechanism that fires .45 Long Colt ammunition. The engraving on the side of the gun describes it is a ".45 Long Colt AGL Arms Factory" with wings around the "AGL" as in angel. Vash's revolver has the barrel aligned with the 6 o'clock chamber, not the 12 o'clock chamber as is the typical configuration of standard revolvers. Only three actual weapons follows this form factor, the Mateba Autorevolver, the Chiappa Rhino, and the OTs-38. In the series, this handgun was created as part of a pair by Knives, of which Vash was given the silver model, and Knives kept the black model. Vash eventually carries both weapons for a time, before losing the black gun to Knives in another fight. In the manga, Vash uses his unique gun more out of mere novelty and habit. Visually the handgun in the manga is also different from that in the anime, though it still features the unique placement of the barrel in the 6 o'clock position. In Trigun Maximum, the revolver used in the anime appears for Vash for use as a two-panel replacement for his standard gun while it is being repaired.

Beside his revolver, Vash has a cybernetic arm fitted with a hidden gun. In both the series and manga, it is initially a powerful semiautomatic pistol that is later upgraded to a fully automatic submachine gun. In the series, within Vash's trademark revolver lies the catalyst needed to activate his "Angel Arm". The use of three guns to create destruction is what makes up the title "Trigun". The Angel Arm is Vash's ultimate weapon. Upon activation, his right arm transforms into a weapon powerful enough to destroy entire cities with a single blast. Vash fears the Angel Arm's potential for destruction, and knows little about how to use it. In the manga, the Angel Arm is a natural feature of a plant's body, and can be manipulated into various shapes to create a number of effects beyond destruction. His power using the Angel Arm is limited: like a battery, it contains only a certain amount of energy, and when that energy is gone he will die. Vash's Angel Arm typically takes the shape of a large cannon weapon, which uses a tremendous amount of power. As a meter of spent energy a plant's hair color gradually darkens as their internal power is spent until reaching a final color of black when fully depleted. To illustrate the power of the Angel Arm, Vash's hair began to darken after the second time he fires it, using enough energy to blast a hole in the moon. Throughout the manga, Vash learns to gain better control of his power to form smaller cannons and defensive feathers, though his hair continues to grow darker until almost completely black. By the final volume, he has only a small lock of blond hair left.

In the series, Vash can be seen using a knife hidden in his boot in multiple episodes. During his battle with Brilliant Dynamites Neon, he uses an automatic weapon that appears similar to an AK-47 carbine. In the climactic final battle with Knives, he also uses Wolfwood's Cross Punisher. In the manga, Vash's signature coat changes on multiple occasions, usually after being damaged, destroyed, or lost. At least one model is described as being bullet-proof. During a battle with Knives aboard The Ark, tubes on his then-present coat were used to reload his revolver and to feed ammunition into his sub-machine gun. The tubes were used without Vash laying hands on them, but it is not made clear if this is done by mechanical means, or by Vash using his plant abilities.

Aside from his Angel Arm, Vash has shown a superhuman level of agility, strength, reflexes, eyesight and complete muscle control. In episodes of the anime, Vash has often shown the ability to dodge bullets at close range and dodge skilled melee attacks (at one point doing so while at the same time pretending to dance with a woman). During a gun duel competition, Vash was able to prevent the deaths of many of the competitors by throwing rocks at key moments to knock bullets off their lethal courses. Vash is possibly stronger than most human beings as seen when he was able to use Wolfwood's Punisher (although he did comment on its weight). Finally, his intelligence is stated to be superior to that of most (if not all) humans. In the anime it is shown that he is capable of telepathic communication with his brother, though whether or not he possesses Knives' telekinetic capabilities remains uncertain.

Personality[edit]

Vash displays two different personalities. Vash usually exaggerates foolish characteristics to make people feel unthreatened and to hide his identity. He exhibits an almost obsessive love of doughnuts, engages in lecherous behavior, and on at least one occasion claimed his real name was Valentinez Alkalinella Xifax Sicidabohertz Gumbigobilla Blue Stradivari Talentrent Pierre Andres Charton-Haymoss Ivanovicci Baldeus George Doitzel Kaiser III. He frequently voices the catchphrase, "This world is made of love and peace," which is usually complemented by his flashing of the Peace sign. Vash's reputation as "The Humanoid Typhoon" is legendary, as is the damage and destruction associated with his presence. However, when those around him are threatened, Vash shows complete focus and control. Vash is a multidimensional character who, despite his age, has still not found peace with himself. A point of conflict in the series are the inner differences between Vash and Millions Knives, his twin brother, and their regard for humanity. Despite his long suffering and ill-treatment by human beings, Vash chooses to remain hopeful and loving toward humanity; whereas Knives has fallen into a deep-seated hatred of the entire race despite never personally suffering at their hands. Their personalities also have other key differences: Vash cannot stand the despair of being alone, whereas Knives revels in his loneliness and has no desire for any company other than Vash.

Because Vash refuses to kill any of his opponents, he often suffers at the hands of a number of very persistent enemies. As a result, his body is a patchwork of large scars, chunks of missing flesh supported by metal mesh, and stitch marks. Also at one point it seems Vash has the ability to break the fourth wall. In both the manga and the anime, at one point, he complains directly to the viewers and perhaps the shows writers over how little screen time he got during the middle of a battle in which he fired a single shot while in hiding.

Reception[edit]

A Vash the Stampede cosplay in Gen Con 2008

The first manga volume run of 30,000 sold out[5] shortly after release. The second volume concluded the original series early the next year, and went on to be the top earning[6] graphic novel of 2004. The popularity of the manga and anime skyrocketed Vash to being a merchandise, wherein action figures,[7] plush dolls,[8] keychains,[9] clothes,[10] and even his trademark cosplay sunglasses were made.[11] He also makes a cameo appearance in Wild Arms 2nd Ignition. In artist, writer and musician Voltaire's fourth Deady book ("Deady: Big in Japan"), there is a cosplayer dressed as Vash eating pocky. The pop punk/ hardcore band, Four Year Strong, has a song named Vash the Stampede. The lead singer of Mushroomhead wore a Vash the Stampede coat in many concerts before it was stolen from his dressing room. A video game, called Trigun: The Planet Gunsmoke, based on the Trigun manga, was in development for the PlayStation 2 system. It was unveiled in 2002 in Sega's 2002 GameJam video. The unveiling consisted of a 20 second clip from the game. No news or comment came back after.

In 2009, Vash the Stampede was ranked 17th in IGN's Top Anime Characters of All Time, saying "Some might say that Vash isn't much of a character. ... As a character design, though, he's one of the all-time greats."[12] IGN ranked him as the 20th greatest anime character of all time in 2014, saying that "Although Vash is often portrayed as a childish goofball, in reality he's a very complex and tortured character who is doing his best to save people who never even know what he's done for them."[13]

He is ranked #12 by 97 votes in Top 100 Anime Characters Survey by AnimeSouce.com. Saying that " He can make you laugh at one moment and then go THAT KICKS ASS! the next. He has super speed, perfect accuracy, and the will to do anything for anyone no matter if they are good or evil, even if it costs him his body or his dignity. He is the greatest cowboy to ever live on another planet and he has the greatest goal in life ever to be thought up: LOVE AND PEACE."[14]

AnimeOnDVD describes Vash as character as "running a gamut of emotions and attitudes (and shows off his way cool dancing moves) as well as a bit of what makes him the most feared person and worthy of the $$60,000,000,000 price on his head."[15] In a review for Volume 5, the reviewer stated that the change in Vash's character; "brings things to a different and more interesting level."[16] Vash's history was described as "really interesting but they tend to have more questions asked than really answered."[17] T.H.E.M Anime Reviews say that Vash "is the poster-child for the misunderstood hero."[18]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Male category". Anime Grand Prix. 2012-04-12. Retrieved 2012-04-12. 
  2. ^ "Dark Horse Interview". Dark Horse. 2012-03-30. Retrieved 2012-03-30. 
  3. ^ "Trigun Planet interview". Anime Central 07. 2012-03-30. Retrieved 2012-03-30. 
  4. ^ "Anime Expo 2009". Anime Expo. 2012-03-29. Retrieved 2012-03-29. 
  5. ^ "The first volume of the English language version of Yasuhiro Nightow's Trigun manga sold out an edition of 35,000 copies at wholesale within days of its release... Dark Horse is going back to press for 15,000 additional copies" from ICV2 article posted on October 29, 2003.
  6. ^ "The top earning manga release of 2004 was Dark Horse's Trigun #2, which sold less copies that Fruits Basket or Rurouni Kenshin, but sold at a higher, $14.95 price point." from ANN news article posted 2005-01-04.
  7. ^ "Vash the Stampede action figures". YesAnime.com. 2012-03-29. Retrieved 2012-03-29. 
  8. ^ Amazon.com - Trigun: Vash 9" Plush Doll
  9. ^ Amazon.com - Trigun: Vash 3.5" PVC Keychain
  10. ^ "Vash the Stampede clothes and accessories". AbbyShot.com. 2012-03-29. Retrieved 2012-03-29. 
  11. ^ "Vash the Stampede sunglasses". Amazon.com. 2012-03-29. Retrieved 2012-03-29. 
  12. ^ "IGN Top 25 Anime Characters". IGN. 2012-03-29. Retrieved 2012-03-29. 
  13. ^ Isler, Ramsey (February 4, 2014). "Top 25 Greatest Anime Characters". IGN. Retrieved March 13, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Favorite Anime Characters Survey". Anime Source. 2012-03-29. Retrieved 2012-03-29. 
  15. ^ AnimeOnDVD - Trigun Vol. 1 Review
  16. ^ AnimeOnDVD - Trigun Vol 5 Review
  17. ^ AnimeOnDVD - Trigun Vol 6 Review
  18. ^ T.H.E.M Anime Reviews - Trigun