Nicholas D. Wolfwood
|Nicholas D. Wolfwood|
Wolfwood with his Punisher
|First appearance||Trigun episode 9|
|Created by||Yasuhiro Nightow|
|Voiced by||Shō Hayami (Japanese)
Jeff Nimoy (English TV series)
Brad Hawkins (Badlands Rumble English version)
Nicholas D. Wolfwood (Japanese: ニコラス・D・ウルフウッド Hepburn: Nikorasu Dī Urufūddo?), also known as Nicholas the Punisher, is a major character in both the Trigun anime, and the Trigun manga created by Yasuhiro Nightow. He is a priest who wields a large cross-shaped gun named the Punisher, which he and his former colleagues use either in saving people or for complete destruction.
Concept and creation
Though Vash the Stampede, the protagonist of Trigun, was Nightow's original creation, Wolfwood on the other hand came from an outside inspiration. There's a band named "Wolfwood," and he took the lead singer as his image for the priest. He's also modeled on Tortoise Matsumoto from the band Ulfuls. Nightow really liked the shape of his sharp, curved down nose. Nightow jokes that as some of us might have noticed, he spent a lot of time sculpting Wolfwood's nose. Nightow noted that the project he's really proud of is actually Wolfwood's life and death, and the storyline around it. His outfit was made simple and Nightow prevented himself from adding a lot of stuff, commenting that if he did, he'll be hard to draw.
According to the Nightow, the initial for Nick's middle name "D." stands for "Dokonokuminomonjawaresumakinishiteshizumetarokakora", Yakuza slang which translates to "What the hell family do you think you're from!? I'm gonna tie you up in a reed mat and dunk ya!" After Wolfwood showed potential in the orphanage in which he is raised, Chapel (also known as Master C) took him into the Eye of Michael, an organization of assassins founded by a plant worshipper, and trained and modified Wolfwood to be a killer. The modifications gave him enhanced abilities and the ability to regenerate from heavy injuries using special vials, but as a result caused him to age at an accelerated rate, giving him the appearance of being middle-aged though he is only in his late teens by the start of the series. His potential was recognized as exceptional, and so he was given the tenth incarnation of the organization's most powerful, a special large cross-shaped gun called the Punisher, which becomes his official title within the Eye of Michael. Wolfwood later betrayed and shot Chapel, impersonating Chapel to gain entry into the Gung-Ho-Guns in an attempt to kill Millions Knives. He failed, and was instead sent by Knives to guide and protect Vash on the later's travels to Knives's base, thus killing fellow Guns Rai-Dei the Blade and Gray the Ninelives. After Vash is taken prisoner in the Ark, Wolfwood rescues him and later departs to December to protect the orphanage from the retaliation. He battles his childhood friend, Livio, and his crippled master in a two volume face off. He manages to mortally wound Chapel and defeat Livio The Double Fang and Razlo the Tri-Punisher of Death, but having overdosed on the regenerative vials, he soon dies while having a last drink with Vash.
In the anime, Wolfwood is raised by an abusive guardian, who he later shoots and kills. He is taken in by Chapel the Evergreen, who trains him to become his eventual successor in the Gung-Ho Guns. He meets Vash while he is stranded in the desert, and the two join forces. During the course of the series, Wolfwood develops a relationship with Milly Thompson that crosses from close friendship into romance. Wolfwood's purpose is to raise money for the children in the orphanage he runs, trying to keep other children from suffering as he did in his own childhood. He initially holds the ideals that he must kill, though he eventually comes to accept Vash's ideals. He eventually fights his master, but spares him after defeating him. Legato Bluesummers controls Chapel and forces him to shoot Wolfwood, who stumbles into a church. He spends his last moments reflecting on his life and making a final confession before dying. He shouted out his last words in a confused manner: "I did not want to die this way!" But after saying this, there is a long silence as he comes to a final realization, and dies with a smile on his face. He died leaning against his weapon, showing irony in that his weapon which took so many lives is shaped like a Cross and ends up being the only object holding him up after he dies.
Vash takes Wolfwood's gun as an act of honor, and ends up using it against Knives after he hears Wolfwood's voice.
He is a priest; however, he spent the greater part of his life training to be an assassin under a priest he looked up to. He hardly ever feels any remorse for killing, especially when it's to protect the innocent. He and Vash have some minor disagreements on this matter, which is somewhat ironic due to their occupations as gunfighters. He frequently shows his frustration at an inability to live up to Vash’s non-killing lifestyle, demonstrating the guilt he has for taking others’ lives, even while doing it for good purposes. He particularly looks out for kids, making sure that none ever suffer like he did, and his primary objective has always been to make money for his orphanage.
The Punisher is a large cross-shaped gun wielded by the best members of the Eye of Michael, most commonly seen is Nicholas D. Wolfwood. There are supposedly only ten in existence and Wolfwood's Punisher is the tenth one in creation. His Punisher has two machine guns in front and a rocket launcher in the back. In the anime, the side arms of the cross open up to reveal a storage bin for pistols. After Wolfwood dies, Vash inherits the weapon, and uses it in his battle with Knives. Nightow commented on the Punisher being around a "hunded-and-so" kilograms and Wolfwood having an "incredible sense of balance". It has been noted by many characters that the Punisher is a very heavy weapon. Wolfwood commented on this with "That's because it's full of mercy".
Many other Punishers appeared in the series and other of Nightow's work. The Chapel Gun, used by Mr. C against his fight with Wolfwood in the manga, is a large cross-shaped machine gun with four spiked ends at the base of the cross. Wolfwood's friend Livio wields the Double Fangs, two cross-shaped submachine guns with dual barrels that make them capable of firing forward and backward at once; these guns are typically strapped to his wrists and, later, carried in low-slung shoulder holsters when not in use. Livio's alternate personality, Razlo the Tri-Punisher of Death, wielded, as his name suggests, three punishers. When he was in his Livio state, they were carried by his three henchmen, Agile, Zain, and a third, unnamed henchman. The Punisher's cross design bears a resemblance to the Centerhead weapon from Gungrave: Overdose, another Nightow work. The Centerhead was wielded by Fangoram (a henchman working for the game's antagonist) and was used in the same way as Wolfwood's.
Connections to Christianity
Wolfwood's primary occupation is of being a Christian priest, and his clothes and main weapon is of Christian themes. Nightow is generally known as one of the few successful manga artists who believes in Christ. Most of the Japanese population is not Christian, but Trigun itself is full of themes and ideas that has connection to Christianity. Nightow grew up as a Buddhist, but studied Catholicism and converted to it, while retaining Buddhist principles.
There are many Christian themes found much in the manga and anime. Even though being a gunman Wolfwood takes his faith greatly in mind, but unlike Vash who is much of pacifist, Wolfwood believes himself to be a realist and that violence and killings are a part of life. When questioned about this, he always replies, "I've always chosen the right path, haven't I?" Wolfwood actions can be seen with other of his Biblical predecessors. There is John the Baptist, a non-conforming ambassador for Christ, who walked around in the wilderness, much like Wolfwood hiked through the desert. St. Peter used gratuitous violence to save Jesus, rather like Wolfwood perhaps unnecessarily shooting down Zazie the Beast to save Vash. Jesus rebuked Peter by saying, "He who lives by the sword dies by the sword". In the manga and anime that is also how Wolfwood was killed, dying by his weapon. Samson from the Old Testament lived life wildly and violently, killing because of grudges, and carrying on outside of marriage with the two-faced Delilah. Yet God used him as a Judge for His people. Wolfwood also lives wildly and violently, yet is able to be used for good. The Book of Judges remarks about Samson's time that "in those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes." Sometimes seen as Wolfwood is taking that verse to heart in a lawless land. He can also be referenced to St. Paul, who traveled through unknown land to spread Christianity, just like Wolfwood travelling through a harsh planet to save his orphanage and people he came across.
Anime Source ranked Wolfwood #75th in their Top 100 Anime Characters Survey based on 19 votes. Saying that "Wolfwood is the father of all badass, gun-toting priests. He is completely unorthodox in his methods, but still dedicated to his ministry in his own absurd way. Totally respecting this guy because not everyone can mesh coolness and priesthood with such finesse."
Mania.com listed him in 9th place in their 10 Biggest Bad Ass Anime Gunslingers, commenting that "Wearing the clothes of a priest and carrying a cross on his back Wolfwood roams the desert planet of Gunsmoke. His cross truly represents death not only in its symbolic meaning but also in the fact that it is one giant arsenal itself. It contains a machine gun function and rocket launcher as well as containing a rack of handguns in the anime. Before Wolfwood met Vash, he was a do whatever it takes individual who had no problem with dispensing lead as for his sacraments and introducing those in his way to God in a very up close manner." The site also listed him as the best supporting character in an anime series. Jian DeLeon of Complex magazine named him sixth on a list of "The 25 Most Stylish Anime Characters," labeling him "The epitome of "speak softly and carry a big stick."
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