The quick-witted gunslinger and protagonist of the legendary anime and manga Trigun, VashVash the Stampede, is a man of many disguises. The hero has changed over the years, but he has always had his signature appearance of a red coat, blond hair, hoop earrings, prosthetic limb, and mole under his eye. The manga was first published by Tokuma Shoten in 1995, and since then, anime versions of the series have been released in 1998 and 2010. In studio Orange’s remake of the vintage sci-fi Western, Trigun Stampede, he’s back and cuter than ever. Vash, who comes to us in 2023 as one of the most endearing anime cuties, breathes new life into a character that has existed for many years.
Vash has a charming demeanour despite having a more grungier appearance in the past. Yasuhiro Nightow, the designer of Trigun, sought to show a different kind of Western cowboy—one with a firm pacifist philosophy. Since he seems to contend with a never-ending stream of killers who want to capture him for the prize on his head, that pacifism gives him difficulties in the series. As Vash consistently avoids attacks and prefers to end fights with gun butts rather than actual bullets, this immediately gives Trigun — both the old and new series — a comedic quality.
Early on in the franchise, the Vash was blatantly punk. He sports a scarlet, double-breasted coat that reaches his ankles in the first Trigun manga. His spiky hair stands up like it’s charged with lightning, and his shoes are covered in dozens of straps and buckles. His design would be improved upon in the later manga Trigun Maximum with the addition of more machine components including pipes going up and down his legs and a mechanical corset.
Over the years, he has maintained several distinguishing characteristics including his red cloak, glasses, and prosthetic limb. They demonstrate what is most important to him and reveal his underlying values. For instance, the significance of his red robe, which alludes to the importance of his relationship to his late caretaker Rem, whose favourite flower was a red geranium, goes beyond mere fashion. More or less unaltered, his arm acts as a symbol of his differences from others around him and his relative alienation from his surroundings. Vash’s current form has all of these distinguishing characteristics, yet it is the least appealing of his previous designs. The Trigun Stampede Vash is noticeably younger and softer, and it seems as though the previous designs’ edginess has been muted.
He feels more at home in Stampede with the TikTok e-boys. Instead of a slicked-up appearance, he has undercut hair and jostled hair. He is wearing his hoop earrings and has rather pronounced dark eyebrows. His combat boots and cloak more closely resemble items from a contemporary streetwear collection than they do from a future desert dystopia. His face has a pronounced red flush, which is another example of a fashionable appearance made popular on the internet.
This Vash seems to be competing for a new and younger audience. There are several scenes that look perfect for TikTok fan edits, such as when he arches his eyebrow while grinning nervously. He appears to be a lost puppy dog—so cute! And even while his brilliant aquamarine eyes won’t win over his opponents, they’ll look fantastic in a fan-made music video that has been sped up, edited, and put to music. It doesn’t seem all that surprising that Orange can produce our next top anime cutie given its track record of success. The human-like animals from Beastars were transformed into emotionally intriguing and, to some fans, physically attractive characters by this animation studio.
In any case, I believe it is fair to remark that the new Vash appears more unoriginal. He is sporting a black turtleneck, which is a common outfit choice in anime and series that are close to anime, including characters like Kakashi Hatake and Cloud Strife. His entire size and shape have changed, and fans have bemoaned the fact that his silhouette has changed. They claim that we no longer have his long, lanky build and his spikey hair. He resembles a member of a boy band more than a figure from a Todd McFarlane comic, despite Nightow’s obvious admiration for the artist, whose work has in the past been seen as having influenced Vash’s design.
This version of Vash is a total charmer, regardless of how you feel about the design. The neighbourhood bar celebrates him as a hero. He goes to great lengths to look for and ensure the welfare of his hostages. Even environmental concerns are important to him; the town he is in no longer has pure water, and he seems committed to finding a solution. He laughs to relieve stress when there is dispute. He is a dreamboat and an outlaw.
Vash has been given life by Studio Orange in a way that hasn’t been seen before. He can express himself and move in a way that hasn’t been seen in earlier iterations of the series thanks to the 3D CG animation. His limbs and body sway as he feverishly pursues a single bullet, which is visible to us. Yoshitsugu Matsuoka, who has expertise voicing crazy villains like Majima from Lycoris Recoil, plays an utterly desperate and frantic Vash. His facial expressions, such as the intense arch of his eyebrows or desperate tears in his eyes, give us some of the strongest characterization yet. No scenario better captures the essence of his character than the one where Vash volunteers to fight a soldier.
Vash turns a near-disaster around during the duel by shooting a bomb away from the community as a whole. He quickly transitions from stomping and screaming for a shot to easily avoiding his enemy’s attacks at point-blank range. These kinds of incidents highlight Vash’s talent and sense of humour. There are a lot of self-important protagonists in anime that are completely fixated on their objective. Vash, on the other hand, seems me as the kind of man you may run into at a pub by chance and who just so happens to be talented. He becomes much more approachable and crushable as a result, beyond just being cute.
It’s true that Vash’s more laid-back and contemporary appearance could not work in the dismal setting of his story. He appears less like a notorious gunman on the run and more like a pop star. He isn’t from that world either, not even the one in the narrative. He is actually a young boy who dropped from a spacecraft onto an extraterrestrial world. Vash is a fallen star, and the first episode depicts him shining brightly.