- Episodes : 26
- Genre : Western, Action, Comedy
- Airing Date : Apr. 1998 – Sep. 1998
- Producers : Madhouse
Vash The Stampede Preview (No Spoilers)
Vash the Stampede has a $$60,000,000 bounty on his head, because he’s a ruthless villain who flattens cities with a maniacal laugh. With the image that comes to mind with such a description, it’s no surprise when people have trouble believing that a certain donut-loving, airheaded blondie is the same person. Luckily for us, we are able to see through his travels across the planet Gunsmoke what is real about each of these separate personas. Each episode gives us a taste of the truth so that we may draw a fuller portrait of the man, who lies somewhere between the accusations made against him and the ridiculous cluelessness that he puts on.
Vash The Stampede Bio
Seiyuu Name: Masaya Onosaka/ Johnny Yong Bosch
Vash the Stampede comes in just under six feet, with broad shoulders that hold up an impressive red leather coat, double buttoned and reaching down to his feet. He also has blue eyes, an earring on his left ear, and ceiling-high spiked blonde hair. As such, he cuts a rather impressive figure and is easily spotted in most situations, which is something you would think he doesn’t want, considering that he always has bounty hunters and insurance agents chasing after him.
However, it is the appearance of a man who is not only supposed to be the main protagonist but that of a man who has rightfully earned the title of “The Humanoid Typhoon”. Though he isn’t nearly as blood-thirsty and merciless as the rumors suggest, there is still something about his leather gloves strapped up to his forearms, his knee-high boots, red leather coat, and massive .45 Long Colt that just scream danger.
Again though, there is a certain contradiction (the man in many is a walking contradiction of just about everything you can imagine) with his appearance and the attitude he generally displays. Rather than acting like some brooding terror (albeit there are moments of that) or a crazed murderer, he comes off as a clueless man with the most extraordinary luck. When we first come upon him, which happens to be in sync with that of a group of bounty hunters, he’s dancing ridiculously to some overly loud pop music. He also has a particular weakness for donuts and women to the point that few people ever take him seriously.
Despite all this, the man is one of incredible ability and holds himself to the strictest code. He refuses to kill and has lived the past several years of his life taking on bounty hunters and villains without taking one life.
Vash The Stampede Highlights
1. Shoot to Disarm
After the July Incident, in which Vash became the outlaw worth $$60,000,000 and earned the moniker The Humanoid Typhoon by decimating an entire town, Vash swore he would never take another life. Now, he never really had any intention of doing so in the first place, but he was a hundred times stricter on himself after the accident. This is why in so many of the earlier episodes we watch him dance around and make just about every victory look like some miraculous stroke of good fortune. This includes having enemies “accidentally” knock each other out while he jumps from disaster to disaster, escaping by the skin of his chin. Thankfully, later on we see just how planned out each move is as well as his true skills in taking out opponents by using sleeper holds and throwing rocks to deflect bullets. One of the clearest examples of his overall goofy “luck” and skill in battle is the episode where he takes on the Nebraska Brothers. First off, we see him running about town, narrowly avoiding capture by the town’s residents who wish to turn him in for their own safety. Then, we see his true battle prowess as he takes down the Nebraska Brothers with a few well-placed shots.
However, this life hasn’t come without a price. In choosing to protect the sanctity of life, even of those who wish to cause him harm, Vash has earned many injuries. One of the most impactful scenes of the entire show, is when we capture a glimpse of Vash shirtless. His entire body is scarred, massively carved up, by the wounds he’s suffered by choosing the life of a pacifist. Not only did this put the show onto the next level by showing the truth behind every choice having consequence, but it perfectly detailed Vash’s character.
2. Wears a Smile
One of Vash’s most signature poses, is when he holds up a peace sign and flashes a massive smile followed by a ridiculous laugh and the declaration of the world being made up of “love and peace.” The smile he wears in such moments is iconic and depicts a big part of his personality. He truly loves life and tends to wear a wide, sometimes foolish, smile about his face when in the presence of others. It’s this type of grin that make it hard for people to believe that he is indeed The Humanoid Typhoon.
However, this smile is worn to keep other people feeling safe and to ensure that he doesn’t let his true feelings bring anyone down. Not to say that he doesn’t genuinely appreciate and love life, but he does have a lot of pain locked away. He’s lost essentially everyone he would call family and his only living “brother” is his number one enemy. Guilt in particular has plagued him after destroying the town of July. It’s not in his person to bring harm to others, and to have killed hundreds is something he will have to carry for the rest of his life. Making matters worse is the fact that it becomes quite clear to him that becoming close to anyone essentially endangers them. It’s for this reason that he ditches Meryl and Millie later in the series.
In the end, he’s the type of guy that wears a smile no matter what the situation in order to keep others feeling safe, secure, and happy. It’s truly an incredible feat considering the amount of emotions that have piled on top of each other over the years.
There are times in the series that we see Vash act like a complete hound dog. In a few episodes he’s basically led around by women, acting like their pets. However, in truth, he has only the noblest intentions and just plays up the part for the fun and delight of others. How can this be proven? Well, first off, there’s the whole incident with Elizabeth, a citizen of the city July, which as previously mentioned Vash destroyed. Despite fighting against an assassin, whom Elizabeth hired, Vash is still able to keep both himself and her safe through an improvised waltz. Can you really say he’s not a noble after such grace under pressure?
More important than that specific example is how he handles the situation with Elizabeth after her attempts to kill him. He stands before her guilty and ashamed of what he clearly put her through and is ready to let her shoot him. However, it’s in this exact moment that she realizes Vash is the same man who comforted her after the city had been destroyed. At this moment we see a lone, wandering Vash, not putting on any airs and just wishing to protect someone. This is the true form of his gentleman-like qualities, desiring to protect and comfort everyone.
Another great example, is the way his relationship progresses with Meryl. He clearly loves her and understands her feelings for him, but doesn’t wish to put her in danger nor does he want to take advantage of her emotions. Not that Nicholas D. Wolfwood was taking advantage of Millie, but it definitely serves as a reference point to see where the relationship between Meryl and Vash could have gone. It shows just how much Vash actually wants to keep people safe and free of harm. It also proves that he really doesn’t go beyond flirting in his pursuits with women.
4. Makes Sacrifices
We’ve already covered two areas in which Vash has shown himself willing to make sacrifices. There’s his own health and body that have been strained and scarred in his decision to protect the lives of everyone and anyone. Then there was the time he was willing to give up his relationships with Meryl and Millie in order to keep them safe and pursue a quiet, simple life. However, and though many might argue that this sacrifice is contradictory, he did decide to forsake his no-kill principles. Yes, later in the series, he is faced with the choice of killing Legato Bluesummers or letting Meryl and Millie die. In most other situations, Vash was able to figure out a way to act without killing, but this time he knows he has no choice. You can argue it’s for the greater good, but he still had to break his personal conviction. He sacrificed his innocence and morals in an action that will definitely haunt him for years to come.
This choice truly set the series apart from a lot of other shows. Though Rurouni Kenshin is a great show and Kenshin does commit himself at certain moments to the fact that he might need to kill someone, the show never fully explores the consequences of breaking one’s personal conviction. In Trigun, we watch the emotional and mental turmoil that plagues Vash due to this choice. It forces the show into a much more mature arena.
5. Cowboy with Nice Threads
Let’s face it, we all like to oogle a well-dressed and stylish character. Well, in the 90’s, few characters could come close to matching the style and suave of this gunman. Vash’s style is unique, as described earlier, in its demand for attention and its declaration of danger, which seem to go against Vash’s personality. His whole character design seems to continue along this vein of contradiction. He has a somewhat innocent and childish face, characteristics that are only enhanced by his blue eyes and goofy smile. These features work perfectly on him when he finally breaks down into tears and lets his pain shadow his face. However, the parts that we are exposed to on a constant basis are in heavy contrast with the scars and muscle and fatigue that are sewn into his body. In the end, Vash is a bold clash of machismo, innocence, femininity, strength, and kindness. His character is one that we can all get behind and admire for his quirky fashion sense and lifestyle.
Vash the Stampede is one of those characters that will live on in infamy for generations. He’s a seemingly simple protagonist stitched into a show with a seemingly simple plot. However, as the plot progresses into mature topics, Vash transforms into an extremely complex character. Yes, he has some contradictions, but these only prove just how vast his character’s dimension reaches. He is a world in and of himself to explore.