By William Hong
Trigun creator Yasuhiro Nightow never anticipated that his signature character, Vash the Stampede, would become an enduring icon within the American anime fan community. Even more of a surprise was that the anime adaptation of Trigun, largely ignored by Japanese viewers during its original run in 1998, became a commercial and critical hit in America. It joined the likes of Cowboy Bebop, The Big O, Outlaw Star, and Blue Submarine No. 6, as series that developed a large American fan base during the early 2000s after appearing on Cartoon Network's late night programming block. Aside from the universally adored Cowboy Bebop, all these shows found new life in America after failing to take off in Japan.
From the get go, it seemed that Trigun was tailor-made for Western audiences. Trigun is a sci-fi, steam punk spaghetti western series, a distinct combination of elements that's hard not to like. The plot follows legendary gunslinger Vash the Stampede, who carries a 60 billion double dollar bounty on his head, as he wanders Planet Gunsmoke's boundless wastelands in search of his lost memories. American viewers were immediately were smitten by Vash's goofy, affable personality. He is a pacifistic gunslinger who's enthusiastically utters his signature phrase, "LOVE AND PEACE!", as often as possible, much to the chagrin of his friends and foes. Although he initially comes off as a carefree vagrant that inadvertently bumbles into trouble every episode, the series slowly unravels his compelling inner turmoil as a gunslinger that doesn't want to kill, but may eventually be forced to -- for the sake of self preservation as well as protecting others.
Anime characters rarely reach iconic status in the US, but Vash remains a popular character due to his lovable personality and iconic design. Although the anime ended in 26 episodes and the Trigun: Maximum manga concluded in 2007, American fans clamored for more Trigun. Their cries didn't go unnoticed as Nightow was approached by an American company to create new Trigun stories. Vash would be back, this time in theatrical form. The man selected to helm the anticipated movie is Satoshi Nishimura. Nishimura has worked on countless hit anime adaptations of popular manga series, including Card Captor Sakura, Drgaon Ball Z, Ruroni Kenshin, and, course, Trigun. The 90-minute feature is due for release in 2010. Trigun is now a rare example of an dormant anime franchise that was resurrected because of foreign fans. Vash lives to fight another day, with the possibilities for more adventures if the movie succeeds.
Nightow and Nishimura were on hand at Anime Expo to present an early trailer of the film to the Trigun faithfuls that brought Vash back into the limelight.
Interview with Yasuhiro Nightow and Satoshi Nishimura
July 1, 2009
Translated from Japanese into English
APA: Are you surprised at the popularity of Trigun in the US?
Yasuhiro Nightow: I'm very blessed to have American fans. The Trigun movie that's coming out is [possible] because of requests from American fans. Without these fans, I wouldn't have this opportunity, so I'm very thankful and ecstatic to have American fans.
APA: How did you get involved as the character designer for the Gungrave video game?
Nightow: I was attending a convention in America and was approached by Red Entertainment, who asked if there was a certain type of game I was interested in making. I told them what kind of game I wanted and that’s how Gungrave was born.
APA: Is the Trigun movie based on the anime or manga or is it an original story?
Satoshi Nishimura: It's a new story. The movie isn't a shortened version of the anime or manga. It's a completely new episode within the timeframe of the Trigun anime. The relationships and settings are all the same. The plot for the movie occurs between the 10th and 12th episode of the anime. We had it in mind to place a story there.
Nightow: There wouldn't be problems with continuity if I dropped the movie between those episodes.
APA: There are a lot of eating scenes in the Trigun anime and manga. What food do you eat for inspiration?
Nightow: What I eat and what the characters in the manga eat are completely unrelated. I draw those eating scenes to establish a warm environment in the manga. I drew food like spaghetti and fried rice that I, as a starving artist [laughs], wanted to eat. My personal eating style is cheap and good.
APA: If the movie is successful, will you do additional movies and a new Trigun anime?
Nishimura: Given the opportunity, I would like to. It's up to the producers, not us. We'd love to do both another movie and anime series.
APA: Since we're here at the Anime Expo, which of your characters would you cosplay as?
Nishimura: I'd cosplay as Wolfwood. I don't think Vash's style of dress would suit me.
Nightow: [Laughs] I don't really relate to any of my characters. I can't imagine myself cosplaying.
APA: Can you tell us what you are working on now?
Nightow: I'm working on concept toys called Assemble Board. It's a toy that where you can move each individual body part. It's currently a work in progress. I'm also creating original short stories for this anthology I'm involved with. One of them takes place in New York and involves a unique day and night cycle.