*Warning – Spoiler Below*
The very first anime I watched was Trigun and man, was that a great start to anime. I saw it probably in the early 2000s. A friend of mine found it somewhere and thought it’d be fun to watch. We watched it in Japanese with English subtitles because she was interested in learning Japanese at the time. Before Trigun, all I knew of was Pokemon. For some reason that I can’t remember, I had started collecting Pokemon cards in 1999, right as they first were released in the US. Pardon my nostalgia attack.
Trigun was really special, especially since I was used to the usual Saturday morning cartoon-type shows at that point. It started out really silly and fun, but got extremely serious and dark past the halfway point. All I could think of was how cool everything was – gunfights, spaceships, awesome stuff in general. Once it took a turn for the serious, I remember thinking “This is way better than anything I’ve seen before,” movies included.
For me, I definitely can recognize Trigun as being the start of my love of the psychological genre. I remember being really impressed at the nature of Legato Bluesummers’ villany. He wasn’t actually “trying” to kill the hero, like you often see in shows and movies. No, he was doing his very best to mess with the hero’s head. The scene where he “forces” Vash to decide to shoot him still stands out in my memory as one of the strongest scenes I have seen. I was impressed at how powerful a “cartoon” could be (I didn’t realize anime was something different until later.)
There’s some awesome memories I still have with Trigun. Partially because I used it on a couple of occasions to introduce new people to anime. It really marked the jumping-off point for me to dive headfirst into anime and, later, Japanese culture.
Friday afternoons after Japanese class somehow turned into anime time at my friend’s dorm room for…practice. Just what kind of situations the dialogue in this show was practice for, I’m not exactly sure, but I admit that we found a definite increase in our listening comprehension and even speaking, even if it was just to sing “Tsukurimasho” while walking around campus. Heck, I feel like I still sing it all the time!
I think what hooked me at this point was the goofiness mixed with that nearly anime-exclusive genre of “slice of life” as it linearly follows the lives of these high school girls and their insane, sweet, and pause-it-I’m-gonna-die-I’m-laughing-so-hard hilarity. Another hook was the animation. It was better than the bits of anime series I had seen prior, and the animation style switch for comedic purposes (i.e. chibi) just really worked for me as a medium. It is still one of my favorite devices and I can clearly trace it back to Azumanga Daioh.
Another major note here is that all other little bits of anime series or movies I had seen before Azumanga Daioh had been dubbed into English. Actually hearing the Japanese voices (of which there are some truly great and varied examples in this show) got me started on understanding the culture of Japanese character voice types and just how much more entertaining (and just how much more sense) certain elements of Japanese comedy will make when presented in its “natural habitat” of that voice.
A great beginning to anime that I must say I’m very proud of, and continues to stand the test of time. Zenko signing off.