is one those productions that will have a higher chance of success in luring the international audience uninitiated to the power of anime. With the abundance of anime stories that find some sort of life-critical need to have events occurring in Tokyo, it is tremendously refreshing to find the rare title that, in bold search for a new premise, departs the shores of Japan and embraces an outlandish theme in style
Ok, maybe "outlandish" is too strong a word. The setup is a very similar Wild Wild West culture living on a desert planet, where the name of Vash the Stampede strikes fear into the hearts of everybody. Wanted with a 60,000,000,000 $$ (that's called "double dollar" to you) bounty for the complete destruction of a city, he has earned the nickname "The Humanoid Typhoon" for consistent natural disaster-like wakes of destruction to whatever places of civilisation he passes by. This series is thereby a biography of sorts on the life of Vash the Stampede and his travels.
And an incredibly funny one at that. Fleshed out in playful disposition and carefree attitude, Vash is arguably one of the single-most entertaining characters to watch as he deals with dangerous situations of mayhem and villians one after another to such hilarious effect.
Being a series sporting plenty of fights, the animators have done a very good job animating the action sequences without dropping the art quality. A technical achievement that few studios, even in post-millennium years, can do so consistently. The use of an occasional "side kick", a stylish cross-toting priest by the name Nicholas Wolfwood, really pumps the values of fights way up. (Actually, he is more of an equal standing peer, but I'll leave you to witness it for yourself.)
Usually, a production of such great comedy, animation quality, and art direction would have easily earned a 10 from me. The point of contention is: this should have been two separate anime
What I have mentioned so far are largely that of the first half. The second half, however, takes a 180° swing and begins descending into a frighteningly dark mood. As mentioned above, this "study" into Vash's life extends to the somber chronicles of his past, providing more than enough material to show just how and why Vash is living the life as he is. The different beliefs in morality then becomes explosive fuel for many conflicts between Vash and Nicholas, thereby bearing even onto the audience a very real challenge to decide just what is right or wrong.
Few anime present a story that doesn't move, but rocks
one awake to realise and consider the standards and morals of life we sometimes take for granted. Simple yet powerful, a message has been transmitted loud and clear.
Both styles of storytelling have been tremendously entertaining/moving. But, like one wouldn't really eat bran with curry, they join together to form an odd overall taste. The distance between the two directions too vast to find cohesion. On top of that, the focus of development falls mainly on Vash and Nicholas, failing to include many other side characters whose main purpose then seem to be no more than witnesses to the events.
Still, if the drastic change of direction is not a problem for you, then prepare to sit through one helluva ride.
Overall rating: 8/10
Fantastic first half of comedy; stylish battles; deep moral challenge and development for the protagonists.
Differing storytelling modes; some characters wastefully undeveloped.