A few days ago, my roommate “accidentally” didn’t sign out of a friend’s Netflix account, and he introduced me to a 90’s manga TV show called Trigun. WOW. I am really impressed with the ethical tug-of-war in this show. It only has 26 episodes, and leaves a ton more questions than it answers, but it is totally wicked. WARNING: Spoilers ahead.
Trigun centers around a character named Vash the Stampede. He has a legendary reputation for having blasted a chunk out of the moon, being able to dodge bullets, and leaving a wake of death behind him. While it’s all true, there’s a problem with his reputation: he’s a pacifist. Not only that, but he appears to be a coward. He has no self-respect, he will do anything to stop people from being killed. He has an attention span less than a goldfish, and he’s extremely goofy and childish.
He struggles with a personal conviction of absolute pacifism. He always tries to save the lives of the people trying to kill him, and simultaneously save everyone else. Inevitably he ends up beaten to near death almost every episode, occasionally facing the deaths of innocents that he blames himself for and internalizes. We eventually learn that he is not human, though it is never clarified what he is (some kind of demon cyborg creature).
Vash lives by the mantra, “No one has the right to take a life.” The sanctity of life is the driving force of his actions. His evil twin brother lives by a different maxim, “You have to kill the spider to save the butterfly.” He is a murdering psychotic with plans to destroy the entire human race. The brothers realize that one of them has to die. Ultimately Vash cannot save his brother, and must sacrifice his principles to stop his brother’s reign of terror.