With volume 5 of this excellent series ending in truly spectacular fashion, it is surprising to find volume 6 taking a step back to look at Vash's past.
The volume starts by going all sci-fi, instead of the desert planet we are transported into space where a huge fleet of starships carrying thousands of sleeping people make their way to new worlds. On the lead ship a small crew oversee the mission, which is known as Project Seeds, but they have two unusual companions in the young Vash and his brother Knives. The mysterious non-human pair are looked on with fear by some of the crew but not by the caring Rem Saverem, who treats them like her own children. However, things are soon to take a disastrous turn when Knives turns evil (like you didn't see that one coming), betraying Rem and attempting to destroy the seed ships, which sets up an eternal rivalry with Vash. Back in the present though Vash has gone into hiding following the devastating conclusion to his battle with the Gung-Ho Guns in volume 5, but Wolfwood tracks him down to help him investigate the disappearance of a town's entire population. Unfortunately for Wolfwood though Vash has decided to give up fighting in favour of a simple life, but Wolfwood has some information that may change his mind. A name was daubed in the square of the deserted town, a name that holds bad memories for Vash, and that name is Knives...
After the action-packed conclusion to volume 5 the change of pace for episode 17 does feel a bit jarring, but the series does get away with it, mainly because of the introduction of Vash's brother Knives. However, this episode does have a big drawback, and that is in the sappy Rem Saverem. She is just too saintly and perfect, to the point where she is actually pretty annoying. The episode does explain a lot of the background and does flesh out the story, but the other episodes on this disc is where most of the enjoyment lies. Once Wolfwood and Vash are together you know action is not far away, but there is a lot more on show than just action. There is plenty of drama and comedy as you would expect with Trigun, but it is Vash's dilemma when Wolfwood finds him that is most interesting to watch, can he give up the quiet life he now has for more violence and bloodshed?
There is kind of the impression of the calm before the storm in this volume and to be honest it doesn't reach the heights that the last volume did. The pace is notably slower and the storylines in the episodes relatively standard, however, in this volume we learn more about Vash than in any other. We learn about his past and the events that shaped his outlook on life, and finally we get to see who the mysterious man half glimpsed in flashbacks actually is. Even though there isn't anything special about the stories in the episodes on this disc they really do serve to give more depth to Vash by showing the anguish he has and how far he will go to save life, even at the risk of his own.
It is this that really makes the volume, because other than the character development on Vash's part this volume is pretty much wholly within Trigun's comfort zone. Brief appearances from the disturbing Legato Bluesummers and the Gung-Ho Gun Leonov the Puppetmaster at the end of the volume suggests that there will be some more difficult choices for Vash and awesome action next time round. It is a shame that the episode count is low, because an extra episode may have upped the ante on a volume which is heavy on character development but low on originality. It is still great fun and an excellent series, but this is more of a link to the final showdown than a superb volume in itself. A quiet addition, but then if you are buying the series you are hardly going to miss it out.
Trailers and production art. Woo.