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Love, Angst and Snappy Dialogue: Vash/Wolfwood, Trigun

Title: “For Love. And Peace.”: Vash the Stampede and Nicholas D. Wolfwood, Trigun.
Author: Renet (mistressrenet at yahoo dot com)
Spoilers: Background spoilers for both characters
Personal Website: Renet's House of Insanity.
Notes: This is the tip of the iceberg, at best. If you're new to anime or Trigun, I recommend you skim my reasonably short overview (with helpful linkage) here so I can babble on more here about the pretty boys. Heh. Anime quotes are from the dub; manga translations are courtesy of Dark Horse (to Maximum V. 2) and Sumire from that point onward.


Wolfwood: "So you can smile."

Vash: "Eh? What's that?"

Wolfwood: "I was worried. You always smile all cheerfully...but it's so empty, it hurts to look at you. I see you hurtin'...and grinnin' just to bear it. That's how it looked to me, at least."

--Trigun, V. 2


When I first started this essay, I thought it would be easy-- but it hasn't been at all. There's so much chemistry in the Vash and Wolfwood pairing-- anime and manga, dub and sub-- it's hard to pull out specific incidents, come up with coherent and well-thought-out arguments. You're inclined to just point and say, "Look at them! Just look! Vash won't let Wolfwood do too much damage to the guy who tried to kill him, so Wolfwood doses the poor slob with Tabasco sauce instead! Look at the way they cover each other in Quick Draw, the way they barely even have to consult with each other! And what about all the snappy dialogue?"

But this is a community for essays, so here I go.

This a story about people who were supposed to be on opposite sides, who end up ready to sacrifice almost everything for each other.

This is a story about love, and loss, and sacrifice, about losing yourself in someone else but never really losing your self.

Vash the Stampede is a gunman with a troubled past who wears a bright red coat to symbolize his determination to bring peace to the planet; Nicholas D. Wolfwood is a self-proclaimed preacher carrying around a gun the size of a small city, whose money goes to an orphanage that's only briefly glimpsed in anime or manga but whose children clearly haunt him.

At first appearance, Wolfwood is tough, strong, sharp-tongued, and ill-tempered as often as not. At first appearance, Vash is soft, goofy, easy-going, always happy. In fact, Wolfwood's a soft touch for children and pretty girls, and Vash has a core of steel and a background of sorrows he doesn't always bother hiding.

Wolfwood is tough and doesn't hesitate to kill; Vash goes to extreme-- even absurd-- lengths to avoid killing. Wolfwood is practical, Vash idealistic.


Wolfwood: You're bowing with your palms together? Take a look at those crosses--you're in the wrong faith, aren't you?

Vash: I can put more feeling into it this way. What's so wrong about that?

Wolfwood: He was right, you know? You just don't know how to treat the bad guys.

If you do this for every last one of them, there'll be no end to it.

--Trigun Maximum, V. 5


In both anime and manga, Wolfwood is working for Vash's archenemy. In both anime and manga, Vash is not entirely human, and is carrying around more secrets than even most anime heroes. They are both, at times, guilty and conflicted about the paths they are on.


Vash, to Wolfwood: "You...told me back then...that my face looked better with a real smile. If you could see yourself through my eyes now...you'd see a man forcing himself to play the devil while his own heart cries out."

--Trigun Maximum, V. 2


They each have a family, a home, that's vitally important to them, and they both fight like hell to keep their homes intact. Their methods are wildly different, as are their ethics; but they both support each other in their battles, all but unquestioningly.

They are friends first-- perhaps the best and most reliable friends either one has ever had-- and sometimes they feel so close and joined you just think there can't be any room there for anyone else. They also seem to understand each other better than anyone else-- they leave things unspoken, and come closer to honesty with each other than they do with anyone else.


Wolfwood: "It's about time I left the church anyway. I figured there was no hope 'til I made some money for [the orphans there]."

Vash: "Make money...as a priest?"

Wolfwood: "That's not all, but...
...it's not exactly like that."

--Trigun, Vol. 2


Vash and Wolfwood can be-- are-- both comfortable and uncomfortable with one another, relaxed and happy in each other's presence until they're aware, again, of who they are and what they're doing, and then the tension snaps back and they're as wary as tomcats.

It's like watching a rubber band stretch and stretch and stretch and then-- snap!-- everything's pushed back together tight and tense and Vash and Wolfwood are thisclose and you're just riveted, waiting, wondering what's going to happen next.

And then the tension creeps out again-- the manga in particular has a talent for cutting to a new, unrelated, scene without ever quite telling us how things are resolved-- and they're comfortable together again, almost the people they would be without the red coat and the giant gun and the ever-present violence of their desert planet.


Vash: "I'd much rather lead an uneventful life if I could."

Wolfwood:"You couldn't if you tried."

--Trigun anime, Murder Machine


They are also the kings of snappy dialogue, snarking at each other like the lovers in a 30's romantic comedy, teasing and harassing each other, complaining about each other's quirks in a routine that seems natural to them from the very beginning.

Vash gets yelled at a lot-- a lot-- but Wolfwood's one of the few people he bothers standing up for himself with, yelling back, teasing, barking orders when he feels it's necessary.


Wolfwood: "You got us into this, do something!!"

Vash: "You fell in all by yourself!"

Wolfwood: "You're the outlaw!"

Vash: "What's that got to do with anything!?"

--Trigun anime, Murder Machine


There's something so honest and true and real about the way they are with one another-- even at the most trying and tense times-- that I can't help but see them together. They belong together, on some base, basic level that's hard to describe rationally or coherently.

And they work together, to the bitter end. For love. And peace.



I tried to stick to unspoilery ones. There are lots, lots more out there: I have recs on my own LJ and I recced for August at try_this_fic, and my friend tiggymalvern, an excellent V/W writer, recced for September there.

hibem's AU How to Sleep Above the Sky is a well-handled look at a very different Vash and Wolfwood, born in a very different world. They are still undeniably Vash and Wolfwood, though, and their chemistry is still undeniably there.

Enough to Make a Preacher Swear, by robofetus0 contains only the background spoilers you already know, pretty much. A lot of grumpy Wolfwood ranting, which is just my thing. Oh, and hot sex. Yay!

Little or Nothing, a VxW and MxW where Wolfwood tries to figure out what he wants. Wonderful characterization and hot, believable sex.

Marksmanship by emungere. Where the contrast between the lives they pretend to have and the lives they really lead get to Wolfwood.

Also check the LJ comm v_x_w. Yum.


Good stuff, but here be spoilers.

Croik's "Sin Nombre" is currently down, but is a nice angsty V/W take on things. Temporarily hosted here.

For Love and Peace is by Totally Rockin' and has Queen in. How can you resist?


Trigun Maximum, Vol. 8. Vash is telling Wolfwood he's an idiot for saving him. Wolfwood is telling to shut up, already. They're so cute. Remember to read right to left.

Knockin' On Heaven's Door, a Trigun doujinshi (fan comic) with some of my favorite art. And hey, there's my icon!


*happy sigh* Theirloveismeantotbe

This was wonderful, Renet. Man, you took me to a very happy place. I needed this today. Dude, you make me want to pull out my tapes and watch them over and over again. Thanks, sweetie. *g*

Wolfwood fascinates Vash and Nicholas sees everything he isn't and wants to be in Vash. *happy sigh*
Awww...thanks. I'm glad you liked.
Aw, thanks.
... clearly I'm going to have to try and get hold of the Trigun manga. Trigun's always been one of my sideline interests, but reading this is making me think I might want to investigate further. Also, looking at that scan - is Wolfwood speaking Kansai-ben?? I do seem to recall he used "bon" in that episode with the kid who was running away... *fangirls Kansai dialect*
That's totally Kansai-ben which I totally wanted to put in but could find no proper way to shoehorn. And yeah, get the manga-- the action's a bit harder to follow in places but it's much better/deeper/darker.
Oh, and in the anime, Hayami Sho's speaking with his real accent. Mmmm.
Glad ya think so.
Awww. I don't know the series, but this was a very nice essay. ^^
Dude, you need to know the series. It's so good. Glad the essay made sense to even the un-knowledgable; that was one of the things I was worried about.
I know, I know. That's what people keep telling me. ^^ I have a friend who just *adores* Knives, so she keeps trying to get me to watch it, too.
The manga is better and has lots more Knives (though I still don't like him much). But in the anime Wolfwood is Hayami Sho. *drool*

If you do watch the anime, be warned...it starts really slow. You might even want to start with episode 3 or 5.
Renet, that was wonderful. You managed to articulate things *so* well...

*blushes* Aw, thanks. Icon love!
I heart Vash and Wolfwood! Still think they're the best part of the best anime around. Thanks for the recs!
Thanks so much. (I've got more stuff recced on my page too. It was hard picking not-too-spoilery stuff.)
Vash and Wolfwood can be-- are-- both comfortable and uncomfortable with one another, relaxed and happy in each other's presence until they're aware, again, of who they are and what they're doing, and then the tension snaps back and they're as wary as tomcats.

It's like watching a rubber band stretch and stretch and stretch and then-- snap!-- everything's pushed back together tight and tense...

Hear, hear! A constant, dynamic push and pull is common to all my favorite pairings, and Vash and Wolfwood deliver in spades. Both are strong personalities, with a lot of experience and defined worldviews, and I love that neither loses his identity or becomes weak because of their relationship. Which is not to say neither changes, but the change is more of an internal transformation. That is, Vash doesn't change Wolfwood, but he inspires something in Wolfwood, and Wolfwood changes himself.

In addition to all the insightful points made in the essay and previous comments, I'd like to add that I think Vash and Wolfwood, on some fundamental level past all the lies both construct in their dealings with each other, trust one another on a number of levels that no other relationship either has can match.

Vash can trust Wolfwood's ability to take care of himself in all but the most extreme situations (say, if Knives ever drops in). He doesn't need to protect Wolfwood, and I think this must be a tremendous relief to someone who's spent most of his adult life driven by his beliefs to shield those who can't do so themselves. Vash can trust in Wolfwood's mental and emotional strength. He doesn't need to hide behind his goofy smile because Wolfwood can handle the darkness and violence in his life without breaking, with understanding even.

Both of these apply in reverse, as well. For Wolfwood in particular, he can trust Vash not to use or harm him. This is, I think, one of the reasons he's so open and caring with children. Children can't wish him harm beyond what they know, and this is generally waaay more innocent than what Wolfwood's been through with Legato and the Gung Ho Guns (duh). Wolfwood's free to love children without the what's-your-motive, when-are-you-going-to-turn-on-me reservations his relationships with adults carry. Vash is often said to be like a child. Not in his actions (usually) or past, but his freely given and totally benign affections. I can't imagine Wolfwood gets that often.

Well, okay, Wolfwood also receives that innocent affection from Milly, but unlike Vash I don't think he can trust her—who has truly led a childlike life—with the darkest reaches of his being or to hold her own against the likes of the GHGs. Much the same goes for Vash's relationship with Meryl, who struggles to integrate Vash's sea of pain with the rest of him and needs to be protected when things get really hairy.

The trust between Vash and Wolfwood is both deep and unique. It makes their happier moments together all the more poignant, and Wolfwood's less-than-benevolent mission all the more wrenching... and, needless to say, that only adds to a wonderfully realized relationship.
Ooh, that point about children is really interesting. I tend to see it differently but that's...a really cool thought.

Really nice points, thanks so much for commenting.
It was my pleasure to contribute.

On the subject of Wolfwood and children, the innocence and purity he finds in his work with children is just one of the reasons why I think Wolfwood's so devoted to them. That he doesn't want any other children to suffer as he did is probably the main reason. He didn't have an adult to turn to, a safe haven, when he was young, so after he acquired all those gunfighting skills and the power to change that comes with them, he made himself somebody children in need could trust and receive caring protection from without strings.

Actually, there's another thing. In the manga, isn't Wolfwood much younger than he appears because of his way-faster-than-normal aging and whatever else was done to him? If he's actually closer in age—but with much more experience—to his December children, he might see his role as more of big brother one? I've only watched the anime, though I've read manga translations, so I don't know all the details.
blue by darkhavens

January 2018



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