Friday, March 27, 2015

My Life with Anime Figures - Part 4 (Trigun 2)

While I won't say that anime figures can take the place of an actual person, I will say that sometimes I have imagined that characters from an anime or manga could come to life.  Take Vash the Stampede for example, and the life lessons that he accrued after 150 years of life as a relatively immortal humanoid.  Someone who can see the good in people even after they can shoot, kill and destroy, is a remarkably strong person.  He didn't get bitter after seeing how people act to one another, and continued on with his life in the pursuit of "LOVE and PEACE!"

I've always found Vash a remarkable character since he had so many bad things happen to him over the years of his life.  If you've read the manga you'll see what I mean, and even if you have just watched the anime, you might get a slight feeling from him.  I spent a good deal of my early twenties pondering over the fact that this man could take a beating and keep on believing that there was still good in people.  I'd say he'd never worked in retail...but he did some of that too.  (ahahahaha, retail joke)

I found myself drawn to Vash long before I met my husband and for a time I wrote plenty of fanfiction depicting how I might react to a character such as he.  I put myself into the place of Milly Thompson (and if you know me I still go by that name at least via Avatar) and saw myself looking out for this deep spikey-headed man who just wanted to believe that there could be good in the world and if he kept going long enough he could eventually bring it out of people.  I even did a bit of "Mary Sue" writing, replacing myself with Milly in those cases and sometimes even getting a romantic interest between me and Vash.  Okay, so I think we all have a moment in time where we dream about a character who isn't based in reality.  Maybe not everyone has crushes on 2D characters, but that being said, even crushes on people who are members of bands or TV shows are somewhat fictional in the way they act and behave.  Most of the time people are different on camera than in real life, and I've seen plenty of interviews to prove the point.

Anyway, I decided today that I'd approach today's blog on anime figures a bit differently since I'm feeling rather dejected and tired of being around people.  Being an introvert, I think I was drawn to Vash in the way all introverts are drawn toward extroverted people - to an extent.  We all get exhausted at some point, but there's a moment where if an extrovert pays me attention I'm suddenly excited like maybe I am part of something special.  And Trigun did that for me, I was part of this small club and when I was asked by some rather extroverted fans of the series to help them start a scanlation club, I was all about it, even to the extent of buying the manga magazines from Japan in order to keep things rolling.  The perks of this is knowing some behind-the-scenes information about a series that I otherwise would not have been privy.

Take for example this set of Trigun figures that came out in two versions.  They came out both in disassembled figures in boxes and then later in pre-assembled figures as well.  I bought a mix of them, however, after the first one turned out to be very difficult to keep assembled, Rei-Dei here, as you can see to the right is missing the straw sticking out of his lips, I turned to getting the rest of the figures pre-assembled and nicely glued together.  Rei-Dei gives me pains every time I put him together and most of the time I don't even keep him together since his top knot falls out contantly and I'm already missing pieces.  I put him back together only for the couple of minutes that I took this picture before putting him away again.

But I probably wouldn't have heard about these figures in advance enough to have ordered them if I hadn't been part of this Trigun group at the time.  I enjoyed being able to know just a few people who knew enough Japanese to be able to share the translations and be able to point me in the direction of finding all of this series.  They're pretty hard to find anywhere now, being the only figures from the manga as opposed to the anime series.  I'm sure you can find them on eBay, but unlike some of the other Trigun figures that I haven't even really posted on here (wait for Trigun 3 for the last of my collection) where you can still see them at conventions, you can't find these in person anymore.

I actually enjoyed quite a bit from my real life people relationships when it came to this series.  There was a social aspect that I enjoyed long before Facebook was around (oh, I know it was around but before it got so popular that people stopped emailing and would only chat via FB).  At the time I created my own website and people would email me and then we'd chat on AIM or some other live messenger, and then we'd chat about our favorite show Trigun.  And I found lots of fans of the series, those who liked Vash, some who liked Wolfwood, others who LOVED Legato, and all of the characters in between.  It was a social network of people with like interests and we all loved discussing this series that we could only follow through translated manga scans because at that time there was now official books released by Dark Horse.  We'd talk about whether the translations were correct, we'd have panels at conventions and we'd buy up everything we could find in the dealer's room, from figures to posters to every little thing in between that had Trigun attached to it.

I think though, the problem with liking any anime series, is that eventually it has to come to an end.  I'm not going to take into account money makers like Pokemon and YuGiOh and some of those others that have been going on for decades, but the good ones usually end somewhere and then part of the group will go off on their own way.  Some of my friends headed out to other series, some of them stuck around and waited for the movie, others brushed in and out of my life with our fanfiction and role playing, but eventually most of us drifted apart over the years.  A few of us went on to other series together, but I never did really find a thrill with any series quite like I did with Trigun.  Sure, I have plenty of collections as you've seen through my figure collection series here, but for the most part I never did gain the friends that I did through Trigun.  Maybe that's the reason that I still cling to the series the way I do today.

I don't even have a reason to stick with the series all of these years later because there's been no mention of redoing the anime with the manga characters like they did with Hellsing or Full Metal Alchemist.  I think the days of that are probably coming to an end.  Zazie here didn't show up in this form in the anime and he had a few other forms in the manga that we'll probably never see animated.  Thankfully I think most anime series now taken from a manga will be faithful to the original content, but back when Trigun was produced, there were only a few books out and the animators had to get an idea from Nightow of where he was going with the series.  It would be nearly a decade before the manga would wrap up in a similar place that the anime did back in 1997.  We wouldn't see half the Gung-Ho Guns or the other characters that came or went out of Vash's life animated because they probably didn't even exist in the author's mind yet!  So having figures like this are really the closest I'll ever get to seeing them brought to life.  It's a shame they didn't go ahead and do all of the Gung-ho Guns or the Insurance Girls in this set of characters because I really would have liked to have had more to look at and just wonder about.

They're almost like little moments of time from a series that we can return to, but that we'll never completely relive that experience of seeing it all for the first time.  The feeling I get of reading the manga for the first time and then hurrying to explain it on my website will never return to me.  I'll never get those friendships back the way they were when my site would go down because of too much traffic.  Those were the days!  It was like the thrill of the performance, of being liked and sought after and people actually worried when I didn't write them back right away, they worried if I didn't answer their questions and they wanted to know what I had to say about the topic.  It was like suddenly I was the extrovert and all of these people wanted to know me and to know what I knew.  They wanted details and I wanted to give it to them and it was this great experience when we would share our collections with each other and just show off everything we'd found out about a series that had brought us together.

But as with all good series, as I mentioned before, they end, and they get covered in dust like Midvalley the Hornfreak here.  I even dusted him off, but the camera picks up the little details.  He was always one of my least favorite characters, although I even knew people who loved him as well.

But what do I do now when these people have drifted apart from me?  Facebook holds a little hope, as I've founded a group based on those fans of my website and we discuss the new series here and there that Nightow has come out with (Blood Blockade Battlefront being the main one, and I do hope someday to collect figures from that series as well).  But the feeling that I had when I was sharing these figures for the first time with my website and saying, "look what I got today!" just isn't the same anymore.

So how do I get a feeling of this back?  I blog perhaps, but I have only a couple of readers since people just don't like to read any more.  I post some photos because people at least still like looking at pictures so long as it doesn't take too long for them to load.  But I don't put my thoughts on video, although I have thought briefly about taking these blogs and making a video of myself reading them...nah, I really don't like to hear my own voice and don't like to see myself either.

I guess I'll just share how these little figures make me feel.  Right now, I remember the memories attached to them.  I'll remember the first moment that I picked up one and had to buy the entire set so that I wouldn't miss out on anything.  I run my fingers over the smooth plastic and think about the person who designed this little thing so that it could go into production and be shipped all over the world.  Imagine how that person would feel when they know that people everywhere appreciate the hard work they put into this little tiny sculpture.  Wolfwood was brought to life by someone who took the time to see what he could be not in 2D but in a 3D form.  And here he is, Cross Punisher and all, ready for action and someone imagined it, someone scuplted it and someone bought it to display and look at and remember the series and the friendships and love that revolved around them.

And yet, in my nostalgia I feel depressed and sad.  I know the people that I knew through this series are still out there, but many of them have drifted away and I'll never have contact with them ever again.  I feel sad that my friends are gone where I can no longer reach them.  Perhaps they are doing some miraculous things with their lives.  I knew Trigun fans who became Opera singers, some who were linguistics majors, art majors (a lot of them), parents, retail workers, dog groomers, teachers, you name it... these people are from all corners of the world and I knew them for a brief time because of Vash and his dark version.

I wish I could go back to the days when I so fervently painted Vash's hair black in the back here since his hair had changed color by Trigun Maximum and I was disappointed that they hadn't colored it that way in the figure.  I may have the only character of Vash like this out there.  Perhaps others did the same thing, who knows?  Maybe they've been sold or shoved in a box some where.  Maybe they are still out on display like they are in my house.  Maybe people still look on them and think, "Yeah, those were the days."

But maybe those people also have families, children, and lives outside of the anime figures and maybe they're way more happy than I'll be with these "my plastic children".  I don't treat them as children, but I don't feel like I could throw them away either, that they're simply pieces of plastic that I picked up over the years either.  Maybe that makes me a kind of a hoarder as opposed to a collector.  Maybe all collectors have a streak in them that makes them say, "these are sometimes more important than human relationships."  Do I believe that?  I don't know.  Maybe sometimes I do, as these figures don't leave me, they don't say, "Oh hey, you believe something I don't so lets not be friends anymore."  They don't just die, although they can be broken and destroyed.  They might disappear and you can't find them again, but you don't have the same emotional attachment you might with people either.

Am I trying to reach out for help with this blog?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  I know I definitely have a mental disorder of some sort, but writing helps me out with this.  I find some sort of strange comfort putting this out there for people to read, even though in most cases I know that people don't read this.  Maybe that's a comfort too.  I feel like Trigun was my last reason why people actually read what I had to say, and maybe that's why thinking about it makes me so sad today.  I know that no one cares about what I have to write unless it's less than a paragraph long.  I know that people don't want to get to know me and what's inside of me because they don't sit down and read what I have to say.  It's all there out in the open if someone just wanted to take a look, but they don't.  Do I ask this from figures?  Nope.  I don't expect them to respond, but I would hope humans would, but they don't.

Oh...I'm sorry, I get irritated thinking about how all I have wanted to do since I was 10 years old was write and have people read what I had to say.  I wanted people to ask me to write out what was on my mind and when that happened then I was truly happy.  Those years where I wrote about Highlander and Trigun were some of the happiest years of my life because people wanted to read ME.  But they don't any more.  My mother isn't interested, my husband doesn't read it, and none of my Facebook friends do either.  It's okay, if you actually ARE reading this and you're thinking 'wait a second here!' I commend you, and thank you.  But it's okay, I never expected you to, as I decided not even to post this blog on my FB page anyway.  I mostly just feel like I've let myself down because I can't find those reasons to venture out into fiction any more because no one besides me cares to read.  I think when I was younger it didn't matter because I had hopes when they finally did read what I had to write they'd think it was fantastic.  But when I got into writers groups and they didn't even really care about my stuff enough to even help me edit what I had to write, I figured they weren't even really reading it anyway.  Why put effort into what they had to write when they wouldn't even reciprocate?

So Trigun is all of these things.  My life has been about figurines and about these 3D objects that have made me feel better by being there.  Unassuming creatures that never demand anything but an occasional dusting and maybe a bit of super glue now and then.  And they bring my life light even when I feel gloomy.

Thanks for reading...stay tuned for Part 5.

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