A Lesson about Righteous Anger from Vash the Stampede

One of the most Christ-like characters in anime is Vash the Stampede from the anime Trigun. Throughout the series, we see Vash’s humility, selflessness, compassion, and love, as he constantly protects people with his skills and talents, cares for others through troubling times, brings himself down to raise others up, brings joy to kids, and genuinely seeks the well-being of others. We see his devotion to his motto: “Love and peace!”
vash-ep-12-8However, in episode 12, Trigun introduces something that may shock us as an audience, given all of the qualities we’ve seen from Vash thus far. Titled “Diablo,” episode 12 introduces one of the show’s main antagonists, Legato. Having hired someone to assassinate Vash, Legato visits him in a busy town plaza to introduce himself before Vash will face his proverbial death. As everyone is going about their business and enjoying the beautiful day, including Vash who is kicking around a ball with a group of kids in front of a fountain, Legato arrives and sits opposite of Vash on the other end of the fountain.
Vash then hears Legato’s voice in his head, and their interaction continues in this telepathic way (most likely an ability that Legato possesses, as no one else can hear their conversation). Legato basically tells Vash who is he, what he’s come there to do, and how Vash’s life is going to end very soon. To further toy with Vash’s emotions, Legato calls over a child–one of the children that Vash had been happily playing with before–and pats her on the head; then, suddenly, grabs her head as if to break her neck.
Vash spins around to find out that the threat is just a mental projection that Legato had placed into his mind, and the child happily runs along. Legato laughs at Vash’s concern; and, as Legato gets up, he leaves behind a bag on the bench. Moments later, the wife of the shoemaker Vash had visited earlier runs out screaming that her husband won’t speak to her and may have possibly been murdered. We don’t really know what’s in the bag… We can only assume.
This is one of the rare times that we see Vash shaken up by what has happened, and feel his sense of confusion and danger. Even Meryl notices that he’s not himself.
Placed in jail for being accused of murdering the shoemaker, Vash sits alone in contemplation. Then, the assassin arrives.
vash-ep-12-4A giant man who has spent twenty years physically training in confinement, apparently for this very purpose, shoots up the jail with an automatic machine gun so massive that it’s worn as a full-body suit. Vash manages to escape and is chased throughout the city by the assassin. As Vash makes his way out of the city, he does everything in his power to lure the assassin after him in order to prevent civilian casualties.
Realizing that chasing Vash isn’t working, however, the assassin decides to use his gun to decimate the entire city at once, killing everyone in it.
Vash’s face contorts in desperation and horror as he realizes what’s about to happen.vash-ep-12-9
After countless rounds are fired, the city is left in ruins, and the bodies of women, men, and children lay strewn across the ground and beneath debris. Vash is still alive, but very injured. He sees the horrible scene before him, and something inside of him snaps.
The assassin, who has been gloating out loud about the ease of his victory, suddenly takes three bullets directly to his faceplate, cracking it open.

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In the dust, he sees this image of Vash:

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Fear strikes the assassin, “This… this must be a nightmare… Those eyes… it’s like looking into the eyes of the Diablo!”
The assassin at first retreats but eventually decides to finish the job, despite his fear of Vash. Vash, however, incapacitates the assassin by taking him to the ground and pushing his gun into the assassin’s face as he pleads for his life.
vash-ep-12-6Vash ep 12 - 5
Vash yells at the assassin, telling the murderer that he’s the one solely responsible for all the deaths in the city, and that he is going to die for his crimes.
As the assassin pleads for his life, tears streaming down his face, Vash relives a memory of Rem, the woman who raised him. Rem reminds Vash that his choices have unlimited possibilities, and that all life is precious.
vash-ep-12-7In tears, Vash pulls the gun away and hugs it to his chest, saying to himself, “This is all I can do! If I… if I shot him now, you really would die (Rem’s existence in his memory). It would be wrong to shoot him, right?”
Ultimately, Vash spares the life of the murderous assassin in the next episode.
As mentioned in the beginning of this article, we see Christ-like qualities in Vash through his love and compassion for others. However, another important aspect that this episode introduces to Vash’s character is righteous anger. There are two important points that can be taken from this episode:

Point #1: Righteous Anger is Selfless

Vash’s anger doesn’t originate from selfishness. His anger comes from the fact that an assassin kills innocent people in the city. Vash’s genuine concern for others is what pushes him over the edge. Though he at first tries to peaceably run away and lead the assassin out of the town, when others are threatened, Vash is forced to confront his assailant head-on.
Ultimately, Vash hates evil.
When the assassin senselessly kills men, women, and children, Vash shifts from defense to offense–from peace-keeper to righteous judge.
We see Jesus doing something similar in the book of John:
“In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” – John 2:14-16
As we see through both Vash and Christ, righteous anger can lead to proactive action that overcomes evil. Jesus cleared out possibly hundreds of people by himself with a whip of cords, all the while not intending to really harm anyone. Jesus saw the evil that was being done in the temple against God the Father, and his righteousness went on the offense against that evil.

Point #2: Righteous Anger must be Given to God

Given that Jesus exemplified righteous anger in the book of John, what does that mean for us? Is it okay for us to be angry, since Jesus was? Is anger justified, as long as it’s considered righteous?
While the Bible doesn’t seem to oppose righteous anger–anger directed solely against unrighteousness–it does warn against anger nonetheless. As we see in Trigun, Vash faces a serious moral dilemma once he finally defeats the assassin. His anger drives him to stick a gun into the man’s face until he begs for his life. Vash is basically giving himself a reason to kill the assassin by yelling out his evil actions for the world to hear. In that moment, Vash’s anger transforms into vengeance, and Vash is on the brink of becoming a murderer himself until his memory of Rem guides him back onto the right path.
With all of the Christ-like qualities Vash possesses, he still struggles with anger, even though his anger is correctly derived. It takes Rem’s guidance to bring him back to his values and morals. In much the same way, we must give our righteous anger to God and remember the teachings of Christ in order to keep ourselves from acting in anger out of our own interests and letting our emotions control us.
Anger towards evil can line up with the ways of Christ, according to Scripture, but it also seems that anger in general is best when kept in check or diminished as quickly as possible, with God’s help.
“Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but one who has a hasty temper exalts folly.” – Proverbs 14:29
“Do not be quick to anger, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.” – Ecclesiastes 7:9
“One given to anger stirs up strife, and the hothead causes much transgression.” – Proverbs 29:22
“Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath. Do not fret—it leads only to evil.” – Psalm 37:8
“Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.” – Ephesians 4:31-32
“You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.” – James 1:19-21

Eric Perez

Have a topic suggestion? Email me at eric.perez@geeksundergrace.com and I'll potentially cover it! | Other projects I do include producing fitness videos, directing a web show, and hosting two podcasts.

1 Comments

  1. Zero Tolerance on January 22, 2017 at 10:09 pm

    My brother watches Anime so I don’t have to, but his appraisal of Trigun combined with its short length (under 30 episodes) had me tuning in. Readers unfamiliar with the series my recall how Goku in DBZ is aloof (really, a polite way of questioning his intelligence as it is hardly evolved from his childhood) and tenderhearted, until someone jeopardizes his friends. We all know what happens then.

    Must be a Japanese thing, to have the protagonist appear all hard and indomitable, only to have him be a softy.

    “Diablo” is one of my favorite episodes. We get to see Vash “angry” for the first time when he’s sitting in jail, and the girls come to visit him. They peek into his cell, and he gives them a look that could kill. https://i.ytimg.com/vi/VATGvHWm0-w/hqdefault.jpg They are startled, and he laughs, reassuring them they they are not the target of his anger. Good stuff.

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