Trigun Bookclub By Volume
Trigun: Volume 1 | Volume 2
Trigun Maximum: Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3 | Volume 4 | Volume 5 | Volume 6 | Volume 7 | Volume 8 | Volume 9 | Volume 10 | Volume 11 | Volume 12 | Volume 13 | Volume 14 | General Commentary
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Original Tumblr Post: Writing female characters
Writing female characters
And they say romance is dead.
Joking aside, Vol. 8 further solidifies my appreciation for Meryl.
Hopefully I can put my long-winded thoughts into concise words when it comes to writing women/female characters and why I loved Meryl in the manga even when she’s absent for a chunk it from Vol. 7 onward.
Good ‘women/female writing‘, to me, is not just having more lines, more screen presence or more visibility because you can easily write a character that ticks all of those boxes and still be a shell, still be poorly written, still be misused and still fall into numerous stereotypes. Though we are seeing more female characters onscreen/on paper these days, there are still traps of ‘women written by men usually for men or what they think a woman wants’ with some variations (and of course some women can also find difficulty in writing women). Then there are times when women characters who are so incredible or powerful, they come off as unbelievable, as if writing a woman character is sometimes treated similarly to handling glass. Some writers are afraid to write women well, believing that it’s ‘safer’ to have the character be amazing and flawless than forgotten or absent (which can be problematic in a different way).
I love manga-Meryl because I know Meryl’s arc, faults, growth, struggles etc…. Nightow really puts her through the ringer. We don’t see her much in the later volumes once things get heavy since she’s not the series’ protagonist, but we learn that she has a full journey post-Colnago. Eventually she, as a person who is not super-powered in the way other characters are, assists Vash in the best way she can.
Vash is a plant, the Humanoid Typhoon, all these other labels, but he calls himself a simple gunman. So, when Meryl is the one to make sure that he has a gun despite everything she had experienced… ah, I had a lot of feelings.
Vol. 8, Ch. 3. … God damn.
One of the best things Nightow did in Trimax was to write Meryl with doubt and fear and break her away from Vash in Vol. 6, because having a woman follow and care for a man blindly is frankly boring and adds little depth to a friendship or a relationship.
(This praise also extends to how Nightow writes Luida – but those are thoughts for some other time.)
I am also considering Meryl as one representation for humanity in Trigun Maximum’s narrative. She is the ordinary person who has been unwillingly forced to witness devastation, destruction, loss etc. and is expected to continue after that. That is a difficult thing to overcome… and then to grapple with the idea of assisting that same force… I imagine that this is a very difficult responsibility. There are war films (good and bad films, from a range of nations) that touch on this theme of responsibility.
I’d like to think that real courage is understanding and overcoming a fear instead of having none.
And then in Vol. 8, Meryl does a small act. She asks someone else to help – something that Marlon later tells Vash to do (let his friends help him, I mean). Without grandeur. Kind of anti-epic. However, this small act is extraordinarily powerful because without that gun, Vash is unable to proceed.
We sometimes view power in such a black and white way when power can be asking someone else for help, trusting someone else, and not have it be about you.
Vol. 8, Ch. 5. A Marlon panel is always a good panel.
I love how Nightow illustrates this. In these panels, Vash is hearing Marlon talk about a ‘guest’. Marlon never mentions Meryl’s name. We know it’s Meryl because we know what the back of Meryl’s head looks like (and her legs, haha) but Vash is not seeing what we are seeing.
And yet, Vash knows.