It all started with a lie.
Monday morning. Sh*t.
I woke up with a jolt as the alarm clock cut through my slumber like a cat's claws through the back of an unsuspecting mouse. Jerry would never have eluded Tom for that long; let's face it. The clock read 7:01am. School. I had a massive English paper due and not a single word had been produced. I was heading towards a glistening "A" in the class, and this sure failure would tarnish my final grade like such clothes on an attractive woman.
Good grades equals money and money equals power; power equals everything you could want or need. Even love. Okay, maybe not true love. You catch my vibe. Anyway, the previous evening I pulled an all-nighter, but not in the manner in which I should have. I bled my eyes out playing Pokemon Silver. That sh*t was like crack and you all know it. What am I saying? It still is.
Bottom line: I needed to produce an excuse, and fast.
I racked my brain for five intense minutes. An illness. It was the only way out: all other solutions lead to me having to injure myself. I had to feign sickness, Ferris Bueller-style (R.I.P. Mr. Hughes), or else face the detective-esque inquiries of my mother, and thus the wrath of my father for failing an assignment. I shot out of bed like a Pikachu's thunderbolt, ran to the bathroom and splashed my face with hot water. Impostor fever. I did that sweaty palm trick as well.
Luckily, I have L-syndrome when it comes to my eyes: eternal raccoon. Let me remind you that I had to concoct this human picture of dread and sorrow in the span of just under four minutes. I awoke at 7:01am. I established my plan in five minutes. If I am not waltzing down the stairs at 7:10am with books in hand, my mom does a room check--like a goddamn mental ward. That left me with four minutes total to get my shit together (or, un-together, appearance wise).
I looked at myself in the mirror. I looked like crap, but I always look like crap in the morning. My sunken eyes were the only thing that might win over my mother. She knew I rocked the dark circles regularly, but I had a Christian Bale circa The Machinist look going on. But, the woman was just too damn crafty for me. I pretty much knew I was toast.
But then, out of nowhere, a miracle happened. To me, one of the unluckiest dudes you will ever meet (I've been crapped on by more birds than you can count on both hands). A hurried call from downstairs: "Michael! I forgot I had an early meeting this morning at work! I'm out the door right now! Hurry up and get to class!" It was the haggard voice of my mother.
Never in a million years had this woman simply forgotten that she had an important sunrise meeting. Of all mornings her Black Day fell on this one: the one in which I, too, was about to have a Black Day. This was my opportunity to strike. "Mom! I feel like shit! I'm not going to class!" I yelled down to her. I tried to be myself in my statement of deceit. "Ugh...Michael! I don't have time for this, I have to go! You deal with the consequences. Call your friends and get the homework later on! I have to leave! GOODBYE!"
Slam. Garage door opens. Car screeches out of the driveway. Garage door closes. I am alone in the house. She bought it.
I plugged my nose and called the school, told them I was ill. They informed me that I would need a signed note from a parent or guardian when I return. Man. I would have to deal with that later. Right now, though, I had a massive paper to write and e-mail to my teacher in about seven hours before the school day was over. I had no idea what my subject would be -- it was one of those free-subject papers, totally open-ended; at the time my imagination was shot due to the Pokemarathon I had the night before.
I was panicking, and actually starting to produce real fever-like sweats upon my face. I stared at the computer screen for what felt like eras. I was falling apart. Not long after, I essentially hit the wall. I stopped trying to manufacture an idea for my essay. I had never felt so horrible about a lie, or a school-related incident before this. My parents were going to smite me. My teacher was going to think less of me, as I had been a star pupil prior to this epic fail. I was fucked and nobody was there to save me. I needed a pick-me-up RIGHT THEN AND THERE or else my pet parakeet Tinycloud was going into the microwave.
Then it appeared. The box from Amazon that had come Friday, but my weekend was so jam-packed with Pokesecks that I never got around to opening it. I had ordered a VHS tape -- yes, VHS... this was before DVD took over -- of a certain show that my long-time Japanese friend had recommended to me. He knew I watched Pokemon and Gundam, but wanted to introduce me to more "non-gaijin" anime. I decided I was going to shoot the whole operation in the face and watch this video. Whatever was on it, I could care less. I would force myself to gaze upon it in its entirety, and then collapse onto my bed until the waves of demons rushed up from Hell to meet me when my parents returned home from their daily endeavors.
This tape contained, ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, the first five episodes of Trigun.
The next one-hundred and twenty-five minutes that followed were some of the most amazing and unforgettable that I will ever experience watching a form of entertainment. Many criticisms of Trigun today state that the show doesn't really "get started" until the whole Knives/Rem flashbacks/Wolfwood/Gung-Ho Guns storylines emerge... but to me, that's bullshit.
In the first five episodes we are presented with a main character unlike any other that came before. Sure, he's got a little Lupin in him but there's obviously something deeper to Vash and we can see it right from the outset. He appears to be a clueless idiot who gets out of sticky situations purely by divine chance, but his seemingly amateur victories are not just that of blind luck: this dude is JACKED, and he could kill everyone in the vicinity if he wanted to. But he doesn't want to, and that's what is so appealing and so complex about his character. He isn't a typical cardboard cut-out anime frontman. He's not just one sided. Hell, he's not even two-sided. He's like a goddam D&D die.
Try to describe Vash the Stampede in one sentence.
Now, try and describe Ash Ketchum in one sentence.
Dude won't stop 'til he catches them all.
See what I mean?
I had finally found an anime character that was real, someone with problems that I could kind of align myself with emotionally as the story progressed. Not just a dude with a singular goal and two emotions: happy and sad.
Something else happened while I was watching Trigun on that fateful day:
I lost myself. I was transported out of my world and into another. When the VHS tape finally ended, and the Security Warnings shone bright blue on the screen, I was transported back into reality. It was a sign. It was a sign that there was better anime out there than what is broadcast on U.S. television. Little did I know that later Trigun would become a hit in America, and was a follow up for many people, like myself, who wanted to branch out their sheltered anime interests.
Yes, my parents eventually came home. Sure, they eventually uncovered the truth and despite my best efforts to plead with my professor, I end up failing the paper and getting an overall "B+" in that English class. Killed my GPA. But, I wouldn't have traded what happened to me that day for anything in the world. I had found something new to love. Something to chase after and treasure when I caught it: kickass anime.
Looking back, someone really did come and save me that day. He saved Tinycloud from explosion, too. He was a tall man with spiky blond hair, wearing a gleaming red longcoat. They say he wiped out the entire city of July with just one big gun. He loves doughnuts more than most people.
He's worth sixty billion double dollars.
I don't think that's enough.
Love & Peace, my friends.
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