Not much is known about Leonof, except for the fact that his name isn't Leonof the Puppet-Master at all. His real name is Emilio the Player, who as a child was apparently a friend of Vash the Stampede. He always used to carry a wooden doll with him and he had a crush on a girl called Isabel. After the death of his love interest, he apparently buried himself in the art of his puppet-making to mend his broken spirit.
It is unknown just when he became a member of the Gung Ho Guns.
Leonof the Puppet-Master was created by Yasuhiro Nightow for his Trigun series.
Major Story Arcs
Leonof was among the Gung Ho Guns that met with Legato when Knives was healed and when Vash made a crater in the moon.
Two years later, Leonof was in a city that was being ravished by two families who were trying to get a plant near the city. Unfortunately, the townspeople were caught in the crossfire of the conflict and Vash decided to help sort this out, while Wolfwood decided to take a break. In the mean time, one of Leonof's puppets dressed as a man led a group of people to hijack a sandsteamer by ramming into it with an armed truck and taking several hostages. This proved to be a ruse to draw Vash out of hiding.
After completing his mission, the puppet was disassembled and returned to his suitcase before anyone became wise to its deception. Another of Leonof's puppets meanwhile reported to Legato on Vash's resurfacing.
Return of the Blue Wind of Death
Leonoff again used one of his puppets, this time a fly, to spy on Vash's friends. After this he and the other Gung Ho Guns have a meeting where they are explained their new objective: to make Vash suffer and destroy the image of humanity he made for himself.
Home Sweet Home
Following Vash's friends, Leonof was able to make his way to their home, a lost SEEDS ship that was still functioning, where he soon began massacring the people there with his puppets, after which he laid in wait for Vash. Arriving sometime later with Wolfwood, Vash was greeted by a family of old friends of his and was overjoyed to see them again. Vash was soon devastated however when Leonof revealed the people to be nothing but his puppets when he pulled them apart, having already killed those very people and used them to make the puppets. With that, Leonof welcomed Vash and Wolfwood to his puppet show.
Disgusted with Leonof's methods, Wolfwood wasted no time as Leonof introduced himself and opened fire on him, only to find that Leonof had managed to shield himself with one of his puppets. Leonof then attacked Wolfwood with a giant doll made up of the body parts of dozens of his puppets, but it was quickly destroyed by Vash. Gray the Ninelives then stepped in and tried to kill Wolfwood, dragging him down into the a lower level of the ship as he crashed through the floor, leaving Vash to face off against Leonoff on his own.
Vash soon had to deal with another one of Leonof's giant dolls, this one made of all the human puppet parts left in the area, but Vash managed to destroy it before it could even touch him. Even Leonof admired Vash for his perfection, and openly stated how he wanted to make Vash into one of his puppets.
Going into hiding, Leonof began playing more and more of his mind games on Vash, forcing him to search for him throughout the ship, all while attacking him with puppets modeled after his old friends. Leonof even staged an attack on a group of people, only to reveal that they were merely puppets after Vash saved them and they tried to shoot him in the back. Luckily, Vash managed to evade and shoot each of the puppets, only to realize that he'd accidentally injured an innocent girl that Leonof had hidden among his crowd of puppets. Grabbing the girl, Vash told Leanof that his time was up, except he called him Emilio the Player instead of Leonof.
Emilio the Player
Leonof was confused over just who this Emilio was, remarking that the name did sound very familiar. Vash then tried to jog Leonof's memory by stating the names of various people, and at the mention of one Isabel, Leonof suddenly became hysterical. Clearly hurt by his memories, but still refusing to acknowledge them, Leonof sent an army of puppets modeled after Vash's closest friends to kill him and the girl. Clearly outnumbered, Vash grabbed the girl and ran. It was then that he realized Leonof's weakness.
Hiding the girl, Vash climbed atop a tower and detonated a grenade high in the air, damaging a water system and causing water to rain down everywhere. Vash then told Leonof of how he'd discovered the strings that he'd been using to control his puppets with his fingertips, and with the water now weighing down all his puppets and strings, Leonof would be unable to use them anymore. The strings around his fingers now cutting into his flesh, Leonof was forced to release his puppets, and he collapsed on the floor. Defeated, Leonof asked Vash why he wouldn't kill him, at which Vash questioned Leonof if he'd truly forgotten everything, including Isabel. At the mention of Isabel, Leonof once again became hysterical and he desperately tried to get away from Vash. It was then Brad, a friend of Vash that had managed to survive, came across a mountain of coffins for Leonof's puppets, with one of them open and containing the body of a young woman.
Sensing the intruder at Isabel's coffin, Leonof attacked Brad with what was left of his puppets. During the struggle however, Isabel's coffin fell and Leonof rushed to catch it. While Leonof was distracted, Brad detached the section of the ship Leonof was on, forcing him and his coffins to fall to their doom. Leonf was saved by Vash however, who'd managed to grab onto him with his strings, while Leonof had managed to grab hold of Isabel's coffin. Unfortunately Leonof's fingers were too injured to hold on, and he unwillingly dropped Isabel's coffin. Overcome with both love and grief for his Isabel, Leonof had one of his dolls stab Vash, forcing him to let go. As Leonof fell to his death, he managed to remember a discussion he'd had with Vash back when he was just a kid.
Powers and Abilities
Leonof the Puppet-Master is an elderly man that uses puppets as weapons. He controls these puppets with an elaborate system of strings that are over 10 km long and thin enough to be nearly invisible, as well in conjunction with special spheres that can form subtle illusions to further hide his strings and make his puppets even more life-like.
He can make his puppets look like just about anything, including birds, insects, bats, small monsters, human beings, and he can even combine the body parts of his puppets to form giant monsters. Certain puppets even have guns built into them.
Leonof has been shown to control hundreds of puppets at the same time and over considerable distances, making it quite questionable as to what his limits may be.
Leonof is normally quite reserved, letting his puppets usually do the talking for him.
In the anime, Leonof is just an assassin that uses puppets as his weapon. None of his past is ever revealed.
He send his puppets, along with Hoppered the Gauntlet and Gray the Ninelives, to attack a flying station where Vash was visiting a few friends and to get his left arm fixed.
After the flying station is brought down to earth by Hoppered the Gauntlet, Leonof uses one of his puppets to kill one of Vash's friends.
Soon after, Leonof himself is killed by Wolfwood with his rocket launcher.