Anime Review: Trigun Stampede

Continuing with the theme of revivals of classic anime franchises, the Winter 2023 season saw the return of Trigun, with Trigun: Stampede, from Studio Orange (best known for Land of the Lustrous), doing what is effectively a half-reboot/half-prequel to the original series, with Trigun Stampede.

When the series initially was announced, there was some head-scratching as to what was going on with this series. Meryl Stryfe is a reporter? Also, she’s not partnered with Millie Thompson, but instead with some old guy named Roberto De Nero? What’s up with all of that? However, very early on the show dropped a bunch of hints that not only is this show not being told the same way the earlier series was (with Vash’s status as a plant, and his antagonistic relationship with his brother Nai/Millions Knives), but also that it was starting earlier than the other series did, as the series dropped a lot of references to the city of JuLai still being around and kicking – when it very much wasn’t at the start of the other series. Also, Vash’s bounty was considerably lower (as he was not yet the $$60,000,000 Man).

Studio Orange does a great job with the animation here – making their abilities clear as the reigning champion of CGI in TV animation (whether in Japan or anywhere else). In particular, they do a great job with some of Yasuhiro Nightow’s more outlandish character concepts in the Gung-Ho Guns, like Monev The Gale, their new interpretation of E.G. Mine, and the members of the Bad Lads Gang we see towards the middle of the series. Oh, and the members of the Nebraska family we see in the first couple episodes.

Vash the Stampede in Trigun: Stampede

Further, the characters are tremendously, and fluidly expressive, whether it’s young Nai gloating at Vash over his duping Vash into (nearly) wiping out humanity by setting up their crash on the planet (No Man’s Land in this adaptation, Gunsmoke in the earlier anime series), adult Vash running from the myriad people trying to shoot him, or Meryl’s reactions to the copious amounts of bullshit that surround her.

Going from some of my research (I haven’t read all of the manga) this anime, while differing from the manga in some respects, skews closer to the manga in others in their interpretations of various members of the Gung Ho Guns, and probably the best example of this is the anime version of Zazie The Beast. In the older anime, he was a kid who had been augmented to have an implant that let him control sandworms. Here, as with the manga, he’s the representative in the Guns of the collective hive mind of all insect life on No Man’s Land, making them a considerably more interesting and nuanced character, as their presence in the Guns is only so long as the insects determine that Knives goals with the Plants is in their interests, and if the insects determine that coexistence with humanity can be achieved (or if Knives plans will actually be detrimental to them), then they’re out, and there’s nothing Knives or any of the other Guns (not even Legato Bluesummers) can do.

I really dug this show, and I was glad to see that there is a second season planned. Even more – this was enough to get me really motivated to pick the manga back up again – either digitally or as a physical edition, depending on where I can find it affordably.

Trigun Stampede is currently available for streaming on Crunchyroll.

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