Trigun Stampede episode 3 aired on Saturday giving all of us that watched it the biggest treat of the Winter 2023 season so far in more ways than one. Trigun Stampede has been arguably the best anime of this season and I can argue with many that it might not even be close as of now. With nods to the original Trigun series throughout Episode 3 and an entrance by Millions Knives that put his on par with Tomura Shigaraki’s from the current season of My Hero Academia, this episode was a knock out of the park and that’s putting it lightly. But more so, it’s time for the comparisons to the old series to end and for respect to be given to Trigun Stampede in its own right.
Not a Single Flaw
With each re-watch of Trigun Stampede Episode 3, I drown deeper and deeper in awe of what I’m watching. This episode wasn’t just something that was to pass time until the climax of the season, it was simply everything that makes Trigun itself so damn spectacular in the first place. Disregarding that the entire episode felt like a scene out of a movie, this episode encaptured darkness in a way that’s rare in a lot of anime these days. And that all starts with what I think is the greatest piece of Vash’s character—his internal conflict.
There are very few, if any, characters in anime that have a more intricate internal conflict than Vash. And my goodness was that on full display at the end of this episode and that’s why I can’t stress enough how amazing it was. Between being guilt-tripped by his brother Knives on why Vash wasn’t on his side to watching the destruction of the town he swore to protect and watching many of the townspeople die pulls on the delicate string that lies at the core of Vash’s resolve—his pacifism, a trait that makes Vash one of the most interesting main characters in all of anime history. Not only was the writing a perfect 10 for this episode in both dialogue, exposition, and pacing, but so was the animation. For that, the entire crew at Studio Orange deserves their flowers.
It’s no wonder the original creator of Trigun, Yasuhiro Nightow, gave praise to Studio Orange before the series even began airing. Every single episode has been a work of art, but none more than Episode 3. I’d go as far as to say this episode was one of the greatest CGI spectacles in recent anime history that I’ve witnessed. And that’s not speaking for just strictly CGI anime, I mean CGI work in anime in general. And not just because it looked good, but the way it was used in setting the mood of each scene. The slow motion of Knives’ tentacles in moments before death came. The rings of knives around the town making it feel like Knives himself was a god of destruction. And what’s even more eery before Knives destroys the town was how beautiful the pattern of his knives looked before he proceeded to make the skies rain blood, leaving me with that moment of “all hope is lost” feeling just as Vash felt.
The Little Details
I’m tired of comparing the original Trigun series from 1998 to Trigun Stampede. It’s a worn-out argument and people need to either move on or relish in the fact that one of the best anime of the Winter 2023 season is Trigun Stampede. And for many Trigun fans like myself that are loving this series, we should also be loving the slight differences and nods to the original. This isn’t a rant comparing the series to the original as a whole, but rather being genuinely happy in witnessing how Studio Orange paid homage to the original series while also putting their own original twist on the story. It brings out that little bit of happiness in me knowing exactly 20 years later one of my favorite series has been revived in glorious fashion. Even with the differences between the original and Trigun Stampede, I feel like a kid at heart because I know these differences in the first place. Most importantly, it makes me feel like I’m living in a new story of Trigun I haven’t explored before and that’s what excites me the most.
For example, in the original story, Vash has the silver pistol while Knives has the black one. But in Trigun Stampede, Vash has the black one. And in this episode Knives says to Vash, “I see you still have that pistol.” Then later in the episode, Vash tries to shoot Knives multiple times to which Knives responds, “You would shoot your brother?” Yet, in the original, Vash already shot Knives in the leg when they were kids. These slight differences aren’t just great at paying homage to the original, but they leave me wondering what made this timeline different. What happened in the past in this timeline between Vash and Knives that could lead to that sheer look of terror when Vash heard the piano playing out in the distance? This is also what made Episode 3 stellar—I felt that pure fear Vash did as well.
A major part of this was that haunting piano. I don’t know what dark place music composer Tatsuya Katou went to in order to write the music for Knives’ big series debut, but I thank him from the bottom of my heart because there couldn’t have been a better soundtrack for Knives. Almost every shot we see of Knives is him shrouded in embers, dust, and darkness feeding into the evil aura surrounding him with a heart filled of blood lust and annihilation, making his presence that much heavier.
Vash vs Knives
The conflict between Vash and Knives in this episode couldn’t have been more perfectly portrayed. I just want to give Director Kenji Mutou the biggest handshake for how Episode 3 played out because those that didn’t know about Knives before this series just got a true taste of how purely evil Knives is and how he is such a fantastic villain. Sure his connection to Vash adds more allure to his character, but his ruthlessness and complete disregard for innocent human life with a smile on his face is just a perfect contrasting attitude to Vash in every scene of this episode.
Noticing how nobody knew about the destruction that awaited them when Knives started hammering away on the piano keys while Vash was truly scared for the first time this series set the tone for just how big of a threat Knives is to not just the world, but to Vash as well, despite Vash himself being capable of equal destruction. But what was best about this episode compared to the first two is that we saw on a deeper level why Vash is truly called “The Humanoid Typhoon”. Now it’s time for the real Vash and his past with Knives to start coming to light and I cannot wait to see what Studio Orange has in store.
Trigun Stampede Episode 3 Wrap-Up
Trigun Stampede Episode 3 is one of the best episodes of anime I’ve watched in recent memory. The episode hit on every level you could want out of 23 minutes. Intense action, shocking moments, incredible dialogue and voice acting, wonderful animation and composition, proper story development, a Golden Globe-worthy soundtrack and proper direction all stirred into a single episode knowing we’re not even close to the climax of the series yet might be the best part of it all
And what awaits this is the famous July incident. And for those of you who never saw the original Trigun, get ready, because you’re going to want to stick around for when Vash reaches “JuLai.”
Episode 3 Rating: 60,000,000,000/10
If you enjoyed Trigun Stampede Episode 3 then make sure to vote for it in our weekly poll and get the series into the top 10 where it belongs!
Images via Crunchyroll
©2023 Yasuhiro Nightow, SHONEN GAHOSHA / TRIGUN STAMPEDE Project