Trigun Stampede episode 11 aired this past Saturday and prove, yet again, that the series has been one of the best to release so far this year. The new take on the original story has been nothing short of magnificent and the latest episode continues to prove that. Between playing to the story’s strength of internal conflicts and impeccable visuals while also tying in perfectly executed contrast throughout, Trigun Stampede managed to give us another praise-worthy episode.
The Wonderful Use of Body Language
If there’s one thing that episode 11 of Trigun Stampede wasn’t short on it was stunning cinematics. From the moment Meryl enters the room with Vash, Knives, and Dr. Conrad, everything from then on became a detailed spectacle of visual storytelling and symbolism. It truly felt like every single shot from this episode had some meaning behind them. If I were to explain all of them then this article would turn into a book. So let’s just go over a handful of shots that stood out to me the most, beginning with the one below.
Studio Orange and Trigun Stampede Producer Yoshihiro Watanabe recently took to Twitter to explain the importance of character body language throughout the series and what they can tell to the audience watching them. In the wide shot above with Meryl in the foreground, we can tell a lot about the characters and the situation even though it’s the beginning of the episode. Dr. Conrad hunching over as he did the entire episode and finding out later why, Meryl with a pistol in a stance showing she’ll never use it, Knives with a straight posture, and arms crossed while Vash’s body is left (almost) lifeless.
While the shot may seem like nothing spectacular, it’s the fact the team working on the series takes into account even those things that skip over our imagination when watching the episode. We get lost in the stunning visuals filling the screen, in this case, the luminescent light from the plants, and forget to look at the characters in these moments and the boatload of emotion they show in their own way. Let’s take for example the next shots below and the significance behind them since these are more straightforward and noticeable than the one in the lab.
In Vash’s memory, we have both Wolfwood and then Knives appearing behind Vash carrying the cross. While they’re just vestiges in Vash’s dream, it’s also a representation of both how they act toward Vash and how he currently thinks of them as well. While Knives is standing proud and looking away from Vash, Wolfwood is looking right at him and is concerned, as if he’s making sure Vash is okay. Not only was their body language different, but the fact that Knives is almost like a ghost in this scene is extremely telling to me. The more that Vash sided with humanity, the more he lost sense of who his little brother was becoming. All he could see of him was the powerful muscle-bound plant that he’s become.
The next one below might not be of much significance rather it was just something interesting I thought of. In Vash’s memory of him and Knives when they were younger and talking to Rem, I noticed a slight difference in how Rem approaches each of them when she talks. When having a heartfelt conversation with Knives, she maintains a firm stance with her back straight. A medium camera shot of the table still manages to show that little bit of power in her over the two but in a gentle way. Then we have her consoling Vash about not having powers like Knives but she’s on his level and closely embracing him.
Watanabe mentioned a lot of what was given to us with Trigun Stampede in terms of body language is left for us to pick up on and interpret and I think this scene was one of those moments. While Rem basically raised Vash and Knives for the time she was alive, she also engaged with them in different ways that sort of reflect the people they became. In this episode, Knives maintained a straight posture the entire episode never once hunching. While Vash, throughout the entire series and not just this episode, constantly tries to get close to those special to him in a way just as Rem did with him.
Trigun Stampede’s Stunning Cinematics
What more can be said? This is one of the most beautiful episodes of anime I’ve watched in recent history for numerous reasons. Perhaps it’s the transitions that enthralled me? Or perhaps it was the use of visual storytelling with past memories while also currently remaining in the present time? Either way, Studio Orange gave us an episode that ended up becoming a beautiful tragedy, one that should leave any viewer that watches it in awe.
I’ll start off talking about some shots that I particularly loved and not just for the body language, but for what they represented and possibly foreshadowed. The first involves Wolfwood finding Robert’s dead body in the elevator. There are definitely better ones from the episode but something about this really stood out to me. Having Wolfwood’s shadow closed in by the darkness of the elevator and Roberto’s own body really did a nice job of keeping the focus where it lies. My eyes never once moved to any other part of the screen. Above all, I think the meaning behind this moment is the biggest of all is telling of what might happen to Wolfwood in the final episode, not to mention the incredible scene transition that follows.
Another piece of cinema from episode 11 of Trigun Stampede that stood out to me in a major way was the constant use of the geranium flower in scenes when Vash and Knives were younger. But there’s one instant that caught my attention the most and it’s when the two enter a room where they eventually find the other independent, like them, but literally torn limb from limb. However, the plant wasn’t my point of interest, it’s how the camera focused on the geranium in the room.
In short, geraniums are supposed to symbolize happiness and good health. Usually, in anime, the red spider lily is prominent and is oftentimes used to either foreshadow death or represent death itself in some way, shape, or form. The series 86 Eighty-Six has the visual of spider lilies consistent throughout and is a great example of using the flower and what it symbolizes. But the use of the geraniums in the particular shot below going from light to dark right as Vash and Knives enter the room to find out the haunting truth of what humans did to someone just like them was perfectly timed. As if the happiness that was there was about to go away as quickly as the flower did.
Still with me? Good, because we’re going to continue to go down this rabbit hole together and enjoy every second of it. Trigun Stampede has established itself as a series that can clearly showcase the contrast between its main protagonist in Vash and the main antagonist in Knives. I say antagonists and not a villain because Knives is unique. In a way, a lot of where he’s coming from is understandable. He’s not selfishly eradicating the human race because he’s bored or enslaving a nation because he’s power-hungry. He believes what he’s doing is retribution and this all started when he was young.
While there are many moments in this episode that vividly show a timeline of how Knives came to be the way he is and why Vash should feel ashamed the way he does, a certain moment in this episode when they were kids hit harder for me than any other. It’s when Vash and Knives are talking about humans and war. While it’s not so much the dialogue I’m intrigued by–and I am–take a look at how they’re placed in this scene. Vash is standing tall in the sunlight while Knives is in the shadows of the trees with bits of light still shining on him as if the more time goes by the more of his original loving and protective nature fades. This is the part where I say “but wait…there’s more!”
Shortly after this scene we were given one of the most stunning transitions in modern anime I have personally ever witnessed (check the thumbnail image for a short glimpse). I don’t want to gloss over every single frame of it and all of its significance because I rather everyone go back and watch the episode, but I do want to mention what it ended up leading to and that is these two particular shots of Vash and Knives. It is the most symbolic moment of the two, their entire characters, the paths they chose, and the consequences that came with them.
This is the first time in Vash’s mind during this entire thought sequence that Knives actually has a saddened look on his face right before he slices off Rem’s head. For one, it’s pretty wild how Studio Orange made the red flower pedals look like actual red blood cells. Second, these two encapture so much. Vash was holding on to love and the embrace of humans while Knives, covered in a cloak, hid away and refused to embrace how the world was and who was part of it.
Knives slicing Rem’s head in this scene felt like it was symbolic of his unwavering resolve to kill every last human no matter who it was, even if it was someone close to him such as Rem. As for Vash, it represented the final emotional string that needed to be cut in order for Knives to achieve what he did. Vash could lose everything else, but holding on to that warmth and love that Rem brought Vash was the one thing that kept him going up until this point.
Trigun Stampede Is So Much More than Some Remake
To better understand just how incredible Trigun Stampede has been, this episode showcased an entire story’s worth of character development, tragedy, internal and external conflicts, and clashing ideologies through gruesome symbolism, flawless scene transitions, camera shots packed full of meaning, and, as always, anime industry-defining CGI.
From Meryl proving just how powerless humans can be in the face of independents to Wolfwood having to make a life-altering decision as someone who has the opportunity to redeem everything he’s done in the past and, of course, the tale of Vash The Stampede and his internal conflict of love for humanity versus love for his younger brother.
Everything comes to wrap this week’s series finale. The tale of two brothers will meet its tragic end and I’m more than positive that everyone at Studio Orange is going to come together to give us an episode that we Trigun fans will never forget. Before then, I just want to say thank to you everyone that brought us the incredible experience that is Trigun Stampede.
Episode 11 rating: 10/10
The series finale for Trigun Stampede will air on Saturday, March 25, with Crunchyroll streaming it with English subtitles. If you enjoyed Trigun Stampede episode 11 then make sure to vote for it in our weekly poll and get the series into the top 10 where it rightfully belongs before the season ends!
Images via Crunchyroll
©2023 Yasuhiro Nightow, SHONEN GAHOSHA / TRIGUN STAMPEDE Project