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‘Trigun Stampede’ review: “Bright Light, Shine through the Darkness” shows us why he’s called Millions Knives

By January 23, 2023March 29th, 2023No Comments5 min read

Following two set-up episodes to get the new audience familiar and keep the old fans on their toes, Trigun Stampede sets off the bombs – literally – and sets us off on what it is really going to be about. While at first the series looked to be interested in a sort of monster-of-the-week adventure while we learned more about Vash’s past; instead the third episode acts like a season finale all in itself. By the time the end credits roll, it is very difficult to not completely understand the fear Vash has of his brother, Millions Knives.

“Bright Light, Shine through the Darkness” starts by simultaneously thrusting back into the aftermath of episode two while making it clear to the audience that something much scarier is en route. For Vash and the townspeople of Jenora Rock, the aftermath of the bomb that attached itself to Gosef has sent everyone out to the town’s edge. It’s there that Trigun Stampede tries to lull us back into the pattern: we meet E. G. Bomber (who claims he’s been renamed E.G. The Mine), the newest threat to Jenora Rock’s life-giving Plant system. 

Immediately he’s facing off with Vash while racing through the town in a jarringly animated and deadly big wheel, Meryl and Roberto get involved to help Vash, we’ve at this point seen this a couple of times. There’s even another showdown between Vash’s pacifism and the harsh reality of Noman’s Land that these people have lived under. But, that’s about the time you realize the episode isn’t even half over and an even more harsh reality has arrived. 

As I mentioned before in my review of episode one, I don’t know the source material or the original anime adaptation of Trigun. I’m purposefully avoiding the details to allow Stampede to tell its tale without expectation (let us know if you’d like us to revisit the original in our Discord), and as such I don’t know when Millions Knives (Junya Ikeda) shows up there. In this series, he’s here now, and it sure feels like he’s way too early. 

That feeling isn’t a negative critique, “Bright Light, Shine through the Darkness” deftly acts almost as if the episode itself didn’t expect Knives in person so early and is powerless to stop him walking all over this town we’ve gotten familiar with. Vash too, is pretty powerless in the face of his horrifying brother, first forced into a trance state then in a frantic chase while trying to protect everyone else from his brother’s indiscriminate killing. It’s easy to forgive the rough compositing of E.G. Bomber’s killer big wheel when compared to the beautiful horror of seeing why he’s called “Millions Knives.” Knives spends the rest of the episode slowly but surely stalking his way through the town like a horror movie killer to claim the Plants for himself and it becomes clear very quickly that there’s a decent chance no one makes it out of here. 

While “Bright Light, Shine through the Darkness” doesn’t tell us more about Knives as a character, his threat level is off the charts. I can’t think of a good comparison in recent anime history where an enemy shows up this early and makes it abundantly clear who’s actually in charge. His constant taunting of Vash while he strolls around, asking him who’s “side” he’s on is haunting. He’s clearly playing with Vash and the townsfolk, even assigning his equally intimating assistants who arrive on the scene cleanup of Bomber’s mess while he continues to enjoy himself. Additionally, am I crazy or does that girl with Knives have the same haircut as the young versions of the two brothers? Does Knives have a kid? I’m already fascinated both with the man and the dynamic this could create. It’s clear that despite his lackadaisical desire to kill, Knives has an agenda and an ideology. I look forward to seeing Trigun Stampede explore that sooner than expected.

By the time the episode reaches its climax, Knives murders the town of Jenora Rock itself, not only successfully taking its critical plants but also in a visual feast of steel. The final sequence of thousands of blades squirming and dancing in the sky and back down into the town feels less like an attack in an anime and more like an eldritch horror. I do want to credit Studio Orange for finding a way to depict something like this in a truly scary way, but I also have to say that the sequence seemed to have some impact on the stream delivery of the episode to my TV. It doesn’t ruin the experience, but I’ll definitely be hoping for a Blu-ray release so that I can revisit this horror in all of its glory.  

Again, I’m not sure how much Trigun Stampede is faithful to the material it takes from, but “Bright Light, Shine through the Darkness” really feels like I’m now watching the actual Trigun Stampede. The episode ends on a somber note, with Vash departing to chase his brother, leaving behind the completely broken remaining populace. There’s no victory here and no teasing – we now have a direction and a real tone of how uncaring this world really is. With an episode potent enough to count as its own season finale, Trigun Stampede is definitely going to be a year-end contenter at this point. 

Trigun Stampede airs Saturday on Crunchyroll. 

Featured Image courtesy of Crunchyroll / ©2023 Yasuhiro Nightow, SHONENGAHOSHA / TRIGUN STAMPEDE Project

  • ‘Trigun Stampede’: “Bright Light, Shine through the Darkness” - 9/10
Travis Hymas

Travis Hymas is a freelance writer and self appointed Pokémon historian out of Salt Lake City, Utah. Known to be regularly obessive over pop culture topics and gaming discourse, he is a published Rotten Tomatoes critic and has been featured on sites such as Uppercut and The Young Folks

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