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‘Trigun Stampede’ review: “Noman’s Land” is a strong kick off

By January 7, 2023March 29th, 2023No Comments4 min read

Confession time: the original Trigun is one of my anime blind spots. The original Adult Swim run was completed long before I had access to cable anime. While cultural osmosis has allowed me to be able to pick out Vash the Stampede out from a line up, I can’t really say I know much about what Trigun is all about. This means I’m coming to Trigun Stampede’s first episode “Noman’s Land” about as fresh as one can and from that perspective, this is really damn cool.  

Straddling the line between reboot and reimagining, “Noman’s Land” swaps between a couple of journalists discovering the “Humanoid Typhoon” Vash (Yoshitsugu Matsuoka) and that same man’s past among a crashing spaceship. The jaded old Star Wars nerd in me was definitely entertained by the juxtaposition between a frantic escape in the atmosphere and the harsh desert below. The environments of Stampede being gorgeous really sell those visual differences and I’m sure my mind is going to spend a lot of the year replaying the long shot of Noman’s Land we are treated to along with the episode title card.

Only so much can be said about Trigun Stampede‘s visuals before the elephant in the room comes up. While animation studio Orange doesn’t need to prove itself to anyone – especially after their fantastic work on Beastars – full CG anime is still controversial in the broader community. There’s plenty of dodgy uses of the technology across the medium, but Trigun Stampede isn’t one of them. Great composition goes a long way here, and seeing things like Vash’s iconic red coat flow not just well but in full 3D is striking. I don’t know about CG anime being the future, but Orange is so good at it at this point we really should let them use it as much as they want.

The other big change compared to the original anime is that Trigun Stampede is less a Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood style remake and more an original adaptation. Stampede deviates from both the source manga and the original anime. From checking with my big Trigun fan spouse, the broad strokes are the same but characters have been changed and at least one seems completely new. If anything is going to be contentious, it will be those changes. As I understand it, POV character Meryl Stryfe (Sakura Ando) is here with a different background and early motivations entirely. She’s pretty much one-track right nowShe’s also paired up with the wonderfully named Roberto De Niro (Kenji Matsuda), who was not her original travel companion in the main series – something that set off a flag of disappointment when I explained this to my spouse. 

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Changes like that are pretty bold in this field. Thanks to changes in release schedule, anime that exists as adaptation generally lives or dies by its ability to successfully adapt as much of its source material as possible – for better or for worse. Trigun Stampede is, ironically enough, tapping instead into the past its original adaptation hails from – an age of one and done OVAs and the need to go off script to get an ending at all. I think a longer first episode, or releasing the first two together, could help mitigate this a bit by giving longtime fans a better sense of what’s changed and what hasn’t. 

To me though, “Noman’s Land” actually feels a lot like that first episode of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood: more interested in a relatively self contained introduction for Vash and the others while bookending the episode with the more hefty story telling. I’m not sure how long the original series takes to deliver details on Vash’s motivations comparatively but this version is just tantalizing enough for me.

That’s the best praise I can give “Noman’s Land.” With the final shot – a haunting image of a young Knives (Yumiri Hanamori) calling Vash his accomplice as debris from the disaster he caused rains down – leaves me compelled not only for more, but to look closer at the previous versions of this story. While I do feel like this is a situation where having two episodes would be better for the bigger set ups, this is about as good as you’re going to get as an introductory episode. 

Featured image via Crunchyroll, Yasuhiro Nightow, SHONENGAHOSHA / TRIGUN STAMPEDE Project

  • 'Trigun Stampede' - "Noman's Land - 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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