Trigun / Trigun Stampede

I’ve been interested in watching Trigun for several years now, despite knowing very little about it. One look at the MyAnimeList page I upkeep will quickly reveal there are well over 200 different shows in the Plan to Watch category, and that’s even when taking into consideration the fact that I only put one entry per series onto my list and do not include any additional seasons or movies. This is worthy of noting in this particular case since the keen eye will see that I actually do have Trigun and it’s modern day anime adaptation “Trigun Stampede” separately listed on my page. This is something that I don’t usually like to do, not just for the sake of trying to keep my list clean and easily digestible, but because I prefer to judge something in its totality: if a show is three seasons long for example, the complete experience of all those seasons back to back is far more important to me than the experience of watching each one individually. When I write a review, that review is usually supposed to encompass the entire series in question, even if for whatever reason I only completed a single season. Most often this happens because the first season was so telling and so difficult to get through that I have neither the need or the desire to keep watching any further, though sometimes I’ll review something early before finishing any remaining seasons simply because I want to talk about it badly enough, then add onto the review with additional material later. But assuming that you do continue, you have to consider the effect each individual season has on the story or series as a whole. This brings us to the very bizarre relationship between the 1998 anime adaptation of Trigun and the modern day prequel/reboot that is Trigun Stampede, which was released in January of 2023 and finished airing in March of that same year. Now, I mentioned before that I’ve been planning to watch Trigun for many years now, and this was via word of mouth; pretty much anybody you talked to about Trigun at this point in time would tell you it is one of the best shows they’ve seen, and so I took mental note of it as something to get around to at some nebulous point in the future without really knowing anything about it at all. Despite how beloved Trigun has been since its original release, it remained pretty niche and maintained more of a cult-following up until the release of Trigun Stampede recently, which has absolutely exploded in popularity among an audience very different from the one the original series was meant to attract and appeal to, many of whom were entirely unaware that Trigun has been around for such a long time in the first place. Now, I don’t think that a cult classic suddenly finding mainstream popularity and success is a bad thing. In fact, I think that especially in the case of Trigun, having any interest at all from a younger demographic in a story intent on delivering the message that the 1998 anime adaptation attempts to and in my opinion does an amazing job of delivering is a really great thing, even if only a handful of those interested will actually get something out of it. I ended up finally watching the series specifically because of a family member who watched Trigun Stampede and went down the rabbit hole of experiencing Trigun in its totality, and probably would have set it aside for a lot longer if not for that. But we still need to acknowledge the primary thing I’m alluding to here, which is the fact that Trigun’s original anime adaptation and its modern day reboot of Stampede are basically just completely separate shows with wildly different stories and approaches, targeting completely different audiences, and I don’t think it’s at all fair to lump them in together as being a single entity. Before I go any further, I’m actually going to give you my recommendation first because I think it’s important for me to do so sooner rather than later in this case; watch the original 1998 anime adaptation of Trigun right the fuck now. Drop everything you are doing and go watch it, it is so god damn good that it’s quickly become one of my absolute favorites and I thoroughly enjoyed it to such an extent that I barely even had critique on the mind while watching, I just forgot about it entirely and had a good time with the experience in a way that’s becoming increasingly difficult and rare for me to do. With that said however, Trigun Stampede is more difficult for me to recommend, and I strongly recommend that if you have any interest in watching Trigun Stampede at all to watch the original first; Stampede will spoil major plot details for you that are far better understood and experienced in the original show. The 1998 adaptation in general is best experienced with as little foreknowledge of its story and universe as possible, I was lucky enough to go in completely and totally blind and I could not be happier, avoid any and all spoilers if you are able to do so—hell, I’d even suggest that you watch the show first and then come back to this review, though I’ll do my best to try and omit any major spoilers here. Also, make sure to watch any episodes that are labeled as filler episodes, they are not actually filler and are necessary to watch assuming you want to follow what the fuck is going on in the story and enjoy it fully. (I would also recommend watching the movie Trigun: Badlands Rumble after watching the original show, it’s really good fun and just generally hits all of the good points that make the original show great, super good stuff). With that out of the way, we’ve established that I need to review Trigun and Stampede as separate entities, and I want to start with the original first. Trigun is, at its core, a show that I think is largely defined by the respect it has for the viewer’s intelligence; the trust it places in you to truly understand the story that it’s attempting to tell without the need to hold your hand and guide you. This isn’t to say that nothing is explained or that the story is unnecessarily convoluted, but instead that everything you need to know is told to you in a natural, organic way, on a need-to-know basis, and expertly woven into the story instead of being exposition necessary for the sake of understanding that story. Mistborn is the easiest and most obvious comparison to draw, a story where the way in which the lore is delivered to you and the timing of its delivery are so deeply rooted into the telling of the story itself that to include an appendix detachedly, unemotionally detailing it all would defeat the point of reading the book. Trigun is the same, and it’s a damn good example of this too, a really fucking good one in fact; the world of Gunsmoke as it is presented to us through the lens of Trigun is absolutely fascinating not simply because of what it is, but because of what it is in relation to the story that’s being told within it. It is a reflection of the story’s themes, not just a backdrop against which the story is happening but instead a crucial part of that story’s identity. With that taken into consideration, the first question which probably comes to mind is “what exactly is the nature of the story”, but I want to instead ask the question of “What is Trigun on its surface level? How does it initially present itself to you when you don’t know anything about it?”, because I believe Trigun is a piece of genuinely subversive and impactful literary genius. To an outside observer, Trigun appears to essentially be a cheesy over-the-top western and lighthearted adventure story; I mean, it’s got “gun” right there in the title, literally the first thing you see when you hit the play button for episode 1 is a gun. The cartoonish western influence is obvious and in-your-face, and the show was by its own admission ostensibly a Shonen anime aimed at a younger demographic; it wanted to present itself to viewers as being action packed and high-octane, to give off the initial impression that there would be bullets flying everywhere and that the prominently featured spiky-haired protagonist in the cover art would be shooting everything in his path. This is one of the most brilliant bait-and-switches ever and a huge part of the reason as to why Trigun failed in Japan but managed to gain a cult following in the west, because this front the show puts on is specifically intended to trick the average viewer in the demographic it pretends to target and hit them with hard questions about what it was that they thought they would be getting, challenging their perception as to the nature of that material in the first place. The best part of all is that this subversion is not immediately obvious, it is subtle, gradual and shows itself further and further as the show progresses because of how expertly paced and structured it has been; at its core, what makes the very first episode enjoyable is enough to make a good show on its own. It’s an encapsulation of what made other classic lighthearted adventure stories with lovable characters released during this era so charming; it is able to genuinely make you care about the characters before the curtain is pulled back because of the way in which the relationship between those characters is depicted. The way in which the show presents these episodic and personal stories to you over the course of what initially seems to be something of an aimlessly open-ended adventure sucks you in, it keeps you watching because it doesn’t really need to be doing anything more to hold your attention. But as you watch, you slowly start to better understand what’s actually going on, to realize what the show is building up to and what its narrative is attempting to tackle, and all of the time you spend at this point of the narrative—on the so-called “lighthearted adventure”—is the reason not only as to why you care about what is happening onscreen right up until the end, but also the reason as to why any of it matters at all in the first place. I would compare Trigun closely to His and Her Circumstances (the good part of it to be clear) in the sense that it is a show where the individual episodic storylines that take place over the course of its runtime are expertly tied into its core narrative throughline, giving all of them weight and significant meaning to the whole of the story—some would describe Trigun as a show consisting of “mostly filler”, but that is a gross misrepresentation of the truth when in actuality, each and every one of those “filler” episodes is so deeply important and strictly necessary for the viewer to appreciate and fully experience the show, filler in name only simply because of the way in which Trigun’s anime adaptation deviated from the original source material it was born from, or the way in which those filler episodes arguably “deviate” from the main plotline, a semantic and technical distinction so unbelievably misguided it is astounding. Probably the best comparison I can make, though, and a good way to illustrate how integral these so called “filler episodes” are to the story is that of Trigun to Samurai Champloo, which is structured in an extremely similar way; a very basic premise and loose goal resulting in a personal, character driven adventure that slowly but surely gives way to a deeper and more meaningful core plotline with an extremely impactful climax. You could say this word-for-word to describe either of these two shows perfectly, yet I don’t see anyone claiming a vast majority of the episodes shown in Samurai Champloo to be filler—it’s a distinction without a difference, and I think anyone who really loves Samurai Champloo will absolutely love Trigun as well because they are pretty much the exact audience it is actually meant to appeal to; not an audience defined its age, but by its open-mindedness and interest in a show that wants them to genuinely engage with it, an audience who wants to be presented with a story that challenges them to think about its subject matter and the way in which that subject matter is depicted and make their own choice about what they believe once they finish watching. Too often the fear that the audience will take away the wrong message from a story drives writers to ham-fist their philosophical viewpoint into that story in a blunt, obvious way, shoving whatever it is they believe down the reader’s throat, but this is simply a counter-productive way to actually get the intended message across; instead of simply making a statement, making an effective, convincing argument as to the truth of that statement and then letting the recipient of that argument make the choice themselves as to whether or not they agree is more effective for exactly the same reason that it is more effective to tell a story while assuming that the reader needs to be given a reason to care about it, and that you need to actively put effort into giving them that reason to make them interested—it’s because you’re talking to them, you’re actively engaging with them and respecting their input! With that said, I believe that Trigun does an absolutely fantastic job of tackling such issues and themes as the intrinsic value associated with human life and with the human experience itself, the notion that even those with wholly opposed philosophical viewpoints can still be good people, that your circumstances shouldn’t define who you are and the actions you believe you have to take, that you always have a choice, that the distinctions you choose to make between right and wrong can’t be forced upon another person, and the good or evil inherent within that person can’t be assumed—there are so many different things I could talk about and so many memorable moments from the show connected to them it is overwhelming and would ultimately result in me completely spoiling the show for you. So before I go any further, I’ll describe Trigun in a nutshell like this; Trigun is a show that manages to convincingly present itself as being a silly, over-the-top western inspired Shonen anime and lighthearted adventure story, entertaining the viewer with the episodic storylines presented over the course of its opening act alone because of how excellently the central characters and their relationship dynamic are depicted and how seemingly open-ended the plotline is, made intriguing and increasingly interesting over the course of its runtime because of what is left unsaid and what is alluded to, and ultimately culminating into an overarching and deeply affecting personal story with incredible depth in which the layers comprising those same characters the show has made such a careful effort to endear you to are peeled back further and further as the show progresses, a story in which you want to find out more about the world because of the people within it and the things that are happening to them. Equal amounts of the story are delivered on its surface level as are hidden within its subtext or shown without ever being spoken, with ideals and extremes clashing on the macro scale while the individual, personal conflicts and relationships between characters involved within that larger struggle play out on the micro scale, and its left up to the viewer to decide how everything fits together by the end, or how important all that which takes place on the “micro” scale actually is to the story in its totality and why. The animation is solid for the time period and I loved the artstyle, the sound design and the fantastic soundtrack, the whole show just oozes style all throughout and the direction and cinematography are absolutely brilliant and I adored them. I absolutely loved the ending and how much the show makes you think about the takeaway from it, the way in which it subverts the expectation of a cheesy western show in such a way that it actually delivers the viewer what it initially promises to a certain extent while expanding upon and making a meaningful commentary on it as the show progresses, I loved the characters and thought they were intriguing and felt like real people, I loved the way in which the protagonist and his beliefs are so harshly juxtaposed against the story’s aggressively unforgiving and desolate world, it was extremely easy to immerse myself in the show and suspend my disbelief despite many of its more ridiculous and arguably unnecessary aspects (many of which play into the same idea mentioned already that the show’s sometimes lighthearted and adventurous nature enhance the impact of all that eventually happens in it), I loved the philosophical viewpoint the show has and the way in which it reconciles idealism with reality, I just absolutely loved almost everything about Trigun, if I didn’t have to try so hard not to spoil it for you I could go on and on about it for hours. If for whatever reason the recommendation I gave before getting into the meat of this review was not enough, I will say again that you absolutely have to watch this and would be doing yourself a disservice by ignoring its existence; at 26 episodes and taking place over the course of roughly 9-10 hours, it is not at all an unreasonable time investment and can be finished in just a few days (or less if you binge it which I was tempted to and probably would have if I hadn’t been watching it with someone else). The pacing is absolutely perfect, the show kept me hooked and consistently curious as to what would happen in the next episode throughout its entire runtime, it sets up such a subtle but powerful sense of intrigue and curiousity, the need to know what happens next and what’s going on with the world of Gunsmoke in the first place simply because you’re invested in the journey the characters are taking as the result of who they are, what they do and how they interact with one another and the world around them. It’s such a fantastic, well told story that even mentioning the fact the setting is called Gunsmoke feels like I’m spoiling a part of the experience for you, something so dirt simple and seemingly meaningless that in almost any other context I wouldn’t give a single shit about it but in this case feels like a discovery the viewer is intended to make and take note of! There are some critiques I could make, of course; the hard transition between what’s actually happening in the story against the intro and outro music—which remain completely static over the course of the show’s entire runtime—can sometimes be a bit jarring, sometimes the animation can be rough, etc, but there’s basically nothing at all here that actually has any significant impact on the quality of the viewing experience itself. Also, if you’re unfamiliar with anime, I’d consider Trigun as being a great show to watch, especially when considering its adult cast (which I loved by the way, we need more of that in the anime industry desperately), its universal appeal among all demographics, and its very strong western influence, it doesn’t feel tropey at all and is over-the-top in a very fun way.


Trigun Stampede

So, that was how I felt about the original Trigun; an absolutely fantastic show and a must watch worthy of preaching about. With that taken into consideration, let’s move onto Trigun Stampede (also, as an added addendum before I begin now that I’ve written everything down, I avoid any actual spoilers but would still recommend watching the original Trigun before reading this review of Stampede, it was pretty much impossible for me to try and omit a lot of what I went over here). Now, the original Trigun was not really an action show at all—it has various action scenes and elements over the course of its runtime, but they do not carry the show. Instead, it is carried by its narrative, its characterization and its extremely good cinematography and direction among various other elements; the animation is solid enough to do what it needs to for the sake of making the show enjoyable to watch, but it is not the selling point. In stark contrast to this, I would categorize Trigun Stampede as being an over-the-top, extremely flashy action show whose primary appeal is high-quality animation and flashy, well-choreographed action sequences—if all that you are looking for in a show is pulse pounding action and nothing else, Trigun Stampede is an enjoyable watch, especially its final episode which while absolutely ridiculous and comical from a narrative standpoint was enjoyable in the sense of feeling like a god-damn Final Fantasy boss fight. In general, it is a show aimed at a younger, less patient and more broad demographic interested less in the slow buildup to a meaningful climax and moreso in the notion that there will be no downtime and all of what is shown onscreen will be action-packed, with an emphasis on visual spectacle and constant movement in the plot. Indeed, many will tell you that Trigun Stampede is a show completely “free of filler” where each and every episode and each and every moment of its 12 episode long runtime are wholly dedicated to the goal of meaningfully advancing the plot; and in a way, that’s true. There’s certainly no doubt that the show is capable of entertaining and appealing to the audience that it attempted to target, and for me, this is where the problem lies; it is not in the actual production value of the show itself or a failure of the animation studio to realize the vision that they had when making it, but instead that the show’s direction was misguided, that concessions had to be made on what actually made the original Trigun so beloved and so god-damn fantastic for the sake of making something with more obvious universal appeal. Trigun Stampede doesn’t feel like Trigun at all, and is only loosely related to the original in small ways; it feels like a completely different story that originally starred a different cast of characters in a different fictional universe and had the skin of Trigun grafted onto it. This on its own is not necessarily a bad thing, and neither is it necessarily a bad thing to target a younger demographic or make a more action-oriented show lacking in substance. In fact, for as much as Trigun Stampede disappointed me, it is well-worth pointing out the fact that a modern-day anime adaptation of the original Trigun purely intended to update its visual fidelity and animation without any changes to the narrative would be completely and utterly redundant, a waste of the viewer’s time when considering this would amount largely to a change in style and look that most fans of the original simply would not want, me included among them; it would not be possible to recreate the original shot-for-shot while significantly changing the visual, and that specific element—the shot for shot direction of the original—is such a key element as to what makes it such an enjoyable viewing experience. These things—the direction, the art style, the voice acting, the feeling of watching Trigun, are timeless. In that sense, Trigun Stampede was a good idea; rather than attempting to recreate the original show, Studio Orange opted instead to make something new by using the original as a framework and attempting to take inspiration and incorporate elements from it. The issue lies not with that, but instead with the fact that it felt there was no real effort made by the studio to understand why Trigun was so beloved in the first place, or what the defining elements of it were; it isn’t simply that Trigun Stampede is targeting a broader and younger demographic than its predecessor, but the fact that obvious compromises have been made to the quality and depth of the narrative in order to achieve that broader appeal, that there is an attempt being made here to dumb things down for the sake of pandering to the lowest common denominator. This, by extension, makes the story feel completely hollow; I found myself wholly emotionally detached from everything happening onscreen because there is simply no strong effort made to actually characterize the cast of characters presented. Instead, not only is it full speed ahead for the entire runtime in which major plot point after major plot point are practically projectile vomited at you to such a degree where it is actually more difficult to keep up with in some regards than it was in the original anime adaptation as a result of its fast pace despite its attempt to be blatant and overly expository, but the writers also decided that instead of taking time away from the plot in order to actually characterize their characters that it would be easier to try and attach you to those characters by simply highlighting their traumatic backstories, attempting to evoke sympathy simply by showcasing how these people have been wronged without there being any significant effort made in showing us who they actually are as people. This is simply lazy writing, and misses the point of the original almost entirely, in which considerable downtime is taken in order to showcase the meaningful and friendly relationship the core cast of characters share with one another specifically for the purpose of giving the plot itself impact, something that the plot of Trigun Stampede simply does not have in large part precisely because it is missing this vital element—the human element. That is literally what was at the core of the original show’s entire narrative, but it is simply ignored here for the sake of moving things along at a fast pace and trying to keep the overly convoluted and nonsensical storyline within the allotted 12 episode time-frame—which, by the way, is not an excuse for any of this. In fact, I criticized Cyberpunk Edgerunners for a similar reason not too long ago, remarking about how the plans they made for the story simply couldn’t fit within the runtime they had and the show was made worse for it; if a studio does not take the time to properly consider the impact of trying to do too much with their narrative in too short a period of time, that is a failure on their part and needs to be acknowledged. In general, Trigun Stampede’s plot follows the same general roadmap as the original’s did and incorporates many of the same elements, characters, events, etc, but is so focused on trying to deliver the plot that it fails at telling the story. To explain what I mean by this, I would define the plot as “what is happening” and the story as “the way it’s happening”, a distinction between the events themselves and the way in which you the viewer are experiencing them; the show attempts on a basic level to try and deliver a somewhat similar message to the original and portray the protagonist as having a somewhat similar philosophical viewpoint to his previous iteration, but it is without nuance, without emotion and feels almost completely tacked on, an excuse for what is happening as opposed to a fundamental part of the story’s identity. It is important to understand that while Trigun Stampede is an over-the-top and flashy action show, it’s also a thriller with a relatively dark tone in which the narrative is meant to play an important role; it is not comparable to something like Promare in which the story being a tropey excuse for the action is irrelevant to the viewing experience because Promare recognized the fact nobody would care about the context as to why and reveled in it, taking the piss out of its own narrative. Stampede simply doesn’t follow this same design philosophy, and attempts to maintain a consistently somber and more thoughtful tone, depicting constant injustice against our core cast of characters without even the barest flash of humour and trying to drive it into your skull repeatedly over the course of the show’s runtime that “this isn’t fair”, that you should feel sympathy for the protagonist simply because of his circumstances—the fact that he is a so-called “victim”—as opposed to who he is as a person, and then attempts to use that portrayal of his plight and of the people he has interacted with and struggled against over the course of his journey as ammunition for the core conflict during the finale between what is essentially humanity against divinity, or the human condition against godlike perfection. This is already a somewhat gross oversimplification of what takes place in the original anime adaptation itself, and throughout the entire story only the negative elements associated with that human condition are ever really highlighted, as though the show is at a complete disconnect from the notion that love is earned and can instead attribute that love to nothing more than mysticism, inherent sympathy or even outright pity, not so much the love that a man shows for his equal as the love that a father has for his delinquent children (which is an apt comparison considering the mythological parallels that Stampede is clearly attempting to make). The end result is that the climax is not effective as anything more than a visual spectacle because there are no real connections made over the course of the show’s runtime which give that final conflict the weight that it was intended to have; everything is on such a ridiculously grand and epic scale with sweeping orchestral music blasting in your ears nonstop all throughout—especially during the climax—that it feels impersonal. More than that, there are numerous instances in which it feels contrived, the protagonist’s relationship with the female protagonist foremost among those contrivances (something that just personally upsets me having become such a huge fan of the original show); there is a distinct feeling right from the beginning that there is no real legitimate reason as to why the other central characters within the show are following the protagonist’s journey in the first place other than to be the camera through which we experience his story, a story that doesn’t actually have anything to do with them at all and throughout which they act as nothing more than bystanders who serve almost no purpose other than to deliver the audience often unnecessary exposition and have no personality, simply convenient tools used for the purpose of arbitrarily driving the show forward. If you haven’t already noticed it by the way, I haven’t made any references at all to any western influences in Trigun Stampede because not only are there absolutely none whatsoever, but it feels as though there was an effort made to intentionally strip them all away for god knows what reason, so much so that it is to the point where the aforementioned world of Gunsmoke is mutilated into the so-called “No Man’s Land” that we journey through over the course of Stampede’s runtime because I guess the writers were just feeling a little generic that day. Jokes aside, whereas before I made mention of the fact that Gunsmoke is fascinating not because of what it is but instead because of what it is in relation to the story, and that it is an integral part of the story being told within it rather than just a backdrop for that story to be told against—a crucial part of its very identity—Stampede ignores this entirely and completely abandons any and all of the original show’s western influences in favor of focusing instead entirely upon being a dystopian sci-fi, and I cannot begin to imagine what on Earth possessed them to do this because it makes the world of No Man’s Land fade into the background and feel utterly uninteresting throughout the entirety of Stampede’s runtime! Not only do you not develop any attachment to that world simply as the result of there being no real emotional anchor to it present here as we’ve already discussed, but also because the way in which that world is portrayed on its most basic level—the influences that were originally intended to define Gunsmoke and starkly contrast the story being told within it of a protagonist whose philosophy is in direct opposition to the very foundation of its entire culture—are now missing, presumably because the writers found those influences didn’t fit with the overly fantastical JRPG storyline they seem to have been intent on telling, fascinated on the surface level by the original’s sci-fi elements without an understanding as to why its western ones mattered or how they were supposed to fit together. Moreover, it just feels disrespectful—to make something new out of an already existing established IP is one thing, but to ignore one of the most core defining elements of that IP entirely when doing so to the point of what almost seems like outright dismissal genuinely feels pretty insulting, with petty unnecessary things changed for seemingly no good reason at all other than to try and make Stampede more artificially distinct from the source material it was born from; why? If anything, I’m still struggling to understand why instead of trying to tell a completely new story with completely new characters within Trigun’s universe, they instead attempted to make a prequel/reboot with a noticeably more immature storyline starring younger versions of the original characters with silly looking designs—another change that makes the whole thing feel far more generic—and essentially attempt to “modernize” the source material; if the intention was to tell a completely new story about wildly different subject matter with unrecognizable characters, why not use the fictional universe you’re pulling from as a baseline for a story that’s actually completely original and wholly new? It just doesn’t make any sense to me, not just because it clearly does not appeal to Trigun’s original audience but also because the material presented in Stampede is ostensibly for the sake of trying to introduce Trigun as a series to a new demographic. What happens when that demographic goes and realizes that the series itself is nothing like what you have used in order to capture their initial interest? Perhaps you could argue this is a tactic to ensnare them in the very same trap the original intentionally sprang upon its own ostensibly “shonen” audience, but the notion that this entire show exists as it does now solely for that reason (especially when considering how the younger audience of today differs so vastly from the younger audience that was being targeted by Trigun in 1998) would simply be ridiculous. Still, this is an interesting subject to bring up when you consider the fact that the original show failed commercially as the direct result of baiting its so-called “target demographic” into a story meant to challenge their viewpoints and subvert their expectations, gaining a cult following who absolutely adored it because of how amazing a job it did at being a good story in spite of its financial failure and lack of widespread popularity; it was a show that intentionally sacrificed the spotlight for the sake of simply being the best that it could possibly be, the story that the studio behind it genuinely wanted to tell no matter what the cost would be. In contrast to this, Trigun Stampede is a show that has intentionally sacrificed literary depth for the sake of achieving the commercial success its predecessor couldn’t—in general, I think it’s very important to recognize as a writer or just in general with any creative pursuit like this that if your intention is to try and pander to the widest possible user base as opposed to making whatever it is you want to make, you will inevitably be forced to compromise on the quality of that thing—the broadest possible audience is not the savviest one. I mentioned that the original Trigun is a show largely defined by its respect for the viewer’s intelligence, and I’m sure by now you’ve realized that isn’t the case in Trigun Stampede; there is constant exposition, every episode is a perpetual info dump of epic proportions and there is no sense at all of any mystery or wonder in discovering anything for yourself like there is in the original, which was one of my absolute favorite parts of that particular viewing experience. Instead, everything is laid out for you in no uncertain terms and you are treated like a child who needs to have their hand held through every last story beat just in case you would otherwise misinterpret it, except that some of these story beats are so obviously contrived or so ridiculously absurd in the finale that I ended up confused at the end anyways simply because the exposition given is insubstantial, a stark contrast to the original show’s approach of simply not bothering to explain semantics or specifics that didn’t need explaining because doing so would be pointless; it was content to let you wonder and theorize, and to eventually reach your own conclusions. Conveniences which exist solely for the sake of the writers pushing the narrative they want to push and laying the groundwork for the epic finale leave you uninterested in considering the moral dilemma presented to you especially when there are seemingly contradictory details mentioned in the finale that call into question the fundamental nature of the entire conflict; but at this point, I think I’ve gone on long enough and made my feelings about Trigun Stampede pretty clear. I wouldn’t personally recommend it unless all you’re looking for is good animation and flashy well-choreographed action sequences, which Stampede does pretty well, or if you’re interested in watching it after watching the original anime adaptation of Trigun just for the sake of completeness which I do think is worth doing. It is also worth taking into consideration the fact that if you were to take Trigun Stampede and examine it in a vacuum while pretending that the original does not exist, it would probably seem like a better show in the absence of the many negative comparisons that I’ve made here, but the issue is that the problems I’ve gone over still exist either way; the characterization is still poor, the pace is still too quick, it’s expository, it’s sometimes contrived or absurd, it’s impersonal and unemotional, the world is unmemorable; all of these things remain true even if the original show is dismissed entirely as a point of reference for comparison. Even still, I didn’t hate Stampede nearly as much as it might seem; the criticism I’m making, while still mostly valid even if the original Trigun didn’t exist, is made significantly harsher and more personal by the disappointment I felt after watching Stampede shortly following the original show and how poor a job I believe Stampede did in trying to capture the essence of what Trigun is at its core and what defines it. There are some scenes which are theoretically good from a narrative or even emotional standpoint when taken and divorced from the context which precedes them, but not really effective when considered as a part of the greater whole which is just unfortunate—there’s something worthwhile here that ultimately suffers as the result of the many different misguided decisions made over the course of its production which I’ve already gone over. With all that said, thank you so much for reading; I didn’t want to mention it earlier for the sake of focusing on the critique first and foremost, but I do recognize I’ve been on a hiatus that’s gone on for a while even by my standards. Now that I’m back, I’ll have another review for Record of Ragnarok on the way out in short order after this one releases and hopefully start watching more stuff and releasing more content in general—I do eventually want to sit down and have a discussion about what caused my abnormally long hiatus, but that’s a conversation for another day, I’ve got Fullmetal Alchemist to get back to! Love you all, I’m gonna go get some sleep now holy shit I’m tired.

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