REVIEW: ‘Trigun Stampede,’ Episode 3

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Trigun stampede ep3

With Gofsef’s firey death capping the last episode, I knew something explosive was on the way for Trigun Stampede Episode 3. But I was not prepared for the masterpiece of animation and style Orange is about to release upon the anime community.

Picking up almost immediately from where the last episode left off, this story throws the town and its already struggling inhabitants from one fire into the next. The pace of the episode is often dizzying, yet scattered throughout the action with perfect placement are moments of calm, like standing in the eye of a storm, where the story looks into Vash and his personality. The balance of action and character is perfect here. And blended with it is an unexpected layer of pure terror.

Even as I type this I’m still reeling from the unexpected nature of what I just watched. But while there are many aspects of Trigun Stampede Episode 3 that blew me away, I have to talk about the cinematography and lighting first. The way this episode transforms the narrative from what it was just an episode before to what it is here, is due largely to the amazing visual miracles performed by Orange. As the situation escalates throughout this episode, the lighting is manipulated to create some moments that are equal parts breathtaking and fear-inducing in their impact. Even as this latest horror sweeps aside the townsfolk, the viewer is drawn in by its power, nearly matching the fear it imbues in each sense with a desire to witness more. It is a veritable vortex of conflicting emotions I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced in any form of media before.

While these presentations of skill with cinematography blew me away, so too did the unexpected level of gore this episode utilizes. But while there are several severed limbs and more than one geyser of blood present, Trigun Stampede Episode 3 does not use these visual elements for shock value alone, but to augment the sinister and unyielding nature of the episode’s newest threat. It is one of the more powerful uses of gore I have seen in an anime in a long time, as it enhances the already stifling atmosphere of the episode.

Of course, standing in the center of Trigun Stampede Episode 3‘s tornado of narrative fury is Vash. This situation exposes a new element of Vash. While we have seen him play the part of a fool in battle before, this time he is simply made to be one. For the first time, Vash is simply outclassed as more and more elements come to overwhelm him and those remaining in the town. The first two episodes do such a fantastic job of building Vash up that, even though it’s only the third episode, this utter dismantling of him stings as few others could. I look forward to seeing how the coming episodes will portray our hero pulling himself together after this.

Trigun Stampede Episode 3 is a genuine masterpiece of visual storytelling. Every moment, camera angle, lighting choice, and brutal moment are used in a way that is both electrifying and subduing, heart-breaking, and enthralling. My only worry for Trigun Stampede is that it has already peaked with this entry. I certainly cannot fathom how the folks at Orange could possibly deliver a more elegantly terrifying entry to this series.

Trigun Stampede Episode 3 is streaming on Crunchyroll Saturday, January 21st, with weekly episodes to follow.

 


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