Somehow, despite bad expectations caused by certain plot decisions, Trigun Stampede Ep. 1 “Noman’s Land” is a good start to this reboot anime. With a good blend of action and comedy combined with gorgeous CGI, it will hopefully not only entertain new fans but also assuage fans of the original 1998 anime. Now all that’s left is to see if studio Orange explains the weird plot changes.

Trigun Stampede Ep. 1 “Noman’s Land”: Details

"Trigun Stampede" NA key art.
This first episode somehow actually makes up for the lack of Milly Thompson.

Trigun Stampede Ep. 1 “Noman’s Land” is the first episode of this new anime series. Said anime is a reboot of the original 1998 anime Trigun, which itself was the anime adaptation of the 1995 manga of the same name by Yasuhiro Nightow. Orange (Land of the Lustrous, Beastars, Godzilla Singular Point) is the animation studio behind this reboot anime. Unfortunately, none of the staff from the original 1998 anime returned for this reboot. Kenji Mutō is the director of this reboot anime, with Katsuhiro Takei producing. Tatsurō Inamoto, Shin Okashima, and Yoshihisa Ueda wrote for this reboot anime, with Tatsuya Kato composing its music. Lastly, Crunchyroll is licensing this reboot anime for its NA release.

Trigun Stampede Ep. 1 “Noman’s Land” premiered on January 7, 2023. You can watch this episode (and by extension the rest of the reboot anime) only on Crunchyroll. You can also watch all 26 episodes of the original 1998 anime on Crunchyroll if you’re feeling nostalgic or if it’s your first time hearing about it. Unfortunately, in both cases, Crunchyroll has locked them behind their premium account paywall. So if you want to watch the original 1998 anime or Trigun Stampede, you’ll have to shell out cash for a premium account.

Warning: spoilers for Trigun Stampede Ep. 1 “Noman’s Land” below. If you want to see if this reboot anime is any good for yourself, then stop here, and come back once Vash’s latest shootout is over and done with.

Trigun Stampede Ep. 1 “Noman’s Land”: Plot Summary

Viewers familiar with the original 1998 anime will realize what this reboot is about.

Trigun Stampede Ep. 1 “Noman’s Land” starts us off by introducing us to the titular Vash the Stampede but as a kid onboard a colony ship approaching a desert world. Unfortunately, the ship starts blowing up, and his mother Rem gets him and his twin brother a ride on an escape pod. The escape pod rockets down planetside as more ships start blowing up in spectacular fashion.

The scene then cuts to the lead characters Meryl Stryfe and Roberto de Niro. Just like in the original 1998 anime, Meryl serves as the viewpoint character along with newcomer Roberto. However, that’s where the similarities end. For you see, Trigun Stampede seems to take in an entirely separate continuity from the original anime. In this continuity, both Meryl and Roberto are journalists. The former is an idealistic newbie looking for her big scoop, while the latter is a constantly drunken and world-weary veteran who just wants this job over and done with his hide intact. However, neither of their personalities saves them when their car runs out of power in the middle of the desert.

Coincidentally, both of them happen upon Vash, hanging upside-down along with the corpses of the victims of a local notorious gang. Vash though is still alive, and very much relieved that Meryl decides to free him. Meryl even misleads a military police patrol who comes looking for Vash, although only to get her big scoop from Vash before the MPs do. Meryl and Roberto even get Vash to lead them to the nearest town, where Vash is revealed to be a local hero after fixing the town’s plant. Unfortunately, the town’s plant is once more breaking down, and no one has any idea why.

Even worse, as Vash is trying to repair said plant, the MPs arrive, arrest him, and want badly to execute him on the spot. Roberto proves himself not to be just a drunkard though and manages to convince the MPs’ leader to hold a duel with Vash instead of executing him outright. Thus, Vash gets a chance at life, but only a chance.

High Noon in Noman’s Land

"Trigun Stampede" Ep. 1 "Noman's Land" screenshot showing Vash aiming his massive revolver skyward towards the camera.
Trust me, this duel is a lot more hilarious than this image makes it look.

It’s pretty safe to say that Vash and the MP leader facing each other atop a mesa with their guns loaded is the climax of Trigun Stampede Ep. 1 “Noman’s Land”. Vash isn’t interested in the duel though and tries to convince the MP leader to stand down. Said leader looks like he’s about to drop his gun and the duel…right until he pulls out a rocket launcher and fires it upwards. The rocket is a cluster rocket that rains down submunition on everyone. Apparently, the MP leader is completely off his rocker. Even his men call him insane as they scramble to take cover along with the entire town.

Vash then steps up with his oversized revolver, aims it at the sky, and fires…nothing. 6 clicks later, and still nothing. Apparently, his revolver was empty, and he didn’t notice. His tearful pleas to the townspeople for .22 bullets go unheeded, save for one. The barkeep woman has a .22 bullet left and hands it to Meryl, who then throws it to Vash. The suicidal MP leader tries to stop Vash after a struggle but fails to keep him from loading it. Vash then picks up a rock, tosses it up into the submunitions, and fires his sole bullet into the rock, shattering it. The rock fragments explode like a grenade, hitting the submunition and detonating them all, saving everyone.

The MPs leave in a hurry after that, but the news gets to the city of July. There, Vash’s twin brother Millions Knives interrupts his creepy organ playing to hitch a ride on a giant insectoid “vulture”. His destination? Jeneora Rock: the town Vash just saved, and where he’s staying at. What does he want there? Well, that’s what we’ll presumably find out in the next episode of Trigun Stampede.

Trigun Stampede Ep. 1 “Noman’s Land”: The Good

"Trigun Stampede" Ep. 1 "Noman's Land" screenshot showing Vash hanging upside-down, with his hair sticking downwards and his eyes hidden by his glasses, making him look like he did in the original 1998 anime.
The only time Vash ever looks like he does in the original 1998 anime.

The CGI animation is easily the best part of Trigun Stampede Ep. 1 “Noman’s Land”. This is especially significant since CGI anime series tend to be known for low-quality animation. Fortunately, this is most definitely not the case here, and it’s all due to Orange. Studio Orange has made some gorgeous CGI anime like Land of the Lustrous and Beastars, with fluid motion and high levels of detail being their trademark animation style. Trigun Stampede is definitely going among that lot in the animation department.

Admittedly, I’m still on the fence about the story of Trigun Stampede Ep. 1 “Noman’s Land”. Let’s talk about the good parts first. As a self-contained story, the story of the first episode isn’t all that bad. It’s a good way to introduce not only the main characters but also the new setting. The fact that this reboot anime takes place in a separate continuity from both the manga and the original 1998 anime could give it a lot of potential. If the writers do a good job, we could see a genuinely good new story taking place in an alternate universe. And so far, their efforts aren’t too bad. At the very least, Vash is his usual comedically entertaining self with a hint of something deeper during serious moments.

Trigun Stampede Ep. 1 “Noman’s Land”: The Bad

"Trigun Stampede" Ep. 1 "Noman's Land" screenshot showing a puzzled Vash as his pulling on his revolver's trigger produces nothing but clicks.
That moment when Vash realizes that he’s having a very bad day.

Okay, now that we have the good parts of this separate continuity down, let’s talk about the bad points. I’m still unsure about Meryl Stryfe’s new personality in this reboot anime. In the original 1998 anime, she was a world-weary insurance agent armed with an arsenal of derringers to fight her way out of trouble. This reboot anime seems to give her not only the opposite personality type, but also seemingly robs her of her derringers to boot.

Not only that, but the writers seemingly gave Meryl’s personality to her new partner Roberto, and also cut Milly Thompson (Meryl’s old partner in the original 1998 anime) from the story entirely. If Trigun Stampede doesn’t give us an explanation for these changes later, then I’m going to have to count this as a minus. And a pretty significant minus to boot. It’s really Vash who’s carrying this reboot anime now at this point.

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