I’m well aware that opinions on Trigun Stampede have been a bit…divisive. Some thought that it was a terrible reboot of Trigun on the part of studio Orange. Others thought that it was a worthy successor to that amazing Space Western anime, which was itself the anime adaptation of the amazing manga of the same name by Yasuhiro Nightow. Originally, I was in the former camp due to certain changes from the original anime. Now though, after having watched this reboot anime in its entirety on Crunchyroll, I feel like I’ve moved into the latter camp, with me giving the anime overall a score of 95/100. Here’s why:

Why is Trigun Stampede Good?

'Trigun Stampede' NA key visual.
Just look at this key visual for initial proof.

To answer that question, let’s take a look at the animation studio behind Trigun Stampede: Orange. Orange is a Japanese animation studio that has become rather famous for its very high-quality CGI anime. If you’ve ever watched Land of the Lustrous, Beastars, or even that Star Fox Zero Zero: The Battle Begins anime short, then their work would be pretty familiar to you. In fact, you can watch an official trailer for Land of the Lustrous for yourself below to get an idea of what Orange’s past work was like.

Land of the Lustrous is still one of the most beautiful CGI animated series I’ve ever seen, period.

Needless to say, Orange continues to further its reputation for high-quality CGI in Trigun Stampede. Said CGI animation is consistently very fluid and aesthetically pleasing to watch. Combined with some amazing cinematography for the action scenes, and you’ve got a recipe for some very nice eye candy. In fact, you can see the best example of that in Ep. 12 “High Noon at July”.

'Trigun Stampede' finale visual.
This finale visual only gives you a taste of the action, and yet that one taste leaves you wanting more.

In that final episode of Trigun Stampede season 1, Vash and Knives engage in a running, leaping, and at times flying gun battle that first starts in Dr. Bill Conrad’s lab, and then quickly expands throughout the city of JuLai. The whole scene feels like a combination of a Marvel Cinematic Universe fight scene and a The Matrix fight scene. You have feats of superhuman agility from both Vash and Knives, combined with slowed-down bullet time scenes whenever Knives does a High-Speed Missile Dodge of the .22 caliber bullets Vash sends his way, which makes for some incredible action scenes that only adds to Orange’s reputation as a stellar CGI animation studio. However, animation isn’t the only good thing about the anime.

A Story That’s Mostly Ups Despite a Few Downs

Vash the Stampede's $$60 billion wanted poster.
Mostly because of this guy.

I know this will be the most divisive opinion I’ll have, but hear me out. The story of Trigun Stampede, despite a few rough parts, is overall very good. By the time you finish that last Ep. 12, you will have realized that season 1 of this reboot anime is basically a prequel. It’s a prequel to the main story that comprised the original Yasuhiro Nightow canon, just with a few tweaks as part of this reboot. Tweaks such as Vash knowing Meryl and Nicholas beforehand. It does set things up for the main story, as well as better explain why both Meryl and Nicholas seek him out in the story proper.

'Trigun Stampede' screenshot depicting a puzzled Meryl.
Well, mostly Meryl, actually.

Especially for Meryl, since being ordered to tail a Humanoid Typhoon to make sure he doesn’t cause any more insured damage is a bit…well, silly in hindsight. It’s a good kind of silly, mind you. But having Meryl tail Vash because she’s a friend who’s concerned about his well-being is a bit more heartwarming, I think. Not only that, but with Meryl now aware of what a bad mentor is like thanks (or rather, no thanks) to Roberto, she now knows how to properly mentor Milly. Thus, Trigun Stampede also gives a good reason why they have such a friendly relationship in the main story.

Do You Sense a But Incoming?

'Trigun Stampede' screenshot depicting a dying Roberto offering perhaps the nicest things he's ever said to Meryl in the entire anime. It's still not much.
The only time he was ever a decent person was when he was dying. That should tell you something about his character.

To be honest, though, there is a reason why I’m not giving Trigun Stampede a perfect score of 100/100. That reason consists of 3 words: Roberto. De. Niro. Yeah, that guy above. He’s Meryl’s mentor for nearly the entirety of the anime, and he was a terrible mentor. He spent the entire anime demeaning and ridiculing Meryl to the point where he just looked like a dick. He didn’t even have any good reasons to do it either. Being a dick was just his personality, it seems. It even got to the point where he turned into a coward on that sandship, and berated Meryl for not joining him in his cowardice. Roberto is just plain unlikable in this reboot anime, and I’m only talking about the in-story reasons.

Out-story, Roberto raises some uncomfortable implications in Trigun Stampede. Fans of the original Trigun would quickly notice this, but for the non-fans: Roberto basically replaced Meryl’s role. He did so in the most dickish way possible, but that’s basically what he did. He even had Meryl’s derringer, which only furthered my outrage when I initially saw it. The only good thing about his character was when he died. That was how bad he was. Worst of all, he wasn’t even funny. It looked like the writers were trying to make him funny, but he came off as anything but.

Granted, Roberto does explain why Meryl behaves the way she did in the main story, if only to avoid emulating him. Did the writers intentionally make Roberto unlikable? Or was it a product of outdated writing? We may never know for certain. All I can say on the matter is that he’s dead, so he won’t play a role in the “Final Phase” of Trigun Stampede.