「光よ, 闇を照らせ」 (Hikari yo, Yami o Terase)
“Bright Light, Shine Through the Darkness”
Trigun Stampede’s third episode book-ends Vash’s time in Jeneora Rock the only way the Humanoid Typhoon could be by luring in a number of dangerous baddies. But while a mad bomber could easily be outsmarted, sometimes it’s familial ties that wind up leveling the floor below you.
HE’S AN EASY BOMBER, HE’LL GET A HOLD ON YOU, BELIEVE IT
It’s impressive how early this iteration of Trigun wanted to roll out its Gung-Ho-Guns crew, starting with E.G. the Mine. I figured they’d try to incorporate Legato shortly before mobilizing the Gung-Ho-Guns to screw over Vash, but it seems that Knives has deeper fangs sunk into the crew at this point in time.
The animation in this particular part was neat because of how much was focused on making E.G. a giant ball of destruction. His metal ball moved around with the kinetic energy and panache that gave a sense of weight to its motions as it ground its wheels into the metallic staircases and walkways.
CUTS LIKE KNIVES
That being said, the main attraction of Stampede is how prominent Knives is in this, especially this early and especially while he’s older. The old adaptation only gave us glimpses of what he was like as a younger kid and teen, only allowing us to see him as a reclusive villain who slunk around in the shadows until Vash was ready to fight him.
But by bringing him out earlier and having him fight Vash on more occasions, it gives the story a chance to showcase the extraterrestrial powers we didn’t get as much of a glimpse of back when the old show was on. So instead of just seeing him as a sociopathic yet methodical gunman, he’s now this supernatural assassin who can use Doctor Octopus’s tentacles and razor-sharp blades to decimate an entire town.
It makes for an effectively scary experience for older and newer viewers alike, given how little either of us knows of what Knives was truly capable of. Seeing him slink in the shadows as he tore through Father Nebraska, E.G. the Mine, and the two women with Rosa was more frightening and brutal than anything else up to that point.
For older viewers, it’s also a gut-punch to see how Knives returning earlier on is a deliberate measure on his part to taunt Vash for leaving him as a teenager. Remembering Knives’ hysterical response to being shot by Vash makes his “You’d shoot your own brother” line all the more sadistic. Vash can’t allow himself to hurt his brother again, but his empathy plays mind tricks on him when Knives uses it against him while ending countless lives in the process.
At first, I thought the first couple of episodes were relatively slow since most of the adversaries in Jeneora Rock were just there to do a high-stakes version of stealing Catalytic Converters from Mazda MPV’s for their precious metals. But when Knives is coming in to screw everyone in town over, it adds more expedience and urgency on Vash’s behalf to get himself together to kick back against him eventually. Although his exile had caused him to have to travel out to JuLai, his quest has him ultimately trying to gain the resolve and abilities to properly counter Knives’ measure to further ruin his brother’s life.