Review of Trigun: Badlands Rumble

Trigun DVDTrigun: Badlands Rumble
Funimation Entertainment
120 minutes

Set well before the finale of the television series, Trigun: Badlands Rumble is a feature length film based on an extended exploit involving everyone’s favorite donut-chomping bounty head, Vash the Stampede.  His “peace and love” meddling twenty years prior has returned to haunt him in the form of Gasback, a notorious robber who has set his sites on a particular town where Vash and a host of bounty hunters lie in wait.

Badlands Rumble is a nostalgia train rumbling full speed at the audience.  It’s a love letter to fans of the original television series, bringing back all of our main characters.  As in the Cowboy Bebop film, the series is able to resuscitate a dead character by setting the action before the death occurred, leading to a movie that is more the “extended episode” type rather than a film that adds anything significant to the series as a whole.

Continuing along that “love letter” theme, the movie takes the tone of the series and cranks it up several notches.  The kooky character designs are a feast for the eyes as hundreds of funky-looking bounty hunters fill the saloons of a town awaiting the appearance of the film’s villain.  The colors and look of the film remain true to the original, but the animation is updated and in the hands of Madhouse, looks absolutely wonderful.  That said, the updates sometimes took away from the charm of the series.  For instance, the mixture of bits of futuristic weaponry with overwhelming older tech was a fun juxtaposition in the original show, but in the film, devices  seem way too common and hi-tech.

As I mentioned, all the characters are back.  It was a delight to see what I realize is the only foursome in anime in which I would consider every member among my favorite characters: Vash, Wolfwood (who got his own week here at Beneath the Tangles), and the insurance investigators, Meryl and Millie.  And as with many other episodes, a beautiful female character plays a major role.  Amelia is a tough cookie with a single-minded mission of taking down Gasback.  But with a two-hour film, the animators actually flesh out this character, and she’s fairly memorable.  More than that, Nightow pulls a surprise on the audience when Amelia ends up being more than a would-be tough girl who is actually a damsel in distress, reflecting some of the criticisms regarding his treatment of female characters in the series.  She’s voiced by Maaya Sakamoto, who I swear is always the answer to the question, “Who lent her awesome voice to that character?” for me nowadays.  LOVE her.

Themes explored in the film largely match the series, which I’ve recommended to Christian viewers.  Badlands Rumble allows room to discuss some of the deeper concerns of the original series, particularly whether Vash’s non-violence policy is really the best way.  The questions posed are excellent, and the answer to those questions, presented through the concluding events, is in line with Christian teachings (even if Nightow denies having a religion these days).

Funimation has done an outstanding job with  the release.  Besides the beautiful packaging, the extras are the best I’ve ever seen on an anime DVD.  Among other things, the set includes a ton of video featuring Nightow, the film’s director, and much of the cast.  Masaya Onosaka, the voice of Vash, is an absolute riot, and Sho Hayami, the voice of Wolfwood, is fabulously peculiar.  I especially enjoyed a conversation the group had in response to a question about who everyone would like to see cast in an American live-action version of Trigun.

One thing I’ve learned from wasting hundreds of hours viewing movies is this – if you go into a film expecting something extraordinary, chances are that you’re going to be disappointed.  If after years of waiting you expect to see something earthshattering from Badlands Rumble, you’ll dislike the film.  But if you’re like me – a huge fan of the series who just simply wanted to see a bit more of his favorite characters, you’ll enjoy the ride.



8 thoughts on “Review of Trigun: Badlands Rumble

    1. There is little fanservice – the new character introduced in the movie dresses a little scandalously, but nothing besides that. There is a lot of violence in the movie, but no deaths. The biggest problem is PROBABLY foul language – I can’t actually remember, but there was definitely foul language in original series.

      I don’t know if you’d enjoy if you hadn’t seen the original. There’s so much setup that would be missing and really, the entire point of the movie is to reward fans of the series. Otherwise, it’s probably just another action film.

  1. I’m in full agreement with this review and cannot wait to see it in English. 😀

    I know it’s OT, but that’s really interesting about the show’s supposed gender problems. Other than the general “Wild West” attitude that women are best suited to being homemakers/caregivers, I found myself pretty pleasantly surprised by the relative lack of fanservice (and the /complete/ lack of it for the two female leads), as well as Millie and Meryl’s strength and proficiency with guns. They still held up well to me, even after being away from the show for five years! 🙂

    1. I agree about Millie and Meryl. They can defend themselves generally, and even when they can’t, Vash rescuing them has more to do with his characterization as a hero (and a particularly powerful one at that) rather than the “damsels in distress” motif.

      I think maybe the problem is that it’s like Vash is giving these girls a lesson, like a man talking down to a woman: “I know you want to do such and such…but love and peace is the right way, little lady.” It comes off as a bit condescending, though I don’t think that’s the intent. After all, albeit in a more complicated way, Vash is teaching this lesson to his male pal, Wolfwood.

      Anyway, I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the movie! It’s good to hear from someone who’s an even bigger fan of the series than I am. 🙂

      1. — I think maybe the problem is that it’s like Vash is giving these girls a lesson, like a man talking down to a woman: “I know you want to do such and such…but love and peace is the right way, little lady.” It comes off as a bit condescending, though I don’t think that’s the intent. —

        I do think that’s a little problematic. I’ll admit that when Vash tells Dominique the Psyclops “you should be spring cleaning for the man you love” (or something like that), I didn’t feel too sorry for him when Meryl ran up and decked him shortly afterward. XD

  2. I enjoyed seeing my favorite characters again and the animation looked top-notch. The bar room brawl was hilarious the way Vash stole all their bullets before the patrons pulled their guns on each other. I LOVE when he does that stuff. What I could have done without was all the heavy sexual innuendo about Vash talking about being in bed together and touching Amelia. I know he has a defense mechanism of convincing people he is something that he’s not. It would’ve been fine if they stopped at him pretending to be a flaky flirt like in the TV series but the OVA made him out to look like a full-blown pervert. It was not funny to me. I skip episode 2 of the TV show for the same reason, it contributes nothing to the story. Otherwise 8/10.

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