Reviewby Luke Carroll,
Trigun: Badlands Rumble
Vash The Stampede is back! Vash the Stampede is a gunslinging, red-trenchcoat-wearing drifter with a giant bounty on his head. However his biggest threat may not be law enforcement, but an outlaw by the name of Gasback. Twenty years ago, Vash accidentally interefered with one of Gasback's robberies and now the villain's back with a score to settle. Gasback has come to Macca City in hopes of stealing one of their major installations and Vash has just coincidentally arrived at the same spot. Also involved in this caper are a beautiful lady with a grudge, a couple of insurance agents, and Vash's old buddy Wolfwood. At first it seems that Gasback has succeeded, but one can never underestimate Vash's legendary abilities—not to mention the secrets that his allies have up their sleeves.
Like Rocky rising up from retirement to bring us one more round of boxing glory, Vash the Stampede has reappeared after a decade of absence to bring us what is likely his final adventure on the small screen. As many of these resurrected final hurrahs go, prior knowledge of the series is certainly beneficial if you are to enjoy this 90 minute feature to its fullest. Those expecting a new take on the series or a prequel of sorts will be sorely disappointed. Trigun: Badlands Rumble is barely anything more than a feature long episode that would sit seamlessly into the series canon. As the saying goes though, any Trigun is certainly better than none.
The story behind this action packed feature is certainly nothing too spectacular on the outside. 20 years ago, Vash interferes with a robbery being conducted by an outlaw named Gasback. In keeping with his long standing philosophy of preserving life, Vash lets Gasback escape. Fast forward to the present and Vash finds himself heading the Mecca City, completely unaware that Gasback is rumoured to be striking there in the coming days to steal their prized statue. The writers have tried to complicate things with the introduction Amelia, a female gun-slinger with an obvious grudge on her shoulders, but it really is nothing more than a way to extend the runtime and reaffirm the series' message that life is precious. Wait, didn't Cowboy Bebop do something similar with its movie?
Not that it's a bad thing though. Plenty of time has been given to let the main cast have their fair share of moments. Vash's happy-go-lucky mood comes out in full swing here as does his trademark marksmanship with a gun. Wolfwood is cool as ever and even our favourite insurance agents Meryl and Millie manage to find an excuse to show up in town (ironically not to follow Vash). Amazingly even with all the filler of Amelia and Gasback, the feature fails to be anything short of entertaining, never once forgetting its main purpose of existing: to give Vash and co. one last go at kicking butt.
With a film sized budget behind it, there's no surprise that Badlands Rumble looks wonderful on this release. The numerous gunfights and brawls that take place all look vibrantly sharp and full of detail. The western turn-of-the-millennium setting that Trigun resides in allows for some great designs and backdrops to be produced, with Madhouse even managing to avoid putting in any jarring 3D effects (something I have no doubt they were tempted in). There are times where things get a little grainy, but one could easily call it a throwaway to the original series and it's age. Nevertheless, this is truly the Trigun look you all love, just given a coat of magic modern high definition paint.
A new lick of paint has also be given to the music, now sporting a spiffy Dolby TrueHD 5.1 that sounds great. Tsuneo Imahori has managed to replicate the feel of the series a decade on, with electric guitars chiming in when Vash is kicking butt to a simple acoustic chime when things go quiet. And like all good scores the music never tries to outplay what is happening on the screen. The voice work is also great to listen to. Fans of the Japanese work will certainly get a kick from knowing much of the cast has reprised their roles in this flick. The English dub on the other hand only managed to keep Johnny Yong Bosch, however rest assured that the reprised cast doesn't sound too different. And even so, their parts are short and limited.
As with a few of Madman's current Blu-Ray titles, Badlands Rumble is just a repackage of the US release. Not that this is a problem at all, because there is plenty of extras here to sink your teeth into. On top of the multiple promotional clips and trailers that make up a third of what's on offer, there's nine staff interviews, footage from the premiere and Anime Expo 2009, and a post recording feature. All up there's over an hour of footage, enough for any fan to be satisfied with.
Badlands Rumble is certainly not a bad movie by any stretch. It's actual plot may lack in substance, but this movie isn't here to cater for new comers or those wanting to see a good action film. It's here to cater for the die-hard fans of the original series. The ones who have watched the series countless times, the ones who cherish their Vash figurine, and even the ones who still shout "Love and Peace!" at conventions now and again. You've waited ten years for Vash and friends to have a last hurrah, so enjoy it while it lasts.
Overall (dub) : B-
Overall (sub) : B-
Story : C
Animation : B+
Art : B
Music : B+
+ Great looking visuals. Fans will be satasfied, even if it was ten years in the waiting.
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