Trigun: Badlands Rumble – Review

by Miguel Douglas


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The story is set in Makka, a town surrounded by quicksand. With rumors spreading that the legendary robber Gasback has his sights set on the town, the mayor Kepler has brought together bounty hunters to protect the town. These bounty hunters have been following Gasback from town to town in hopes of bagging the prize. Meryl and Milly have come to town to assess the situation as insurance agents, but are shocked by this turn of events. Moreover, Vash the Stampede is also in town, along with the female bounty hunter Ameria and Nicholas D. Wolfwood.

In development for nearly five years, Trigun: Badlands Rumble is an ode to all the joyous fans fond of the original television series. Taking place within the television series timeline, Badlands Rumble presents all the humorous antics, frenetic battles, and dramatic storylines all present in the series itself, with the obvious higher technical attributes. Right from the beginning, Badlands Rumble pacing is extremely well balanced and calculated, all the while careful to accommodate people who haven’t seen the series. A majority of the cast from the television series returns as well, including two new characters by the name of Gasback and Ameria. Gasback is the main villain in the film who basically wants to steal everything he can, while Ameria is the quiet and reserved bounty hunter with a dark past that is slowly unveiled throughout the course of the film. All these characters cultivate to provide a unique and enjoyable viewing experience for old and new viewers alike, which is quite an accomplishment considering the age of the original television series. It’s nice to see the old cast return in the form of a cinematic film, bringing back all the mannerisms and personalities present within the original.

This definitely lends Badlands Rumble an odd sense of familiarity—a familiarity that will undoubtedly have fans applauding mainly due to the film taking careful steps to purposefully accommodate loyal fans of the original. This is where I think Badlands Rumble could somewhat falter for viewers not familiar with the source material, and could even prove disappointing for certain fans as well. The film closely resembles an episode from the original television series, albeit a longer running time. This can be considered a good or bad thing depending on a viewer’s previous knowledge of the television series, which will inherently divide many viewers into two camps—those that are fans of the original television series, and those who are not. I say this because the film seems like one long lost episode, which again is not necessarily a bad thing; it’s just that it will displace some viewers not familiar with the original series due to its stringent likeliness to it. The nostalgic feeling the film presents is great for the most part, but since it also takes place within the television series timeline, the risk of any of the characters getting killed or significantly injured within the film are non-existent due to this reason alone. This dampens the suspense dramatically, but doesn’t alter the enjoyment of the material showcased at hand—especially for the most loyal of Trigun fans.

And while it’s not entirely original in its execution—some of the back-stories for the newer characters were somewhat contrived—the plot succeeds in incorporating so many elements successfully. Usually this would ultimately result in failure in one of the areas, but the film juggles them rather fairly and doesn’t unnecessarily spend too much on one element or another unless warranted. This made the film surprisingly entertaining and kept the pace from lagging, which is something the original series did so well too.

Studio Madhouse returns to animate Trigun: Badlands Rumble, which is probably the most promising aspect of the film. All the characters are slightly updated visually, as well as the entire film looking great for the most part. The town of Makka is extraordinarily detailed as well as the other environments showcased, which really bring to life the atmosphere that the film thrives on already through its cast. The action sequences are definitely some of the highlights of the film, and the animation ultimately amps these scenes up immensely. The film is entirely broader in scope than the television series was, which garners the film a more realized world in which the characters participate within. The film even utilizes CG, which is integrated well enough and used only sporadically throughout the film.

Overall, Trigun: Badlands Rumble is a film that contains all the elements found in the original television series—comedy, suspense, action, and drama—it’s all there. While it might be bothersome to consider that the film does take place within the timeline of the original series, it doesn’t distract too much from the film standing on its own in providing an excellent return to the Trigun universe many people are fond of. That’s why I actually believe the film succeeds more often than it doesn’t—it’s a film made for fans of the original, a homage to all the elements that made the original that much special for its viewers—while constructed in a way to gain new fans as well. While not perfect, Trigun: Badlands Rumble presents a great example of the tried-and-true saying, “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it”. This is one film that knows its audience—and does a great job at making sure it lives up to their expectations.

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Author: Miguel Douglas

As an avid viewer of both Japanese animation and cinema for more than a decade now, Miguel is primarily concerned with establishing a critical look into both mediums as legitimate forms of artistic, cultural, and societal understanding. Never one to simply look at a film or series based solely on superficiality, Miguel has dedicated himself towards bringing awareness to Asian entertainment and its various facets.

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  • Jon

    Thank you so much for the great review! I’ve been trying to find out what I can about Badlands. Couldn’t make it up North to see the con premiere, sadly. You’ve been the biggest help of anyone! Thank you again! Well done, well done.

  • Sarah

    Does anyone know if there are any plans to dub or sub this film?

  • Truth

    Considering that
    1) All of the voices from the original show are still alive
    2) The reception for Badlands Rumble was great
    3) Trigun (Or at least the Anime) had a larger following stateside than in Japan, we’ll probably see a Dub.

  • Husam

    I just saw the movie, and I have to say it was quite an experience, it brought back fond memories of one of the best Animes I’ve ever saw, Trigun is truly an epic.
    The animation was top notch, fighting sequences were great too, the story was predictable but that wasn’t a bad thing.
    You really have to thank the creators for their great vision, Vash the Stampede’s character is pure genius, he’s the hero that everybody loves, and you’ll find this apparent in the tv series and movie.
    Kudos to everyone who worked on this, hopefully a dub will come along soon.

  • Chris C.

    A dub is apparently happening, with all of the original cast, except for Jeff Nimoy (Wolfwood). He cited that the studio wouldn’t pay him to fly out, and as a result, he’d lose money on the gig. Unless they change their stance (or Jeff does, for that matter), Wolfwood will be re-casted – which is a shame.