Trigun: Badlands Rumble (Toraigan baddorando ranburu) 2010
I’m sure I’ve led a review with something like the following statement before, but I imagine following up on a classic, even with the same team, must be both exciting and daunting. For me, I feel like Trigun: Badlands Rumble had a lot of the familiar elements I was hoping for, along with some fun new stuff too. Ultimately, it’s unfair to compare a single movie to a series but I imagine fans of the original will still enjoy Badlands Rumble without being necessarily over the moon about it – and I myself liked it plenty 😀
The film opens with a great, self-contained prologue that has tension, comedy and action in typical Trigun fashion. It works as a great reminder for (or introduction to) folks about the tone of the storytelling and the setting too – along with doing a great job highlighting Vash’s trademark goofball pacifism.
The story is essentially about catching a thief but there are a few players whose hands are not revealed too quickly, and a lot of competing interests which kept me guessing at times. I believe in the lead-up to release of the film there was some talk of the movie being ‘Vash vs Wolfwood’ but that’s not the meat of the story at all. It’s also still firmly a western but includes those sneaky sci-fi aspects too.
Obviously, as a feature film the budget and animation quality is higher than the TV series (which predated the movie by 12 years) and it’s a welcome update for sure, but the characters were the main draw for me going in.
In terms of character, when I saw Badlands it was a lot like that ‘meeting up with old friends’ cliché and so it was hard to untangle nostalgia from the experience. But still, Wolfwood’s appearance is a great little surprise, and while I’m always craving more time for he and Vash to interact, the film widens the scope beyond the usual team to give thief Gasback (one of the main antagonists) and bounty hunter Amelia more screen time, which I really enjoyed because it expanded the world of Gunsmoke nicely.
One thing I wanted to also quickly mention was the ‘sympathy for the devil’ trope that’s pretty popular across all entertainment mediums – I always consider it a bit manipulative on the part of the writers, since it makes it easy to forget that the character it refers to is actually a bad chap or chapette. Of course, it’s also a sign of more nuanced characters so that’s always a plus.
It was also really nice to have Tsuneo Imahori responsible for the OST again, as I really loved Sandstorm for one, but it’s equally gratifying to see the original voice cast reunited too – as ever, I reckon Masaya Onosaka kills it as Vash. (Oh, and for an idea of the increase in production values check out the saloon rumble!)