SciFi Japan


    Wolfwood wields his giant cross in TRIGUN: BADLANDS RUMBLE, playing in theaters across the United States starting next month. Photo courtesy of Eleven Arts. © 2010 Yasuhiro Naito/ Trigun the Movie Production Committee

    Author: Elliot Gay Official Movie Site: (US), (Japan) Special Thanks to Eleven Arts Entertainment

    The new film portrays Vash the Stampede in a manner closer to the original manga by Yasuhiro Nightow. Photo courtesy of Eleven Arts. © 2010 Yasuhiro Naito/ Trigun the Movie Production Committee

    Let me get this out of the way first: I am a huge TRIGUN fan. Back in college, I powered through all 14 volumes of the original manga series, and then went on to watch the complete TV anime. I could not help but find myself disappointed with the fact that the anime begins to move away from the original material early on in the story. Character motivations and often even the characters themselves are changed. Important plot details were lost along with personality quirks and entire story arcs. I would find out later that original manga creator Yasuhiro Nightow had only penned a few volumes of the series before the anime was green lit. With that knowledge, it is difficult to be too critical of the series. I know many people who have only seen the TV anime, and their impressions were all positive. I suppose my reading the manga first put me at an unforeseen disadvantage. The new film, TRIGUN: BADLANDS RUMBLE is something of a fresh breath of air. Clearly this film was made for the fans rather than any possible newcomers. The upside of this is that the story told here, while separate from the manga, captures the spirit of said source natural perfectly. This is the manga version of Vash the Stampede, brought to life in all of his glory. I won`t bother you with a long overview of the franchise. Though I will say it would be a far more rewarding experience to watch the anime first, and then read the manga before going into BADLANDS RUMBLE. From here on out, I`m going to assume you have a familiarity with at least the TV anime for the rest of the review.

    Bounty hunters gather in Macca City for their shot at Vash. Photo courtesy of Eleven Arts. © 2010 Yasuhiro Naito/ Trigun the Movie Production Committee

    The story follows our reluctant hero, Vash the Stampede, and his history with a well known thief named Gasback. By what seems to be chance, Vash finds his way to Macca City, where bounty hunters from all across the world have gathered to get a chance at capturing the notorious criminal. Along the way, old friendships are rekindled and new friends with secret motivations are made. What will happen when one of the worlds most feared thieves clashes head on with the legendary Humanoid Typhoon?! Truthfully speaking, there is little more to the story than what I have laid out. It is a fairly predictable romp and I imagine most viewers will probably pick up on the story beats long before they happen. Being an original story, there is no real danger for the main characters. We know everyone is going to make it out alive and well, or else there would be some huge continuity issues. What the film does do however, is capture the TRIGUN world far better than the TV series ever did. Strange and fascinating characters populate Macca City. Architecture and mechanical design match up with the highly detailed work seen in Nightow`s later volumes. Vash`s gunslinging skill and athletic prowess are on display in full along with Wolfwood`s near superhuman abilities. Every single one of the main characters gets a moment to shine and do something cool. Essentially, the film feels like you are hanging out with friends you have not seen in years.That is what TRIGUN: BADLANDS RUMBLE will be for the fans. The major downside to this is that you will want to see studio Madhouse return to the original source material by the end of the film.

    BADLANDS RUMBLE describes Vash`s history with a well known thief named Gasback. Photo courtesy of Eleven Arts. © 2010 Yasuhiro Naito/ Trigun the Movie Production Committee

    Visually speaking, this is the best that Vash and his friends have ever looked onscreen. The first time I saw the film was with a good friend of mine, and we kept pausing the Blu Ray to comment on how consistently beautiful everyone was drawn. The fluidity of the animation is impressive. The way Vash`s red coat flows in the wind or the way the dust and shrapnel explode through the air when Wolfwood fires his guns is nothing short of breathtaking. Madhouse nails Nightow`s style by using the thick black lines that are often see in Nightow`s work. While I obviously cannot vouch for every single shot in the film, there seemed to be something moving in the background of every shot. This is the sort of film that is great for repeat viewings as you will always find something new going on in-frame. Composer Tsuneo Imahori returns to score the film following his stint on the original TV series. While I generally was quite fond of the TV soundtrack on the whole, there were a few tracks that just did not fit the atmosphere. Imahori`s work here is much more consistent with the tone of the film. He nails the western film feel, and even injects the music with a bit of jazz. The opening theme of the TV anime makes a surprise return during a cool moment that gets the blood pumping. Imahori`s BADLANDS RUMBLE soundtrack is not the sort of thing I can see myself listening to often, but its ambience and subtleness (most of the time) fit the film well. All voice actors return to their former roles with an additional 12 years of acting experience. No complaints on that end. TRIGUN: BADLANDS RUMBLE is not a film I would recommend to someone unfamiliar with TRIGUN. Looking at it as a standalone movie, I can not in good faith make the claim that it is anything more than an extended anime episode. Yet here I am, having watched the film multiple times of my own volition. I won`t lie; I had a big, stupid grin on my face through the whole movie. I enjoyed the hell out of it and I truly believe that anyone who has ever liked TRIGUN will too. Its narrative is no work of art (production values however are excellent), but it did not ever need to be. Watching Vash dodge bullets with gusto or seeing Wolfwood wield his giant cross; for a TRIGUN fan, those things alone are worth the price of admission. Highly recommended to anyone who enjoyed the TRIGUN TV anime or manga. Be sure to check it out when it hits theaters in July!

    For more information on TRIGUN: BADLANDS RUMBLE please see the earlier coverage here on SciFi Japan:

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