Sunday, October 2, 2011

Trigun: Badlands Rumble

YES!  Oh my favorite animes of all time returns!  Its been a good year for anime movies, first we get "Evangelion 2.0" and now we have "Trigun: Badlands Rumble".  And there's a "Bleach" movie coming in November, which I might actually be able to stand long enough to review - unlike the show lately.  Whatever, we're not hear to talk about bad business, its a positive review.

"Trigun" is undeniably one of the greatest animes ever made.  Based off a comic series that might be one of the greatest mangas ever made (but I haven't read it), it was a beautiful mixture of old westerns, SciFi adventures, and random silliness just for good measure.  On the Planet Gunsmoke in some far-off future, there is a master gunslinger named Vash the Stampede, an outlaw with the notorious reputation of destroying everything around him.  Insurance companies actually have classified his rampages as "Acts of God" so as to stay in business.  But actually, the real Vash the Stampede is a wacky idiot who couldn't hurt a fly, he'll never kill anybody and goes out of his way to save lives*.  Oh wait, the wacky idiot is actually a super badass sharpshooter alien hounded by his evil brother and a gang of lunatics with increasingly absurd weapons.  If you thought a gunblade was farfetched, wait until you see a gun-saxophone or giant machine gun crucifix.  But Vash still won't hurt a fly, he's a nonlethal fighter to his core.  What a show, they don't make anime this good anymore.  Everything that's great about it is summed up in its incredible opening theme.

"Badlands Rumble" takes place roughly in the middle of the series, probably before things got super dark.  Vash may be the Humanoid Typhoon, but he still hasn't run into the real monsters of Planet Gunsmoke.  The movie ultimately comes off as just an extended episode of the TV show just like the "Cowboy Bebop" movie**, with a bit of fudging it could probably be made to fit right into a twenty-four minute time frame.  And in that way of making a new side-adventure, "Badlands Rumble" recreates exactly what made "Trigun" such a great show.

This movie came out in theatres during the summer, but I couldn't see it thanks to a certain vacation in the Middle East.  Also, "Badlands Rumble" is the first movie in all time to get a theatrical release that did not include New York City!  What is that crap?  Columbus, Ohio gets the "Trigun" movie but not the capital of Earth!  Bullshit.  So I had to wait until the DVD release, just like "Evangelion 2.0" all over again.  I promise, next time there's a big anime movie, I'll see it in theatres.  At least I was a proper fan representative when "Tales from Earthsea" came out last year.

The plot of "Badlands Rumble" is that on Planet Gunsmoke, there is a new outlaw in town.  This is the bearded bank robber Gasback, a dangerous criminal who thinks his heists are works of art.  He also has a mechanical arm that can shoot out electricity or fire lots and lots of bullets.  It isn't "Trigun" if the character isn't shooting a gun, even the samurai have guns in this show.  Basically its like the two-part episode with Brilliant Dynamite Neon and his outlaw gang.  As for Gasback, he's going for revenge against a former henchman turned robber baron and is about to pull off his greatest heist ever, a magnum opus.  To defend against Gasback, an army of every outlaw, bounty hunter, scoundrel, and mercenary on Gunsmoke has been assembled, including Vash the Stampede himself, who has some history with Gasback (they met once, that's about it).  Oh, and there's a red-haired hot chick.

This isn't Vash's biggest adventure clearly.  But its a fun movie none the less.  Vash is in prime form, exactly the same wild lunatic guy completely failing to hit on women as he's always been.  Red-haired chick, Amelia, apparently has an allergic reaction against stupid men, so they bounce off each other well.  Meryl, Vash's belligerent love interest from the series come along too with her gigantic best friend Millie, but they don't do much.  Amelia isn't all that great of a fighter (actually she seems to fight best drunk), and Gasback doesn't stand a chance against Vash, but its still fun.  I wasn't looking for a serious drama, so its probably best that Vash's worst boogiemen, such as Legato Bluesummers, the scariest anime villain ever, stay out of the picture.  Nicholas D. Wolfwood is around too, just because his cross-gun is that friggin' cool.

By the way, annoyingly most of the main casts' voice actors have changed.  Meryl and Millie sound completely different in the most jarring and annoying aspect of this movie.  Wolfwood apparantely is voice by somebody new, but his new actor is an uncanny stand in for the old.  Vash, luckily, is still voiced by Johnny Yong Bosch.  If they had changed that, this movie would have flat failed.  This is the promotypical Johnny Yong Bosch role, I think it might have been his first hero job.  Change that actor and it isn't "Trigun" anymore.

There are a few action sequences, but none that really gave me much sense of danger for Vash.  This is a guy who managed to avoid firing his gun for five episodes, and still got through seriously dangerous situations.  Gasback has nothing on say, Knives or Midvalley or Monev or Rai-Dei.  There is a good car chance, and the sight of a lightbulb the size of a skyscraper rolling through a town, but that's that.  Really, Gasback gets the best fight scene when he's rushing through town taking out mooks, because you don't quite know how strong he is.  Oh, there's also a point where Vash gets shot by a secondary character, but you never believe for a second he'll die.  Vash can't die, this takes place in the middle of the story!

There really isn't all that much to say about this one, "Badlands Rumble" is short, cool movie.  They didn't want to make anything that would redefine the "Trigun" story like "Evangelion Rebuild", and they didn't.  The filmmakers just wanted to make another fun adventure for Vash and co. to enjoy, that's all.  If you want more "Trigun" fun, there's also a tie-in two part comic to read, in which Vash bombs some Dodongos.  And that's really the conclusion of this one.  I'd like to see more "Trigun" movies, because they're such simple fun.

* A badass can kill a group of bad guys.  A super badass can do it while keeping everybody alive according to his non-lethal philosophy.  "Trigun" and "Rurouni Kenshin" are two animes based on this idea, though Kenshin's story is a samurai epic set in the Meji Era.  I'd say that "Trigun" is by far the better show, because "Rurouni Kenshin" fails in a number of ways.  Kenshin Himura never actually loses a fight, he's basically unstoppable.  You never believe for a second that the villains stand a chance.  Plus most of the fights are straight duels in that show, "Trigun" instead usually features Vash desperately trying both to fight a bad guy, and keep everybody else alive.  Kenshin is fine if the villain dies, just as long as it isn't by his sword, so he always wins.  Vash moves heaven and Earth to save everybody, and "Trigun"'s drama comes from him often failing.  Oh God does Vash take some psychological beatings.  "Rurouni Kenshin" gets boring, even in terms of straight combat, nobody can beat Kenshin, and the villains can't even beat the secondary characters.

We're experiencing the "Rurouni Kenshin" problem right now in "Bleach", where no good guys can ever lose.  Even ultra minor side characters aren't allowed to die.  Eventually evil fails so often that I naturally root for their side because they're the serious underdogs.  "Trigun" definitely does not have this problem, trust me.  It is by far the more mature show.

** By the way, "Trigun" is SciFi in the Wild West.  "Cowboy Bebop" is the Wild West in a Space.  Subtle differences, but keep them in mind.  If you're looking for more Western SciFi hybrids, anime has tons to offer, like "Outlaw Star", "Gun X Sword" (which I haven't seen), and "Wild Arms".


  1. I've been looking for a good manga, maybe thisll be it

  2. Have you stopped your Bleach recaps?

  3. Maybe you should just recap Bleach when you've got nothing else to post about. Seems to me like you've been wasting a lot of energy on the recaps.


  4. I wouldn't blame you if you stopped. Like I said, the Ichigo vs Ulquiorra battle won't resume for 33 weeks.

  5. If you do stop the Bleach recaps, I'm still more than happy to take over for you on my blog.