Ahhhh Trigun. Has it really been ten years since you injected the phrase “Love and peace!” into the American anime fan’s dialect? It’s fun sometimes to get a trip back into your memories and feel again a little bit of what it was like when all of this was something new. It can also be a bit blinding to the flaws in something you love if you’re not to careful. Thankfully, there’s not much to find wrong in the new movie, Trigun: Badlands Rumble.
Set during an unspecified time in the Trigun animated timeline, Badlands Rumble brings a piece of Vash the Stampede’s past to haunt him when he ends up in the same town as a notorious bandit named Gasback that Vash let escape 20 years back. Gasback is looking to pull of his biggest heist yet, involving a town run by one of his former henchmen that has a huge insurance policy with the Bernadelli Insurance company, dragging Meryl Strife and Milly Thompson into the mess along with a late-appearing Nicholas Wolfwood. The other major character addition beyond Gasback is Amelia, a young female bounty hunter with her own fraught history with Gasback and a taste for rough living. Throw in the usual mess of freaks that populate the world of Trigun chasing after the massive bounty on Gasback and you have one massive power keg waiting to blow, and blow it does.
Trigun is, at its core, an action series, and Badlands Rumble delivers multiple set pieces involving the massive sand steamers that take people across the planet, thousands of guns, and the most ingenious use of a piece of industrial equipment I’ve seen all year. For anyone worried about any other changes to the basics of the characters: you have nothing to worry about. Vash is still a lanky doufus who loves doughnuts, Meryl still freaks out on regular intervals, Milly is as obsequious as ever, and Wolfwood is still way too cool for any of this funny business. Gasback and Amelia are both wonderful additions to the freak show that is the cast of Trigun and slot in perfectly. Badlands Rumble is every bit of Trigun that we loved 10 years ago, now with smooth theatrical animation.
And smooth that animation is. Other than a slight touch of digital roughness at the start of the movie (something that seems to crop up in a lot of anime productions) the animation is far smoother and more well-rendered than the television show was. Let’s face it, the television version suffered from some pretty poor animation at times, but there is none of that here. The world of Trigun and the various oddballs that inhabit it have never looked better. Every frame is gorgeous, and at this point we should expect no less of the esteemed Studio Madhouse. The English language track is also quite exceptional. It’s quite a bit of fun to see Johnny Yong Bosch return to the role that made him a big name in anime voice acting, though the rest of the cast has been swapped out. In all honestly I didn’t really notice a difference, so the new actors slip into their roles quite well.
Trigun: Badlands Rumble doesn’t exactly break new ground, or reveal anything about any of the long-standing characters that we didn’t already know, but it does slot into the Trigun world as smoothly as Wolfwood’s style and with all the rough and tumble you’d expect from a show set in the New Old West. If it’s on a big screen near you, catch it. You won’t be sorry.