Directed by: Satoshi Nishimura | 90 minutes | animation, action, science fiction, western | Original Voice Cast: Shô Hayami, Tsutomu Isobe, Masaya Onosaka, Maaya Sakamoto, Hiromi Tsuru, Satsuki Yukino
When you make a movie based on a series, you can do two things. Either you use your film to build new fans and explain certain important plot points from the series one more time, or you focus on the connoisseurs and don’t care if things remain unclear to people unfamiliar with the story. It will probably not bring you many new enthusiasts, but you will certainly keep your fans happy with it. ‘Trigun: Badlands Rumble’ clearly belongs in that second category. A real ‘film for the fans’, which was released about ten years after the series to let the protagonists go loose one more time, but which offers far too little guidance for newcomers.
‘Trigun’ started as a manga (Japanese comic) in the mid-1990s and was converted into an anime (Japanese cartoon) before the turn of the century because of its great popularity. The series is a wonderful mix between science fiction, western and film noir. The main character in the story is Vash the Stampede, nicknamed ‘The Human Typhoon’. There is a price on his head of no less than sixty billion double dollars, because he is held responsible for the destruction of an entire city. Two female insurance agents, Meryl and Milly, are tasked with keeping an eye on him so he doesn’t do more damage. But they come to know Vash as an incorrigible pacifist, who is wreaking havoc on his environment precisely through his efforts to protect people.
With some effort, this can still be deduced from the film. But how it is that Vash hardly ages, or what kind of world the whole actually takes place on, is not discussed. It is therefore mainly a matter of: looking at pictures and not thinking too much. Fortunately, those pictures are aesthetically pleasing, so that makes a difference. It is again work by the famous Japanese animation studio Madhouse (including ‘Ninja Scroll’, ‘Tokyo Godfathers’), which was also responsible for the anime. You can imagine that it even looks a bit sloppy compared to the film! The characters have not undergone a metamorphosis, but still look just like in the series (only a lot nicer). Which also contributes to the idea that ‘Badlands Rumble’ is just a long episode, but that aside.
The story takes place somewhere halfway through the series. Rumor has it that legendary robber Gasback has supplied the town of Macca and bounty hunters are flocking from far and wide because of the huge price he has on his head for a mishap twenty years earlier. An incident in which – quite coincidentally – Vash the Stampede was also involved. And let Vash also just on his way to Macca! Great opportunity to foil another region of Gasback. And that’s, in fact, what the whole story is about. Featuring charismatic priest / gunman Nicholas D. Wolfwood (an obvious fan favorite), and a female bounty hunter who is allergic to men.
With a ton of blasts and some very nice pistol fights (which can’t match those in the series, though), there’s plenty to do on the action plane. The humor and frivolity for which the first half of the ‘Trigun’ series is known are also amply featured. The deeper musings from the second half are considerably less. It makes ‘Badlands Rumble’ a very nice snack, but unfortunately no more than that. And for people who do not know the story behind the series, also a partly incomprehensible snack. Much more could have been done here – certainly given the long production time.