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Trigun: Badlands Rumble
Trigun: Badlands Rumble is a feature length film (originally released in Japan's cinemas in 2010) which works as both a standalone story for new viewers and as a new segment of the story that began in the anime series produced in 1998 (which coincidentally was a year that also resulted in two other classic anime series, Cowboy Bebop and Outlaw Star). Based on the popular manga series created by Yashuhiro Nightow, Trigun follows the story of Vash: an outlaw with a 60 billion ($$ double dollar $$) bounty on his head. Surprisingly, Vash isn't really all that bad of a guy though. Vash actually spends most of his time on earth simply trying to make the world a better place for everyone.
Badlands Rumble was created using an original story by the manga creator Yashuhiro Nightow (the first time a new story has been told in the anime form for Trigun fans) and it introduces two central new characters by the names of Gasback and Amelia. Gasback is by all appearances a genuine thug-type character who wreaks havoc upon good people, robbing them, and continuing to behave in criminal ways. The opening of the film shows a somewhat surprised Gasback being double-crossed by team-mates who want more for themselves and have decided Gasback isn't necessarily part of their own equation. Vash steps in, and saves the outlaw Gasback from a fate of death. Twenty years later and Gasback is still a wanted man and word spreads of a huge bounty for capturing him. This leads many bounty hunters to a town where it is rumored Gasback might be. Amelia is a tough, smart, and young (twenty-something) bounty hunter who joins in the ranks of the rest because has a score to settle with Gasback. Amelia is the greatest character addition to Trigun: Badlands Rumble as a kick-ass, intelligent, and charming character who viewers will want to see in more potential Trigun adventures in the future.
It's been a long time since the Trigun world was last visited -- twelve long years (to be very precise). The anime stands as one of the most successful and highly regarded creations of the past several decades of the art form and in North America audiences have been particularly responsive to the creation and its lead hero: the lovable, honest, and always true to himself Vash (commonly referred to by those who don't know him as "Vash the Stampede"). In the anime series he had one particularly famous line: "Love and Peace!" It is that mantra which Vash maintains and explores throughout the story and it became the essence of the entire show. Trigun: Badlands Rumble brings this essential message to new viewers (as well as to returning fans), and while the film itself never actually delivers another instance of our hero stating this famous dialogue the story clearly reflects Vash's stance on life in large measure.
As demonstrated from the very start of the film, with a moment where a dice seemingly rolls by itself and eventually lands at its destination, Vash rolls the dice and sees where it lands. He takes a gamble, but one that is based on the notion that people are inherently capable of doing good things and that even in a seemingly bad situation things can turn out for the best in the end. Is Vash always correct in having that mindset? It depends, of course. Yet his personality and values reflect someone who most could probably state with a level of certainty is worth befriending. Vash values lives, second chances, and bringing peace and love to others in a way that makes him one of the most completely compelling and memorable characters in anime history. Some might think of the character as a hippie thrust into the world of a science fiction western and those viewers wouldn't be all that far away from the truth. Vash is easily a complex character. Trigun has truly reflected some of the more introspective elements found in well-crafted anime series even while remaining action-packed and exciting for most audiences. Most of these elements of philosophical undertones come back to the character of Vash. Remember to say it with me: LOVE and PEACE! It can all be found there in seemingly simplistic terms but the complex emotions and thoughts audiences have as a response makes Trigun (and the film, Badlands Rumble) an important classic well worth revisiting.
The original cast and crew responsible for the creation of the series has largely returned for this film and it shows in every frame of the production. Badlands Rumble has the same character designer, composer, voice-actors (for the most part at least - the English voice-actor for Wolfwood has sadly not returned for the film), and last (but certainly not least) the same director - Satoshi Nishimura. Trigun has always been the creation of Nightow (the manga artist) but Nishimura is the artist responsible for making the series and film essential to anime fans all these years later. Nishimura is an eccentric, visually inventive, and playful film-maker who knows how to make Trigun both hilariously over the top at times and sensitive with surprisingly heartfelt human emotions at others. Badlands Rumble remains a joyfully unique experience from beginning to end largely because of the stellar work from an underrated and fascinating filmmaker who brings his genius techniques to the Trigun world.
The film brings back all of the major supporting characters: Milly, Meryl, and Wolfwood have excellent supporting character roles. The only downside is perhaps that the extent to which these characters are on-screen as that can seem somewhat brief compared to Vash and the newcomers Gasback and Amelia (who help to bring the film its important thematic center). The characters remain as remembered in the best of ways though and it's often a joy to simply be able to revisit these wonderful and downright lovable anime characters.
Trigun: Badlands Rumble is understandably one of the most anticipated anime releases of the year. Despite the long break between the conclusion of the series and the theatrical production, fans have remained remarkably spirited in their appreciation of this sci-fi western. Fans won't walk away feeling disappointed: Badlands Rumble is on par with Cowboy Bebop: The Movie as one of the best anime films ever produced following the conclusion of a much loved anime series. Trigun is officially back and in a big way that shouldn't be missed. Roll the dice and experience the return of an anime masterpiece.
Trigun: Badlands Rumble arrives on Blu-ray from Funimation Entertainment with a high quality AVC encode in 1080p High Definition. The transfer is framed at a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The first thing viewers will notice is that the film has a decidedly different look in comparison to the series (which was created in 4:3 full frame) because the wider scope brings new possibilities to the Trigun world. The larger canvas for the animators to work within brings some fantastic sequences to fruition in a way that remains faithful to the television series animation while bringing a sleek production quality to the film that is modernized and in some ways more filmic in approach. The image is generally sharp, saturation is excellent for colors, and the entire film has a very clean look that is quite appealing.
There are two audio options, English or Japanese, and either dub option is a wonderful choice. Trigun has one of the best English language dubs ever but the original language option remains stellar as well. Both selections feature high-resolution Dolby TrueHD and fans will notice a huge improvement in the sound-field with the 5.1 surround sound that Trigun: Badlands Rumble receives. Clarity is excellent, the score sounds superb, and the sound effects are well emphasized and placed in either language option sound mix. Fans that prefer the original language dub have the choice of optional English subtitles as well.
This Blu-ray release should be considered a top contender in North America for having some of the best and most worthwhile extras featured on any anime release. The extras clock in around 137 minutes (which technically means the supplemental department includes more material than the film itself). Every bonus feature on this release is worth watching. Every bonus feature is presented in standard definition (SD).
Perhaps the main supplement is a series of fascinating interviews with some of the behind the scenes crew and the Japanese voice-actors. Each interview is available for viewing on its own (there didn't appear to be a 'play all' option on the disc).
Yasuhiro Nightow (11:08) offers viewers a glimpse at the creative mind that began the entire Trigun saga by crafting the beloved manga series. Nightow offered the primary story concept behind the feature film and he casually discusses his involvement in helping Satoshi Nishimura bring Trigun fans a new anime production after all these years. Nightow seems quite humorous at times while also remaining a clearly appreciative artist who is glad his work has found such a wide audience.
Masaya Onosaka (8:59) is the voice actor for Vash. Onosaka seems down to earth and quite charming in the interview. He clearly is a fan of the series and someone who is proud of his contribution to Trigun. Onosaka spends a decent portion of the interview discussing a lack of awareness regarding when the feature film was going to be made and he emphasized that the majority of the cast and crew felt left in the dark regarding the film for a long time before production actually began. This was a breezily fun interview.
Satsuki Yukino (8:31) is the voice actor who portrays Milly. It was very interesting to hear how dramatically different she sounds in the interview compared to the high-pitched character she is capable on portraying in the film. Yukino seems quite humble about her experience with Trigun and she explains how she felt nervous before recording the dub and re-watched the entire series to prepare herself.
Satoshi Nishimura (11:06) is the director of both the film and series. Nishimura might be the most grateful out of everyone for the unexpected experience of revisiting Trigun. It is obvious that Nishimura feels his contribution to Trigun was significant, while he also remains humble in expressing his extreme appreciation towards the series fans for supporting his creative work and for wanting to revisit the Trigun anime. Nishimura explains that he made the film primarily for the viewers who have been fans since the beginning (or for a long time) and who are invested in the characters. The heartfelt emotion Nishumura displays is moving and any fan should consider this an essential interview.
Show Hayami (10:00) is the voice actor who portrays Wolfwood. Hayami is quite the character! Unsurprising, perhaps, considering the type of character he portrays so well. He clearly loves the Wolfwood character and wanted to revisit the role. Hayami manages to seem suave cool through the entirety of the interview.
Maaya Sakamoto (6:43) is the voice actor who portrayed the new character in the film, Amelia. Sakamoto seems a bit shy in the interview but expresses her gratitude for being able to join such an interesting cast and crew. She expresses her thoughts regarding the thematic elements found in the story in an incredibly intelligent way. Sakamoto seems to deeply understand what is at the core of Trigun despite her own admission that she had only seen the first three episodes prior to recording for her character in the film (hopefully she has finished watching it all since then). Maaya Sakamoto is one of my favorite vocalist musicians (a frequent collaborator with Yoko Kanno to boot) and it was not at all surprising to find that she can do important voice acting work as well.
Takahiro Yoshimatsu (7:26) discusses the animation side of the production as the character designer and animation director. It was especially fascinating to hear his thoughts on the look of the film in regards to retaining the feel of the series while also utilizing computers in a way that the team couldn't have managed back when the show was created. Yoshimatsu is humorous, an incredibly smart and laid-back dude with interesting thoughts to share with fans.
Hiromi Tsuru (3:12) is the voice actor for Meryl. Tsuru offers the shortest interview and because of that it might not seem as complete as some of the other interviews but she shares interesting thoughts on Trigun and her involvement and is clearly both intelligent and charming.
Tsutomu Isobe (7:06) is the voice actor who portrayed the new character Gasback. Isobe seems quite introspective based on the interview, extremely mellow, and demonstrates a kindness and shyness that might be unexpected for some viewers.
Movie Premiere at Cinema Sunshine Ikebukuro (8:47) is a somewhat brief but entertaining interview session with members of the cast and crew following a premiere of the Trigun film.
Post Recording (3:51) is a silly, amusing, and interesting look at some of the Japanese voice actors doing dub work in the studio as a demonstration.
A Mildly Amusing Story by Something Yoshimatsu (:28) is accurately described by the title of the feature and it's such a brief bonus that it would be better not to spoil the moment for fans.
Video Footage from Anime Expo 2009 (1:38) is a short montage of footage taken from the anime convention, and it features fans dressed in cosplay (including the Trigun kitty) or also doing sketches that are Trigun related, and just generally having a good time with other fans.
Talk Event at Kawasaki Cinecitta (3:32) is footage taken from the Kawasaki Cinecitta event but unlike the more elaborate extra (discussed below) this is a drawing for prizes given out to audience members.
Special Talk Show (38:16) is the best bonus feature on the entire release. It is the entire event that was held at Kawasaki Cinecitta following a screening of Trigun: Badlands Rumble. There are many guest speakers who contributed and offer insights not found in individual interviews featured on this release. The event included almost the entire Japanese language voice cast and director Satoshi Nishimura, character designer/animation director Takahiro Yoshimatsu, and the manga creator Yasuhiro Nightow. To just state that this is an interesting and entertaining bonus feature would be to make an understatement. There were many times when the event made me swell up in emotion, laugh, and become genuinely excited that I am a Trigun fan. There are so many interesting questions asked and so many thoughtful answers given. The entire crew seems honored to be there with such enthusiastic fans. I felt honored as a fan to witness so much talent together, with great enthusiasm, and with so much gratitude. Director Satoshi Nishimura was an especially interesting guest and it was clear that he felt deeply moved by the positive reception to his film. Some of the most entertaining moments in this Q&A session are found when a fan asks about who should be cast in a potential live-action Trigun film. The responses given are hilarious and the insight that Nishimura would be interested in making a live action film himself is quite interesting indeed. Fans might be even more pleased with a response given by both the director and manga artist in regards to adapting Trigun: Maximum into an anime series (basically, they seemed interested in doing that but haven't secured the funding for that kind of project to date). There are tons of great insights in this bonus feature and it is sure to excite serious Trigun fans.
Web Promotion Clip (1:37) is a brief promo clip for the film that premiered online.
Promotional Video (2:23) is another short video addition advertising the feature film.
Theatrical Commercial (:37) is a commercial for Trigun: Badlands Rumble that aired on television in Japan.
Theatrical Trailer (1:39) is the original theatrical trailer used in Japan for promotion of Trigun: Badlands Rumble.
Original Commercials (:49) are some additional brief television commercials promoting the film.
Lastly, FUNimation Trailers are also included on this release for other upcoming and recent releases.
Trigun: Badlands Rumble is easily one of the best anime films to ever be created following the conclusion of a beloved anime series. It joins Cowboy Bebop: The Movie as a unique follow-up; one that should delight fans with its entertaining, action-packed, introspective, and comical tale of love and peace. The Blu-ray release contains stellar PQ/AQ, and a huge assortment of extras that could bring nostalgic fans of Trigun a positive emotional response! The Blu-ray packaging contains a genuinely fantastic slipcover (at least for the first printing) and reversible cover art. This release would make a great addition to the collection of every Trigun fan. Highly Recommended.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.