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Trigun: Badlands Rumble Blu-ray Anime Review

10 min read

Vash the Stampede returns with a new story within the middle of the TV series that has a good bit of fun.

What They Say:
In town surrounded by quicksand, an outlaw from Vash the Stampede’s past has resurfaced after twenty years. His name is Gasback – and he’s looking to cause a little trouble. It seems Gasback has a serious beef with the town’s mayor, who’s paying dozens of bounty hunters to protect his turf.

One of those hired guns is a beautiful woman with a vendetta against Gasback. Will she get a shot at revenge? Maybe, if she can get through Gasback’s bodyguard, Wolfwood. And what’s Vash got to do with this mess? Nothing much – except for the fact that he personally set off the entire chain of events two decades ago!

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release is solid as it presents both the Japanese and English language tracks in lossless form with Dolby TrueHD in 5.1. The film has a big feeling when it goes to work the action side and it really works very well here with a great sense of impact and bass during it and a solid motion across the forward soundstage. Combining the music with this works really well as the two help to elevate each other in a good way, giving it a rich and full feeling. The dialogue for the film generally holds up well, though the opening sequence had it all feeling like it was a bit quieter than it should be in comparison to the sound effects going on around it. Overall though the dialogue is solid, well placed and has some fun moments of directionality to it and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally in theaters in 2010, the transfer for this film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in native 1080p using the AVC codec. The feature has a really good look to it overall as it takes the look and style of the original television series and essentially gives it a good bump up but not so far as to be unrecognizable. There’s a really great look to it in a lot of the scenes, such as when the shell casings hit the ground or the blues of the skies, and it’s given a solid film-like feeling with the mild coating of grain that it’s received. There’s a lot of detail to this film with the style of the animation and the designs and it comes across very well here, really showing the love that went into the production. The transfer here lets you allow yourself to be lost into it easily once it gets going as it covers a number of different locations and just has fun with it all.

Packaging:
Trigun: Badlands Rumble comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case with an O-card over it that replicates what’s on the case itself. The front cover uses the main piece of artwork used to sell the film for awhile with an action shot of Vash leaping with shell casings and debris falling around him while the background along the upper half clues us in to the rest of the cast of the film. The bottom section is strangely white, but it works well to draw in the logo, making it easy draw to the eye. The back cover uses a full white background which works really well since it does a lot of the text and layout in a Western style. We get some good character artwork of a happy gun-toting Vash as well as a few small shots from the show itself. The summary covers things well and there’s a good clean listing of all the extras, including noting that it’s over ninety minutes worth of material. The technical grid along the bottom is very clean with the black text against the white background making it very easy to read. The release doesn’t get any inserts but we do get a reverse cover; the back side is the same but the front has a more comical version of Vash with a mash of various key parts of the film together around him that’s utterly adorable.

Menu:
The menu for this release is pretty good as it creates a good atmosphere for it before you get into the movie itself. The logo is kept to the upper right while the lower left has the menu itself done in classic Western style that looks really good, some ncie detail and definitely appropriate. The bulk of the screen is given over the clips from the film that plays, but they put it through a particular filter where it has an almost parchment like feel but without the brown color, instead going for a rusted red, that really changes the look of the animation in an interesting way. The layout is very easy to use and submenus load quickly while the navigation box doubles as the popup menu. Language selection is a breeze and is necessary since it doesn’t listen to the players’ language defaults.

Extras:
With over ninety minutes of extras, there’s a whole lot on this release for Trigun fans. The bulk of it comes in the form of interviews with the creative side of it and the actors themselves, all of varying lengths that add up to a good chunk of time. The one I enjoyed the most is with Nightow himself as he isn’t like a lot of manga authors that hides himself away and just gets himself out there. He talks about how the feature came to be, with the way it was put into his head through the US anime releasing studio at the time by talking about how popular it is and that it continues to sell well and they should do more. From there, he delves into the meat of it with what he wanted out of it and some of the ways he felt he could go back and revisit it while trying to recapture that feeling. Combining this with the voice actors who get to talk about the fun of going back into these roles and how they view them after all this time was really welcome too, especiall if you have a favorite (mmm, Show Hayami…). I just wish the interviews had a play-all feature.

There’s a bunch of extras beyond that as well, including the bit before the movie premiere in Ikebukuro that has several of the actors on stage talking bout their participation in the film. It’s fun fluff to see them doing the PR side of things. I also loved the all too brief cast recording session that’s here as it’s fun to watch these guys work together, especially in the fun bar scene when we get the four leads together. There’s also a lot of promotional material here, with speciall talk show bits, footage from AX 2009 and the usual round of clips, videos and commercials as well as trailers used to get the film out there. Add in a short story about boobs that’s priceless – with pictures – and you’ve got a great set of extras here.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Back when Trigun was first released as a TV series, it was the kind of solidly fun crossover show that brought in non-anime fans through its more mainstream exposure. With the lead character of the very fun Vash the Stampede, it was a quirky show with a sense of the familiar with all of the Western motifs that had a fun sense of humor to it and plenty of action to keep that side of the show engaging. What really did it all though was that the characters were just highly accessible and simply a ton of fun to watch. Following the strange but straightforward Vash along with the clergyman of Wolfwood and a pair of insurance agents like Meryl and Milly, it just clicked in a really good way.

So after twelve years, having the movie arrive in Japan in 2010 after a few years of speculation and a long gestation period, Trigun: Badlands Rumble certainly has a lot to live up to. And that’s unfortunate because time has made the show feel different and fans from that time period have likely changed as well with what they’re into, if they’re even into anime at all anymore. If you can get past the memories of what came before and who you were before, Trigun: Badlands Rumble is a great little trip down memory lane that’s all the good stuff and that’s about it. The film essentially is an extended storyline from the TV series but that’s partly required by the nature of it in that it takes place within the TV series itself rather than a re-imagining or an alternate telling. It simply moves us into a part of the series and tells something that’s essentially self contained.

Which may keep it from being entirely accessible, but I watched it with people that had a limited amount of anime knowledge and none of Trigun itself. The film kicks off twenty years in the past where Vash foils a robbery being orchestrated by the growing villain known as Gasback. He was the subject of a treachery by the three that he worked with and Vash just made it all the worse. While that one went down badly, Vash disappeared into the wilderness again and the trio under Gasback all went on to build fairly decent lives, coming into some real wealth and power that’s cemented during that time period. But now in the present, Gasback has surfaced again for revenge against them and is traveling the area to teach each of them a lesson about being a proper robber.

With that shift to the present, you know all the elements have to come back together in order for it to work. It all centers on the city where one of the trio has managed to rebuild one of the plants and has a lot of people that have gathered there to live, as well as many mercenaries that are taking up the call to protect him since it’s obvious Gasback will come after him and he’s got a $$300 million bounty on him. And that has Vash arriving there as well, though a comical meeting with a woman named Amelia who is wanting to kill Gasback herself for some simple personal reasons. And how do our favorite insurance agents figure into things? They know Gasback may be coming as well as a giant bronze statue in the city is with quite a lot of money and they have to make sure that it doesn’t get destroyed along the way. The plot is simple enough that you can see exactly how it’s going to go but that’s not a bad thing. There’s an ease which figures into things, such as the bar scene where Vash, Amelia, Meryl and Milly all hang out at as Milly and Vash just get along so well, there’s great humor and a huge bar fight. There are no surprises here, but there is a great sense of fun, familiarity and enjoyment.

A good part of that definitely comes from the animation as well as it captures the look of the original and the manga really well while upping it a few notches, but not to the point where it’s unrecognizable. I’ve long liked the character designs that Nightow came up with and they’re well represented here. Vash has that great mixture of simplicity and smile to him but also gets into the serious side on the turn of a dime. Amelia is a fairly traditional character but Gasback fits in just right as the massive robber that has aged over the years but hasn’t lost the mass that makes him impressive. The only one I was mildly disappointed with was Wolfwood since he didn’t have that big of a role and didn’t get much of a chance to shine, though he has a really good action sequence towards the end.

In Summary:
Trigun: Badlands Rumble basically gave me everything I wanted out of a movie. While they had some options with moving the story forward, I’m rather glad that they just dropped us into the middle of the TV run and gave us another adventure with the main cast of characters where the whole idea is just to have fun with it. Everyone is spot on and found their way back to who they portrayed the first time around without missing a beat and it feels that way when watching it. There’s a lot of things that could have been done, but this felt like the way that was the most respectful towards the series while still making sure it capitalized on what the characters and the situation is all about. It’s a slow starter but once it gets rolling, it’s just Vash the Stampede fun through and through.

Features:
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Staff and Cast Interviews, Cinema Sunshine Ikebukuro/Movie Premiere Digest, Trigun the Movie: Post Recording, Black Cat Story, Black Cat Rare, Black Cat Lottery, Web Promotion Clip, Promotional Video, Theatrical Commercial, Theatrical Trailer, Original Commercials

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: A

Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: September 27th, 2011
MSRP: $34.98
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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