As I mentioned in my review of the first half of the series I hadn’t watched Badlands Rumble until just now for this review, having been saving it for when I rewatched the series. Was it worth waiting for?! Well… sort of? It’s your typical stand-alone anime movie devoid of consequence and existing entirely to please fans, though given how stand-alone the first half of the series is it actually fits in well enough. Let’s take a look anyway…
Vash the Stampede arrives in a city where several bounty hunters have gathered to kill wanted robber Gasback and claim the 300 million double-dollar bounty on his head. Turns out Vash knows Gasback from an incident 20 years ago…
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Check out that animation difference! That’s over ten years of technology evolving for you!
Badlands Rumble has a good set up, the first ten or fifteen minutes showing us an incident 20 years ago where famous robber Gasback and his crew of Caine, Mechio and Dorino do a bank job but Gasback is betrayed by his men as they want to actually spend their ill-gotten gains rather than use it to finance the next job. Their leader is still all about the heist so is rather peed off, but before anyone can kill anybody Vash turns out to be one of the hostages in the bank at the time and through his usual goofy and clumsy actions he stops Gasback from getting revenge against his crew, who escape. It was a fun opening sequence.
Fast forward to “present day” (or the time the original series took place) and Caine has become a leader of Mecca City after he brought their favour by repairing the Plant that was located there… and then as soon as he became Mayor he constructed a giant revolving statue of himself, so… not exactly all-heart! We find out that Dorino’s post-heist career came to an end via a Gasback attack and he’s now working for Caine, who is paranoid that he and his revolving statue are next, so he informs as many bounty hunters as he can find that Gasback, who is worth 300 million double dollars, will be arriving in his town soon and insures the massive structure for 5 billion $$, which of course that means Meryl and Milly are redirected away from Vash to guard the statue instead…
Gasback certainly falls into the prototypical Trigun “villain” role well, especially in the over-exaggerated looks and personality aspects!
Throw in Wolfwood being hired by Gasback as a crew member after he saved the travelling priest’s life and you have the grounds for a big reunion as Vash arrives in Mecca, meeting a lady named Amelia while travelling there. He becomes obsessed with her, much to her annoyance as all she wants to do is kill Gasback as she blames him for her mother’s death. Cue lots of amusing hijinks, including characters getting drunk and taking part in a bar fight, before Gasback arrives on cue (after having taken out Mechio’s factory to gain a massive flatbed truck on the way). During a fun sequence of shootouts and a three-way stand-off between Vash, Gasback and Amelia we find out that the heist he had in mind wasn’t the statue but instead the Plant itself, causing the giant lightbulb to roll down the streets of the city into the waiting embrace of the large flatbed truck, literally robbing the city of its power. It was fun seeing something more done with one of the more unique-looking parts of the series’ backdrops.
So we then get to the big finale, where there is a long car chase across the desert (where it looks like Vash is killed due to his insistence on stopping Amelia from killing Gasback) which leads to a final showdown as Amelia and a guilty Wolfwood take on Gasback and his allies, but then Vash arrives having been saved by a combination of a tough slice of steak in his jacket and a passing Meryl and Milly. Vash wins a duel with Gasback and Amelia spares his life… also it turns out that Gasback was her Dad and when he left her mother behind the townsfolk didn’t trust her, so when all her possessions were stolen and she fell ill they did nothing to help them. A valid reason to hate the townsfolk more than Gasback, but whatever… A happy ending, unsurprisingly!
Hooray, it’s Meryl and Milly! I remember them like it was only yesterday…. Oh yeah, right.
Not much, if I’m honest, mostly due to the nature of what it is. The film is a love letter to the original Trigun series, so if you’re not familiar with it this film won’t really work. The middle of the film, which was just treading water until Gasback arrived, slows the film down quite a bit. Some of it was funny, but other times it was more “Vash trying to come on to Amelia and she doesn’t like it” stuff, which did start to wear a bit thin until things picked up for the final third of the film.
So many of these anime tie-in films create their own exclusive protagonist, I guess because they’re not constrained by the limits of the original series so it makes it easier to create drama… Makes sense to me!
Trigun: Badlands Rumble is your classic Anime tie-in film where we see our favourite characters from the TV series in a quick new adventure that has no connection to any plot, and so in that sense the film does a good job if you’re a fan. If you’re not a fan then there isn’t much point in watching it, it has a perfectly fine if not predictable plot and message at its heart, but beyond that it’s nothing special. I can see myself throwing it on from time to time though, it’s well animated and light enough that you don’t have to focus on it much so long as you actually know who the characters are!