It’s great to see Full Metal Panic return to our screens after a lengthy hiatus. The gap between FMP content reminds me of the time when Badlands Rumble first hit the scene. This ninety minute animated film was released in the year 2010… over a decade after the Trigun series aired in Japan! You certainly cannot accuse studio Madhouse of rushing out a product to capitalize on the popularity of a show. This story takes place sometime during the events of the Trigun series (so it isn’t a sequel) and sees Vash tangle with a robber named Gasback, whose life he spared twenty years prior.
Badlands Rumble takes place in Macca City, a settlement where Gasback’s former lackey Cain is the incumbent mayor. Years ago, the pair had a falling out after Cain betrayed Gasback during a heist. You cannot trust anyone named Cain it seems… just ask Abel! Gasback has decided to pay back his ex-henchman by riding into Macca and stealing a pricey bronze statue that is situated there. As luck would have it, Vash the Stampede arrives in town just before Gasback’s raid is due to go down. Talk about bad timing. Vash has a sixty billion double dollar price on his head. That could well attract the attention of the multitude of bounty hunters, who are presently in Macca hoping to nab Gasback.
Vash isn’t the only one suffering from ill fortune. Insurance girls Milly and Meryl are back and this time round their employer has tasked them with protecting the abovementioned statue. If said sculpture is damaged their company will be out of pocket. Guarding the statue will be no easy task, as wherever Vash goes destruction usually follows. Upping the ante is the appearance of wandering priest Nicholas D. Wolfwood. This man of the cloth, who carries a rocket launcher fashioned after a cross, has been hired to be Gasback’s bodyguard. Wolfwood’s church services will be required, as a redhead named Amelia is currently pursuing Gasback with the aims of avenging her late mother.
My rating for Trigun: Badlands Rumble is a three out of five. Fans of the Trigun series are sure to enjoy this new Vash adventure. It’s an enjoyable space western that delivers in terms of cool gunfights and humorous slapstick, courtesy of its needle noggin protagonist. Viewers of the old show are sure to appreciate the movie’s upgraded visuals. Thanks to the higher production values, both the animation and artwork have received a substantial facelift. It’s especially noticeable, as Trigun never pushed the envelope when it came to spectacle. Compared to something like Cowboy Bebop, which came out at around the same time, the series lacked polish and has therefore aged less well.
I remember loving Badlands Rumble, back when I first bought the DVD, but have to say that I liked it less on a recent viewing. This second screening helped me identify how the script rehashes ideas from the series. A criminal who desires revenge on his old gang is reminiscent of the episode titled Love & Peace for example. Amelia also reminded me of Elizabeth, who appeared in episode six, as they are both beauties who seek vengeance against an outlaw. Given the movie’s place in the Trigun timeline there isn’t much tension, as we all know Vash will escape from this trial unscathed. I did however dig the moments that question Vash’s no-kill philosophy. Not murdering may sound noble, but as Batman has learnt, is it ethical to pardon those who will just go off to do more harm?
One thing I can say about watching Badlands Rumble is that it rekindled my dream of seeing a Trigun remake that sticks more faithfully to the manga. Full Metal Alchemist and Hellsing have proven that such a project could work. Given the time it took for this movie to get made though, I suspect that the wait for a new Trigun show would be longer than Vash’s full name. For those of you who don’t know, his complete moniker is – Valentinez Alkalinella Xifax Sicidabohertz Gumbigobilla Blue Stradivari Talentrent Pierre Andry Charton-Haymoss Ivanovici Baldeus George Doitzel Kaiser the Third.