Trigun: Badlands Rumble Anime DVD Review

Trigun: Badlands Rumble Anime DVD Review Little more than an extended episode in scope, but still a fun romp in the spirit of the TV series.

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:
For this viewing, I took in the English 5.1 dub. In a rare and appreciated effort, the Japanese track is also offered in 5.1. The dialogue stayed centered, but there was some good front/back and left/right directionality with the sound effects. There was also no dropout among any of the channels or tracks, so that was good. It stayed even throughout.

It should also be noted among the English cast that three of the four main characters have different VAs from the TV series, which isn’t entirely a surprise since the original dub is eight years old at this point. Luci Christian replaces Dorothy Melendrez as Meryl, Trina Nishimura now plays Milly rather than Lia Sargent, and Brad Hawkins takes Jeff Nimoy’s place as Wolfwood. Only Johnny Yong Bosch reprises his role as Vash the Stampede. While I won’t exactly consider myself a Trigun aficionado, I have watched the TV series recently, and to be honest, if I didn’t already know that there were new voices for the main cast, I never would have noticed. I think the three new people did a really good job of mimicking the already established voices we expect from these characters. So, I certainly have no complaints.

Video:
This release has a great transfer. Colors are bright and lining is sharp, and the animation quality is top notch (to be expected since this is a movie and not a series). I didn’t notice any technical issues with the transfer either, so I have no complaints here, either.

Packaging:
I really like the case for this. The two discs come in a single-wide amaray case with an insert for the second disc. The case is clear so that both sides of the fully reversible cover can be viewed without taking it out. The main cover has a montage picture with Vash, Meryl, Milly, Wolfwood, and Gasback, though I’m curious where Amelia is since she’s a main character for this feature too. The reverse cover is another montage with the same characters, just as more of a sketch than the main cover. I only have two complaints: one major, one minor. The minor complaint is that I really like it when companies do something a little different with the bock covers on the reverse sides, but both backs for this are exactly the same.

The major complaint is that for some reason, the anti-theft tag in my copy came stuck to my extras disc rather than the case, and I didn’t notice until I had the disc in my machine, which groaned and grinded in protest until I took the disc out to see what the deal was. I’m willing to accept that this could have been a mistake, as the mail-in survey card in my copy came folded up and wrapped around the discs (one of which popped out). But if this is standard, I don’t really like it. To be fair, the tag came right off with no residue or damage to the disc, but my player protested enough that I wouldn’t have been surprised if it got damaged. So make sure to check your copy when you open it up.

Menu:
While basic, the menu for this release is pretty neat. Designed to look like one of the newspapers that Vash is always finding with new wanted information, the selections are scattered around and hidden in various headlines. It makes the screen a bit busy, and can make it tough to find what you are looking for, but the highlight (a handy orange that stands out well) only goes to applicable selections. Unless you are watching on a computer, and therefore trying to navigate with a mouse, it isn’t really an issue.

Extras:
There are a ton of extras on this release, all on their own disc. Q&As seem to be the order of the day, as there are quite a few on here. First off, there are a series of interviews with nine different members of the Japanese staff and cast. Each of these lasts for approximately ten minutes, and they each answer questions about the movie and their roles in creating it. There is also a nine minute clip reel from the Japanese movie premier that has some of the live Q&A with various staff and cast members. There is also a three-and-a-halfminute clip from a Talk Event at Kawasaki Cinecitta, though rather than Q&A, it instead features some humorous interplay between the panelists and the audience as they draw raffle prizes. The last Q&A is a full 40 minute Special Talk Show with the staff and cast.

There’s quite a bit of non-Q&A stuff here too. There’s a four minute video clip of footage from the sound booth during recording, a brief thirty second Mildly Awesome Story by Something Yoshimatsu in which he tells a story of getting to sign a girl’s breast, a minute-and-a-half clip reel taken by a staff member during their visit to Anime Expo 2009, and quite a few trailers and commercials.

All-in-all, there’s over two-and-a-half hours of bonus material in here to check out—an hour more than the movie actually is. A large portion of it is Q&A stuff, and there’s some common ground covered in some of them, but there’s still a lot to keep you occupied for a while.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Twenty years ago, one of the most notorious outlaws in the land was a man known as Gasback. He loved robbing banks and leaving nothing standing in his wake. He was so infamous, that the only person more wanted than he was Vash the Stampede, the Humanoid Typhoon.

But in one of his biggest ever heists, Gasback’s men turn on him, attempt to kill him, and make sure the police are aware of his whereabouts as they are ready to retire and live on their “earnings.” Gasback manages to turn the tables on them with the help of a conveniently present Vash the Stampede, whose sense of justice hates seeing anybody killed. But he then also stops Gasback from killing his men allowing them to escape. Gasback also manages to get away, and Vash is accused of being Gasback’s associate, adding to his notoriety.

Fast-forward to the present day: Caine, Gasback’s former second-in-command has used his money to purchase and repair the same town’s powerplant, damaged in Gasback’s attack, and now lives comfortably on the earnings. He has also given refuge to Gasback’s other two former associates, who have seen their fortunes destroyed by Gasback.

Now Gasback is coming for Caine, and Caine responds by hiring every bounty hunter he can get his hands on to protect him. On board with the rest of the bounty hunters is a young woman named Amelia who seems to have personal history with Gasback, and a reason other than the reward to see him killed. But she suddenly finds her life troubled by the persistent friendship of a goofy gunman who bears an uncanny resemblance to the legendary Vash the Stampede, and he seems determined to stop her efforts.

Trigun was a TV series that I had mixed feelings about. I really wanted to like it: it had some great action, a terrific setting, and an incredibly fun protagonist in Vash. Unfortunately, a lot of the comedy seemed contrived to me, especially in his interactions with insurance adjusters Meryl and Milly, and the overall conflict that drove the plot was far more fantastical than I would have liked it to have been.

So to say I had mixed feelings about Trigun: Badlands Rumble coming into it would be an understatement. The good news is that this movie lived up to the potential I felt the TV series had and generally stayed away from the issues I felt brought the series down, and therefore I actually really enjoyed the movie. It still had plenty of good action and most of the humor worked this time around, which is always a plus.

The main reason for this, I think, is that Meryl and Milly are relegated to a secondary role, and don’t actually have a whole lot to do in this movie other than remind everybody that they exist. Instead, Badlands Rumble focuses more on Vash’s clumsy infatuation with Amelia and his attempts to stop her from killing Gasback. I guess this will upset people who are fans of Meryl and/or Milly, but it didn’t break my heart too much.

The other good thing about this movie is that it basically exists outside of the narrative placed in the TV series, so it was essentially able to just do its own thing without worrying about Vash’s ulterior motives. Therefore, it doesn’t suffer from some of the clunky pacing that the series did. Rather than forcing in outside concerns that color everything happening in the movie, the movie is only concerned with Vash’s attempts to stop everybody from slaughtering each other.

The problem with this, of course, is that this movie comes off as little more than just an extended, stand-alone episode. There’s nothing really serious going on here, so there is very little true weight to what everybody is trying to do. And therefore, there is a tendency to want to render this plot as essentially pointless. But considering I enjoyed the random episodes of the TV series far more than when they were advancing the overarching plot, I am more than glad for this. As I said before, it concentrates on what I liked about the TV series and ignores what I didn’t. I can appreciate that.

In Summary:
Trigun: Badlands Rumble is a movie that does everything I liked about Trigun and nothing of what I didn’t. What that means is that we get a solid plot, some good humor, and a ton of great action. It also means that we don’t really get a movie with a lot of dramatic weight; but what is lost in drama is more than made up because this movie is just plain fun. And really, that’s all I could have wanted for it. Recommended.

Features:
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, Trailers.

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

Released By: Funimation
Release Date: September 27th, 2011
MSRP: $29.98
Running Time: 90 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 widescreen

Review Equipment:
Magnavox 37MF337B 37” LCD HDTV, Sony BDP-S360 BluRay Player w/HDMI Connection, Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System

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