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Trigun: Badlands Rumble (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 12, 2011 by  



Vash the Stampede and friends are back in an action-packed film with destruction galore!  Audiophiles who have been clamoring for an anime film on Blu-ray with awesome lossless audio will definitely love the lossless, immersive track for this film!  And for “Trigun” fans, this Blu-ray release is fantastic and packed with special features.  “Trigun: Badlands Rumble” is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © Tetsuhiro Nightow/Shonengahoisha, TRIGUN PARTNERS. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Trigun: Badlands Rumble

DURATION: 137 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p HD Native (16×9), Dolby TrueHD English 5.1 and Dolby TrueHD Japanese 5.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: September 27, 2011

Originally created by Yasuhiro Nightow

Original Story by Satoshi Nishimura, Yasuhiro Nightow

Directed by Satoshi Nishimura

Screenplay by Yasuko Kobayashi

Storyboard by Hideki Inoue, Satoshi Nishimura, Soichi Masui

Music by Tsuneo Imahori

Character Design by Takahiro Yoshimatsu

Art Director: Minoru Akiba

Mechanical Design by Noriyuki Higuji

Sound Director: Yasunori Honda

Anime Production: Madhouse Studios

Featuring the following voice talent:

Hiromi Tsuru/Luci Christian as Meryl Stryfe

Masaya Onosaka/Johnny Yong Bosch as Vash the Stampede

Satsuki Yukino/Trina Nishimura as Milly Thompson

Sho Hayami/Brad Hawkins as Nicholas D. Wolfwood

Maaya Sakamoto/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Amelia

Tsutomu Isobe/John Swasey as Gasback

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!

In 1996, mangaka and game creator Yasuhiro Nightow (also known for creating the characters and story of the video game and anime series “Gungrave”) published his manga seires “Trigun” in Shonen Gahosha’s “Young King Ours” magazine.  Two years later, the manga series received its manga adaptation and aired in April through September 1998.

While the series was not so popular in Japan, the series would become very popular in the United States in 2003 as it aired on the Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim where it aired along with “Cowboy Bebop”.

By 2005, because of the popularity overseas, rumors of a “Trigun” movie began to surface and in 2007, Nightow confirmed at the US convention Anime Central that it was being developed.

And by 2010, the movie “Trigun: Badlands Rumble” would have its premiere in Japan and would have its debut at Sakura-Con 2010 in Seattle (without any dubbed voice overs or subtitles) and not long after, FUNimation Entertainment had licensed the film which would be released in theaters and a subtitled version of the film would be screened at Anime Expo 2010.

“Trigun: Badlands Rumble” would be directed by Satoshi Nishimura (“Trigun”), a screenplay by Yasuko Kobayashi (“Claymore”, “Death Note”, “Galaxy Angel”, “Shakugan no Shana”), music by Tsuneo Imahori (“Cowboy Bebop”, “Fighting Spirit”, “Trigun”), character design by Takahiro Yoshimatsu (“Slayers”, “Trigun”, “Hunter x Hunter”) and background art by Minoru Akiba (“Pokemon” films, “School Rumble”).  Anime production for the film is by Madhouse Studios.

For those not familiar with the original storyline, “Trigun” is a comedy/action series about a man named Vash the Stampede who is accompanied by two Bernadelli Insurance Society employees who follow him in order to minimize damages caused by his appearance.  Vash is a wanted man due to his destruction of the City of July and with a bounty of $60 billion dollars on his head, many bounty hunters are after him.    He is joined by a priest named Nicholas D. Wolfwood (a mysterious gunfighter and we learn about Vash’s mysterious history and life on the planet Gunsmoke.

“Trigun: Badlands Rumble” begins with a bank robbery led by the thief known as Gasback, known for only going after difficult heist that offers the biggest rewards.

But his henchmen including second-hand man Cain have had enough of the danger that Gasback had put them through and he shoots and tries to kill Gasback and tells him that they are no longer going to follow him again and will retire with the money and live a good life with the stolen money.  But disturbing their plans is Vash the Stampede, who happens to be in the vicinity and in the process between Vash and Gasback arguing with each other.  The henchman escape with all the money, Gasback manages to escape as well, but also unleashing missiles on the city and causing destruction.

But because Vash the Stampede is known for destroying many cities and that Gasback was in the same vicinity, Vash gets linked to the robbery and is seen as the mastermind of the heist.

Fast forward to 20 years later and we learn that Gasback’s original henchman have lived life in luxury since stealing the money but now Gasback wants revenge.  We learn that one of the henchman, named Cain Kelper, has become a hero of the city, he used his money to repair the City’s plant damaged by Gasback and eventually becomes the mayor of the city and has a huge statue in his image.

Gasback now wants to steal the statue which was insured for $5 billion and thus, two Bernadelli Insurance Society employees Milly Thompson and Mery Strife travel to Macca City to prevent it from happening, because a theft of something that expensive can easily bankrupt the insurance company.

Meanwhile, Vash also travels to the city  and ends up meeting a young woman named Amelia who he starts to flirt with.  But it is learned that Amelia develops an allergic reaction when touched by men and thus tries to avoid him.

But quickly we learn that Amelia is a bounty hunter who has traveled to Macca City and is targeting Gasback who has a $300 million bounty on his head.

Meanwhile, Gasback is back in town but also has a new bodyguard who turns out to be Nicholas D. Wolfwood, who was saved by Gasback when he was in the middle of the desert dying of thirst and thus is indebted to protecting the thief.

As Vash the Stampede courts Amelia, Gasback confronts his former henchman Cain and all hell breaks out.  As for Amelia, she learns that Vash the Stampede was the person responsible for helping Gasback escape from a bank robbery 20 years ago and tells him that because of his escape, Gasback has affected many lives including her own life but also her mother who died because of Gasback, and that is her true motivation for wanting to catch Gasback…because of revenge.

So, now Vash knowing what his action that he did many years ago had affected Amelia and possibly killed her mother, he wants to help Amelia but not knowing that his old friend Nicholas D. Wolfwood is working for Gasback.

What happens when Amelia and Vash confront Gasback?

VIDEO:

“Trigun: Badlands Rumble” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16×9 HD Native).  Madhouse Studios did a wonderful job in creating the environment as there are crowds of bounty hunters and people all over Macca City.  There is no doubt that the studio wanted to give people a lot of visuals, so you have a good use of beautiful painted backgrounds but also a balance of CG as well.

Character development is well-done and definitely a not to the classic look of “Trigun” but also incorporating a lot of colors and good solid use of character design during the action sequences.  So, “Trigun: Badlands Rumble” is a vibrant film with black levels that are nice and deep but for the most part, a wonderful job by Madhouse Studios in making the city feel lively and dangerous at the same time.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Trigun: Badlands Rumble” is presented in Dolby TrueHD English and Japanese 5.1.  When it comes to lossless audio, I have to say that “Trigun: Badlands Rumble” is perhaps one of the best use of lossless audio in an anime film in the last two years.  This is an immersive soundtrack with missiles and bullets, explosions that not only are well-done directionally as sound goes from one end to the other but also a great use of audio as you can feel it via LFE but also having a film that has plenty of action.

I have no doubt in my mind that audiophiles who have been clamoring for an immersive lossless soundtrack for an anime film will love how “Trigun: Badlands Rumble” sounds.  Personally, I think this is one of the best lossless, immersive soundtracks that I have heard in an animated film within the last two years.

Also, good use of crowd ambiance and the musical score from Tsuneo Imahori is also awesome as it is used not only from the front channels but also in the surround channels as well.

Optional subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Trigun: Badlands Rumble” comes with the following special features:

  • Interview with Yasuhiro Nightow  – (11:08) Featuring an interview with Yasuhiro Nightow (comic author/story concept)
  • Interview with Masaya Onosaka – (8:59) Featuring an interview with Japanese voice actor Masaya Onosaka (Vash the Stampede)
  • Interview with Satsuki Yukino – (8:31) Featuring an interview with Japanese voice actress Satsuki Yukino (Milly Thompson)
  • Interview with Satoshi Nishimura – (11:06) Featuring an interview with director Satoshi Nishimura
  • Interview with Show Hayami – (10:00) Featuring an interview with Japanese voice actor Show Hayami (Nicholas D. Wolfwood)
  • Interview with Maaya Sakamoto – (6:43) Featuring an interview with Japanese voice actress Maaya Sakamoto (Amelia Ann Mcfly)
  • Interview with Takahiro Yoshimatsu – (7:26) Featuring an interview with character designer and chief animation director Takahiro Yoshimatsu.
  • Interview with Hiromi Tsuru – (3:13) Featuring an interview with Japanese voice actress Hiromi Tsuru (Meryl Strife)
  • Interview with Tsutomu Isobe – (7:06) Featuring an interview with Japanese voice actor Tsutomu Isobe (Gasback Gallon Getaway)
  • Movie Premiere at Cinema Sunshine Ikebukuro – (8:47) Featuring the introduction of the cast and director at the movie premiere in Ikebukuro.
  • Post Recording – (3:51) Behind-the-scenes post-recording with the Japanese voice talent in the studio.
  • A Mildly Awesome Story by Something Yoshimatsu – (:28) Takahiro Yoshimatsu talks about signing an autograph on someone’s boob at Sakura-Con 2009.
  • Video Footage from Anime Expo 2009 – (1:38) Featuring the Nightow, Nishimura and Jinguji meeting their fans at AX 2009.
  • Talk Event at Kawasaki Cinecitta – (3:32) A scene from the ticket raffle at the talk event at Kawasaki Cinecitta.
  • Special Talk Show – (38:14) Talk show segment with the Japanese voice talent from Kawasaki Cinecitta.
  • Web Promotion Clip – (1:37) web promo clip for “Trigun: Badlands Rumble”.
  • Promotional Video – (2:24) PV for “Trigun: Badlands Rumble”.
  • Theatrical Commercial – (:37) Japanese theatrical commercial for “Trigun: Badlands Rumble”.
  • Theatrical Trailer – (1:40) The original Japanese theatrical trailer for “Trigun: Badlands Rumble”.
  • Original Commercials – (:49) Commercials for “Trigun: Badlands Rumble”
  • Trailers – Trailers for upcoming or currently available titles from FUNimation Entertainment.

EXTRAS:

“Trigun: Badlands Rumble” comes with a slipcase.

As a fan of the “Trigun” TV series, I have to say that the announcement of the return of Vash the Stampede and friends was a pretty big deal for many people.

“Trigun” was much popular in the United States than in Japan and many have wanted a return of the characters. The problem is, what warrants a second season or a film for a series is typically how ratings are in Japan and how the merchandise sells.

“Trigun” unfortunately didn’t have the big Japanese backing, nor was it featured in the most popular manga magazine but still, with it being aired during the time of “Cowboy Bebop” on the Cartoon Network, needless to say, “Trigun” was a huge hit in America.  But fortunately, its popularity outside of Japan was noted and  a standalone film was created.

With that being said, I for one am glad to see Vash and friends back in a new story.  But while others probably have had such high hopes in storyline, “Trigun: Badlands Rumble” turned out to be a pretty good story and because a lot of animated films derived from an anime series are typically non-canon, abridged versions of season or just plain bad, “Trigun: Badlands Rumble” features a canon-based storyline that not only delivers in action but also makes for an awesome Blu-ray release!

You have some of the original crew who worked on the TV series, working on this film as well as the Japanese and American voice talent.  Because this is a film, production elements are much better than a TV series, especially since “Trigun” is looked at as a old school anime series (it was released back in 1998).  So, it’s been 12-years since the TV series aired in Japan and a lot has changed in the anime industry since then.

For this Blu-ray release, I was quite impressed by the animation but also the sheer number of characters featured throughout the film.  But the audio of this Blu-ray release is magnificent.  The lossless soundtrack is immersive and because this film constantly showcases action sequence after sequence, audiophiles will definitely be impressed by how active the lossless audio track is.  It’s been awhile since I have heard a true immersive soundtrack from an anime series or film, so it was great to har “Trigun: Badlands Rumble” via its special effects and ambiance but also its wonderful musical score.

And the special features, I have to say that this is one of the most jam-packed special features on an anime on Blu-ray release in America thus far.  Granted, there are series that have plenty of audio commentary but in this case, there was a good amount of interviews with the Japanese voice talent and interviews at movie premieres.  So, fans should no doubt be appreciative and happy with the Blu-ray release.

A big question that I was asked was if one had to know about the series or watch it before watching this film and my answer is yes and no.  Yes, in the fact that you can see how much destruction there is when Vash the Stampede is around and his relation to the other characters such as Nicolas D. Wolfwood or even Mery Stryfe and Milly Thompson.  But there is enough explanation of why Vash is a wanted man and the writers do their best to make things more accessible for those who have never watched the series before.  The only thing that people who have never seen the series before will miss out on is the actual relationship Vash has with other characters.

With that being said, the storyline for “Trigun: Badlands Rumble” was enjoyable, but was it great?  Not great but good.  I guess after 12-years, I know others who watched the film have expected something deep or perhaps people expected something unexpected (perhaps a death of a beloved character)?   But with watching so many anime films derived from a TV series, most often the films have better production as expected from a film but the storyline comes up short.  So, I try not to have too high of expectations when it comes to animated films based on a series (unless it’s mecha related).

But for the most part, I really enjoyed the presentation, the backgrounds, the music, the action, the lossless audio and the number of special features included in this Blu-ray release.  There are many positives that I found with this release and for the most part, I’ve watched this film now three times because I enjoyed it so much.

Overall, if you are a “Trigun” fan, I highly recommend checking out “Trigun: Badlands Rumble” on Blu-ray.  It’s a solid release and you get your money’s worth.

Highly recommended!

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