It’s been eleven years since Trigun made its debut in the west. Since then, thousands have been enchanted by the action-packed and humor-laden adventures of Vash The Stampede: a needle-haired goof with a crack-shot and a $$60 billion bounty on his head. Even today, viewers go gaga over the sci-fi western atmosphere, fast-paced duels, and charming cast that give Trigun its distinctive flavor. Cries for more of the series echoed through conventions, clubs, and social networks. In 2010, these pleas were answered, when Trigun: Badlands Rumble made its world debut at Sakura-Con. The revelation was met with excitement, followed by apprehension. After ten years, can Badlands Rumble re-capture the magic that made the original so endearing?

Vash’s yarn begins twenty years before he crosses paths with Wolfwood, or the ladies from the insurance company. In an unknown bank, in an unknown town, on some unknown day, the legendary robber Gasback is making his greatest heist ever. Well, it would have been his greatest if not for a betrayal by Caine, Gasback’s most trusted lackey. Caine doesn’t think of the bigger picture like his boss. Instead, he wants the good life, filled with swimming pools, movie stars, and those talking picture boxes that people talk about.

After taking Gasback’s eye and his men, Caine makes a hasty retreat with the goods in a spell of confusion caused by The Humanoid Typhoon. While neither sees the bars fo the stoney lonesome, Gasback fades away from the public eye, and a $$300 million bounty is placed on his head. The man becomes a fable, a legend that prowls through the dreams of bounty hunters worldwide. In the present day, the rumors of Gasback start to bubble again. Stories that he’ll be making the biggest, most extravagant heist in hitory in Macca City. The reward’s brought all manner of bounty hunters to the city, from the rough riding thugs to cool veterans. On the ferry into town, Vash encounters Amelia – an icy red-head with a deadly kick and a mysterious past. As Gasback’s big heist grows near, secrets come to the surface, and grudges both new and old start to arise. The Humanoid Typhoon will certainly have his hands full, as he tries to save the city, and the people of Macca City from Gasback’s rage.

It’d be a lie to say that Badlands Rumble is “groundbreaking”, “innovative”, or “unique.” On the contrary, it’s little more than a 90-minute episode of Trigun. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The film embodies the very elements that made Trigun remarkable in the first place, including a sharp script and genuinely funny slapstick humor. Instead of blazing new paths, Madhouse instead opted to simply go bigger. The film uses its medium to the fullest, to deliver a truly exhilarating experience through its over-the-top action segments, and a plot that builds to a truly breathless level as it reaches the climactic finale.

Macca City is brought to life by the colorful folks that inhabit it through the film. Of the newest additions to the Trigun crew, Gasback steals the show, as a larger-than-life antagonist, whose manly take-no-prisoners attitude and manly bravado manage to both charm and impress viewers. His desire to go bigger, badder, and better than any other robber, and his willingness to destroy buildings, cities, even people to get what he wants give him a bad-ass edge that is simply fun to watch. In comparison, Amelia doesn’t come close to capturing the sheer charisma of the rest of the cast. Her icy, guarded demeanor and single-minded desire to take out Gasback make it painfully clear that she’s to be Vash’s foil, and an equivalent to the under-used Wolfwood.

The film is brought together by a soundtrack that combines whimsical and hard-edge elements with a sound that is distinctly country. Twanging guitars set the mood for serious scenes, while delicate melodies and Latin beats provide the soundtrack for the film’s more light-hearted moments. When all hell breaks loose and bullets begin flying, shredding rock riffs set the tone.

Trigun: Badlands Rumble is a film that doesn’t try to blaze new ground, and doesn’t let pesky things like “originality” get in the way. Instead, it embraces the fundamentals, the groundwork that made the original Trigun so endearing over a decade ago. The over-the-top action and quirky sense of humor are enough to appeal to both old and new audiences alike, while franchise fans will be absolutely tickled to see their heroes stake out for one last hurrah. The film’s fast pace and strong writing ensure that it will be a hit in gatherings, and a draw for even the most jaded of fans. As both a film, and a revival of a classic, Trigun: Badlands Rumble is a rare gem that belongs in absolutely every anime fan’s collection.

Trigun: Badlands Rumble is distributed by FUNimation.

The series can be purchased at Right Stuf.

Thanks to FUNimation for providing a review copy!