Jul 28, 2011

Trigun: Badlands Rumble (2010): B+

You can thank the persistence and love of committed fans for the existence of this movie. The original, short-lived anime series (itself based on a manga) wasn't even a hit with local Japanese audiences; only when the series debuted in America did it began to develop the cult following that sees it alive and well today. For those unacquainted with the material, the central character in Trigun's world is one Vash the Stampede, a legendary figure adorned in a red cape, well known and much feared for his lethal force and renowned ability to destroy entire cities. Alas, the truth differs much from the legend, and most of the damage attributed to Vash originates with the bounty hunters aiming to collect the substantial reward on his head (early on in Badlands Rumble, even newcomers will be quickly familiar with Vash's habit of preventing violence by the most extreme measures necessary, most of which include his acting like an utter fool). His misadventures - which routinely include two yin-yang female insurance agents and a clergyman who wields a devastating gun in the shape of a cross - span several decades in the events of Badlands Rumble, leading to much pontification on fate, the meaning of life, and the virtues of mercy and pacifism. Vash's seemingly foolish actions (like intervening with warring criminals) are given the long-run, It's a Wonderful Life treatment, and wisdom readily emerges from his apparently reckless behavior ("Isn't it better that they're all still alive?"). Quirky doesn't begin to describe Vash's character (note his "cuddling" of wrists and ankles), and like the preceding series, Badlands Rumble is somewhat remarkable in regards to its textured characters. From the expressive, economic animation (computer generated animations are sparingly incorporated into traditional hand-drawn cells) to the more blatant rip-n-roar of the films action setpieces (an opening hallway skirmish with booby traps might be tops, but the last twenty minutes are nearly breathless), this cinematic treatment proves a cognitively satisfying and richly visceral experience. Fans, rejoice. There still isn't nearly enough Trigun to go around, but we'll take what we can get.

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