Sunday, September 8, 2013

Day Two Hundred and Fifty-one - Trigun: Badlands Rumble, "Guns a'blazing, space-western comedy, Anime mediocrity."

Okay, so I lied... it wasn't Hellraiser or Zack & Miri that I went to after Prohibition... it was the familiar and the safe.

It was Anime.

Trigun: Badlands Rumble is the companion movie to the late 90's (early 2000's, in America) Scifi Anime of the same name... well, the Trigun part, anyway. Set in the distant future, where humanity scrapes a living on a desert planet with extremely limited resources, both the series and the movie embody themes of humanity at its worst with rare peeks of it trying to be at its best... all amidst wacky, highly improbable gunplay.

The main character of Trigun is the demigod Vash the Stampede who is a neigh immortal, pacifist gunslinger who has lived for hundreds of years and become a legend on his planet for all the wrong reasons. Yes, that whole "pacifist gunslinger" bit sounds weird, but his goal in life is to mediate and limit death and carnage on this desert world so that humanity may survive. Unfortunately, making it so everyone survives often requires a lot of destruction and mayhem, for which his is always blamed.

In Badlands Rumble, his personal story arc is sidelined in favor of the one-off villain, Gasback, and the beautiful woman tracking him for personal revenge, Amelia. Gasback is basically a rehash of Brilliant Dynamite Neon (no, I'm not making that up) from the series, a crook who savors the thrill of the heist, not its actual monetary gain. Amelia is a very obvious spurned daughter, whose "mysterious past" is easy to figure out almost right from the start. Her inclusion as a possible romantic interest for Vash isn't unusual as he often spent every waking moment swooning after beautiful women in the series, but because of that history, we know he isn't serious.

And that's kind of the problem with the movie. It has absolutely no bearing on the overall arc of the series or its characters. In order to overcome that, it needed to be tremendously worthy in terms of action and drama (like its cousin-film Cowboy Bebop:Knockin' on Heaven's Door). Sadly, I don't think it did.

All of the familiar players are there: Vash, Wolfwood, Millie and Meryl... but they're just in demo-mode, never really expressing anything interesting emotionally/philosophically and just barely being interesting action-wise. Heck, Millie and Meryl disappear for pretty much the entire third act and Wolfwood? As much as I love the character, his forced "mourning" period during the beginning of that act rings false because we all know... just know that it's impossible for Vash to be dead. It's one of those silly false trails that, even if you didn't know the fate of everyone in the series ahead of time, is just too convenient a plot twist to be true.

That's not to say it's all bad.

As an overly large, higher production quality episode of Trigun, it's alright. It has your basic self-contained story elements that quite a few of the early series episodes did and handles itself decently when it comes to its occasional gunplay... but it drops its character quirks like they never existed for more than the single joke they support and, on the whole, the movie doesn't live up to the better examples that exists out there in the nether (namely the Cowboy Bebop movie and Ghost in the Shell:SAC). I do like the out there character designs, but only just so... it's all mediocre style and trite frontier existentialism.

If you're a fan of the series, it's okay... but for first-timers and the general Netflix-going populace, I'd say stay away.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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