Badlands Rumble begins with a bank robbery. As it happens, Gasback the legendary thief and his gang are holding up a bank. The outlaw ponders how life is a struggle to survive. Then he is double crossed by Cain his henchman. For this reason, Gasback attempts to murder Cain. Vash prevents him from doing this however. Vash and Gasback discuss their philosophies. Indeed, Vash states “Ain’t it better if we all live.”
The police arrive and foil the robbery. Then it cuts to the opening titles. Afterwards we see Meryl and Milly discuss their latest assignment from the insurance company. Subsequently we cut to Amelia, who is travelling to Mecca City on a sandsteamer. Some thugs try and put the moves on her and she fends them off with Vash’s help. Furthermore, Meryl and Milly review the insurance on “Kepler’s” bronze statue. It is revealed that Gasback wants to steal this statue.
Vash the dogged nice guy
Meanwhile, Amelia arrives at Mecca City. True to form, Vash pesters her which leads to a funny scene between them both. Notably, we learn that Gasback’s former henchmen are now legitimate businessmen. Cain AKA Kepler is the town’s mayor. Moreover the film shows us Wolfwood, who is now working for Gasback as a bodyguard.
Back in Mecca City Vash is still chasing Amelia, who is after the bounty on Gasback. The young woman and the Humanoid Typhoon enter a bar where the insurance girls wave them over. Meryl grows sick of Vash’s goofy behaviour and Vash lets slip who he really is. The other bar patrons laugh raucously at this.
A brief Gasback scene shows his menace and then Amelia defends herself from an abhorrent admirer. Of course a fight breaks out. Significantly, Vash steals the patrons’ guns’ bullets before any serious damage is done. As it happens, we are treated to a beautiful scene between Amelia and Vash. The young gunslinger recalls her childhood and she and Vash talk philosophy.
The next morning, Gasback and his men invade the town. In fact, a massive fight breaks out between Gasback’s gang and the other bounty hunters. Vash in a moment of humanity attempts to protect the bounty hunters. Despite this, Gasback confronts Cain, who has killed Gasback’s former henchmen.
Actually, Cain begs Gasback to let him live. Additionally, Vash and Amelia burst in. Vash’s true identity is revealed and Amelia states that Gasback killed her mother. Again, the villainous outlaw makes off with the town’s power plant. Vash, Wolfwood, Amelia and the other bounty hunters pursue him. When Vash attempts to stop Amelia from shooting Gasback he himself is killed.
Even so, Wolfwood tries to save Vash but to no avail. Amelia for her part says that her mother died because Vash saved Gasback. Our heroine ponders Vash’s philosophy of always trying to save everyone leading to his death. Likewise, the town is now struggling without its power source. Nevertheless, Amelia hires Wolfwood for one last job.
Further, Badlands Rumble shows us Amelia and Wolfwood walking towards Gasback’s gang where they are holed up. Another fight breaks out. Amelia almost rescues the power plant but is stopped by the town’s marshall. In fact he was working for Gasback all along. Just as the corrupt official is about to execute Amelia Vash saves her.
That’s right folks, Vash is back! Apparently Vash’s smoked meat in his jacket stopped the bullet from killing him. In spite of this, Gasback wants to settle things with Vash. He flips a coin into the air. The hated villain claims they will shoot each other when the coin drops.
The walking act of God and Gasback circle each other and shoot. Vash emerges victorious. Notably Amelia accepts what happened to her mother. Gasback, bowed but unbroken, attempts to use his energy gauntlet to wipe our heroes out.
Amelia stops Gasback with her own energy gauntlet. Moreover, the tough young heroine reveals that Gasback is her father. They reconcile, and Amelia refuses to kill Gasback. Cain kills the moment by attempting to murder everyone and Vash says that Wolfwood can handle this one.
The credits roll and we see the town getting back on its feet. Wolfwood complains to Vash about not getting Gasback’s bounty money. Our gunslinging hero muses that him saving Gasback allowed Amelia to be born. On that note, the film ends.
I’ll preface this section by saying I’m aware that Badlands Rumble has a different voice cast than Trigun the series. Apart from Johnny Yong Bosch as Vash. I regret to say I’ve only seen bits of Trigun the series, so I won’t compare the voice casts as I’m unable to. Sorry about that. Bosch is stupendous as Vash the Stampede.
If the Humanoid Typhoon was voiced by a lesser actor. He would be just another Gary Stu. Fortunately, this is not the case at all. Bosch shows an amazing ability to juggle the seriousness and lightness in Vash’s character just with his voice. I loved his initial scene where Vash complained over his donut and of course his flirting with Amelia was also brilliant. Bosch really showed that he can handle the serious stuff as well in Vash’s scene in Cain’s office and in the final showdown.
A kickass woman
Colleen Clinkenbeard is great as Amelia. She shows this character’s steeliness and toughness very well. Clinkenbeard shows her acting chops in Amelia and Vash’s post-bar scene. This actor also delivers Amelia’s anger and confusion at Vash’s death brilliantly. There is a great human moment when Amelia and Gasback make up with each other that is performed well by Clinkenbeard.
I kind of feel like John Swasey delivers Gasback’s anger at being double-crossed well. However, this performer does not for me display as wide a range as Bosch or Clinkenbeard. Against this Swasey is a great foil to Bosch but perhaps the script doesn’t develop Gasback’s character enough. This actor is good at showing the character’s menace and villainy though.
Brad Hawkins shows Wolfwood’s undercurrent of menace well. Like Gasback, I feel like Wolfwood is not developed enough in this outing for Hawkins to really show what he can do. His reveal as a man of the cloth “I’m part of the life and death of people” was good though. Luci Christian and Trina Nishimura perform well enough as Meryl and Milly. I felt like they added an everywoman quality to the film.
Kent Williams was passable as Cain. I enjoyed his unhinged revenge kick at the end of the film. Williams plays a great dirty coward here also.
Badlands Rumble had great animation throughout. Of particular note is the beautiful animation of the starry night sky, when Vash and Amelia talk. I also enjoyed Amelia’s flashbacks to her childhood. Besides, the animation of the power plant was great as well. I felt like the fight scenes’ animation was a little over the top however. Against that, the final gunfight was fantastic.
Vash’s body silhouetted against the sunlight as he dies was probably the standout animation in this film. Then the sandstorm as Vash shoots Gasback was great as well.
Badlands Rumble’s incidental music was off the chart brilliant. Gasback’s initial theme was excellent and really set up the wild west theme. Mecca City’s theme again really put you in the anime’s world. The sandsteamer theme was very upbeat. There was also a great funky Western theme when the insurance girls were in Cain’s office.
Additionally, the upbeat music for the sandsteamer’s arrival was also great. I particularly liked the flute that accompanied Amelia’s childhood flashbacks. Vash’s return at the film’s climax had a great old school Trigun guitar theme too. Of note too was the mournful score that played when the town was struggling without its power source. In my opinion, Vash and Gasback’s final showdown theme had great energy and that it really helped raise the stakes.
I also liked the nice hopeful theme that played over the film’s credits. I felt this really put across the theme of recovery and rebuilding.
Badlands Rumble is great because it stands alone. You don’t have to have seen Trigun the series to watch and enjoy this film. It is immensely entertaining throughout with some great themes. Definitely check this out.
- Voice Acting8.9
- Incidental Music10