By K. Nguyen
I am a first generation Vietnamese American, born and raised in Dallas where I experienced the melting pot of cultures in my own neighborhood. When was around the age of twelve, my older brother worked at a Japanese import store in Plano, Texas called Planet Anime. Aside from contributing to the stereotype of nerdy Asians and anime, this exposure to Japanese animation is actually what fostered my interest in guns. I became immediately fascinated by the amount of detail put into their weapons by the Japanese studios (often times animated with more attention to detail than the characters that wield them). I’d like to briefly touch on different anime that have influenced my interests in firearms throughout the years and the guns used in each of them . . .
Gunsmith Cats by Kenichi Sonoda is the quintessential anime when it comes to guns. All the real guns and cars referenced in the series has made it a cult classic in niche anime circles here in America. The biggest reason is the unique setting and plot of this anime being featured in Chicago, Illinois.
The story follows a female gunsmith named Irene Vincent, who takes over her father’s gun store in Chicago. As a side business, she works as a bounty hunter under the name “Larry” (“Rally” in American publications), thinking that being listed as a female would turn away potential jobs. Of course most of the series follows her pursuing the bounties of criminals, ensuing high speed chases and shoot outs in a cop-thriller fashion that pays homage to 70’s television.
In addition to the gun store, Rally’s father also passed to her his handgun that she uses for the majority of the series, an original first model of the CZ-75 from 1975 with the short rail.
Cowboy Bebop certainly appealed to my love of sci-fi, jazz music, and of course guns. You will occasionally catch this series broadcast on late night TV here in America, and it is aired during such time due to graphic violence and the philosophical questions that would go right over the heads of children. This mature content stands in contrast to what some still associate with Japanese animation (i.e. early morning cartoons like Pokémon).
Cowboy Bebop follows the misadventures of a spaceship crew, bounty hunters looking for work in the solar system.The lead introductory character, Spike Spiegel, is an ex-hitman, practitioner of Jeet Kune Do martial arts, and a master at the use of firearms.
Spike’s pistol of choice is his Jericho 941 R with custom grips, a chrome recoil spring rod, and a frame mounted laser.
Ghost in the Shell is another great sci-fi anime in the cyberpunk genre, a visually unforgettable film experience. The movie also caught my eye with the guns shown, particularly a fictional M-M2007 revolver based on a real Mateba 2006M.
Carried by Togusa in Ghost in the Shell, this strange revolver fires the cartridge in the cylinder from the bottom 6 ‘o clock chamber as opposed to the 12 o’clock position that most high bore axis guns typically shoot from. This translates into reduced muzzle flip, with which I can personally attest to the effectiveness of Ghisoni’s design with my Chiappa Rhino (a poor man’s Mateba).
It seems as though Gunsmith Cats might also have had an affect on making the CZ’s a staple in anime, as a loosely-based CZ100 makes an appearance in Ghost in the Shell four years after Gunsmith Cats began in 1991.
Conversely, the Jericho 941 first appeared being carried by Batou in GitS (1995) before it became featured as Spike’s main pistol in Cowboy Bebop (1998).
Fun Trivia Fact:
The Wachowski brothers directed The Matrix with the goal of making it a live-action interpretation of Ghost in the Shell.
Tank: So what do you need? Besides a miracle. Neo: Guns. Lots of guns. – The Matrix
Upotte!! is a prime example of what happens when you combine the wild imagination of Japanese otaku and an healthy obsession with firearms.
Set in Japan, the story follows an all-girl high school academy where all the students are actually living embodiments of real guns. The students are anthropomorphized in ways that reflect either the national origin of the gun or physical aspects that translate to their “human form”.
For example, one of the students, named Ichiroku (literally means one-six in Japanese) is actually a M16A4. Of course since she’s an American like the gun she is, her high energy personality is aggressive with a penchant for foul language. There is also a scene in the anime where Ichiroku gets constipated with a stomach ache during battle on the field because she ate spicy chicken nuggets prior to the exercise, a jab at the early jamming problems of the M16 “failing to extract” the ammo it was fed.
The main character of the anime series, Funco, is also another student at the academy. She is the personification of a FN FNC assault rifle.
Anime has seen a growth in popularity here in America with older grown-up audiences, similar to the rise in comic books for adults and the movies that cater to them (Kick-Ass, Watchmen, etc…).
The political atmosphere of guns in the entertainment industry have some arguing the potential dangers of showing realistic weapons in these movies, shows, and games that may influence our children. It then reminds me of how some parents would just as well not take responsibility for raising their kids and instead have society dictate what is appropriate.
President Obama has since tasked the CDC with researching the effects of violent media on young minds, first urging congress to fund the study during a gun control speech he gave back in January 16, 2013.
The CDC report entitled “Video Games and Other Media” recently published June 5th, 2013 outlines their focus:
While the vast majority of research on the effects of violence in media has focused on violence portrayed in television and movies, more recent research has expanded to include music, video games, social media, and the Internet— outlets that consume more and more of young people’s days. However, in more than 50 years of research, no study has focused on firearm violence as a specific outcome of violence in media. As a result, a direct relationship between violence in media and real-life firearm violence has not been established and will require additional research.