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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 . . .

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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.

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Gunsmith Cats continues to be one of my favorite anime, being ultimately responsible for my great interest in the CZ design, from it’s predecessor the SIG P210 to the many clones of it available. Which leads me to the next gun featured in an anime, the Jericho 941 in Cowboy Bebop.

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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.

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The animators of Cowboy Bebop paid careful attention to detail, taking the time to actually show an individual round being chambered by Spike and even accurately showing off the polygonal rifling on the barrel of the Jericho.

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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).

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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.

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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

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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”.

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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.

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Funco demands TTAG pick this article to win the FNS-9 contest.

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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.

96 Responses to FNS-9 Contest Entry: Guns in Anime

  1. Cowboy Bebop has been my favorite anime since I first saw it at age 16. The writing, voice work, animation and soundtrack were at a level I had never seen before and rarely since. It has led to a love of the few similarly well-made anime I have seen and A burning desire to own a Jericho 941. I’ve looked for one since I started collecting guns a few years ago but have yet to see one of the older generation (no rail) in decent shape for less than $700. The only two I’ve seen in person were beaten to death. One of these days I may have to simply bite the bullet and pay $700-$800 to indulge the nerdiest part of my love for guns.

    • CG, the media can have a powerful influence on our choices. I still want and someday I will have a Martini Henry .450-577. All because of the movie Zulu. Already had the Webley and the Lee Enfield inspired by a string of british movies in my youth.

      • A Webley in 38 S&W or 45ACP is on my short list as well. I’d love a Martini-Henry(same reason as you), but the cost and availability of ammo keeps me away. I nearly bought a PPK purely out of love for the Bond movies, but worries about ammo cost and slide bite killed my interest.

        • I’ve had the .38 Webley. You won’t be dissapointed in it. Heard too many contrary reports on the web to trust .45 acp conversions. And .455 Webley is hard to get and expensive if you don’t reload.

          Bond movies influenced me also. I had family and friends that owned PPK’s. Never suffered slide bite, but the trigger pulls were awful on such a well designed and pricey pistol.

    • After college one of my friends gave me the entire Beebop set insisting I had to watch it. It took me a while but after the first one I found myself totally sucked in… Cowboy Beebop has one of the most realistic portrayals of violence I have seen in cinema. Jericho 941… Hmmm… Now I have to find one. Where did I put that Ganymede Rock Lobster?

  2. Cowboy Bebop airs saturday nights on Cartoon Networks Toonami block, anime from saturday night to sunday morning, its awesome.

  3. When I got my first handgun, my fiancée said that she was also going to get a Glock. Slightly bewildered by her specificity, I asked her why a Glock.

    Because that’s what Faye Valentine from Cowboy Bebop had.

    She ended up getting a G19 instead of a G30 like the character has, but I really couldn’t question her line of reasoning.

  4. What-no mention of Black Lagoon and Revy’s modified Berettas?

    For shame. No FN for you! ( in Soup Nazi voice)

    • Black Lagoon was a good one. I can also remember a show called Riding Bean set in the same world as Gun Smith Cats. I was always amazed by Japanese anime ability to tell more American stories than American cartoons.

      • Riding Bean wasn’t set in the same world; it was more of a prototype. Kenichi Sonoda intended for Riding Bean to be a full comic and OVA series, but the studio he was working with went under and took the title with it. Sonoda later went and re-tooled the idea, altered the character of Rally Vincent and made her the main character of her own series. Bean even pops up occasionally in the Gunsmith Cats comic books.

        On another note, the author left out one of the coolest bits of trivia: the production team flew all the way to the U.S. and tracked down examples of all the guns in Gunsmith Cats and recorded gunshots and any other applicable audio for each weapon (as well as audio samples for all the different specific cars used) so that the sound effects in the show would be completely authentic instead of using your usuall stock gunshot sounds.

    • Black Lagoon was/is the sh-t. Still my favorite action anime when it came to gunplay and had neat characters to boot.

  5. I sadly had a nerdgasm on this article, the last thing I expected to see on TTAG was anime, and I absolutely love it. How dare you mix two of my entertainments, whats next Skyrim and guns??????

  6. Wow… You’ve gone over almost all my favorite gun anime. I blame Anime for making me into a full time professional comic book artist, and I blame Gunsmith Cats in particular for my obsession with all things CZ.

  7. Yup, one of the few things that mixs my artistic side with my technical side through geek culture. Then Anime-Expo started falling in lock-step with the anti-gun California….

  8. My experience has been completely different. I always advise potential new shooters to first select a cartridge appropriate for the intended task, and then begin considering suitable launchers for it as a secondary issue.

  9. Ahh, Ghost in the Shell. A philosophy and action filled roller coaster of awesome. If you reeeeeally pay attention while watching this (series and 3 movies) you can see how some issues we have today are applied in the “future”. One example, the Chief orders the last 5 years of surveillance data (emails, video, phone records, etc) to do a pattern trace of likely locations a suspect might go to, when tracking to apprehend him. Similar to google today, with enough data, they can tell you where you are going to be/what you will be doing in two weeks.

    • Ghost in the Shell is one of my favorites too. I wish there were more in the pipeline.

      I’ll have to track down Gunsmith Cats-that’s a new one on me. I’ve discovered a hole in my nerd cred!

  10. How does one get constipated from eating spicy food? And how would you realize you’re constipated in the middle of a firefight, did she squat and try to take a dump while taking enemy fire?

    • The show has an internal logic where in this makes sense but yeah not the best example of that show

  11. Trigun, Ghost in the Shell, Cowboy Beepbop, Outlaw Star… some of my fav anime that has guns, action, humor…

    Never knew the Chiappa Rhino was a poor-man’s anything. Just know a guy who has one, had to have it serviced by a gunsmith, and was told that the design was garbage… dunno if it was because the smith wasn’t familiar enough with how it worked or if he had a genuine loathing of low quality and/or design. (Fixed it, tested it, and had it break again during testing.)

    Interesting note is it shows Japan, despite its ban on guns, has a culture very interested in them.

    • While the Chiappa Rhino is by no means a cheap gun, I call it a “poor man’s Mateba” because the Rhino is far more obtainable than the original revolvers by Ghisoni that tend to go for $3,000+

      I have also owned my Rhino 40DS for about a year now with more than a thousand rounds of .38 special / 357 magnum shot through it, and so far I have yet to experience a single problem.

  12. Picking a winner of this contest is going to be tough; there are some very interesting and unique perspectives represented in several of the articles submitted so far. This is certainly one of them.

  13. High School of the Dead offers up some pretty realistic renderings of a Ithaca 37, Springfield M1A Super Match and Armalite AR-10. The Japanese seem to have a gun Otaku sub culture admiring the weapons they are forbidden to have.

  14. Great article! I’ve been a longtime fan of Lupin and Cowboy Bebop, and gladly recommend them to any members of the AI who might want to dip their toes in this stuff. Especially with Bebop, most of you guys would be impressed.

  15. I remember back in the 90’s how cool much of the Anime was and how neat the guns were. I watched or collected Ghost in the Shell and Gunsmith cats. I still have that collection almost 20 years later. I also watched Cowboy Bebop and Outlaw star about 7-10 years ago although it was usually on too later.

    Anime does a great job on guns. Even futuristic guns are highly detailed and thought out. Another one I love that is in the future with lots of cool guns is Appleseed. Check out the guns and powered armor in that show.

    One of my all time favorites is Macross Plus. It was one of the first big Anime shows I had watched that subbed or dubbed told almost the same story. Yoko Kano does the music for Macross Plus and Cowboy Bebop. Her work is superb!This post brought back some good memories.

  16. This brings back memories, especially of Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, GSC, Macross Plus, and Ghost in the Shell.

    On a related note, the Metal Gear Solid games are good gun pr0n, especially MGS4, which had an encyclopedia and stats on acquired weapons.

  17. I had forgotten about Gunsmith Cats until this article. Thanks for helping me relive my anime addiction days.

  18. Wow, was not expecting this on TTAG. Great read, Ghost in the Shell and Cowboy Bebop are great shows. I’d even recommend Cowboy Bebop to people even adverse to anime. And is that last picture from Pokémon, since when did Officer Jenny pack heat?

    • Since they revised the rules on hunting Pokémon, notice She is wearing a Pokémon version of a Coonskin cap.

  19. ” I am a first generation Vietnamese – American …”
    I understand the need to remember and honor your heritage, but I just wish people would just say ” I am an American.”

  20. Neat idea for an article. I always considered my first gun to be Megatron from Transformers, whose alternate form was a chromed, slightly smaller scaled Walther P-38. Reference: (http://img0.etsystatic.com/011/0/5905224/il_fullxfull.443671412_30gu.jpg) I lump that with the subject of this article, as the design originated in Japan. Perhaps my predilection towards handguns began here?

    Cowboy Bebop remains a favorite title and is a bonafide classic. But where Ghost in the Shell is concerned, you can’t forget the two-season television series from a few years ago. That was one of the better shows I’ve seen recently. Also, both seasons of Black Lagoon were great, and don’t forget the follow-up mini-series, Roberta’s Blood Trail.

    Another exceptional example of guns in anime is Golgo 13, subject of at least one live-action movie, two animated movies, television series, and long-running manga. It centers on professional assassin/anti-hero Duke Togo and his scoped M-16 doing million dollar hits for everyone from the mafia to corporations to the U.S. government. Gritty, realistic, and detailed, there’s a lot of emphasis on the tools he uses to get stuff done. Reference: (http://www.imfdb.org/wiki/Golgo_13)

  21. Neither did the old “Road Runner vs. Coyote” cartoons. Even young children know, almost intuitively, that the slapstick gags that befall the Coyote aren’t real. I think that for the most part, they know that video games aren’t real.

    Then again, I sometimes wonder if some fresh marine, having just reached some ace master level in some shootemup video game, who sees the actual horror of seeing actual death and mayhem – the bodies don’t evaporate, like they do on Star Trek or in the videogames. And sometimes the person doesn’t die right away, and they kick and gasp and scream and bleed…

    I wonder if that could be related in any way to the hockey stick graph of PTSD?

  22. Upotte is freaking hilarious. Started watching it after seeing it here. “Fal’s younger sister?” “All you freaking Europeans.” “Stopping power is attractive.” “She’s German all right.”

  23. what about one of the newer ones like hidan no aria, a good anime heres the basic jist:

    Kinji Tōyama is a student at Tokyo Butei High, a universal educational facility. At this school, students undertake special training in order to learn the path of the Butei, which is a national qualification permitting its holders to arm themselves and capture criminals. The Butei were established to counter the worsening crime conditions, with training in various specialized fields. One day, Kinji decides to quit the Academy, until he is mysteriously attacked by the Butei Killer, a notorious criminal hunting down Butei with passion. The elite Assault prodigy Aria H. Kanzaki comes to his rescue. From this point on, Kinji’s future as a Butei changes drastically.

    those who like lupin the 3rd might like it theres a pretty cool hint of a tie in into the story in this one

  24. Aria the Scarlet Ammo, anyone? The primary heroine dual-weilds 1911’s! The primary hero weilds a select-fire Beretta 92! Other minor characters weild Walther P99’s and SVD’s.

    • Aria the Scarlet Ammo (Hidan no Aria) is definitely worth mentioning if I ever write a second part to this article. The main hero character does indeed wield a a Beretta 93 “Raffica”.

      • I did some reading- according to the light novels, I guess Kinji’s Beretta isn’t actually a 93, but is an illegally-modified 92 to do three-round burst.

        It’s also one of the most over-the-top gun-slingin’ anime ever, if you haven’t seen it yet. Just look at the first episode, where he manages to put rounds down the barrels of the attacking robot UZI’s.

        • Haha the first episode is classic in defining his “hysteria mode”.

          Didn’t know that he modified his 92 to have a three round burst. I wonder if 93R parts could be used to make the conversion possible in real life.

  25. I have all of the anime in the main article, except for Upotte, in my collection.

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention “Black Lagoon”.

  26. phantom requiem for the phantom is also a god anime you don’t see people having bottomless magazines (infinite rounds) and it is very realistic but identifying the guns can be a serious headache some times but they use real guns and not fictional ones

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