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By bigred2989

For a country with some of the strictest gun laws in the world, Japan’s people don’t seem to have a problem with its media showing gratuitous violence (and scantily clad high school girls) on a regular basis. Over the years many anime (cartoons for the layman) and manga (comics) have had stories and characters about gunslingers, cowboys, bounty hunters, mercenaries, and even the firearms themselves. Plenty of works exist to discuss aspects of war, with everything from the perspectives of solders on the battlefield to the political movements and operations of commanders and leaders . . .

I should preface this with a note that, in case some of you were not aware, Japan has different standards as to what is appropriate for certain age groups. So yes, a lot of these shows or comics can have, from time to time, some more risqué aspects to them, sometimes involving people who aren’t what you would call of legal age in the west.

Also a few of these shows were never released outside of Japan but thanks to the somewhat grey area that is internet piracy, quite a few people know about them and enjoy them, particularly the final one on this list. If any of you want to find out more about any more info about the firearms seen in many of the shows mentioned please check out imfdb.org for more info.

Cowboy Bebop (1998 Anime)

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While does takes place in the distant future with spaceships and interplanetary travel, you still find a lot of modern firearms still in use in this world. Especially the Jericho 941 used by bounty hunter Spike Spiegel while he travels the solar system with a crew of other misfits on various adventures and escapades collecting bounties and defending themselves from syndicates and terrorists along the way. Many will tell you this is a must-watch for anyone into anime as it has a great cast, a good English dub for those who don’t want to read subtitles, and a satisfying story. Recommended 16 and up due to plenty of violence.

Gunsmith Cats (Manga, 1991-97, Anime, 1995)

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Taking place in a 1980’s Chicago, it’s the story about a gunsmith turned bounty hunter named Rally Vincent and her partner “Minnie” May Hopkins on various jobs and misadventures dealing with the seedy underworld of the Second City. Both are a force to be reckoned with as Rally always packs her trusty CZ-75 and May her various improvised explosives. A three episode direct to video (or as they call it in Japan an Original Video Animation or OVA) is a great watch involving the ATF and a plot somewhat similar to what a certain California senator is dealing with, with a Russian hit man thrown in. Recommended 18 and up due to violence and nudity.

Black Lagoon (Manga, 2002-, Anime, 2006-08)

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A Japanese salary man ends up kidnaped, and later joining, the crew of a pirate/mercenary group in the seas of South Asia. Misadventures, violence, shooting, eccentric characters galore. Plenty of crazy things from former Soviet soldiers running a local mafia gang to neo Nazis, to gun toting indestructible maids. Leading lady Revy caries two custom Beretta 92’s and uses them to great effect. Recommended 18 and up due to gratuitous violence and sexual themes.

Trigun (Manga 1996-99, Anime, 1998)

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Another sci-fi shooter, but it’s a western, too. Taking place on the planet Gunsmoke in the distant future, it chronicles the misadventures of one Vash the Stampede, a man with a billion dollar (or double dollar in this world) bounty on his head and a unique yet awesome revolver on his hip. Both a great comedy and excellent action show it is another show recommended for anyone getting into anime with interesting characters and a dramatic story mixed with comedy. Recommended 16 and up due to violence.

Upotte!! (Manga 2009-, Anime, 2012)

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Girls in high school learning how to shoot assault rifles? No, girls in high school learning how to shoot assault rifles and they are the assault rifles. Guns of various calibers from different nations learning how to be better guns. A very strange premise and equally very pervy at the same time. This is one that I am conflicted on even talking about since it involves girls who appear to be in their mid-teens and…well, the term “field strip” has a bit of a different meaning.

On the one hand the author knows and loves his firearms, despite not owning any actual working models, and gives them personalities based on their history and their features (M16 talks fast but jams up if she eats something spicy, L85 is in the infirmary all the time because she breaks a lot, etc.) but the studio that animated it is known for making mostly fan service shows and while this one isn’t as bad I would warn against watching this one because no one will take you seriously anymore when they find this in your DVD rack. Yes, it was licensed in the US. And dubbed. Recommended 18+ due to sexual themes.

Legend of the Galactic Heroes (Anime 1988-1997, 1998-2000)

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“In every age, in every place, the deeds of men remain the same.” A poetic quote to describe this space opera which is on the same level as something like “War and Peace”. Set in the distant future we find a century long war between the autocratic and Prussian style Galactic Empire and the democratic Free Planets Alliance. Billions have died in this war already but now on each side two new commanders have joined the fight and they will go on journeys to become the figureheads of the nations they stand for and attempt to shape the future of their nations, either through a strong handed approach or through subtlety.

While not really gun related I would consider it a must-watch since it deals a lot with political theories and what makes a great leader or government. A few caveats with this one though: It’s not licensed in the West, the animation is very dated, and it’s 110 episodes long. If you manage to sit through it you will never enjoy any other anime ever again. Recommended 18 and up due to violence, but it’s mostly a thinking anime with lots of classical music and almost Napoleonic War style battles, but with space ships firing lasers at long distance instead of lines of muskets.

So, that’s that. Obviously there are tons of other shows many here could get interested in. I just wanted to let people here know that there are people in other countries that do have a passion for firearms even if getting those firearms is illegal or difficult to do. I guess you have to thank exposure to Hollywood movies for most of it.

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86 Responses to P320 Entry: A Gun-Lover’s Intro to Anime and Manga

  1. Sweet, Revy’s 92s are just awesome.

    Not on the list,and not quite gun related, but I always though Train’s Hades from Black Cat was pretty sweet too.

  2. You missed three big ones.

    Jormungand is about a teenage arms dealer that takes a gun hating child soldier into her group of bodyguards/mercenaries. It has a mild anti gun theme, but it not only has great action but all of the guns are real and used properly.

    Gunslinger Girl is about a secret counter terrorism agency that uses young girls with bionic implants as assassins. The guns are all authentic and real world.

    Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex takes place in future Tokyo. It is too complicated a story to explain here, but if you’ve seen the movie you more or less get it. One of the main protagonists carries a Mateba auto revolver which makes several appearances and is even a minor plot point in the show.

    There’s also Hellsing, in which the main character Alucard carries a custom made autoloading pistol that shoots 454 casull.

    • I should have said these were one’s that I have viewed. Should have given an honorable mention to High School of the Dead, though I think some of the female crowd would have complained about that scene.

      • I’ll just toss in Girls und Panzer. middle school girls who fight in WW2 tanks. highly detailed.

        • I wouldn’t technically consider that a gun anime since it’s tanks, but yes that is actually a great (if somewhat silly) show.

        • well it depends on how big you consider a gun. But I would also like to toss out Full Metal Panic, Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade (WW2 Era weapons) and Evangelion for the G11s.

    • I can definitely back Gunslinger Girl, it wrings a surprising amount of seriousness and moral ambiguity out of a superficially dumb premise and the little action in it is fairly intense.

      Jormungand… eh. Good series with some Lord of War-esque bits about the arms trade and the gunplay is okay but I hated the concluding arc, it wrecks the whole series for me.

      Anything Ghost in the Shell-related is worth watching. Period.

      And I second Desert Punk and Riding Bean.

    • Hellsing ARMS .454 Casull Auto (Joshua): http://www.imfdb.org/wiki/Hellsing_Ultimate#Hellsing_Arms_.454_Casull

      Hellsing ARMS 13mm Auto Anti-Freak Combat Pistol, Mark I (Jackal): http://www.imfdb.org/wiki/Hellsing_Ultimate#Jackal

      Hellsing ARMS 13.7mm Incendiary Anti-Midian Battle Rifle, Mark I: http://www.imfdb.org/wiki/Hellsing_Ultimate#Seras.27s_Rifle_.28Hellsing_Anti-Midians_13.7mm.29

      The English dubs of the Hellsing OVAs and the GitS series are the only animes I think are better to watch than the subtitled versions. Also, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and S.A.C 2nd Gig are both tremendously intriguing and intelligent watches.

    • It’s not the autorevolver its the 2006M model.

      We also see how warfare and weaponry evolves yet still manages to stay the same in Ghost in the Shell; a good firearms/weapons related point.

    • It is one of my favorite shows of all time, animated or not.

      Wheres Lupin the third on this list though? There wouldn’t be a Spike Speigel if it weren’t for Lupin! Golgo 13 is also sadly missing from this list.

      • Big fan of all three, especially Bebop, but I’ll always have a soft spot for Lupin. In our little crew of friends, back in the day, I was the Jigen. That turned out to be kinda prophetic. Other than the smoking and cool hat, anyway.

  3. Ah I got beat to gunslinger girl o well, how about bebops sister or brother or whatever show outlaw star not a lot lot real gun wise.
    but the caster gun was cool and it’s background with it being made to equalize between those that could use magic and those that can’t is awesome

    • Outlaw Star. Good story. Showed up on Cartoon Network at one time,

      Trigun, Ghost in the Shell, and Cowboy Beebob also appeared there at one time too, usually as part of Adult Swim.

  4. Internet piracy is not a “grey area”.

    Other than that, I lost any remaining give a damn when I saw cartoons were the topic here.

        • It’s grey when we could never see it otherwise. They want black and white, RELEASE THE DVD.

        • This isn’t The Truth About Intellectual Property and Copyright Laws, so take your vapid little crusade someplace else.

        • Actually, under those circumstances the law is actually pretty grey. The only translations available are done by fans, and so the only places to view them are fanzines such as *MULTIPLE SITES WITHHELD*. Were those sites to charge for the pleasure, there would actually be a very real crime taking place. The way it is, not so much. There are also a number of old school video games for which the same applies (think old SNES RPGs.)

        • “Vapid little crusade”?

          Sorry, theft is theft. It doesn’t matter how you talk around it, it’s still theft.

          Grow up. Learn how to import.

        • It’s not an issue of importing them, the producers, by and large, simply are not interested in exporting their shows, they’re not interested in appealing to a non-Japanese audience. There are a couple of companies who have been able to acquire the international rights to some of the major anime like Naruto, Studio Ghibli movies, etc. but there are many more that will never receive such attention.

          Many people have tried to legitimately license these anime and flat out told no. If they’re not interested in the market then it makes absolutely no difference to them what happens in it.

        • Ruester? Palladin? Seriously? That the owners of property are not interested in exporting the property or licensing it to outsiders or otherwise capitalizing on an untapped market is really none of your business. You are not entitled to interpret their intransigence as an abandonment of their property rights. Did it ever occur to you that they don’t export the intellectual property because they just don’t want you to have it? The Japanese can be pretty prickly about their own sense of exceptionalism. Perhaps they consider you (all non-Japanese) unworthy of it?

          You have no right to disregard their reasoning, or their lack thereof, as it pertains to their use or disposition of their own property. Private property is private property. Private. The fundamental principle of private property is exclusivity. You’re justifying theft of their private property on the basis of their excluding you from their private property? But that’s what private property is all about: excluding others from it at the owner’s discretion! No wonder our country is in the shape it’s in, when people not only steal at will, but claim a halo for it like they’re doing a public service. Good grief.

        • Jonathan

          If you think the Japanese are all about exceptionalism and how non-Japanese are not worthy you don’t know the Japanese. The Japanese, by and large hold no pretensions of being a “superior race”, such an idea is in fact quite foreign to them. The Japanese do not view themselves as superior or inferior to others, they simply view themselves as separate from others.

          And intellectual property is not equivalent to physical property. For centuries society has existed without the concept of intellectual property, and still epic stories and great works of art were created. If I take your property then I have stolen something from you, you no longer have it. If I take something you created and pass it off as my own then I have committed fraud. If I copy something, what have I stolen? Have I deprived you of anything? Even supposing we allow for the deprivation of potential income, that is I am depriving them of the money I would otherwise have paid for their product, such an argument becomes meaningless when they make no effort to actually market the product to me. I cannot deprive them of payment that I cannot make to them in the first place.

          Even supposing that anime is protected under copyright law, as farcical as such a doctrine may be, the creators have shown zero interest in enforcing such protections outside of Japan. How many fansubbing groups have received C&D letters? How many studios have filed suit? It’s their job to enforce their intellectual property claims, not yours, yet the only ones who have done so are the western companies that have licensed the anime from their original creators. In such cases I view those anime solely through legitimate means. It’s not that I want to use illegitimate means, I would greatly prefer to support the artists whose work I enjoy because I want them to keep making the things I love, but when there are no “legitimate” means people will always find other ways, and I will find different ways to support the creators whose work I enjoy.

        • John,

          I admit, I never thought of it that way (that they don’t WANT me to see it.) I always assumed that since Akira always gets pulled, the other titles didn’t have the same copyright protections. For example, there is a site that streams DBZ behind an ad wall. This seems to be a legitimate business transaction, as opposed to a blatant rip off, but nowhere on the site does it indicate that. Grey area in my head, and maybe I am guilty of assuming things that can’t be, but this is how it’s been since I first learned to use a mouse.

  5. I will simplify the whole thing for you

    Japanese people – despite never really dropping the whole “master race” thing, which seethes beneath the surface of their psyche – secretly hate themselves, wish they were white (or rather, wish they were westerners of ANY kind), and wish they had the freedoms that Americans have… BUT, they are too meek and submissive to authority to do any thing about it.

    P.S. I loved the hell outta some Cowboy Bebop back in the day. Still a great anime enjoyable even by people who typically don’t like the genre. If you ever liked the sci-fi series Firefly, you’d probably get into it easily.

    • I think that’s a massive oversimplification. Like any society Japan is made up of many unique people with unique viewpoints, who associate themselves with a simply massive array of sub-cultures.

      For one thing, the Japanese don’t see themselves so much as a master race, that’s imputing our experience with Nazis onto their culture. Traditional Japanese culture places high value on respect and humility. Simply put the average Japanese person sees their country and people as distinctly Japanese, they value their culture and uniqueness. People from other cultures are not seen as inherently inferior, they are seen as outsiders. The Japanese term for people of other nationalities is 外人 (gaijin) and literally means “outside/other person”, this term however is seen as impolite, they tend to use 外国人 (gaikokujin, lit. other country person) as a more polite term. This idea of strongly identifying with one’s race seems insular and racist to us with our years of focus on racial integration in an immigrant country, but Japan has been a (fairly) homogeneous and relatively isolated country for the majority of their recorded history. They take comfort in their shared identity.

  6. See you space cowboy.
    Love Bebop, really wish they make the live-action movie. That thing has been in developers hell forever.

    • I think people got cold feet when rumors that Spike was going to be played by Keanu Reeves started floating around.

      • yeah, i think keanu would make a perfect spike. really hope they don’t mess it the movie if it ever gets made.

  7. I have most of those in my Anime DVD collection.

    Other titles to consider are Noir and Madlax.

    • Crap, if I had remembered someone did this topic last time I would have reviewed my CZ-82. Oh well, there’s always next time, and it’s not like I’m out of the running this time thanks to SIG.

    • Ooohhh yeah. I’ve wanted a Mateba auto revolver for a while myself… CDNN once had a stack of them for sale for a little while. I so wish I would have bought one.

    • There are a few available. Most come with a $3000+ price tag. I’m convinced if I can ever hold one and there were a reasonable offer made, I would jump on the chance to bring it home.

  8. Honest to god, I never would have expected to see so many of ttag people into anime. I was imagining a lot of the culture shock OFWG’s would have watching anime.

    • Me, I stopped being surprised by unusual demographics once I saw the hard data that “Bronies” are, in fact, an actual thing.

    • You gotta realize that a lot of anime started to become popular in the 80s, many of the fans were teens or 20-somethings at the time. Do the math, and many are middle-aged now, or getting close.

      I’m 30, and the first time I watched anime it was stuff like Robotech, Voltron, and Golgo 13. My friend’s dad would rent it for us from the little corner store down the block, thinking that it was innocent cartoon stuff. Since they still had a Beta player into the late 80s, that was mostly what was available in Beta on the rental rack.

      I remember seeing my first animated rape scene in Robotech, and I was probably 8 at the time.. Big WTF moment. That stuff was all edited out from the later US releases.

      • Almost 40; started out watching Speed Racer, Battle of the Planets, Voltron, etc. Then, in the ’90s, Akira, Devilman, etc.

  9. “Desert Punk” post Apocalypse desert theme bounty hunters/debt collectors. Very firearm related. Some not so subtle sexual situations. Strong self-reliaance and anti-central government themes through out the two seasons.

    • You beat me to Desert Punk! That show was amazing gun porn. They had everything from M1 carbine pistols to P90s. The main characters weapon of choice, a Winchester 1897, was almost lovingly detailed and animated. Moving away from anime a little bit, Metal Gear Solid 4 also had like a million different accurate models of real world guns.

      • +1 on that. The variety of guns was excellent. I loved that they included the Mosin Nagant, even though it was a tranquilizer.

  10. You find firearms in more anime than you might suspect. But one in particular I’d mention is Riding Bean…it was a precursor prequel to Gunsmith Cats that was pretty heavy on the gunplay. A lot of people aren’t familiar with it because they only made one episode before the writer fell out with the production company and then pursued a different tack with his GSC comic, which was later adapted into the famous OAV.

    And regarding the reference to the previous article posted on TTAG, I will present this yet again as the probable genesis of my firearms fascination.

  11. Some of my favs…

    Noir, Highschool of the Dead, Cowboy Bebop, Angel Beats, Fate/Zero (as well as Fate/stay night, but for the guns, Fate/Zero), Code Geass,, Darker than Black, Death Note, eX-Driver, FULL METAL PANIC for sure, Mahou Shoujo Madoka magica, Sora no Woto, To Aru Kagaku no Railgun (she’s a living railgun…. whats not to like??) there are a lot more, but these are good starters across a few different genres.

    • Nice mention. Studio Ghibli has not depicted handguns in any of its films since Porco Rosso, but still includes muskets in Princess Mononoke, and aircraft mounted machine guns in The Wind Rises.

  12. I would throw Full Metal Panic into this list. It’s about an 18 year old mercenary sent to japan to protect a girl from rogue agencies that are interested in special abilities she has in relation to “black technology”. His life on the battlefield as a child soldier, his love of firearms, and his innate ability to make any normal situation completely awkward makes for a lot of ensuing hilarity.

  13. gratuitous violence and scantily clad high school girls. Two of my favorite things!
    I wanted to like black lagoon, but the writing, man. Especially for the woman whose name i never really learned.

  14. Cowboy Bebop is my favorite piece of media. Period.

    I love it so much that I made sure to buy a Jericho 941, just like Spike’s.
    It’s KBI Imported and is a first-gen model like his. The artists in the show even depicted a proper serial number. If you own number 003555, I envy you.

    http://www.imfdb.org/images/4/41/CB.941.S01E23.Right.JPG

    All mine is missing is the upgraded silver/chrome guide-rod and the impossible to replicate laser grip that’s on the show’s model.

    Good write-up, OP!

  15. Ah, anime. Back when it wasn’t shitty otaku bait. These shows are pretty quality except for Uppote which I never watched.

    • There’s still a lot of really good anime coming out that are more than just fanservice, you’ve just got to do some digging to find them. Stein’s;Gate, for example is excellent, it has lot’s of time travel brain-bending and major feels.

      • Already seen Steins:Gate, looking forward to their next release Chaos:Child.
        Still doesn’t change the fact that most anime has dumbed down into garbage that panders to horny Otaku.

  16. i dont watch much anime, but I know the Japanese secretly love guns. Where did airsoft originate? why do they vacation in hawaii and hit up the gun ranges?

    Seeing Vash’s revolver has once again rekindled my want of a modern top break revolver. That and a barrel at 6 o clock like a Rhino would surely be one complex beast to engineer.

    • Came across this channel a while back on youtube. Its mostly about airsoft but there’s some clips of a gal shooting various firearms in Guam. Here’s her dressed in maid outfit shooting M82A1:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbV2uYk1VNs

      And in this one, she shoots variety of guns, dressed a bit more appropriately 🙂

    • I saw some Japanese people at Cabelas a few months ago. Their eyes lit up when they got to the gun section and they had huge smiles as they were pulling rifles off of the gun racks to look them over. I thought it was funny, but also thought the couldn’t even own the Arisaka thats sitting on the rack in front of them back home.

    • Vash’s revolver looked strikingly similar to a prototype that the old Detonics company sent around to the gun magazines of the day. I remember an article about that revolver in American Handgunner. It was all stainless and chambered in .45 LC.

  17. A title that should definitely be on this list is Requiem for the Phantom, an international criminal group captures a young Japanese man while he’s on vacation in America and brainwashes him to be a super assassin. Excellent storyline, with all dem feels, as well as quite realistic portrayals of combat and firearms.

    • You want feels?

      Clannad.

      That anime used up my feels quotient for the next decade.

      (No guns, though)

      • I’ve seen it, much feels. A lot of the more serious anime are just chock full of the feels, some of the writers they’ve got over in Japan are just masterful at that kind of thing.

  18. This thread – and its comments, from which I’ve learned about some new (to me) Anime to check out – was very enjoyable and a welcome change of pace.

    • Right there with ya. So many new shows on my watch list. Plus, great to see a variation in the theme of topics. Take THAT gun owner stereotypes!

      Also, the term “bronies” was mentioned, which just made my day.

  19. Anything by Shirow has some of the coolest gun designs in his Anime and Manga. I loved Gunsmith Cats back in the day because Sonada had real, highly detailed guns in his Manga. A lot of the newer stuff I haven’t seen. I might need to take a look at a few of them.

  20. Cowboy Bebop will always be my favorite. I’m not really into anime, but I know for sure that’s a good one.

  21. Does 43 count as an OFWG?

    Wife and I watch all the Saturday night anime shows on cartoon network’s adult swim block and have for years.

    Watching Black Lagoon on bluray now for the first time. Couldn’t stand the censoring on AS.

  22. First anime seen by me was Urusei Yatsura movie 2 which was on sale on laser-disc. Hooked and next up was Bubblegum Crisis. Stopped watching much after Cowboy Bebop & Eva, but still like all I saw back then.

    Nice post.

  23. Trigun gave me my love for revolvers. Ahhhh its just so awesome, but the manga is different from the anime. Its tied with bebop as my favorite anime. Gundam sated my Mech/firearms itch more than once as well.

    And did we really have a piracy spat here? I didn’t realize we were in highschool…

    GREAT article sir!

  24. They may not use guns for mass murder but they find other weapons, like home made Serin gas. There are murders and they will find a way! No gun available, use fertilizer and diesel fuel.

  25. In terms of weapons quantity and authenticity, there is no anime better than “High School of the Dead”. It’s sleazy and plotless, but the staggering amount of authentic weaponry is quite impressie.

  26. you mentioned black lagoon!
    *claps giddily* its my favorite anime ever. highly recommend watching it.

    episode 16: Greenback Jane pretty much reminds me of what some of the machine gun shoots end up being lol.

  27. Some lesser known Animes with attention to detail firearms:

    Night Raid 1931 showcases some hanguns from that era (mostly Japanese and European firearms).

    Mezzoforte Movie (non porn version) has some great action scenes with handguns and shotguns, particularly the M1911.

    Jin-Roh:The Wolf Brigade is set in an alternate past where Japan is occupied by A German Fascist installed government, so lots of WWII German weapons are shown. Attention goes to the heavily armored “Kerboros” squad who carry MG42s and wear stormtrooper inspired heavy armor. The game Killzone takes inspiration from them.

    Golgo 13 is about a professional assassin who (generally) uses his customized scoped m16 to take out his targets. Obviously with this premise there are lots of weapons showcased.

  28. As an Chinese American who loves anime, this is an interesting read. You forgot to mention a more recent anime, Aria The Scarlet Ammo (2011), which is set at a school where students are encouraged to conceal carry to curb crime. I only saw the first episode, just to let you know.

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