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7 Anime That Take You to The Wild Wild West

by Lynzee Loveridge,

West of the Mississippi used to be a dangerous place teeming with outlaws, cattle thieves, sharpshooter duels in the streets, and the long arm of the law coming to track down any who disrupted the peace. The setting isn't a common one for anime. Japan's equivalent of the wild west might be the more popular Sengoku-era setting with its feuding warlords and samurai. Still, if you're looking for a trip down the dusty trail, anime does have a few options, just don't be surprised if they also include samurai, magic, or giant robots.

7. Cowboy Bebop The vast frontier of Cowboy Bebop is a vision of space where outlaws fly planet-hopping spaceships, and bounty hunters risk their lives to capture them. The show's Western sensibilities are just one facet of a show that also blends the mafia with a beautifully executed jazz soundtrack. In episode 22, the writers decide to play up the Western aesthetic by introducing another Spike, named Andy and wearing a complete cowboy get-up. The character is used to humorously illustrate Spike's role as the series' "Space Cowboy."

6. Wild Arms - Twilight Venom Ah, Wild Arms, I never did escape your impossible maze when I was 12. For those who don't remember the PSOne, Wild Arms is a Western-flavored Japanese RPG series involving demons, magic-users, and guns called ARMS. The late 90s game spawned a whole franchise, including an anime that has loose tie-ins with the second entry in the game series. The show stars a handsome sharpshooter named Sheyenne who has his brain transplanted into a 10-year-old. He's determined to shoot his way through any obstacles that keep him from recovering his original body. The series hits enough notes to be included on this list, but those looking for a straight Western might find the blend of supernatural beings and magic too weird.

5. Grenadier Cowboys and samurai cross paths in Grenadier, a fanservice-heavy show about Rushuna, a "senshi" (gun-wielder) and her samurai partner Yajirō as they head to the city of Tento to face off against the mysterious Jester. There's plenty of time in between for hotspring visits, because any serious skirmish they find themselves in is offset by Rushuna's gun-loading technique; she reloads her revolver with bullets from her cleavage. This isn't a serious show by any stretch of the imagination, obviously.

4. Gun x Sword Gun x Sword suffers from appearing too similar to the much more popular Cowboy Bebop. Both star lanky guys in suits with dark hair that are always desperate for a meal. That's too bad because Gun x Sword is entertaining in its own right, with the added bonus of giant robot battles against cheesy, "ominous" villains like The Claw. Gun x Sword is Western camp with a hearty helping of anime tropes. Where else will you find mechas with names like "Dahlia of Wednesday?"

3. Trigun It's a post-apocalyptic wild west on the planet of Gunsmoke and Vash the Stampede is a destructive tornado blazing through the ramshackle desert towns. Pursing him are two insurance agents, both well attuned with their own weapons and trying to minimize the carnage Vash leaves in his wake. The catch is that most of the destruction attributed to Vash is incidental. The guy is actually a goofball pacifist who attracted attention from the wrong crowd. The result is a series of shootouts featuring some of the craziest gunslingers to show up on screen.

2. El Cazador de la Bruja Two women searching for answers in the desert: one a gun-slinging bounty hunter and the other a suspected murderer on the lamb. The duo's road trip takes them through Mexico and further south in search of the truth behind Ellis' superhuman powers and a past she can't remember. The trip turns into a giant game of cat-and-mouse, as they attempt to continually evade their bounty hunter pursuers. The entire adventure could be described as a gun-action, supernatural road trip with plenty of deserted towns and dusty landscapes.

1. Gun Frontier Gun Frontier reimagines the characters of Leiji Matsumoto's popular space opera series as survivors on the frontier in America's west. Space Captain Harlock is instead just a regular sea captain that gave up his boat for pistols to follow Tochiro Oyama, a Japanese immigrant whose entire town was wiped out. Together, the two search for the human remains of the town's residents Their journey brings them into contact with plenty of undesirable types, and so they find themselves righting wrongs across the Old West.

The new poll: Have you seen the anime "classics"? Many Japanese college students have revealed they haven't seen or read big name titles like Dragon Ball or Gundam. What series not included in the poll do you consider classics?

The old poll: What makes a show anime?
The majority said a show has to be animated in Japan to be anime (42.3%), while others selected that it only has to "look like anime" regardless of its country of origin (24.2%), while another quarter said it must be animated in Japan, by Japanese animators, for a Japanese audience (23.1%). Some were less picky, saying it only must be animated in Japan for a Japanese audience but the staff's nationality is not important (20.5%).


When she isn't compiling lists of tropes, topics, and characters, Lynzee works as Managing Interest Editor for Anime News Network and posts pictures of her sons on Twitter @ANN_Lynzee.

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