Gun Sword (aka Gun x Sword) is a 2005 shōnen, dystopian Western, mecha anime series that revolves around a stranger in a tuxedo and a fancy hat known as Van. He enters a small town in search of another strange dude, known enigmatically as The Claw. A little girl named Wendy convinces Van to stay and help the town fight off an oppressive gang of bandits, where he learns that The Claw is responsible for taking the girl’s brother with him. Determined to find her brother, Wendy joins up with Van—whether he likes it or not—as he travels from one town to the next, chasing the mysterious man who has caused so much misery around him.
I was craving something similar to Trigun, but I wanted to watch an unfamiliar anime. I remembered Gun Sword had been on my watchlist for years, so I figured I would try out the first few episodes. While it can be difficult at times to differentiate this anime from Trigun (there are a lot of similarities), when the contrasts do sprout up, they are wonderfully exciting and remind me why I love revenge narratives so freaking much, especially ones that have some sort of found family dynamics in them.
Van is an interesting character. It becomes very easy to tell that a tragedy has befallen him and his need for vengeance is the sole reason he keeps going every single day. That kind of drive is a double-edged sword, and while thus far we have seen (mostly) the benefits that others have been able to reap from Van’s determination, I have quite a strong feeling that this positive side of the sword shall blow up rather spectacularly as we get closer to the inevitable confrontation between him and The Claw. This sort of cat-and-mouse chase, coupled with the tension and the unknowns of why The Claw bastard is doing the bastardly things he’s doing makes the narrative really damn compelling. Then we’ve got Wendy.
Wendy is a fascinating young girl because all she wants more than anything else is to get her brother back, who is the lone living member of her family aside from herself. It really seems like he was abducted by this maniac, however my Spidey Senses are telling me that the situation with Wendy’s sibling is not as straightforward as that; that there is an underlying reason for him accompanying The Claw dude-bro and it may not have anything to do with non-consensual association.
When you take someone like Van that has an extremely narrow vision of revenge, and an empathetic, good-hearted young lady like Wendy, the balances they provide one another become positively endearing and beautifully humbling. She helps Van to step out of his tunnel vision to help others, to look beyond the horizon of selfish retribution and my hope is that these little lessons and experiences shall compile into a big ass wake-up call whenever he does finally meet The Claw. As for Wendy, she’s learning that sometimes life is inevitably tragic for certain people and there is absolutely nothing that can make it better or alleviate that sense of agony and foreboding. It sucks because it forces her to grow up much faster than necessary—something she’s already done plenty of—as well as proving that hope and faith are not always going to be enough to give life value in the end.
Other things that I’ve been enjoying about Gun Sword include the eccentric folx they meet along their journey, the interesting addition of mecha, or Armours as they’re known here, and the overhanging ambiance of despair that seems to follow them—and as such The Claw—everywhere that they go. Plus, Van’s strange quirk of needing to put every single fucking condiment available on his food is as disgusting as it is hilariously fascinating, so there is the humour facet as well that helps to break up more of the super serious elements of this anime.
As it stands, after getting six episodes in, I would RECOMMEND this to fans of settings akin to Trigun, ragtag found families as loaded in Cowboy Bebop, and frenemies who work towards a common goal while also growing the hell up as found in Samurai Champloo. Content warnings (thus far) and streaming information are linked below.
Native: ガン × ソード
Genre: Dystopian Sci-Fi Western, Mecha
Season: Summer 2005
Studio: AIC ASTA
Director: Gorō Taniguchi
Content Warnings: Strong violence including mecha and gun violence, and fisticuffs. Mild blood. Deaths via murders, illnesses, and suicide. Kidnapping. Alcohol and drug consumption. Smoking. Government corruption. Mild sexism and misogyny. Mild sexual innuendo. Some strong language. Preparation and consumption of food.
AniList: Gun x Sword
Streaming: Funimation, Hulu