Must-watch wild west anime include Trigun, Samurai Champloo, Outlaw Star, Kino’s Journey, Vampire Hunter D, and Desert Punk.
Anime can transport you to many settings, spanning high fantasy realms to historically precise depictions of Japan’s samurai era. Yet, the Wild West, a staple in North American media, remains a scarcely explored terrain in anime.
Envision the Wild West—uncharted perilous lands, sprawling deserts, rugged cowboys, lawless bandits, sheriff-run small towns, and high-octane gun battles. It’s an enticing mix, and while not common, a handful of anime series venture into these wild territories.
Anime Goes West: Top Wild West-Inspired Series to Watch
While the Wild West is the road less traveled in anime, a brave few series have saddled up their horses and ventured into this territory.
These anime are like rare cacti in the desert of commonplace school settings and futuristic cities, ready to prick you with their unexpected charm.
1Gunslinging in the East: Trigun
“Trigun,” a rollercoaster ride of bullets, morality, and doughnuts, blasts this notion to smithereens. Our leading man, Vash, epitomizes an anime cowboy – equally goofy and deadly. If you think anime and the Wild West don’t mix, you haven’t met Vash the Stampede.
Trigun’s desert wasteland setting draws on classic Western tropes, weaving them with futuristic sci-fi elements. And Vash? He’s the outlaw with a $60 billion bounty on his head who’d rather share a laugh than a bullet. Hop on this wild ride and discover why “Trigun” is a fan-favorite anime Western.
2Samurai Meets Cowboy: Cowboy Bebop
“Cowboy Bebop,” the jazz-infused space western, needs no introduction. This masterpiece effortlessly blends elements from Westerns, noir films, and martial arts to create a unique universe. Follow bounty hunter Spike Spiegel and his motley crew as they traverse the cosmos for the next big bounty.
The show’s episodic narrative structure harks back to the episodic nature of classic Westerns. With Yoko Kanno’s genre-bending soundtrack, “Cowboy Bebop” is like Clint Eastwood learning martial arts while jamming to cool jazz. It’s an unforgettable anime that echoes the Wild West’s grit, tenacity, and freewheeling spirit.
3The Feudal West: Samurai Champloo
If you thought “Cowboy Bebop” was an exciting mashup, wait till you see “Samurai Champloo.” This series blends the samurai genre with hip-hop culture and, surprisingly, elements of the Wild West. Our trio of wanderers, including a wayward samurai and a rogue swordsman, embark on an adventurous journey through Edo-era Japan.
Amidst sword fights and graffiti, “Samurai Champloo” subtly captures the lawlessness, vagrancy, and clash of ideologies akin to the American frontier. Its anachronistic storytelling and stunning action sequences make it a Wild West tale in a samurai’s kimono.
4Wild West of the Future: Outlaw Star
“Outlaw Star” is a space western that fires on all cylinders. It throws in treasure hunts, space pirates, and alien races to create an anime as boundless as the Western frontier. Gene Starwind, our cocky protagonist, and his eclectic crew traverse the cosmos in their spaceship, the Outlaw Star, often finding trouble.
The series channels the spirit of the Wild West in its depiction of space as the new frontier, complete with saloon-like spaceports and a lawless universe. “Outlaw Star” is a sci-fi twist on the cowboy genre, proving that the Wild West isn’t a place; it’s a state of mind.
5The Underdog Rises: Gun x Sword
6Neo-Victorian Wild West: Kino’s Journey
“Kino’s Journey” isn’t your traditional Wild West anime. Yet, it captures the spirit of the frontier in its exploration of new territories and cultures. Our protagonist, Kino, and her talking motorcycle, Hermes, traverse different countries with unique customs and philosophies.
While there are no shootouts or bounty hunts, “Kino’s Journey” shares the Western genre’s love for exploration, freedom, and the vast unknown. The show’s contemplative narrative and neo-Victorian aesthetic offer a different take on the Wild West theme, proving that you don’t need cowboy hats to capture the essence of the frontier.
7Gothic Western: Vampire Hunter D
“Vampire Hunter D” is a delicious blend of gothic horror and Wild West action. The anime is set in a post-nuclear world where vampires, mutants, and monsters run amok. Our hero, D, is a dhampir – half-human, half-vampire – who wanders the wasteland as a bounty hunter.
With its desolate landscapes, eerie atmosphere, and the lone, taciturn protagonist, “Vampire Hunter D” mirrors the grit and mystique of classic Westerns. Throw in some intense vampire action, and you’ve got a gothic Wild West that’s as thrilling as captivating.
8Cyberpunk Rodeo: Desert Punk
“Desert Punk” transports the Wild West to a post-apocalyptic Japan covered in desert. The anime follows Kanta Mizuno, a.k.a Desert Punk, a cunning mercenary known for his incredible survival skills and dirty tactics. As he navigates the harsh desert, dealing with rival mercenaries and treacherous clients, Kanta embodies the rogue charm of an archetypal cowboy.
“Desert Punk” combines the desolation of the Wild West with cyberpunk elements, resulting in a gritty, humorous, and wildly entertaining anime. It’s like a Wild West shootout in Mad Max’s backyard, and it’s as fun as it sounds.
Coyote Ragtime Show masterfully melds Wild West elements with science fiction to create an unforgettable experience. Mister, a space-traveling outlaw or “coyote,” stands at the heart of the series, waiting for his release from prison.
But he doesn’t wait long; he busts out 10 days before his release date to find Franca, a young girl entrusted to him following her father’s demise. Together, they set off on an adventure to uncover her father’s hidden treasure.
Primarily a fantasy or science fiction series, Rust-Eater Bisco draws its backdrop from a post-apocalyptic desert world. In this harsh reality, lethal winds spread a deadly disease that gradually and painfully forces the remnants of humanity to rust to extinction.
The story pivots around Bisco the Mushroom Keeper, a spirited archer with an uncanny ability to exploit the healing properties of fungi. He utilizes these powers to mend both the victims of the rust disease and the desolate land itself. The vast sandy landscape punctuated by ghost towns hunted outlaws eluding capture and a protagonist known for his sharp-shooting skills together craft a unique take on the Wild West.
11Steampunk Soiree: Steam Detectives
“Steam Detectives” is a delightful fusion of the Wild West, detective fiction, and steampunk aesthetics. Set in Steam City, a metropolis powered entirely by steam, the series follows young detective Narutaki and his quest to uphold justice amidst rampant crime.
With its Victorian-inspired setting, outlaws, and dedicated lawman, “Steam Detectives” evokes the spirit of the Wild West, albeit in a smoke-filled, cog-laden landscape. It’s like a classic Western got a steampunk makeover, and the result is an anime brimming with charm, suspense, and steam-powered action.
12Guns and Roses: Grenadier
“Grenadier” is a Wild West tale set in a world teetering on the brink of chaos. Our protagonist is Rushuna, a senshi, skilled in the art of gunfighting. The series blends samurai ethics and Wild West gunplay, offering a fresh take on the cowboy genre.
With its focus on sharpshooting, duels, and the solitary journey of a gunslinger, “Grenadier” captures the essence of a Western. It’s a tale of guns and roses, where the bullets fly fast, and the smiles are never far behind.
13The Wild East: Golden Kamuy
While “Golden Kamuy” is set in the harsh wilderness of Hokkaido rather than the American frontier, it encapsulates the spirit of the Wild West. The series follows Saichi Sugimoto, a war veteran turned prospector during the Hokkaido gold rush.
Its depiction of a lawless land, indigenous cultures, and the quest for treasure mirrors the themes of classic Westerns. With its blend of historical drama, action, and adventure, “Golden Kamuy” is a testament to the fact that you can find the Wild West even in the snowy landscapes of the East.
14Rustic Robotics: Wild Arms: Twilight Venom
“Wild Arms: Twilight Venom” is a space western that literally takes the Wild West to new frontiers. Set on the desert planet of Filgaia, the series follows a group of adventurers as they uncover the planet’s secrets.
With its rustic towns, outlaw-infested badlands, and a healthy dose of futuristic technology, “Wild Arms: Twilight Venom” successfully merges cowboy tropes with sci-fi elements. Throw in some ancient ruins and robotic weaponry, and you have a Wild West tale that’s as rustic as it is robotic.