The genre of cowboy anime artfully melds the raw excitement and charm of the Wild West with the stylistic, imaginative prowess of Japanese animation. These series pack in epic tales of lone gunslingers, high-stakes frontier adventures, and lawless towns teeming with bandits and renegades.
With its deep narratives, compelling characters, and an appealing blend of cultural aesthetics, cowboy anime series offer a thrilling and immersive viewing experience that’s hard to resist.
Whether you’re a seasoned anime enthusiast or a newcomer, these captivating cowboy anime series are sure to draw you in.
Set in a post-apocalyptic future where Japan has become a desert wasteland, Desert Punk follows the adventures of a mercenary known as Kanta Mizuno. He’s a money-obsessed survivor navigating the brutal desert, which has become a breeding ground for mercenaries, criminals, and rogue armies.
Known for his cunning and dirty tricks, Kanta earns the nickname Desert Punk. The series combines the outlaw ethos of Westerns with a dystopian setting, resulting in an exciting mix of gun-slinging action and dark humor.
Grenadier tells the story of the skilled senshi (gun wielder), Rushuna Tendō, who travels through a civil war-torn land. Her mission is not to instigate violence but to end it, embodying the true spirit of a cowboy peacemaker. Rushuna’s uncanny ability to reload a six-shooter revolver at lightning speed, coupled with her pacifist approach, offers a unique twist on the classic gunslinger archetype.
This action-packed series provides an equal measure of eye-catching combat sequences and philosophical questions about the nature of war and peace.
Coyote Ragtime Show
Take whatever you carry in that spaceship and throw it against your foes. If it can destroy or distract them, it’s fair game. This is the premise for Coyote Ragtime Show, the story of a crew of space pirates that embraces its over-the-top nature with bombastic space shootouts, flashy explosions, and dramatic heists.
The story tells us of the Coyotes, a gang of outlaws plunged into the middle of a planetary civil war in order to find the inheritance for the daughter of the greatest scoundrel in the Milky Way. With a colorful motley crew of characters, a frantic chase for the money ignites the adventures of the Coyotes.
In Rust-Eater Bisco, the Wild West meets post-apocalyptic themes in an exciting and unexpected way. The story follows Bisco Akaboshi, an infamous criminal dubbed ‘the Man-Eating Mushroom,’ and his companion, doctor Milo Nekoyanagi, on their journey across a rust-ridden landscape. Their aim is to find the legendary Rust Eater, a mushroom that can cleanse the world of its corrosive state.
The action, the expansive desolate setting, and the oddball characters make this anime a standout choice for fans of the cowboy genre.
The line that separates children from men is the Gun Frontier. A barren wasteland on the western edge of the United States where no man could feel more alive or be killed more easily.
The stoic Captain Herlock and the errant samurai Tochiro search for the survivors of a Japanese colony massacred by the ruthless Darkmeister organization, especially Tochiro’s sister Shizuka as they face the challenges of corrupted sheriffs, outlaws, and all sorts of dangers from the Old West.
Gun Frontier is considered an alternate universe of the remarkable Space Pirate Captain Herlock, placing the characters in a western setting instead of a futuristic one that explores a whole new storyline.
Wild Arms: Twilight Venom
Based on the classic RPG for the Playstation 1, the series tells the story of a group of wanderers in the land of Filgaea as they carve a name for themselves as a legend by defeating demons, casting spells, and using special guns known as ARMS.
Protagonist Sheyenne is a gunslinger who’s had his brain transplanted into the body of a 10-year-old. This means he is determined to recover his original body no matter the cost in a tantalizing, yet adventurous story of romance and action. A blend of fantasy and western, this anime is the most fantastical on this list.
Gun x Sword
Taking place on a planet called the Endless Illusion, Van’s story is a tragic tale of vengeance. After his wife is murdered on the day of their wedding, Van embarks on a journey of revenge as he hunts for the killer, merely referred to as The Claw. And though he tries not to meddle in other people’s affairs, he can’t help but aid those in need in his journey.
While taking on the usual tropes of western storytelling, Gun x Sword has the bonus of adding giant robots to the protagonist’s arsenal and is entertaining enough to pull the viewer into a world of dramatic heights, twists, and turns.
In 2071, a group of bounty hunters jumps from planet to planet trying to catch as many criminals and outlaws as they can in order to fulfill the goal of a lifetime, which is to put food on the table.
Spike Spiegel and Jet Black start out as dedicated hunters who, despite their skill, usually end up failing in their missions. And after gambler and con artist Faye Valentine, and gifted, yet wacky hacker Ed joins them, the group finally tracks down ingenious and insane outlaws from space.
The crew of the Bebop grows from fairly entertaining adventures to facing a past that eventually catches up with them in an explosive tale of revenge. Accompanied by an outstanding jazz soundtrack that stands out above any other series, this anime shines above other westerns.
Vash the Stampede is the most feared mercenary in the post-apocalyptic planet Gunsmoke. A man who lays waste to his every foe, leaving a trail of death and destruction wherever he goes. Or so the rumors say. In reality, Vash is just a softie buffoon who has never taken a life and holds near-pacifist ideals.
Action and comedy are rampant in each and every episode, as Vash’s goofball personality is contrasted by his matchless marksmanship. But as his enemies will increase in both viciousness and ruthlessness, how far will Vash be willing to go to defeat them, and still spare their lives?
El Cazador de la Bruja
Two girls search for answers in the Mexican desert. Nadie, a smart-mouthed, gunslinging bounty hunter, and Ellis, an amnesiac girl wanted for the murder of her former caretaker.
With a special Spaghetti Western flair, this anime indulges in the elements of the genre. For instance, tense standoffs, rushing escape sequences, and quirky characters in a blend of comedy and drama.
The relationship between Nadie and Ellis is the strongest suit for this series. Therefore, it’s filled with natural ups and downs related to several plot points. And as they get closer, it becomes evident they can only trust each other in their supernatural journey across the dusky desert.