"It is a fairy tale... at the very bottom of the universe."
On the planet Endless Illusion, a tall, lanky man in a tuxedo walks into a building. He sees a young girl with a gun fighting a group of thugs, up until one takes her down. The man grabs his belt, which turns into a sword as he removes it, and wipes the floor with the thugs one after the other.And then he faints from hunger.Thus begins Gun X Sword, a Space Western series produced by Goro Taniguchi (best known for Code Geass and Planetes), that uses a very different definition of the term - more of a Space Spaghetti Western.The man in the tuxedo is known as Van (just Van, although he has a long list of nicknames). Three years ago, a man with a claw for a right arm killed Van's bride on his wedding day, and ever since Van has hunted him down. His tools for the job are his collapsible sword and a Humongous Mecha, Dann of Thursday, which comes down from space at his bidding.The girl is Wendy Garret, and her older brother Michael was kidnapped by a gang at the Claw's behest. She promptly attaches herself to Van, much to his dismay, and accompanies him on his hunt for the Claw. She brings along her gun (given to her by Michael), her luggage, and a pink turtle named Kameo.As it happens, they aren't alone for too long - an information broker named Carmen99 (real name Carul Mendoza, but don't call her that) soon insinuates herself into the group, at first for profit but then because It's Personal. Also latching onto their company is Joshua Lundgren, a mechanical prodigy with little in the way of social graces, whose older brother Ray also seeks to kill the Claw as vengeance for his wife's death.Nothing is as simple as it seems, though, for The Claw has many allies and a great deal of power. And his plans reach into the very history and purpose of Endless Illusion itself.While on first glance the series looks like (and is occasionally described as) "Trigun with giant robots", this is a grievous oversimplification. The series takes a few episodes to get started, but is amazingly well-constructed (with almost nothing in the way of Filler), and comes to an excellent conclusion. This is also one of the very, very few shows that the mecha board of 4chan (where a large number of the Humongous Mecha otaku gather) nearly unanimously have little to no complaints about.The series was brought out by Geneon in the US; unfortunately for American viewers, the company went out of business a couple of years later. While it was entirely released (unlike some of Geneon's other properties), anime fans had a hard time finding it for awhile. In 2010, Funimation picked up the American rights to the series and re-released it as a box set. It is also currently available online via Netflix and Hulu.Its name has absolutely nothing to do with shipping a Crack Pairing. Honest.
All Men Are Perverts: Averted with Van, who doesn't even seem to notice when he's surrounded by extremely attractive and scantily clad women. Played straight with Joshua ("But what about the underwear?!").
Though averted with Joshua as well on most occasions, as he didn't realize he was doing anything wrong when he went into girls bathrooms to search for Wendy or when he pulled the curtain away from Pricilla while she was showering.
Alone with the Psycho: The Claw asks Wendy out on a "date." Though this isn't as tense as other examples considering, well, The Claw.
Audible Sharpness: Whenever Van takes out his sword, it does a whip-crack "SHNICKT". Somewhat justified since it's normally pliable enough to be used as a belt and needs a charge run through it in order to become a functional weapon.
Ax-Crazy: Van is a heroic version of this on a few occasions. For instance:
Van (to The Claw): You're a dead man You're a dead manYou're a dead manYOU'RE DEAD!!!
Badass Bystander: The townspeople in the first episode. They're oppressed by a gang of heavily armed criminals who, during the course of the episode, bring in a mecha, but when the shooting starts, they pick up weapons and join the fight. While they can't do anything about the mecha, they hold their own against the villain of the week's goons.
Badass Cape: Ray's Armour (Volkain) has one, in the 'shredded wraith-like' variety. See also Caped Mecha below for its functionality.
Badass Crew: The good guys and bad guys form one of each, though the good guy team takes a little longer to form.
Badass Normal: Characters like Carmen99 who manage to kick ass without armors. Ray's Volkain is this compared to the armors of the Original Seven: it's a mining armor that's been modified to carry guns.
Beach Episode: Episode 17, Follow the X-Spot, the women-only island Bokini/Misoughi where the only clothing worn is amazingly stretchy bathing suits.
Bedmate Reveal: Played with. Although the scene in question clearly invokes the image of a "morning after" scene —with Van waking up apparently alone, then shown to be sleeping next to Wendy— it's subverted because they are in separate-but-adjacent beds, and it's clear that nothing sexual happened. The suggestiveness continues, though, because Van's waking up is followed up by a non-sexual version of Not Staying for Breakfast, complete with lingering/regretful farewell look.
And who is infinitely more justified, because he's a small child.
Berserk Button: Be careful about mentioning the Claw within earshot of Van.
Never mistreat women in front of Van, otherwise he will take time out to wreck your plans.
BFG: Let's just say the Volkain packs some very heavy artillery...
BFS: Some of Dann's swords probably qualify, and Dann itself is shaped like a giant version of Van's sword when it comes down from orbit.
Or BF*Insert Weapon*. All of the Originals take the shape of a weapon when flying. They also brandish that sort weapon in mecha mode. Their pilots also use that sort of weapon to fight and to interface with the Armor.
Big Breast Pride: Carmen 99 is very proud of her chest. The 99 in her name refers to her measurements.
Book Ends: The end is a lot earlier than usual for a book end, but the first nickname Van goes by in the series is 'Van of the Dawn.' After going through a plethora of other nicknames, he finally settles on Van of the Dawn again at the end of episode 13, and it sticks.
The last episode bookends the pilot as well, in several ways. First, there's the fact that both episodes begin with a scene in a church (in one case, it's a flashback.) Then there's the parting at dawn in the finale, which contrasts with Van's attempt to say goodbye to Wendy at the end of the pilot. If you listen to the Japanese, he even uses the same phrase for "see you later/goodbye" in both episodes, though it's translated differently in the dub. Finally, in the pilot, Van walked into the church looking for food and found Wendy, who bought him lunch; in the finale, he walks through the door looking for food and finds Wendy again, prepared to cook him a meal the way he likes it.
Bottomless Magazines: Averted with Ray. His personal sidearm can fire so many bullets because it has a magazine as long as Van's sword, and all of the guns on Volkain are fed by massive ammo hoppers and drum-magazines. Volkain's transport vehicle even has a system which automatically switches out empty drums for new ones.
Breather Episode: Episode 6 is notably lighter in tone than the others leading up to it. Justified in that Wendy deliberately brought Van to that particular town in an attempt to cheer him up, noticing that he had been on edge since meeting Ray.
Bullet Hole Door: Ray uses this almost exclusively when getting into his Armor. He shoots a hole in the floor (which also summons Volkain if it isn't already there) and then he drops into the waiting cockpit.
Most other armor pilots also use a short catchphrase to activate their armor — for instance, Ray's "Sanction's Charge Awaken — Volkain."
Cannot Spit It Out: The last few episodes see several declarations of love. However, there's one character who turns down what appears to be the last chance for a confession. However, Wendy's decision to let Van go rather than confessing her love or offering to keep traveling with him indicates how much she's matured since the first episode.
Caped Mecha: Volkain/Vulcan has one, although it has a practical usage too: it can neutralise and absorb the lasers of the Original Seven's armour.
Caretaker Reversal: In the first Sick Episode, Wendy cares for Van while he suffers a fever. At the end of the episode she collapses, and he (fully-healed by that time) has to carry her back to shelter and put her to bed.
Chekhov's Boomerang: Pretty much any character, plot element, or anything else you forget makes one more appearance. Captain Kaiji's reappearance probably falling closest to the "joke" variety.
How about Chekhov's Turtle? Kameo kinda saved Wendy's life at the beginning of the series. He then spends most of the series hanging around Wendy's neck not doing anything, but he intervenes at significant moments (alerting Van to Wendy's poisoning in episode 9, earning money in a casino in episode 15, helping win a race in episode 17), and he saves her life again in the finale.
Chick Magnet: Van, so very much. He manages to be engaged to Elena, gain Wendy's admiration enough to make her claim to be his fiancée, attract Carmen to fall in love with him even though he constantly forgets her name, and instantly attracts Pricilla into wanting to follow and marry him.
Conveniently an Orphan: Applies to many of the characters, as a surprisingly large number have lost their biological parents, and sometimes their surrogate parents, too. Examples include Wendy, Michael, Pricilla, Yukiko. Turns out that Van and Fasalina never had parents to begin with, which explains a lot.
Cordon Bleugh Chef: No matter the quality of the original dish, Vann uses all the condiments available on his meals, emptying the containers. The result looks foul, but Vann tends to shout with joy upon eating these abominations of garnishing.
Cue the Sun: Because one of the major themes of the series is hope dawning again in spite of the dark night of despair, sun-related symbolism is all over the series from beginning to end, but the best example is probably Van's epiphany in episode 16, when the sunlight hits the cross on his puzzle just as the bells begin to ring.
Deadly Hug: The Claw kills a disobedient minion this way. First he cracks some bones with the strength of the hug and then he impales the guy through his back. It's not clear whether this was deliberate or accidental.
Defeat Means Friendship: Played straight with Bucci from episode 3. Subverted in that this is what The Claws claims he wants in the final battle.
Distressed Damsel: Wendy plays this role more than once at the beginning of the series. Lampshaded by Van in episode 2. (Ironically, she needs to be rescued not because she's passive but because she's foolhardy: the Councilman in ep. 2 would have returned her to safety if she hadn't insulted him.)
Wendy: VAN! Van: What's wrong with you? Why do you keep getting caught?
Do Not Call Me Paul: Wendy constantly calls Carmen by her real name (Carul), even though Carmen doesn't want her to.
Does Not Like Shoes: An interesting use to the trope is some of the Armors of the Original Seven are barefooted.
Drink Order: A subverted version, as Badass Van typically drinks milk and can't handle alcohol. Similarly, Ray only drinks water; but it's not specified as to whether he's also a teetoler or if he really just wants a clear head.
Dulcinea Effect: Van might have a bone to pick with Lucky, but he explicitly states that he's going to defeat him for the sake of Wendy, whom he's only known a day.
Dynamic Entry: The El Dora interrupts the Van vs. Fasalina fight. It actually allows her to escape.
Earn Your Happy Ending: Not a happy ending for all the characters, unfortunately. Van gets his revenge, and he and Wendy are eventually reunited, but they spend several years apart first. Meanwhile, Ray dies, but Joshua seems to get a happy ending with Yukiko. There's no word on what becomes of Carmen and Pricilla.
The El Dorado team see Carlos as this. Even exclaiming that he might give them the boost they need in the eleventh hour.
turns out they are right.
Dann's controls over the Planet Destroyer System.
Overflow. Its not mentioned until near the end of the final episode, and all of a sudden, Dann gains a massive power boost, enough to outdo the Birthday, until Van is thrown outside.
Equal-Opportunity Evil: The Original Seven contains two kids, a clinically insane man, a sane pastor with crazy philosophies, a former prostitute, and honestly, what kind of job experience does Michael have?
It's justified in the fact that people like Woo and Michael, along with the others, have natural ability when piloting the Original Seven which are not ordinary armours. Van and Gadved needed upgrading to superhuman before they could pilot Dann and Diablo (respectively) properly, so they are exceptions
Evolving Credits: Before being introduced, characters are hidden by a violet silhouette. Upon death, they become black silhouettes. The second opening animation removes characters who died up to that point.
Exactly What I Aimed At: Ray missing the Claw only for his bullet to jam part of his machine, right before he dies.
Falling Into His Arms: In episode 4, Wendy faints (either from fear or over-exertion) and Van catches her; significantly, it's after this that he finally learns her name. In episode 14, Pricilla tumbles into his arms. Van catching her is one of the early clues that Pricilla is a potential love interest.
Fauxlosophic Narration: The voiceover at the start of every episode is a particularly fatuous example of this.
Fancy Dinner: Aboard the zeppelin in episode 15. It plays out like a truly disastrous date, with Wendy smearing her makeup and Van displaying his rough table manners at their worst.
Fanservice: The entirety of "Follow The X Spot", which was cleaned up a little for TV; it's not as bad as some, though. Also, Fasalina.....she controls her robot with a pole for chrissake!
Technically, it's a tri-section staff. But, given Fasalina's background...
Not to mention her quite intimate scene with Michael.
Fun with Acronyms: In Japan, Armor is called Yoroi, which stand for Yieldingly Operatable Robotized Overbearing Infantry.
Gag Series: Gun X Sword-San, which features Wendy and Kameo as CG puppets encountering the rest of the cast (rendered either as CG puppets or as pictures of themselves stuck to a Popsicle stick backing), with Wendy being both a Motor Mouth and Ax-Crazy (constantly killing Kameo when he annoys her, which happens at least Once an Episode)
Go Through Me: Pulled by Ray, surprisingly. With Van incapacitated, Fasalina attacks the hoverbase with her army of robot mechas. Ray, without back up (for the moment) and without expecting any, explicitly tells Fasalina that they'll have to go through him when she gives the order to focus on the otherwise defenseless hoverbase.
Godiva Hair: Fasalina's hair covers a good part of her cleavage and breasts.
Good Eyes, Evil Eyes: Subverted - Van's eyes are damned narrow - and played straight - Ray's are narrower still; also, Wendy and Michael are very similar in appearance except that her eyes are a lot wider than his.
Hey, You!: Van rarely remembers names (using "you," "kid" or "that person" instead); when he does address characters by name, he rarely uses honorifics.
Hidden Agenda Villain: For most of the series, we have no idea what the Claw's plan would actually entail. May even qualify as a deconstruction; his agenda is so hidden that his own underlings get it wrong and try to organize a coup.
I Have Many Names: Van, to the point where he has trouble keeping track of them all. But, when he does remember one of them, Van sticks with it until he receives a better one.
Kiai: Van is a proud user of the yell "CHESTOOOOOO!!!!"
Knight Templar: The Claw's Organization. Michael even exclaims he knows that the Claw might be seen as a dictator through his actions but still believe they are justified. Doesn't help that all of the evil seen in the show is always directly linked to his organization in someway.
Lady Land: Missoghi (Bokini in the dub) note Both names just a syllable or two different from a type of swimsuit from episode 17. It is a silly place.
Laughing Mad: Van gets this for a moment when he finally catches a glimpse of the Claw Man.
Leave Your Quest Test: In Episode 7, Van and Wendy end up deserted on an island owned by a wonderful, kindly man who opens his luxurious mansion to them. He's an ally of the Claw who's trying to sink the two into complacency before they find him and Michael.
Likes Older Women: Michael concerning Fasalina, although it's completely understandable given her appearance.
Limited Wardrobe: Kind of makes you wonder just what Wendy has in that big trunk she's always lugging around. A dozen exact copies of the same three outfits?
Carmen's Limited Wardrobe is an interesting use of this trope: while she always wears the same style of clothes, she clearly has at least three distinct outfits, distinguished by their color (red, blue, and brown)
Love Confession: There's more than one, but Pricilla's confession to Van is either priceless comedy or so embarrassing it's painful, given his reaction.
Love Epiphany: Wendy's narration at the end of episode 15 suggests that it was not until she was stranded with Van in the abandoned town that she realized that she genuinely loved him. (Unusual in that it comes long after she offered to marry him.) In episode 16, Van has an epiphany of his own about his continued love for Elena.
Love Triangle (if not an outright Love Dodecahedron): Develops as the series progresses. Towards the end, it looks like this: Van is still in love with Elena, but he's also increasingly fond of Wendy. Wendy and Pricilla and Carmen love Van. Joshua has a crush on Wendy. Yukiko seems to be developing feelings for one or both of the Lundgren brothers. The El Dora V aren't in a love triangle, but they seem to carry a torch for Yukiko's grandmother.
Maybe Ever After: The end of the romance arc is left ambiguous. It at first appears to be a case of Dump Them All Van walking away from his three potential love interests. However, the Distant Finale opens up another possibility, hinting that it's a case of First Girl Wins, with Van and Wendy becoming an item once she's older. Fans may disagree about how likely that possibility is.
Mind Screw: The Claw is the weirdest "villian" you will ever see, and his actions and kills (he does kill over the course of the anime) as described by the characters do not match up with how he's portrayed. Episode 12 is the weirdest Wham Episode, because it is entirely based around "Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?" while being right next to The Claw. In summary, a cold-blooded murderer is having tea with one of the main characters, and then casually asking that character to join him. It makes sense in written format, but the anime says completely otherwise.
Mook-Face Turn: Done by The Claw's minions after they figured what Saudade of Sunday's functions were for.
Subverted in that they mistook the Claw for an Omnicidal Maniac and thinking that he wanted to commit genocide, when what he was really planning was Instrumentality.
Moral Myopia: The Claw's minions have no problem killing people for their goals, but go on revenge trips when any of their own are killed. They even go so far as to call Van a murderer for killing people who attacked him with no provocation. Not to mention that the only evils we see in the world are caused by these guys...
More Dakka: Volkain was specifically modified to adhere to this philosophy. Ray, or Shino, turned a standard mining armor into a weapons platform that could level an entire town in minutes.
My Life Flashed Before My Eyes: Not so much a whole life as the events covered by the series. Wendy and Elena are the only people Van sees in full color, so this MAY be a hint about the depth of Van's affection for Wendy.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Van is about to deliver the killing blow to a stunned Dahlia of Wednesday, when the Eldora Soul comes in, and kicks her out of the way of Van's sword.
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: If Michael hadn't destroyed Gadved's satellite (Who Dann/Van was using to heal himself), Van would never have been able to escape. He even thanks Michael for freeing him. Cue Michael's Oh Crap moment.
No Name Given: It's just "The Claw" or the "Comrade" the entire time.
Unless you're Banpresto, in which case his name is revealed, at the very end of the Gun x Sword plotline in his pilot data, to be Cuu Cline Clue (a.k.a. Woo's father). It's sort of implied in Woo's comment that he abandoned his mother for his father's sake but it was never made explicit.
Woo even announces himself as the son of Kyroo Krying Koo but is easily missed.
Prehensile Hair: Baron Mayer Baron and his merry band of miscreants have some rather disturbing mustaches.
Baron: It's Mustache Time!
Promotion to Parent: Michael Garret cared for Wendy since their parents' death some years before the series began. It's a little mind boggling if you consider how young he must have been when they died.
Quirky Mini Boss Squad: Inverted with the guys from El Dorado. They be heroes, but they still qualify in spades for this.
Rescue Romance: Van rescues Wendy twice in the pilot, although the first rescue, which might also count as Meet Cute, appears to have been unintentional. He continues to rescue her from various perils throughout the first half of the series. She's pretty quickly smitten.
Revenge:The motivation of most of the heroes; this is possibly the only anime where this isn't presented in an always-negative light. The treatment of revenge in GUN×SWORD is complicated: Ray's pursuit of revenge is depicted as destructive and self-destructive, since he does what he thinks he needs to regardless of the cost. This contrasts Ray with Van, who despite gunning for the same man for the same reason has some standards, such as not ruining properties or killing innocents. It's also worth noting that Joshua remains opposed to vengeance throughout the series, and he nevertheless plays a key role in putting an end to the Claw's plan—through nonviolent means—in the last battle.
Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies: Appears to be played straight with Michael and Fasalina in the last episode, but the radio drama released after the series ended has Michael and Fasalina subverting the trope though who knows if that's actually meant to be taken as canon.
Running Gag: "...and all the condiments you have."; also, Van's ever-rotating nickname.
Van breaking his deadpan voice and loudly exclaiming how good/bad said condiment-imbued food was.
Second Love: The episode "For Whose Sake?" raises the question of which one of the girls pursuing Van—if any—will be this.
Sex as Rite-of-Passage: Invoked by the narrator, who says "When no one was looking, a boy became a man." Interestingly enough, this is averted in a later narration; Michael (who at the very least had sex once) is referred to as a boy, while Van (still a virgin) is referred to as a man.
Sexposition: Fasalina made love to Michael Garret as she explained The Claw's plans of world destruction to him.
Shadow Archetype: Ray to Van. While they're both out for revenge, Van will follow certain standards while Ray will do whatever's necessary in order to achieve it.
Honey Cherry and Sweet Grapes' first scene from episode 6 is basically the opening scene from Pulp Fiction, with two sickeningly sweet lovebirds in a diner trying (and failing) to rob a guy who severely outclasses them.
The Wendy/Van teamup itself reflects that of True Grit's Mattie Ross and Rooster Cogburn. Also, Wendy's and Mattie's revolvers.
Shower Scene: There's a relatively modest one for Wendy in episode 2. Pricilla gets a more revealing one later in the series.
Shut Up, Hannibal!: Van's response to The Claw's (and previously Fasalina's) persuasions. His final 'shut up' takes form in one clean slice to The Claw's body
Sick Episode: Two of them, actually. In ep. 4, Wendy tries to care for a fevered Van, demonstrating her ability to cope on her own. In ep.16, Wendy gets soaked with snow and overexerted dragging Van to shelter after he gets curb stomped by Woo. He wakes up just in time to see her fall over from fever. Both episodes contain significant relationship development.
Sickeningly Sweethearts: Episode 6 features such a couple that tries to steal Dann of Thursday in order to purchase a five-minute wedding.
Slasher Smile: Van when he finally sees The Claw. It's truly disturbing.
The Claw has that effect on people: Ray gets a few while trying to kill him in Episodes 12-13.
Space Is Noisy: Averted. The space sequences, save for some clips from within a satellite, are soundless.
Spell My Name with an S: How DO you spell the name of Ray's Armor? "Volkain"? "Volcain"? "Vulkain"? "Vulcan"? "Bolking?"
Super Prototype: Volkain (Ray's armour) was a testbed for the energy weapons mounted on Original Seven Armors under The Claw. As such, Volkain has countermeasures that make it functionally immune to the energy weapons.
Also, most of the English text, on computer screens or otherwise, is grammatically correct.
Except for "Execution", where "Execute" would've been expected.
Death Become's Him
Swiss-Army Weapon: Subverted with Ray's weapon, which looks like it might be a katana with a pistol built into the hilt, but in fact is never used as anything other than a firearm. Perhaps the "sheath" is actually just a really big magazine?
It would explain why there's a second "sheath" in his belt.
Team Mom: Yukiko fulfills this for the El Dora team, and continues when they all make a team with Van, Wendy and Carmen.
Teens Are Short: Joshua and Michael seem to be in their mid-to-late teens, but are both depicted as much shorter than the adult men around them, though they ought to be nearing their adult height. This is particularly obvious when Joshua stands next to Ray.
That's No Moon: Endless Illusion's 'moon' is actually a huge satellite which is revealed to be the ship The Claw and his comrades used to escape Earth before it was destroyed.
Theme Music Power-Up: It happens pretty rarely, but if you hear the title theme playing during the show, you know something epic is about to go down.
Also Niji no Kanata. The first time it is played, its not as apparent because the El Dora team did not dominate the fight until they are fully combined, which resulted in a Curbstomp Battle. During the second to last episode, it is played right after Carlos woke up, activating El Dora Five's Eleventh Hour Superpower.
Vengeance Feels Empty: Played with. The protagonist is obsessed with taking revenge on the Claw to the detriment of personal connections, but when he finally does take revenge, the somewhat Family-Unfriendly Aesop is "revenge feels great". However, he walks off while everyone else is celebrating, displaying some uncertainty about what's next. Having solved his quest does seem to leave him directionless, and we never see him express joy over the deed after it is done. It's like the show is taking the middle ground: vengeance is great and all, but like anything, if you fixate on it to the exclusion of all else, you won't have a purpose once you achieve it.
The Aesop there, if there is one, might actually be closer to 'closure is important if you want to move on with your life'. While Van does wander off to be an aimless drifter, that's also what he was doing before the chain of events that led to the show's plot. And he does end up meeting a more mature Wendy again some time later.
Villainous Breakdown: Being a member of the Claw's team contractually requires you to have one of these, but the most striking is the Claw's own; after 14 episodes of unflappable (though also batshit insane) beatitude, he finally loses his cool when Ray, and then Van, get the better of him. And it is sweet.
Episode 24, big time. Ray gets Killed Off for Real, Van is nowhere to be found the whole episode, and our last view of Priscilla and the El Dora guys is them lying unconscious or maybe dead, their armors buried under rocks and offline mook armors, respectively. Just to ratchet up the tension a bit, it averts Trailers Always Spoil, since there isn't one.
Where Were You Last Night?? What Wendy wants to know after Van stays out drinking (against his will) with the El Dora V. (At least he didn't end up in jail.)