Manga: Gun Blaze West 「ガン ブレイズ ウエスト」
GBW vol 1 cover GBW vol 2 cover
Gun Blaze West is a Shounen, action, adventure, comedy by Watsuki Nobuhiro. It was serialised in Weekly Shonen Jump in 2001 and spans 28 chapters. The series was, unfortunately, canceled after 3 volumes.
19th century, America – Legend has it that in the far West lies a sacred land called Gun Blaze West, and only the strong are able to set foot in that land. Viu Bannes, a cheerful and persistent boy, aspires to become a gunshooter and yearns to travel to the West to test his strength. He befriends a vagabond, Marcus Homer, and they both decide to set off on a journey to find Gun Blaze West. Thus an exciting journey to the West begins… [Description from Anime News Network]
WARNING: Shounen-type battles; What’s a little blood and violence?
Gun Blaze West was a generic Shounen series which, in the early 2000s, could have grown into something special, had it lasted longer. After it was finally getting interesting with the inclusion of more characters, it ends.
The plot isn’t original at all, pretty much a regular cookie-cutter-Shounen-mix between the adventure of searching for something and being the ‘best’ (e.g. One Piece). Unfortunately, there isn’t much else I can say about the story of Gun Blaze West when it didn’t have the chance to expand itself.
Even its characters were somewhat of walking cliches; Protagonist Viu Bannes is straightforward, determined and passionate, always the spark that starts a flame in others. Doesn’t that sound way too familiar? That’s not to say they’re not likeable at all though (the comedy is cute), it’s just more at a surface-level interest with no character development.
Probably the only thing that stood out about Gun Blaze West was its Wild West Theme. Now that was definitely something different. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who found the action and battle scenes cool just because they were Wild West Gunfights and the like. As entertaining as they were, it would’ve been nice to see longer battles play out especially in later arcs of the story.
You might be more familiar with Watsuki-sensei’s other works, such as Rurouni Kenshin (a.k.a. Samurai X) and Busou Renkin, if the art style isn’t already a dead giveaway. Watsuki-sensei has a distinct style throughout most of his series: Minimal toning with very high contrast and impact (through action lines) especially in serious situations and/or battle scenes. Gun Blaze West was published awhile after Rurouni Kenshin and just before Buso Renkin. It’s clear how his art style has changed slightly through his works. His lines are more crisp and bolder than before.
This is a series I can never forget about. I remember being so darn disappointed when I reached the abrupt end. It’s fun, but cliche and short-lived, which makes it difficult to recommend, but if you’ve read Watsuki-sensei’s other works and enjoy Shounen stories, this might be something you should consider adding to your read-list. It’s a short read anyway.