Gun Blaze West was the next mainstream manga from Nobuhiro Watsuki coming after Rurouni Kenshin in 2001. Set in the 19th century America, it tells the story of Viu Bannes on his quest to locate Gun Blaze West, a rumored place where only the roughest and toughest outlaws and cowboys dare to tread. The thing of it is though it's very well hidden, and artifacts dubbed "Sign To West" are the only known objects to point the way. Luckily Viu has one of them (his prized gun from his mentor), and is more than willing to risk life and limb to reach the legendary destination. Along the way he is joined by two more allies: Will Johnston, a former bar bouncer who father left him a compass with the sign and Colice Satoh, a Japanese foreigner, acrobat and keen eyed knife thrower from a traveling circus. Together they brave the wild frontier, confronting other desperadoes who seek the same goal.
An interesting wild west manga and one of the few that was actually set in America (a very rare main setting indeed in manga, let alone in the past) and depicted the 19th century very well. Sadly, it never caught on with its readers and was soon canceled within the year it began (six months to be exact resulting in three volumes of material). Still a very good shonen title while it lasted.
This manga provide the following tropes:
- And the Adventure Continues: Viu, Will and Colice prove their mettle and are shown the way to the next path to Gun Blaze West. The story ends there however.
- Artificial Limbs / Arm Cannon: Sarge Thunderarm who has a cyborg right arm and, not surprisingly, a cannon within it. Doesn't help him against Baron Knight however.
- Awesome Mc Coolname: Again, Sarge Thunderarm.
- Cut Short: Sadly, we never do see the heroes reach Gun Blaze West. The last chapter has a Native American guide lead them to the next challenge but that's the last we see of the protagonists. However, it's implied in the final chapter they do succeed in reaching there.
- Deadly Game: Deadly Target, where one paints a target on himself and the opponents must aim for that area. Viu takes this challenge against Target Kevin and paints the target right over his heart.
- Determinator: Viu of course. Its a shonen manga, what do you expect?
- Happily Adopted: Colice who reveals she's actually hails from Japan but was shipped from the country and wound up under the care of a circus manager.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: The owner of the rival bar to Will's on leaving the multi-barreled shotguns behind the bar, allowing free access for Viu and Will to shoot up and destroy the place.
- Improbable Weapon User: Will and his rope attacks.
- Knife Nut: Colice's forte, justified as she the daughter of a samurai.
- Knife-Throwing Act: Colice again. The heroes meet her when they come across a traveling circus she's a part of with knife throwing being her main act.
- More Dakka: Target Kevin and his Multiple Barrel Shotguns.
- The Mountains of Illinois (literally!): As our heroes trek halfway across the US, the towns, topography, etc. don't vary much; it all just looks like what you'd expect in a generic Western movie. Of course, one can just accept this as the Western-themed fantasy that it is, but if, say, you've ever been to Illinois, seeing it drawn like it was Grand Canyon National Park is rather amusing.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: During the last arc, the trio meet a couple of cowboys named J.J, Jim, and Myra, who are actually fictional depictions of famous real life outlaws Jesse James, Jim Younger, and Myra Maybelle Shirley Reed Star respectively.
- One Bullet Left: Happens to Viu a lot.
- Showdown at High Noon: No surprise this pops up, happens twice in the opening story.
- Steampunk: The last few chapters features characters with this, such as rocket packs and a cyborg arm.
- Tearjerker: Viu after his first gun duel.
- Training from Hell: Viu decides to train for several years before he sets out on his journey. He begins after he's satisfied.
- Unexplained Recovery / Back for the Finale: Marcus Homer, Viu's mentor and friend from the opening story. Thought dead when he fell into a river after a failed gun duel. The last chapter shows that he did indeed survive and found the broken gun he had given Viu which Viu left for him to follow their trail.
- The Wild West: Duh.