Its finally come to the end of my 4 week long winter vacation; tomorrow I start yet another semester of college. During my long break I may have been too lazy to post on Zotaku much, but I was busy being quite productive with other things. I worked full time all break to save up monies… and during my free time I caught up on all 190 episodes of Comedy Anime Gintama! I think that’s quite an accomplishment! So I decided that its necessary now for me to make a post on my love of this series =3
Episodes: 191+ (Ongoing)
Genres: Shounen, Comedy/Parody, Historical, Sci-fi, Action
Aired: Apr 4, 2006- Ongoing
People have been telling me to watch Gintama for a long time. I was told I would like it because it has a similar premise to Rurouni Kenshin (Its set in the same time period at least), and that its full of nonsensical and hilarious comedy. But the plot summaries made it sound really cheesy, and its a long Shounen series, something I’ve been inching away from lately. But since the Fall season of anime was lackluster, and there was still about a month till winter series began, I decided to take a chance with it. I am very happy I took this chance, Gintama is easily is my favorite 100+ episode series to current date.
The absolute truth about this series!
As far as the plot goes… I now understand why I’ve found no good summary of this series. While there is a plot somewhere in there, it is overshadowed by comedy-type episodes for the most part. Generally for every 50 episode season there is only 1-2 plot relevant arcs. The main story takes place in what would be similar to the post Bakumatsu-Era in our reality, but in the Gintama universe, space aliens show up and force the Japanese government into submission. In the years that followed, despite being in an old age setting, because of the foreign alien’s presence, Japan has become technologically advanced to the point they have televisions, Shounen Jump, Video Games, and most other modern day advances.
Our silver haired protagonist, Gintoki, had been a powerful Samurai in the past, but since the war he has become a lazy couch potato who spends all day sleeping, reading Shounen Jump, and thinking of ways to avoid paying the rent. He has a business to do random jobs if people contact him, but it seems to be very inconsistent work. Even though he still carries a wooden sword around and dresses like a samurai, between his attitude and “natural perm,” most people would never suspect that he has a samurai spirit. At the beginning of the series he befriends a whiny Otaku samurai in training, and a weird little alien girl who’s strong enough to throw a car at you if she’s angry enough. The three of them become like a weird twisted family and work together to help the people of Japan and make money in the process.
Super Sadistic Okita Souga =3
There are a ton of characters in Gintama, and most of them are based on Historical figures. The Shinsengumi, famous political figures, and the Oniwaban group play a role in this series (many of which should be very familiar if you watched Kenshin). My favorite Gintama character is Okita Souga of the Shinsengumi, who is based on the real Shinsengumi Okita Souji. The real representation of Souji also appears in Trust and Betrayal OVA of Rurouni Kenshin along with the historical figures of Katsura and Kondo who also appear in Gintama. Further more, my second favorite Rurouni Kenshin character, Seta Soujiro, is also based on Okita Souji. Even plot wise I feel that Gintama has many simularities to Rurouni Kenshin. For instance, Gintoki used to be an amazing warrior, but now he protects his friends. The first arc of the series is about a woman trying to restore her family Kendo Doujo; this is essentially the same plot as the first few episodes of Rurouni Kenshin. The character Katsura in Gintama is constantly trying to blow up government buildings (at least at first), and in Rurouni Kenshin there is a small arc about Sanosuke’s friend who is also trying to destroy the government with his collection of bombs. I could go on, but I will end my Kenshin related rant now.
Gintama is cheesy… I admit it. It is aware of how ridiculous they are though… in fact on a regular basis they break the fourth wall and talk directly to the audience about lack of funding from Sunrise (because they’re too focused on Gundam), or complaints from PTAs for showing perverted things during daytime television. They also directly talk about the “filler syndrome” of long running anime series that catch up to their manga too quickly, and then go on and talk about random stuff for 10 minutes to purposely waste time. One of my favorite arcs was made in response to a real life character popularity poll; the character’s start a war to try and get higher spots. The humor can be a little crude at times; I’ve lost track of how many times characters have crapped in their pants, and threw up, or were walking around with pixelated penises… But I guess this is part of Gintama’s charm? This series also makes alot of pop culture references, especially about video games. Off the top of my head I can think of a whole arc parodying Dragon Quest, a LONG arc parodying Monster Hunter, and several episodes about the Nintendo Wii and modern generation console flame wars. Really, Gintama touches on any and every subject, because it lacks a constant plot it has no boundaries about what it can joke about.
Putting the comedy aside, on the rare occasion this series delves into the plot, it does a really good job at being a serious action anime as well. While the animation is kind of standard, the battle scenes are always pretty epic. As the story has been fleshing out some of the character’s back stories I have become even more anxious to get more plot related episodes, enough that I can generally hold out the 50 episode filler intervals between mini “Plot Arcs.” A normal series is maybe 80% plot, 20% filler… Gintama flips those numbers and is about 80% filler and 20% plot. Under normal circumstance it would be normal to dislike a series like that, but for some reason with Gintama it makes the few plot arcs seem that much more impressive.
GO WATCH GINTAMA!!!
While saying all Rurouni Kenshin fan’s would like this series is a bit of a stretch, I think people that enjoy historical shounen would at least be interested. I think Gintama would be more appealing to fans of comedy series like Seto no Hanayome, Ranma 1/2, Minami Ke, Hayate the Combat Butler, or Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. Actually… Cromartie High School has probably the most similar feeling of any other anime I’ve seen.
I’ll end with my favorite opening: