(Anime 2006- 2016)
Manga By : Hideaki Sorachi
How did I end up watching Gintama?
I promised this guy I’d watch a couple episodes of Gintama as “punishment” for flipping him off several times. I know, we are supposed to be peace builders and be nice to each other, but this guy just constantly teases me and sometimes, he deserves a middle finger. 😛
I’m kidding (or not). Anyways, this guy is one of my favorite people on Earth. He’s definitely a cool guy.
Gintama is his favorite anime of all time, and he thought I should educate myself and watch this awesome series that gained many appraisals among fans including himself. It is also the fact that I dismissed a majority of his favorite things and interests. I’m not a Star Wars fan. I don’t like Chipotle. I also think Spongebob Squarepants is a stupid cartoon even though he enjoyed the early seasons of it. I guess you could say that Gintama is like the last resort to our friendship. If I don’t like it, he may never talk to me ever again. Okay, I’m being overdramatic, but his opinion of me will probably be even lower than what it currently is.
He assigned me thirteen episodes (3-5, 10, 13, 15, 17, 51-52, 58-61).
Entertaining Characters I’ve Grown To Like (Well Some Of Them At Least)
The first couple episodes mainly introduced me to key characters that will make up the first main story arc of Gintama, “Benizakura.”
First of all, I like Gintoki Sakata’s overall personality. He’s a lazy, nonchalant man who does the weirdest jobs in order to pay his rent and living expenses. He lives a simple life and appreciates the subtle things. It is evident from what I’ve seen so far that Gintoki suffered so much death and tragedy while participating in the fight against the Amanto before. However rather than focusing on grudges and revenge, Gintoki took on a new leaf in life, unlike his fellow friends who are continuing their rebellion. We see the change in his outlook on life when he rescues Shinpachi and Kagura not out of duty as a samurai, but out of friendship and family.
Speaking of the sidekicks, Shinpachi Shimura and Kagura, I couldn’t appreciate them as much as I wanted to. Granted I only watched a few episodes, if I watch more, maybe they will grow on me and become more likable. I mean, I felt the family-like chemistry between Gintoki and them and they made me laugh with their goofy antics every episode. However, there were moments I found them a bit immature and annoying, especially Kagura.
Yet, I do want to mention that Kagura’s pet dog, Sadaharu—a gigantic space alien dog—is so adorable and cuddly even though it wants to bite Gintoki’s head off.
A Plot That Educates You About Japanese Culture
The episodes I was given were episodic as oppose to pertaining to just one main plotline, but like I said before, these episodes introduce essential characters that are part of the first main story arc, “Benizakura.” For example in episodes 51-52, I was introduced to one of the antagonists, Nizo, who eventually becomes the wielder of the “demon” sword, Benizakura.
On a side note, though, out of all the episodes that this awesome guy sent me, my favorite is episodes 51-52 where Gintoki is forced to take care of a baby boy after he was left in front of his home. The baby looks exactly like Gintoki, which got people suspecting that Gintoki is the biological father and is ignoring his responsibilities as a man. The reason why I enjoyed these episodes is because I got to see Gintoki in a different light, a father figure. Even though it appears that he doesn’t want to take care of the kid, he does have a soft spot for him especially at the end, where Gintoki said his farewells to the baby boy and the baby starts crying as Gintoki walks away.
In the world of Gintama, the allegories and references within the setting really caught my attention and is what got me to enjoy this show more than I expected due to the fact that I enjoy reading classical Japanese literature. The story takes place in the late Edo period where Japan is becoming more modernize culturally, economically and politically and the era of the samurai is coming to an end. One could say that the world of Gintama is the representation of the Meiji Restoration (1868 – 1912) in Japan. During which, Japan opened its doors and started to exchange ideology, technology and etc. with other foreign nations. However, the world of Gintama appears to be like present-day Japan rather than what you would actually see in the films and history books about the Meiji period.
Furthermore, in Gintama, there are space aliens invading and colonizing Japan which could allegorically represent the foreign nations coming into Japan and “trading” ideology, goods, and technology with each other. There’s also some social inequality between humans and aliens that is clearly addressed throughout the anime. If I were to take a step back and consider the show within a historical perspective, I would assume that there are some prejudices that the Japanese people and foreign nations have for each other. I’m not an expert in Japanese history nor have I read the manga or watch the anime to its entirety, but I noticed the undertones that Hideaki Sorachi appears to convey within Gintama. From what I got so far from the series, it seems that even though the reign of the samurai class is no more, the spirit of the samurai remains in the hearts of the Japanese people. The antagonists of the “Benizakura” arc, Shinsuke Takasugi and his rebels dislike the new way of life for the Japanese people and desire to destroy the current regime, the Amanto—a coup d’etat is what they are planning. One could view Shinsuke Takasugi’s rebel actions as a desire to return back to traditional Japan (but I need to watch more Gintama episodes in order to fully justify such a claim).
If I watch more episodes, I may be able to get some interesting interpretations and learn more about Japan’s history and culture. I really enjoyed how Gintama incorporates historical and cultural allusions and references through comedic antics and punchlines. Hence, if you don’t know much about Japanese history or culture, you may not catch some of the witty jokes that Gintama has to offer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t completely enjoy the show. This anime has many other ways to entertain and amuse viewers.
Overall Thoughts On My Introduction To Gintama
After watching the “Benizakura” arc, I want to watch more Gintama episodes. I really want to know what will happen with Shinsuke Takasugi and the rebellion. The last few episodes were exciting to watch and I was emotionally invested when I thought Kotaro Katsura died. Luckily, he didn’t and was just hiding in an Elizabeth suit. (Yes, a spoiler.) I also found the action sequences entertaining. During battles, there were some fun, crazy and hilarious moments going on, but there’s also some weight as well. For example, when Gintoki and Nizo were facing off, there was a possibility that our samurai hero, Gintoki could have been defeated due to a number of injuries he sustained against the overpowered Nizo.
Now, there are about 300+ episodes of Gintama and I heard that the mangaka is at the final arc of the series and that the TV series will end this month. I guess that will give me enough time to catch up with everyone else then. I could binge watch this, but I won’t. I think Gintama will be my “lifetime investment” anime and I’ll take my time watching it all. However, it would be nice to have someone to watch and discuss the anime with me after each episode because it would be lonely watching 300+ episodes by myself. But I don’t have anyone to watch it with, oh well.
This post was originally supposed to be published a few weeks ago, but I never got around doing it because I was busy with other things. Also, “said cool guy” has been anticipating the Gintama post for a while. He’s just like a lost puppy wagging his tail and waiting for his owner at the door. Just kidding, loser. ❤