Let me say this upfront: I LOATH the idea of getting into series more than 48 episodes (two seasons worth). Why? Because 1) it will drag me into a pit of inescapable NEETdom like Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood did, and/or 2) I’ll have to deal with crap-tons of filler. Sadly, this show has both problems. While the first one can be self-explanatory for any anime fan, the second one doesn’t feel like it actually exists thanks to the show being stupid as hell (in a good way).
Anyways, Gintama is a action/comedy/drama/whateverthehellelse show structurally similar to Cowboy Bebop in which an alien race known as the Amanto have invaded Edo-period Japan, toppled the government, and have taken the rights to carry a blade. They also take everyone’s jobs and turn Japan into a sweatshop, and then disappear. ._. I’m not joking, the show itself asks why the only Amanto seen anymore (ie. current seasons) are the human like ones that carry weaponized parasols. Maybe they all went underground?
Swear these guys are related to vampires...
The focus of the story lies with the eccentric former samurai Gintoki and his two Odd Jobs employees: Shinpachi (the human wearing glasses), and the Amanto Kagura. They live most of their days broke, waiting for business, and getting caught up in whatever insanity the locals are getting into. So, is this just you average long-running comedy series, or does it manage to be much more?
Not surprising as this show is primarily a comedy, but damn is this on another level compared to other anime I’ve seen. There have been so many times where I ended up almost not breathing due to the absurdity of it all. However, this show does use plenty of toilet humor, so if you want something clean and kid friendly, stay away. This show is made with teens and adults in mind. That aside, just watch this episode if you need convincing:
Comedy isn’t Gintama’s only strong suit though. Whenever the plot or political situation needs to move forward, Gintama does a great job at getting you invested. Mentally as well as emotionally. While there really are only 6 “serious” arcs across all 63 episodes with an occasional single, most are surprisingly well done. Especially as most of them just start as a small, silly situation. I do wish there were more of these, but that’s just a lingering thought if anything.
I’m a sucker for openings and endings. Either I watch them every single time, or I skip them every single time. Thankfully, Gintama’ comes with a total of five openings and six endings, all but two of which I love. (One’s too J-poppy for me and the other has too much auto-tune for my tastes.) They all do a good job of fitting the various tones of the series as well. (Unlike in the original Fullmetal Alchemist...) Here, I’ll just leave you with my favorite and let you be in awe
While I love the cast of this series, sadly quite a few of them fall victim to character stereotyping. For example, you have the crazy stalker (both genders), the lesbien, the hopeless and luckless man, the straight man, and the one joke pony. This doesn’t make them bad per say (this show wouldn’t be the same without them), but unless development is given earlier in the series and I just haven’t seen it, it’s just that a handful of the characters stay flat and are nothing much more than what they represent for the entire series.
While I would normally ignore this as I already mentioned it, I just need to say it again. A handful of these filler episodes bored me to the point of just skipping them in extreme cases. There’s not a lot of these (I only had problems with around eight out of the 63), don’t feel bad if you feel you need to skip something. It’s a long running episodic series. There’s going to be episodes here and there that you’ll just won’t like.
This here just left a bad taste in my mouth. After the awesome 4 Devas arc, we are immediately thrown into what seems to be the beginning of another major arc, but as soon as the episode is over, all the characters just disappear into the background. In fact, they are really only seen two to three more times throughout the remaining 50 episodes lurking in the shadows of other major events. Honestly I would be fine with this if the characters got more screen time or this occurred much later into the season (as season 7 is airing now), but instead we only get a mention that they are working with one groups in secret. Meh. It doesn’t help that the cast is filled with interesting characters...
All in all, this is one of the best animes I’ve ever seen. Never before have I laughed, grinned due to the action, and gotten teary eyed in the same episode so many damn times. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?! Just check out this show guys. That’s all I can say.
Oh, also, if you want to get into the series but don’t want to slog through all 270 episodes and/or dull filler, check out my Gintama Viewing Guide. (Work in Progress!)
Gintama’ can be watched on the Crunchyroll streaming service. It is based on an ongoing manga series by Hideaki Sorachi, and is published by Shueisha.