Gintama: A show that every anime fan has probably heard of but few have watched. And it’s odd as Gintama is often cited as one of the funniest series ever made. It’s all about parodies and ridiculous situations, really (except for when it’s gets surprisingly sad).
In A Nutshell:
The action takes place in the late Edo period. The Amanto, an alien species, arrive to Earth to conquer the planet. After samurais of Japan lost the battle against aliens due to a betrayal from the Shogun (the military forces), the Amanto took control and forbid the use of swords and the existence of samurais. Gintoki, Shinpachi and Kagura are our main trio. They live together, despite never being able to pay the rent. They work as freelancers. Somehow they always end up in trouble and having to save Edor or even the whole planet. And, somehow, they never get paid. While living these adventure, they make silly jokes and do parodies of other manga and anime series.
Meet the Characters
Gintoki is the main character. He loves manga, even though he often complains that he shouldn’t be buying the Shonen Jump anymore since he’s an adult. He was a samurai who fought against the Amanto and always carries a wooden sword hidden under his clothes. He’s very lazy, likes picking his nose and eating very sweet things, like strawberry milk.
Shinpachi joins Gintoki to try to earn some money to save his deceased father’s dojou. He is a samurai too and he refers to himself as the typical clumsy character with glasses. He’s the president of the fanclub of a very popular pop singer. He has a temperamental older sister and he usually serves as the most reasonable and normal person of the trio.
Kagura completes the trio. She’s an alien from the Yato species. She’s got inhuman strength and she always carries an umbrella which she uses for both hiding her sensitive skin from the sun and for fighting. She has a pet named Sadaharu. She’s not lady-like, at all. She’s very aggressive, blunt and kind of weird. Both Shinpachi and her work as the younger siblings of Gintoki.
Katsura is yet another samurai. He fougth alongside Gintoki during the war against the Amanto and, unlike the main character, he insists on getting revenge and fighting them. He’s also the leader of the Joui faction, which has the same purposes. For those reasons, he’s considered a dangerous person and is chased by the military police. He’s always accompanied by Elizabeth, his strange pet. His running gag is getting mad when people mistake his name, especially if it’s Gintoki.
A Brief History of ‘Gintama’: The When, Where and How
‘Gintama‘, which actually means ‘Silver Soul’, is a manga created by Hideaki Sorachi that started being serialised in 2003. The first anime adaptation came out in April 4, 2006 on TV Tokyo. On April 5, 2010, there was Yorinuki Gintama-san, which were high-definition reruns of the original series. In April 2011, Gintama’ started airing with brand new episodes. Last December, it was announced during Jump Festa 2015 that there would be a continuation coming out this April.
Gintama has been especially successful in Japan. There have been 2 movies, light novels, guidebooks and even videogames. Its main target are manga and anime consumers, for its massive amount of references and parodies.
Why It’s Awesome
“Normally people wouldn’t think of rebelling if they aren’t satisfied with society. Characters in One Piece and Naruto are fighting for their dreams and goals, so even though manga going toward dreams are absolutely necessary, if all manga are like that, some readers might think “well, where should I go if I don’t have any dreams?” Or “what should I do if I didn’t do my best every day?” Then, they read Gintama and see everyone in there is living a lazy life, they’ll feel more at ease. Even if you’re lazy, you can still walk down your path of life, and you need to live well, like that.”
This is seriously one of the funniest shows ever. Yes, 50% of its humor are references, but you don’t have to be very savvy on manga/anime and get all the references to actually have a good time watching it. I actually had tears of laughter while watching this. There’s also space for self-parody (lazy animators not finishing their work, placing the opening in the middle of the episode cause they forgot, or even characters discussing what should happen in the story next…).
However, one of the things that Gintama fans usually mention is that people get the wrong idea when they think that Gintama is only a comedy show. Sure, 90% of their episodes are just regular episode where nothing really happens except for silliness. But there’s always room for sad backstories, sad self-conclusive episodes, and some moral classes by Gintoki, whenever he gets serious about something.
Of course, not everything is good. Even though there’s always humour, not all episodes are the same. Some are relevant to the plot and are more serious, some are completely irrelevant but extremely hilarious and, sadly, some are completely irrelevant but still not that funny. But you just have to keep watching, cause the show only gets better.
The soundtrack fits perfectly to the show but it’s not that good for listening on its own (except for the first opening, which is gold).
In conclusion, a very entertaining show with very likable characters and extremely funny situations. If you’re looking for epic storylines and epic fighting with badass animation, this is probably not the best choice. But you’ll definitely laugh.