By Ben Clarke / October 12th, 2012
Gintama is one peculiar gem of a series. The anime follows former samurai Sakata Gintoki and his ragtag group of freelance odd-jobbers, Shinpachi and Kagura, as they aid their fellow citizens in various wacky ways so that they can gather enough dough to pay the ever impending rent. What makes Gintama so unique though, is its amazing setting; Japan’s Edo Period in which aliens have invaded earth and brought with them future technologies. While this occasionally paves the way for amazingly epic and touching plotlines, the setting mostly works as an excuse to fit in loads of Japanese pop culture jokes and copious amounts of self-deprecating poop-humour that has captivated Japanese and western audiences alike. So ready your funny bone as Oprainfall proceeds to initiate our coverage of the latest season of this historical sci-fi humor hybrid!
*Caution! Spoilers for Gintama episode 253 and 254 follow*
Episode 253 – Nobody with Natural Straight Hair Can Be That Bad!
After a six month break, our silver-haired hero finally returns for yet another season of hilarity. As he enters the old and familiar odd jobs office however, he notices something has changed. It seems like Hideaki Sorachi, the series author, has decided to take the series in a much more golden direction by introducing a new and improved main character: Sakata Kintoki (Kin being Japanese for gold, as opposed to Gin which means silver). Of course the series name and opening is tweaked to reflect this improvement!
If Gintama had a serious story, the plot would probably have unfolded into psychological horror as Gintoki faced a dire identity crisis now that all his friends seem to think this straight haired blonde is the dear comrade and leader they’ve known for 253 episodes. However, Gintama has no idea what the word serious even means, so instead the episode spirals into 4th wall-breaking, self-aware comedy in which Gintoki whacks sixty volumes of his series DVD-outings on the head of his perfect imposter.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Now, it turns out not everyone has forgotten poor Gintoki though. The series’ giant dog mascot Sadaharu and the robotic maid Tama appear to comfort our permed protagonist in his most dire hour. It turns out the hypnotic radio waves that Kintoki has set off do not affect machines or animals. I absolutely loved this scene; you can really feel Gintoki’s love for his comrades as he realizes he’s not alone. The episode really should have ended here as Gintoki rewrites the episodes in the stone wall: Nobody with Natural Straight Hair Can Be That Good!
The rest just feels like a terrible anti-climax.
That being said, the episode still ends on a high note as the new Kintama protagonist is revealed not only to be a robot, but the robot action figure Perfect Super Golden Alloy, Sakata Gintoki Unit 02.
Episode 254 – Gintoki and Kintoki
If the last episode was the episode of fourth wall gags, this one is Japanese pop-culture references. As Gintoki tries to create a new odd jobs gang with Sadaharu and Tama in order to combat Kintoki’s new odd jobs, a multitude of unnamed Japanese celebrities appear. As funny as these appearances probably are, you won’t be getting a lot of this episode’s jokes unless you actually live in Japan or somehow watch a lot of Japanese television.
It was a rather tame episode plot wise as well. Not a lot happens other than Kabukicho’s residents starting to realize that something is missing in their lives, like a single glove dropped on the pavement. I feel as if we’re just being prepared for the climactic finale of this arc, which will probably arrive next week.
This was a bit of a disappointing episode to follow the explosive start of last week. As much as I enjoyed the Kaiji homage in the beginning, there’s only so far you can go using reference gags (whether your audience gets them or not). Don’t get me wrong, I still had a lot of fun – just not as much as I have come to expect from Gintama. Hopefully we’ll get an epic episode next week to make up for this.
Gintama is currently available as a stream on Crunchyroll.