Serialised in Shonen Jump, Gintama has been going strong but it is time for it to end. This is after Hideaki Sorachi (writer) joking within the series that the series has only gone because he did not know how to end it. Not only is the manga ending, but the anime adaptation is also very close behind as the currently airing season is the last. I am going to be sad when Gintama ends as there is no other series like it.
For those who are unaware, Gintama is a show that follows Yorozuya Gin-Chan (Odd Jobs Gin-Chan), a trio of misfits who work doing freelance jobs. However, the jobs are very simple and have a wacky or comical twist. Where it is mostly episodic, there is a general plot that follows Gintoki Sakata’s past (with other arcs following the other character’s pasts) which include epic fight scenes. Also, I forgot to mention it is set in the Edo period, but aliens invaded. In this retelling, the sword ban is due to the samurai losing to the Amanto (aliens) in the Amanto War. This has meant technology development has been sped up, giving them modern technology in the Edo period. The series notably features characters based on the Shinsengumi (a police squad in the Edo period) who act as the general police force in Gintama.
Despite being a Shonen Jump series, it is unlike your typical Jump series. Primarily it is a comedy, filled with parodies of other anime and pop culture (including The Walking Dead). The comedy looks silly but it is very cleverly written. I would say it has the sharpest punchlines, especially with all the fourth wall breaks (there practically isn’t one). To say it is just a comedy series is an understatement. Where most episodes are generally self-contained, there is an overall plot (with the last few anime series focusing on adapting this). Most series fail to maintain a good balance between comedy and serious storytelling, Gintama manages to excel at both. Each character is very well written as well as the themes in the serious storylines. It is one of the few series that will make you cry with laughter and cry with tears. It’s bizarre considering how Sorachi’s writing style seems to be winging it in places. I mean, he admitted a character survived just because he got used to drawing him…
For me personally, it’s not just that makes the show a full package. The voice acting is incredible. Each seiyū has made the characters their own. Their energetic performance adds to the emotions of the series, happy or sad. This is even more than Shinpachi Shimura’s voice actor Daisuke Sakaguchi once said he feels like he and Shinpachi are the same person. It’s no surprise considering the length of the show and there are only a handful of shows where the voice actors have such a deep connection with their characters.
As if I could not praise the series more, the music is awesome! It is the only series where I love every single opening and ending theme (including the likes of DOES, SPYAIR, Negoto, and many more). Plus it has a great soundtrack supplied by Audio Highs. It’s unique in the sense where most of the Shonen Jump series go for a primarily rock and metal focus, Gintama has a more jazz drive to it. This works with the more comedic nature of the show, with the hard rock edge appearing. It will be no surprise to you that I bought the soundtrack and compilation albums of the opening and ending themes when I was last in Japan!
There is no denying Gintama is a lot more successful in Japan that it is in the west. This is most likely due to Japanese culture, especially in anime, but it is nothing to be daunted by. Although I will not deny this is not a series for a person who has just got into anime, more for an anime veteran. Its length is just a testament to its success. A fun fact, the second anime movie was meant to end the anime adaptation, but made so much money they brought the anime back (a joke made at the start of season 3)! It has also had a very successful live-action movie and a full video game. Unfortunately, releases in the west are limited, with the series only available on Crunchyroll. However, with it’s growing success this may change.
It is clear that it is a very special show, there is not anything like it. I would say don’t be daunted by the length of the series (this week we’ll see chapter 676 of the manga and episode 353 of the anime) as it isn’t a hard watch due to it always leaving you wanting more. There will surely be a hole in Shonen Jump Magazine when it is finally going, but hopefully, it will be another great series. If you have not seen Gintama, do not miss it before it finishes …. For good this time!