I am fully aware that Gintama has not been reviewed on this site and that the series is not over.
Ah Gintama, it has the characters and drama of Hayate no Gotoku and the action and awesomness of One Piece added with the humor of….hmm i don’t know but i parodies a lot of other stuff. Gintama is probably my favorite series to date, it is at the top of the scrap heap alongside the classic animes and a few handful of modern anime (by handful, i mean like 5-7 series). I first read Gintama when i was in the 5th grade. I ordered a Shounen Jump from my school book lists and got the 2nd chapter. At first i was like, “Man look at the art, its so messy” but read the 2nd chapter, it was funny, it was semi dramatic, and it was kinda memorable. A few years after, i saw Gintama Volumes at my bookstore, read the first chapter, i laughed my ass off
Finally in 2011, i decided i should catch up to this series (after i heard the 6th opening theme for the anime).
Gintama is set in Edo, Japan during the samurai age. Out of nowhere spaceships from other planets filled with aliens arrive on Earth and took their place in the government. Earth’s technology (it’s the age of Samurai, so its like in the 15-16th century) advanced at least 400-500 years ahead. Flying planes, space travel, it’s like futurama only with more fighting and less robots. It follows the story of Sakata Gintoki, an ex-samurai who opens up an Odd Jobs store to help people and get money. He is joined by Shimura Shinpachi, an aspiring warrior who works for Gin and Kagura, a clansmember of the galaxie’s most powerful clan, the Yato.
This series has A LOT of characters, probably more so than Hayate no Gotoku and more than Bleach. Probably not Naruto or One Piece but one thing is certain about the characters here. Unlike Bleach and Naruto where the main characters are given SOME kind of past and detail, it’s a thing that good to know. Gintama and its myriad of characters have a special place in my heart because their past has some sort of impact. I don’t really know why, i think that Gintama characters have a little more…”depth” compared to the other characters in mainstream manga. It wasn’t just a “happy memory” or a reminiscent memory of their happy lives in the past. Although, a lot of kids in Naruto’s are screwed up in their pasts, it just doesn’t compare (at least for me) to the character’s pasts in Gintama. It’s probably because of the unlinearity of the series that makes us know the characters a lot more, it makes us know the character beforehand (instead of just introducing them and then having a flashback with another character). It’s either that i just like the characters in Gintama or i just the mainstream series aren’t that good of storytelling (at least in the character department). But then again, sometimes the things i just criticized happens in Gintama as well. But for the maincast, i just LOVE their backstories.
Another thing is that, 99% of the characters know how to fight. You would expect the kid with the glasses who follows Gin everywhere would make some mishaps, but he’s actually a great fighter, Gin just happens to be a stronger person. And i’m serious about everyone knowing how to fight.
Like i said, Gintama follows an unlinear storyline. Although (at least now) there is an overarching plot concerning a person that Gin knows. However, there are some specific story arcs where its completely serious, and when it is, damn is it awesome.
But lemme get to some storyling stuff here.
Before the story begins and before the intial invasion of the Amanto, Gintoki was a simple white haired child who had an extremely amazing ability with the sword. One day, a mysterious man visits him in a field of corpses and Gintoki had jsut created. The man decides to give Gin his blade stating that a blade used in fear is weaker than a blade given with trust (or something like that, i can’t remember) Either way, Gintoki ends up as the man’s student in his school (by the way, his name is Shoyo Yoshida) . There Gin meets fellow aspiring samurai’s Katsura Koutaro and Takasugi Shinsuke. After years of teachings, a mysterious fire burns the schoolhouse and Shoyo. Gin is saddened, and so is the rest of the gang.
In the story’s beginning, we hear that the Earth or just Japan is invaded by Aliens or Amanto (Sky People, Avatar much?) But before the settlement of Amanto begins, the samurai’s fight back. Gintoki, Katsura, and Takasugi and a legion of samurai’s lead by Sakamoto fight back. They fail in their goals and the go seperate ways, Gin goes to the cities and opens the Yorozuya (odd jobs), Katsura decides to be a terrorist (but turns good later on, hell he never was evil to begin with), Takasugi decides to seriously be a terrorist (he’s the main bad guy), and Sakamoto decides to open a company. The fact that they all went through hell together and end up in different paths and their reunion is just a hell of a moment. Maybe i’m just thinking of this too hard, but there is some depth of character and comradry that was kept and were broken.
Theres actually another backstory concerning the “other” group that usually runs into the Yorozuya, the Shinsengumi (the police). The main 3 of the Shinsengumi share a complicated past (but not as epic as the 4 samurai’s). But i will save that description when i get to the character lists in the future
In short, Gintama is just one hell of a unique series. Filled with laughs, action, and character development to semi-depth, it’s a serious so worth reading