In history Japan is the sole nation that contested Western powers, turning from victims to being imperialists. How does this relate to Gintama? Take out the Western part, replace it with aliens known as the Amanto, and you get a what-if-this-happened scenario. This how the show begins, but as the show advances, what viewers get is an ever changing brilliant work that guarantees to be a either a jaw dropper or serious side splitter. (The alien aspect gets shuffled into the background as the series progresses.)
Gintama follows the life of Gintoki Sakata, a resistant fighter against the Amanto. But whatever happened during that war stays in the past, as he moves on with searching for ways to earn money. He lives in Kabucho, works as the head of 'odd jobs' group alongside immigrant Kagura, and straight man/idol otaku Shinpachi. Add in a colorful recurring cast filled with police, cabaret girls, hosts, gorilla, old timers, robots, politicians, and delve into the brilliance of this series.
Gintama literally translated means "Silver Balls," and with a title like this, it can be expected that there is plenty of 'potty' or dirty humor. In spite of censorship, and offending viewers, Gintama doesn't hold any punches, and has enjoyed popularity that has made it a series in Shonen Jump to be noted for its writing, and mature comic moments. In moments of this long anime series, there are a couple of serious arcs that last on average of three to four episodes, but episodes shown are sitcom, and crammed full with jokes. The humor ultimately is fun with some knowledge of Japanese culture or other Shonen Jump publications, but viewers are not lost with the jokes. The mangaka also appears in the anime as a drooling gorilla, and there are pokes at the publishing or otaku industry.
Many Shonen Jump anime begins with being adaptive from its manga counterpart. There is an ongoing manga series for this series that Viz Media had translated a portion of into English. For the time being the anime has ended, without catching up to the manga, the author has not said goodbye, but instead thanks fans for the support the show has received. This show has ended before, but with more writing, and jokes there remains the possibility that it would return. The entire series is available for streaming via CrunchyRoll. Gintama is a fun series filled with nuances of serious and satirical comedy as plotlines evolve. This show got compared to shows like Sket Dance, Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei, Daily Lives of High School Boys, Arakawa Under the Bridge.
Reviewed by Linda Yau , June 2012
Below: Scenes from Gintama .