I discovered Gintama the opposite of my typical manga way, the anime came first. When someone tells you 'Gintama changed my life' you have to give it a shot. If only in an honorary salute to such an outwardly proud anime fan. Has Gintama changed my life? Read on to understand.
I went into the Gintama anime (I know this is a manga blog just bear with me for now) with an open mind literally doing as much as possible to not spoil my potential watching experience. From the get-go there were several obvious details. 1) This was going to be another Samurai anime/manga tale of courage strength etc 2) This was NOT going to be your standard samurai tale at all. How did I know this? Easy. Within the first few minutes I was laughing harder at Gintama than any anime/manga I can recently recall.
'Shiroyasha' with his surviving comrades amidst the carnage
Once I enjoyed my first Gintama episode I knew the manga was would be worth reading. From the very first chapter I was impressed by the work of Hideaki Sorachi. The main character, Gintoki Sakata, is not an easy one to portray accurately. He is a samurai of the former Joui Patriots which fought against the Amanto, alien races who fought to open Japan to the rest of the universe. In the battle, Gintoki was known as 'shiroyasha' the white demon; he was famed for his deadly skill on the field as well as the ability to keep on fighting even while horribly injured. In the end, Gintoki and his remaining Samurai comrades are forced to start anew in a country now basically run by the Amanto.
Gintoki sets up shop as the Yorozuya or Odd Jobs Gin. Within the first chapters he is joined by one of the few members left of the blood-thirsty Yato clan. Although able to kick ass Kagura does her best to silence her Yato side and live peacefully in the human world. She's kawaii, speaks her mind, has a bit of a fiery temper, adores sukonbu, and her huge dog-pet, Sadaharu.
Along with Kagura comes Shinpachi, the neurotic younger brother who is constantly lecturing the lazy Gin and outspoken Kagura. He tries to keep their business in line but mostly fails as most of his words are completely ignored. All three together make up the heart of Gintama. Their companionship is a central piece to the never-ending puzzle known as Gintoki Sakata.
Expect Sexual Innuendos ahead in Gintama
I shall be upfront and honest. Gintama is a manga which will pull on your heartstrings with truths about what really matters in life. This is all very nice but not uncommon to many mangas. What makes Gintama unique (I find) is the combination of this factor with its humor. Humor loaded with parodies of everything from poking fun at their own manga to other 'hot mangas.' Most noticeable is the sexual humor. Typically sexual humor bores me because it is so predictable. Not so with Gintama. The humor varies from subtle to downright obvious. Sometimes you get it but if not, the translator's make sure to put in notes which explain all. This is awesome because without them, I would be out of the loop entirely. Sometimes you just have to know the background to get the joke.
Having explained that (if you are still with me), expect pervy moments from the Shinsengumi (the kinda cops) leader Kandao in his quest to win, via stalking, Otae-chan, the hard-working older sister (and very capable woman) of Shinpachi. With a mayo-loving 'demon' vice captain Hijakata Toushirou, a sadistic 1st captain, Okita Sougo, with a passion for taking out his rival, a machochist love-struck ninja named Sarutobi Ayame, and a fearsome chain-smoking landlady Otose-San...you got one hell of a manga to enjoy.
Just some of the many colorful personalities you will enjoy in Gintama!
O. And did I mention Zura (Ja Nai! Katsura!), Gintoki's former samurai comrade and leader of the Jouishi faction is also known as a terrorist who has quite the disturbing pet? As for the other original comrade of Gintoki, Takasugi Shinsuke, well, he is out to destroy Gintoki along with this entire world. With friends like these and a dietary restriction on sugar expect this eccentric samurai to make for a manga which should not be missed.