Remembering Love: Gintama and The Art of Retorts

With an anime as crazy and insane as Gintama, there had to be someone who maintain any sanity left in the show. He is usually ordinary and has a genuine amount of common sense, setting every weird atmospheres into the correct track. Without them, the comedy, jokes and randomness will go haywire, such is the role of the straight man.

In contrast to last week, in the third week of the Remember Love project, we will be talking about Shimura Shinpachi, and his role of being the straight man.

In all honesty, Shinpachi has a really contrasting outlook to the rest of the characters. Unlike the others, Shinpachi surprisingly has common sense, and is the most ordinary of them all. He looks bland, dull and doesn’t have much of a presence. These are all perfect qualities of the straight man. Yamazaki, Hijikata and even Gintoki are sometimes a straight man, but most of the time, they still play the role as the funny man as all three of them have some funny and unique quirks. Yamazaki’s anpan, Hijikata’s mayonnaise and Gintoki’s sweet tooth are all just part of one examples. As for Shinpachi, the poor boy only has his… glasses.

“There are plenty of colorful people, flowers, around us.
And these flowers need dirt, a steppingstone, to bloom.
We don’t need to become number one in a popularity poll.
We can be number one at being their steppingstones.
Do the best you can in the role you’ve been given, the position you hold.”

~Sagaru Yamazaki

Shinpachi being the straight man, had to retort at every single joking statement in the anime. It is like he is the only lone character in the bizarre world of intangible common sense. While being the straight man, he had no choice but to remain faded in the background, supporting the more popular and colorful cast upfront, as they are more funnier and attention-grabbing. Indeed, straight men certainly deserve more love then the little they had garnered.

Shinpachi’s comebacks are more straight to the point, quickly diving into the main subject and objecting to the other party. It doesn’t help that this is the more common types of comebacks. However, with his straightforward and powerful retorts, he certainly does appeal in the anime, in one way or the other.

Truthfully, not all straight men are bland. Straight man are roles who retorts at any silly remarks, however, they can be hilarious on their own as well, as proved by Kyon from Haruhi, with his sarcastic retorts. Likewise, occasionally for Shinpachi, he can be funny, and even whips out a few parodies of his own.

Shinpachi is an underrated character. Although he is easily overshadowed by the others, although he can easily be seen as boring, normal and even annoying at times, I would say he at least did a great job in maintaining Gintama’s sanity… or did he?

List of Participants – Week 3

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