Colloquium: Kai and Miharusshi Talk Gintama
In celebration of Gintama’s return from hiatus, I, or actually, we decided to write another post on Gintama, this time with miharussi of Anime Vios. We didn’t had a set topic to talk about so we ended up just talking whatever were on our minds, not sure if that was a good idea since this post is almost behemoth-like by the end. I do hope you will have the patience to go through this wall of text though, since we ended up discussing a lot of interesting topics, ranging from Gintama’s movies, serious arcs, comedy and their parodies/references.
Kai: After months and years of waiting, Gintama is back! The show that I regard as nothing short of crazy, wacky and bizarre. Admittedly, the first episode has aired at the time of this post though I haven’t started watching it yet, since I prefer to wait for more episodes before marathoning it. From our discussions on twitter, I know you’re the same, but are you looking forward to the new season of Gintama as well?
miharusshi: “Looking forward to it” is an understatement! Every single cell in my body has always been ready for a new season of Gintama! Okay, to be honest, I was just one of you guys who have always wanted for its return, since no news of any Gintama anime showed up for the past two years.
The second movie’s subtitle “THE FINAL CHAPTER: Yorozuya yo Eien nare (Be Forever Yorozuya)” sounded like a farewell to fans. I actually watched it raw, but I somehow got the gist of it. Other than being a great movie for demonstrating the bonds between and among Yorozuya and the rest of the lively cast, it was really well-written that it could actually serve as a legit denouement. I got pretty emotional when I finished watching that movie.
THE FINAL CHAPTER. But, well, Gintama fans should know. We’ve been trolled a lot of times before. What about you, Kai? Did you think that Gintama would not come back after that movie?
Kai: “Every single cell in my body has always been ready for a new season of Gintama!”
Yea, I watched the movie prior to the announcement of the new season too, and while it’s advertised as a more literal rendition of Gintoki’s past (and ultimately what I preferred), doing what they did is fine too, I guess. In the end, Gintoki’s past did have some new revelations shown in the movie, but still vague enough for possible new materials to talk about his past.
Gintama is the ultimate troll. One of the magic of Gintama is that its narrative is ultra flexible, it can go everywhere–tell a serious story, tell an episodic comedy, breaks the fourth wall, etc… It’s one of the most unique storytelling (if there’s even any semblance of storytelling) I had ever seen in anime or possibly any media. One of the first and most memorable fourth-wall breaking scene they did was when the scene just used a still shot of Yorozuya’s office and it’s just 5 minutes of them talking, and brilliantly using this exact production issue as a topic of the characters’ conversation. Hilarious self-mocking style humor.
But I digress.
To answer your question, that title’s movie is another one of their signature trolling, and I feel most veterans of Gintama by then would probably notice it’s another one of Gintama’s many tricks (I mean, how many times have they teased about their anime ending by now?). But the funny thing about Gintama is no matter how many times they reused the same styles in their jokes, it never gets old, and is still funny after more than 200 episodes.
And like you said, the bonds shared between the Yorozuya and the rest of the characters are depicted rather nicely, which is also a successful endeavor for most of Gintama’s serious arcs in the TV series. Speaking of arcs, did you watch the Benizakura movie? (pretty much a retelling of the arc). The arc is one of my favorite serious arc in Gintama, and while the movie didn’t change much, it’s still rather entertaining. Also, the Benizakura arc has one of my favorite action scenes in the anime, though some of the fights in the latter arcs did come close.
Actually, what are your favorite serious arcs?
miharusshi: Sadly, I forgot most of Benizakura arc, but I do recall the movie being a fantastic visual upgrade of its TV format. But, yeah, seriously… I forgot about it, so I can’t exactly comment on it. It’s pretty clear who’s the bigger fan here. (*Runs away*)
Now that you mentioned your favorite arc, I’m not entirely sure what my favorite arc is, but I do have some strings of episodes that I rather hold near to my heart. One of them is that arc about Otose-san’s past. It’s pretty funny remembering it, because the designs of the two guy friends of Otose-san (who herself looked very much like Otae in her youthful years) are just swapped Hijikata Toushirou and Sakata Gintoki.
Kai: Ahh, if I recall, that was from the Kabukicho Four Devas Arc, it’s similarly a pretty large-scale arc but it’s nice to know more of the backstory behind Otose with all those fighting in the foreground. And the three do look pretty similar to Hijikata, Gintoki and Otae, yea.
miharusshi: Yep! That arc was really, really awesome! I mean, we’ve seen Gintoki beaten up by some other villains before, but the first time he encountered Jirocho, the battle was clearly one-sided. Gintoki didn’t stand a chance! And what’s humbling, though, is that Gintoki didn’t do it for himself or for the sake of fighting. He actually weeped for Otose-san. For a character that has been depicted as badass and manly, that scene in particular humanized Gintoki. Above all, he’s someone who really cares for his comrades and friends, and that makes him a more likeable carefree leader-type character. That’s not the only instance that Gintoki was shown as weak, both emotionally and physically, but that pretty much set his imperfection just as the rest of the characters are flawed in their own ways.
Kai: Ahh yea, I remember that. One of the most intense moments of Gintama. One of the best thing about Gintama is its balance between comedy and seriousness and when the show intends to be serious, it can really tell a good story despite all the chaotic comedy running rampant with the rest of the episodes. That scene you described is pretty much why I like Gintama not really strictly as a comedy (though it does play a big role), but as drama as well. Moments like these when Gintama showed us more characterizations for the characters are just great.
miharusshi: Wholeheartedly agreed! If it’s another anime, maybe some fans would dismiss these multi-tonal shifts, but they perfectly work well with Gintama universe. I think the fact that it’s a fictional sci-fi rendition of the Edo period makes for some great pot of ideas that can be thrown in–both for the growth of the characters and the world-building.
Kai: The transitions between comedy and seriousness does feel oddly natural for some reason, and yea, it’s settings definitely has most to do with it. It’s ridiculous (aliens invading samurai world? pfff) and exactly because it’s ridiculous, it feels like Gintama can go just about anywhere, which goes back to what I said earlier about flexible narrative. It can talk about the way of the samurai, protecting comrades, self-mocking humors, breaking the fourth wall and for some reason, everything just feels natural.
Speaking of comedy, I’m surprised we didn’t talk about this earlier, since Gintama is definitely more known for it’s comedy even if it’s drama are pretty well written. Any funny moments you remember you would like to share? What I remember the most was Zura and his duck, Gintoki and his strawberry milk, and Hijikata and his… mayonnaise.
(The video below doesn’t feature any duck, strawberry milk or mayonnaise, but it does a fair job of showing how two of the aforementioned characters roll.)
miharusshi: Before I answer that, I have a confession to make.
More than a month ago, you sent me a similar question at askfm that I didn’t get to answer (proof), or rather, I’m having difficulty answering. That’s because there’s so many to choose from. Of course, some of the funny parts stand out more than the others, but whenever I watch some clips or whatever is available in YouTube I still get the laughs I had the first time I watched them. It’s like it’s always a new experience. And as you said before, the jokes almost seem and sound like they never get old. That’s the quality of the scripts in Gintama voice actors had to read dramatically that I’m sure fans always look forward to hearing again.
Going back to your question, the following are just some of the funny moments I like watching all over again:
Unfortunately, I can’t find a YT clip on Hijikata and his smoking habits. Poor Planet Name–err, Hamek. (Obviously, not a Dragonball parody)
Kai: Oh, I asked that? I completely forgot about it, lol. Yea, I watch random Gintama videos on youtube from time to time and still get some pretty good laughs. And the voice actors definitely did an excellent job in delivering the lines, it’s one of the many reasons why I decided not to read the manga, and would rather wait for the anime.
PENILE BRAKE. LOOOOOOOOLLL. Gintama-style dirty jokes at its best (Poor Shogun).
And that toilet paper scene is golden too. I can’t believe a simple “forgetting-toilet-paper” can be expanded into an almost Death Note-esque territory of psychological warfare.
That Hijikata smoking episode is good stuff too! And yup, definitely not a Dragon Ball parody.
Speaking of Hijikata, he’s definitely one of my favorite characters up there together with Gintoki and Zura. He and Gintoki together just has such great chemistry together. Now that when I think about it, I seem to remember Sorachi initially designed a silver-hair colored Hijikata as the main character, but that idea fell apart and instead Gintoki became the main character and Hijikata acted as the foil to him. Maybe that explains why their characters have such great chemistry together.
miharusshi: Oh? That’s news to me. Man, I can’t even force myself to imagine how Gintama would look like with Hijikata as the main silver-haired dude. Anyway, Hijikata himself is fine, so maybe the originally planned Gintama would be awesome nonetheless. But, no, it probably would not be as awesome as this Gintama we have right now.
Kai: Indeed. But I think we talked too much about Hijikata though. Here’s some obligatory Zura pics.
Kai: Yea… those references are EVERYWHERE. Gintama’s indeed choked full of them. What do you think of all the references and parodies? Do you think they are too many of them?
miharusshi: I marathoned the first season before I began watching the 2011 series, which was airing at that time. Without the help of those TL notes that frequently appear in every episode, I think I would not get much of its jokes. That said, I survived the 2011 series without those quasi-educational notes and still enjoyed the whole series. In fact, I can say that I prefer the 2011 series over the first one.
Yes, Gintama has A LOT of references to and parodies of other anime series or other works of media, anime and non-anime. Mind you, my Gintama experience wasn’t a “love at first sight”.
My experience with the anime went like this. The first twenty episodes or so were so-so, in my opinion, even with the TL notes helping me digest the numerous references taking place in a pace too fast for me to keep up. I wasn’t used to this sort of thing, so it was pretty boring for a while. And the dirty humor wasn’t my cup of tea. Fortunately, Gintama eventually paved the way for me to appreciate it. Or should I say, I kept my mind open for what was to come? Yeah, that’s it.
For someone to truly appreciate Gintama, albeit we’re talking about jokes here, one should have an open mind. The jokes may not have substance in themselves, but they play a role in the portrayal of the characters. For instance, we get that Kagura is the boke, throwing some childish and hurtful comments at our Shinpachi tsukkomi (also known as Megane-kun) who always states the obvious, or not so obvious. But this routinary exchange of retorts show what kind of relationship they have with Gintoki, who is like their senpai and mostly stays as the indiscernible mediator between the two, while also matter-of-factly narrating the mundane things in their not-so-ordinary life and picking his booger.
Kai: In fact, now that you mention it, I’m not sure how I come to love Gintama as much as I do now. Those references are fun at first, but get a bit overwhelming at times. I wasn’t too big on the dirty jokes either… But look at me now, I’m dying from laughing at horrible PENILE BRAKE jokes. But even if I wasn’t too used to it, I think I was able to be generally more open-minded towards it, which like you said, helps a lot. I feel Gintama is one of those series which takes a while to grow on you, but once you come to appreciate it’s core elements, you will begin to love it to bits.
Ahh, the classic manzai. It’s actually pretty interesting to see Gintama uses a traditional formulaic comedy routine, even if their jokes as a whole are just downright crazy and completely unlike anything I had seen in anime.
“Gintoki, who is like their senpai and mostly stays as the indiscernible mediator between the two, while also matter-of-factly narrating the mundane things in their not-so-ordinary life and picking his booger.”
That matter-of-factly narration reminds me of Kyon from Haruhi. In fact, same voice actor!
miharusshi: The parodies/references/jokes, while most popular parts in the franchise, are not the only elements with which the series can entertain its viewers. Gintama has enough substance to actually hook people, even though not everyone can initially go with the humor in Gintama.
Think of it like this: It’s like tasting a bizarre, or unknown-before, food presented in front of you. While it does actually taste weird the first bite, you wouldn’t mind getting another… and another.. and on and on and on and on! It gets tastier and better with every bite, and weird isn’t weird anymore, I tell you.
Kai: That’s a pretty fitting analogy!
miharusshi: To those interested in Gintama, I suggest you look up some of their funny clips on YouTube or anywhere else. Better yet, watch the entire series. It’s never too late to catch up. Erm, you might even forget the passage of time when you watch Gintama–you won’t be able to stop pressing the ‘next episode’ button! And please, don’t put the blame on us when that does happen. Instead, rejoice for being blessed with Gintama, an anime that is somehow everything, but unlike any other!
Kai: 100% agreed! Nothing much to add here on my side, I guess that about wraps it up… for now, at least. I assume I will most probably be seeing you in the new season of Gintama soon eh? Happy Gintama-ing miharusshi!
miharusshi: You, too, Kai! Happy Neo Armstrong Cyclone Jet Armstrong Cannon-ing! This was a lot of fun to write! For the love of Gintama!
Kai: For the love of Gintama, cheers!