12 Days of Gintama – Day 3: A (More) Jocular Look at Gintama
One can say that the parody and meme-y nature is what mainly defines Gintama as a comedy, hence why I allude to that first when discussing Gintama’s comedy. It’s interesting however, because that is just one among many tools Gintama possesses in it’s toolbox. Hell, Gintama wasn’t even too crazy with all it’s references and parodies back then, and it was already a very good show.
No matter what type of comedy Gintama is doing — whether or not it’s physical comedy that will have the characters act in the craziest manner, or dirty jokes that will even have the most explicit hentai series shaking their heads in shame; what sets Gintama’s comedy apart from others is that it still somehow maintains a meticulous balance of slow build-up and pacing and non-sequitur randomness and absurd punchlines. One of Gintama’s oldest trick in the book is to designate an element as a basis for a joke, and slowly build that up over the course of the episode, with tons of humorous out-of-the-left-field twists in between, and finally the climax and the punchline at the end of the episode (or an arc).
For example, in one episode, we are introduced to a scene where Kagura found a huge cockroach and cried to Gintoki for help. Immediately, the basis for the joke is set up — cockroach. And in classic Gintama fashion, the basis for the joke (cockroach in this case) keeps building up with crazier twists. While most people would predict it’s just any other cockroaches and some insecticide would do the job, to his horror, Gintoki would soon find out that this cockroach is actually as huge and tall as him — the twist. The very next twist would immediately be set up as news on the TV would reveal that gigantic space cockroaches have invaded Edo.
There are other examples, but this is a typical one of how Gintama, for how inane it seems, actually have a rudimentary and sensible approach with it’s comedy. There’s a setup, there’s a buildup, there’s the twists, and finally the punchline. But the most entertaining aspect here is watching the characters react to the innumerable twists that constantly befell them in this crazy world of theirs, and the fact that Gintama has such a charming cast of characters certainly help too.
Gintama’s ability to buildup and develop a joke in a well-paced manner also allow another one of my favorite type of Gintama’s humor to take shape — psychological battle of wits played out in ridiculously dramatic fashion. A hot pot dinner somehow evolved into a Death Note-esque psychological warfare of who would get to eat the meat first — with the strategic monologues and observations, stupidly serious facial expressions and the psychological cat and mouse game. Similarly, going to the toilet without any toilet papers somehow evolved into a series of suspenseful mind games of who would get to wipe their ass first; and visiting the public bath somehow evolved into a grueling life-and-death struggle of trying not to offend an entire family of intimidating aliens.
The surreal juxtaposition between the serious atmosphere and the mundane becomes the focal point of the joke. Furthermore, Gintama’s cast are mostly petty in nature, and such traits really allow these jokes to shine. Parodies aside, these are truly one of my favorite kinds of humor in the world of Gintama.
But nonetheless, this post is a testament that Gintama has a lot of things to offer. Gintama is like a one-stop shop for all anime comedy and what I described here is only just the tip of an iceberg. Seamlessly blending multiple styles of comedy, Gintama is a show you will easily find something you like if you stick around long enough. Though speaking of having a lot of things to offer…