12 Days of Gintama – Day 4: A Serious Look at Gintama
Throughout episodes and sometimes even arcs of wholehearted laughter, you may sometimes miss all the hard-hitting action and as expected of Gintama, they got you covered! Most comedy anime worked well when they are shorter, but for a long series like Gintama, you kinda need something with more impact to hook people in, and what better way to do that than to go back to the battle shounen roots which is what Gintama originally is anyway — a shounen. It’s easy to see when things start to get real, as you can notice the smooth tonal shifts from entertaining comedy to serious action in a heartbeat. For all the chaos surrounding Gintama, it is oddly smooth in this department.
And these arcs are serious, dramatic, hard-hitting and possess all the exciting plot and action that drives the series forward — the latter an especially amazing thing to say about the show which most people always misconceived as an otherwise, random, nonsense, absurd but “plotless” comedy which is fine, but couldn’t be further than the truth.
And there are always thousand of potential ideas that can be pulled from the world, be it comedy or plot — the latter especially as almost every single character in Gintama’s colorful world just seem to always have their own fascinating stories to tell. Want to focus on the Four Heavenly Kings — the four infamous samurai who participated in the war? You got it. Want to focus on the Shinsegumi faction and their internal conflicts? You got it. Want to focus on the 4 Devas and how they controlled the lands of Kabuki district? You got it. Thanks to it’s vibrant world and colorful cast of characters, Gintama just seem to have endless stories to tell.
These serious arcs are good because they keep Gintama fresh. What’s more, the comedy episodes have already introduced a lot of the characters for you, so by the time you reached the serious arcs, you are way more invested into the characters — this is why I don’t recommend watching just standalone Gintama episodes just for some laughs, it’s better to just watch everything, though this is something I will get into a little bit more later.
Nonetheless, serious arcs are an important key element that helps transform Gintama into a masterpiece — because I always feel to become something special, drama is always a key element. Drama helps create impact, and emotional impact helps altering our perception of a series. The serious arcs in Gintama helps changing our perspective from the one that sees Gintama as a plotless comedy, to an incredible plot-driven story that has been (extremely) slowly, but surely building up from the very first episode.
Gintama is funny, yes, no doubt about it, and is one of the best comedy out there. But it’s the seriousness that really elevated Gintama’s pedestal and turned it into a bona fide masterpiece.