12 Days of Gintama – Day 12: Gintoki and Takasugi, A Battle to Reaffirm Their Own Brand of Bushido
Note: A warning for spoilers. Also, this is technically a shipping post, I suppose, lol.
Gintama’s fights are fueled with emotions, fueled with the desperate attempt to survive. But furthermore, Gintama’s emphasis on the characters’ motives make Gintama’s battles truly a vendetta of ferocious bloodbath — a clashing of two characters who just do not see eye to eye. There is a rich history behind the two characters in a fight that provide the substance and backstory rather than just being a pure spectacle of violence and blood. All Gintama’s fights are praiseworthy because of this, but there’s no fights in the series that display this trait as clearly as Gintoki VS Takasugi — my favorite Gintama fight ever.
Most fights are fueled by hatred and it’s easy to see that Gintoki and Takasugi do indeed hate each other, but their hatred is something beyond simple antagonism. Once childhood friends and brothers in arms, losing Shoyo-sensei in the war who means the world to them has induced both of them to tread completely opposite paths.
Gintoki tried his best to move on, tried his best to love this messed-up world, and in the end he managed to forge new bonds — he was never alone and despite all the vociferous bickering, his friends would fight the world for him and so would Gintoki. Takasugi on the other hand was still stuck in the past, and viewed the world with hatred that could pierce the heavens itself. In his quest for vengeance, he assembled as many forces as he can, power enough to topple the very world that wronged him and took what is precious to him. Since that fateful event, one has walked the path of a pacifist who would defend what he holds dear, and the other, a warmonger who would watch everything burn to the ground.
The protector and the destroyer. Love and hate. Yin and yang. Indeed, Gintoki and Takasugi reflect each other’s greatest extremes.
Gintoki and Takasugi doesn’t hate each other, but they hate what the other have become. Gintoki hated the cold, wicked monster Takasugi has transformed himself into and Takasugi hated how soft-hearted and naive Gintoki has grown. But Takasugi also hated how he is not as ruthless as he believed himself to be, hesitance and doubt crept into his mind every time he remembered his own friend’s crying face. Gintoki also hated the fact that despite trying his best, he will truly not be able to love this world even with all the affection he can muster, as his bloodstained past still haunts him to this day. While they hate each other, for better or worse, it’s also through this hatred that they understand each other the best.
Ginitoki and Takasugi are arch-nemeses, and swords and fists are perhaps the only answer to their discord. Their fight is less a battle to prove who’s a better warrior, but a battle to justify their ideals. As both of them have similar beginnings, only through defeating the other can they truly reaffirm their ideals, their brand of bushido.
Indeed, they are perpetually at odds, but… has that ever changed?
At the end of the day, Gintoki and Takasugi are just two completely different personalities who operate with very different nuances and principles. And who doesn’t? People are different from each other. But it’s the fact that people can get along with each other despite their differences that make this world beautiful. Gintoki knew this while Takasugi was still too blinded by rage to realize something so simple.
They say friends fight, and it’s only through fights can one truly know someone. Gintoki and Takasugi have always been at odds, even before the war, even when they were kids. The fights may have escalated but deep down, they are still best friends and competitive rivals who want to one-up one another in spars. Deep down, they are still best friends who laughed and made shitty jokes after a training session. Gintoki is fighting to recover that side of Takasugi back and that childish, competitive side of Takasugi did eventually surface. The irony — despite Gintoki the one who fell first, he, in that one moment, felt more like the true victor of the battle
Gintoki VS Takasugi is an unrelenting fight that is as multi-faceted as they come, a battle of wills that is as weighty as their rich history; conflict between two characters who are similar in some ways, but also clashed like heaven and hell.
God, I love this anime.