First Impressions: Gintama

Aliens in feudal Japan, samurai everywhere,

then there’s Gin.

Gintama is another of those epically long shows that I’d heard of before watching, though I had nary a clue as to what it was about. I figured it would be wacky from the description of aliens in feudal Edo-era Japan, but I wasn’t prepared for how wacky it got. Not as trippy as Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi, but still odd. Perhaps it’s just to be expected with a purely comedic anime series, which this one seems to be.

Welcome to the world of "Gintama." Let the crazy begin!

The scene opens with Gin running away from some scary guys. He’s witty and sarcastic and silver-haired, so I was diggin’ it. Then he meets up with a girl in the street who works with him. They make their escape thanks to a giant cat-thing, and we meet Gin’s ragtag team. Turns out that Gin runs a “do anything” agency, where he and his pals will, you guessed it, do anything for a fee. Earlier Gin was looking for a lost cat, which is why the guys were chasing him after he trespassed. Gin finds the cat and gets the guys off of his back, then has a new customer: a sad little man who needs… something. (I apologize; I watched this episode a while ago and have forgotten a few details). Gin and pals take him around town, meet a dominatrix who lusts after Gin, and finally the sad dude changes his mind and wants to learn how to fight. Gin’s cohorts try to teach him fighting skills while Gin himself has a run-in with a samurai. Oh, and there’s some sort of conspiracy going on with some aliens and the law.

What do you mean you won't be back for episode two?!?

Honestly, I know it’s difficult to judge such a huge series on the first episode alone, but I thought that this introduction was completely unmemorable. I liked the character of Gin, but no one else really intrigued me, save perhaps for his masochistic dominatrix would-be girlfriend. I liked the samurai, didn’t care for the aliens, and was disturbed by the blood trickling down the faces of those who ended up in the mouth of the giant cat-thing. The art was too bright and cartoony for my taste, and the music… I can’t recall the music in the slightest. Everyone talked fast, and almost everything moved fast. Too fast for my taste. Like Maria Holic: Alive, there were several little notes meant to help understand certain Japanese words, celebrity references, or phrases, but they literally flashed onscreen for a second. One second. So that meant a lot of rewinding and pausing in order to read everything. I HATE having to do that. It gives me a headache. The opening narrator mentioned “the story so far,” which confused me. Is this actually season one? It did seem to blaze past any story or character introductions, which gave it a second or third season feeling, but maybe that’s just how Gintama is.

Open mouth, insert head. Just add blood, and voilà!

Overall, I can see the appeal of this show, I honestly can. However, Gintama is just too wacky for me. I have stacks of anime piling up just waiting to be watched, and I would rather spend my time with a series that I’m excited about rather than one that I watch with detached, if fascinated, confusion. And a series with over two hundred episodes is intimidating enough for a newbie without being confusing to boot.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sold Out Activist
    Feb 23, 2012 @ 22:47:52

    The first episode of Gintama leaps ahead half a season to introduce the entire principal cast who won’t be properly introduced until– in some cases, much– later on. The second episode features Shinpachi meeting and being “recruited” by Gintoki. Then Kagura. And so on.

    Since this is never explained properly, it leads to a huge WTF and audience turn off to the point it almost killed the show outright because of the show’s early time slot when it initially aired– read: early time slot equals larger non-Gintama manga reading audience share. Something the characters even poke fun at later in one of many broken 4th wall moments that becomes a hallmark of the series.

    Worse of all, many of the jokes in the first episode are “throwbacks” to jokes that won’t be explained or set up until after those proper introductions. “Zura janai, Katsura da.” isn’t a joke yet because we have no idea it’s that character’s catchphrase.

    In time, the aliens are downplayed and many quality– that is, serious– arcs occur. Even so, the wackiness is present throughout. But when properly explained, it’s much more enjoyable.

    I like to throw on a Gintama episode at the end of a long day of writing. Once you know what you’re in for, it’s a nice, uninvolved, often hilarious ride. Until a serious arc hits..

    Reply

    • Miss Pink
      Feb 25, 2012 @ 06:04:39

      Thank you for the explanation! That certainly helps clear things up a bit better. I could see the potential in it, I was just way too confused from episode one!

      Reply

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