Thursday, 15 March 2012

Gintama: Am I Missing Something?

How many times has it happened that someone has told you that you just have to watch something because it's so incredible, but then you've gone in, watched it, and come out the other side feeling distinctly "meh"? For me, this is what's happening with Gintama. I've seen countless people praise it to the heavens, and telling me that it's hilarious and that I just must watch it, but I'm currently 42 episodes in to the first series and frankly, I just don't get what the big deal is.

Now, I'm not saying that I can't see the appeal at all, as I have found myself almost in tears with laughter at some episodes and that's what's kept me watching for so long. Unfortunately, the humour content is varied to say the least. While some storylines clearly demonstrate the genius that it's so famed for, the others all swing and miss, and when it's not being pant-wettingly funny, I honestly find it rather dull.

Some of the most recent episodes that I've watched sum this up for me perfectly. Episode 38 saw the gang enter a snow sculpture contest, and I swear my parents thought I was insane, laughing away to myself as I watched it on my iPad in the middle of the holiday cottage. It took crude humour, extreme competitiveness, and oodles of snow to create one of the funniest pieces of animation I've seen in a long time.

Conversely, episodes 41 and 42 focused on a storyline surrounding Kagura, her long-lost father, and their strained relationship. While there were odd instances of Gintama's comedy gold (such as Gintoki leaping into action with a battle cry of "I'll pee on you! I'll pee my sweet urine on you!"), I spent most of my time clock-watching and waiting for it to get entertaining. In a weird way it's kind of like the reverse of Bleach. Ichigo and co. are better when they strip away the ultra dumb comedy and focus on more serious plotlines, whereas Gintama is better when it doesn't attempt to be serious, sentimental or have some kind of deep meaning and instead centres on the wacky, crude and violent humour.

I love self-referential and fourth wall humour at the best of times. This is one area that Gintama truly excels in...

... well that and rude, crude gags!

That I'm still not in love with this series leads me to question: am I missing something?

Maybe it just takes a while to get going? If that is the case however, then I'm sorry but 40+ episodes is WAY too long for a warm-up. By now it should be in full swing and I should be contemplating in investing in some "Tena Lady" products to control my laughing-induced "accidents". But still I'm not.

Perhaps its comedy just doesn't match with my sense of humour? Well, maybe, but that wouldn't explain why I find half of the content hilarious.

Don't get me wrong, I don't hate the series by any stretch; in fact I generally quite enjoy it. I'm just a little disappointed and somewhat perplexed. I genuinely want to love it and half of me does. I won't give up watching it, because I'm sure that somewhere down the line, something will click and that'll be it, I'll fall in love with it. But for now, I just don't quite get it.


  1. Crap, so I basically wrote this very nice, LONG, articulate note in response to your blog. But it got deleted while I was trying to publish it as a comment. >_< LOL anyways I'll try to summarize my thing in a please excuse my kindergarten language...basically in the beginning, I was just like you; in that the show's reception did not exceed my expectations, if anything it was a bitter disappointment. I grew weary of watching the same generic material and gags of Naruto and Bleach. Thus, I went on a search for a truly, comedic show that I could help brighten my day. After some asking around on yahoo answers and anime sites, I was pushed into the direction of Gintama. Just like you, I watched the beginning episodes of Gintama and was morbidly horrified when I discovered that it wasn't like anything anyone said it was. It was corny and contained WAY TOO much overused story plots. Then, being the impatient that I was and still am - I picked a random episode - episode 99. And to this day, I cannot think of another time when a show made me cry for 30 minutes straight. Incredible. I watched all the episodes and I advise you to skip the beginning episodes. Start from 150 to up. The reason why the beginning episodes aren't funny is because the mangka artist was going the "serious, action" route with comedy on the side. However, as his career started going off - he focused more on comedy. Unfortunately, this also means, that many potential fans are usually turned off by the first couple episodes and never realize just how funny the show is. I recommend you watch these:
    1. ep: 98-99 The whole gang battles in the Wii/RPG arc.
    2. ep: 51 Gin-chan realizes he has a baby boy!
    3. ep: 183-184 Popularity Contest arc. Characters kill each other in order to get a higher rank.
    4. ep: 77-78 Sougo and Kagura team up, and hilarity ensues.
    5. ep: 113 The Shinsengumi are forced to clean the bathrooms.

    I also really enjoyed episodes like

    ep 217 The whole gang goes to the local pool
    ep 220 Gintoki, Shinpachi, and the Shinsengumi go to the hots spring, and get some unwelcomed visitors.
    ep 203 Gintama comes back after many months break, and Shinpachi realizes that everyone grew up two years older.
    ep 186-187 Sougo and Kagura are kidnapped. I just love their interactions in this, so funny.

    1. I have to say, reading this does give me some hope that I will enjoy it more later on. I don't like giving up on stuff anyway, but this does spur me on a bit more. Thanks :D