Gintama did it again. The good old bait-and-switch, just when we thought the series would get a nice funeral it turns out that the coffin’s empty… Gintama is back in Sorachi’s gorilla den on life support. And I don’t think I am being too quick to say that. The current arc should have been the concluding one; I mean, they pulled off all the hilarious stops necessary for a graceful landing, and then it just dives down head-first just because the front wheel won’t open… the front wheel being an extension of the arc. Ok… enough with these half-baked metaphors.
Hell, I would have been ok with an anime original ending… not an apology letter (which is technically an anime original ending, but that’s not the point). That’s right, I didn’t want the anime production hassle explained to me- it was pretty obvious that could be the case by the sharp drop in visual quality since the Farewell Shinsengumi arc. I was too frustrated to laugh… although I did crack up at the part where Gintoki was explaining that the anime staff skipped the small comedy arcs to give the best finale possible and that the decision “was borne out of great passion” and then it cut to a footage of money raining. Now, that was the most Gintama-like fake-out moment in that episode.
Anyway, it was pretty clear that the anime staff is pretty frustrated with all this, and they decorated it with some jokes but they weren’t funny enough for me. I really felt scammed, after all these scam endings this one felt true. I don’t know, I guess I’m not a ‘real’ fan.
Now that I finally spat out (but not all) the salt, let’s move on…
Thoughts on the Silver Soul Arc
Despite my complaints on the ending, I didn’t think the Silver Soul Arc was, by any means, bad. Sure, the production quality never rose until the last fight of the arc, but the comedy was as solid as ever. Gintama continued to amaze me with how their meta-commentaries and slap-stick comedy almost never went stale even after 300-odd episodes… either that, or it’s just easy to make me laugh.
Just to mention some comedic gold mines of episodes: the one where Katsura and crew have a negotiating deal with Shijaku and the conversation gets derailed to a literal fart fest, Elizabeth’s reveal as Dragonia was hilarious as well… and then there’s the one where Kagura and Kamui get together and fight- that reunion was both cute and funny. I feel like the Yato family chemistry was more entertaining here than it was in the Rakuyo arc.
I loved the meta stuff they did with the time skip cliches- like the main character’s have babies and people grow old. Yamazaki turning into Robocop and the Shinsfake bits were hilarious… See? That’s why I thought this arc would be the perfect ending.
Anyway, Gintama definitely hit all the right points in terms of comedy in this arc.
The pacing is way better than the Rakuyo arc, each episode sets up short plot-thread and neatly rounds it up by the end- which the Rakuyo arc kind of failed to do since they hopped between perspectives a lot in one episode. I don’t think there was a single episode that felt like it was pulling the brakes on the story.
I don’t think I mentioned this before, but I am not a fan of the serious arcs after the Farewell Shinsengumi Arc. Partly because of Utsuro’s character, I hardly found anything interesting about his character- he is overpowerful sure, but that doesn’t mean that he would have no emotional dilemmas at any point of the story. He never really had a character arc, the most attention that his character writing got was just before he ‘died’- so yeah, he’s a boring character. But the real reason I don’t like him is because of his crow costume- it’s too glossy, it looks plastic and it doesn’t look menacing.
That doesn’t mean I didn’t like the serious parts of arc at all, the death of Nobunobu was well done- he had a good character arc of redemption. Bansai’s ending was touching. Yorozoya standing up for Sadaharu was a really good way of setting up a climax for that final battle.
The animation quality never really got back to the what it was before the Rakuyo arc, but it did step up in the final battle with Utsuro- which is to be expected in a shonen finale… I mean, supposed finale.
The openings were nice, the first cour’s opening- “Katte ni My Soul” by DISH//- is a hype song that still keeps things light-hearted, while the second cour’s opening- “I Wanna” by SPYAIR- is more on the nostalgic/sentimental side. I think the second cour’s opening served better as the arc’s mood-setter; it really felt like it was the final opening for Gintama. As for the endings, “Hanaichi Monme” by BURNOUT SYNDROME is one of my favorite ending tracks from this year and I love the animated sequence there. The second cour’s ending- “Hikari Shoumeiron” by CHiCO with HoneyWorks- again, works as nice throwback ending during the climax. Yeah, the anime featured solid openings and endings for this arc- which goes to show Gintama has a really strong selection of OPs/EDs.
I don’t want to come full circle back to my rant on the ending… but I really wished they would close the book with this one. I started writing this post feeling angry, but I’m just sad now- because I can’t really blame anyone here, it’s unfortunate. Gintama really deserved a good send-off, at least in anime-form. But you know what? I’ll still check out whatever Gintama puts out next year. I guess that’s good long-running shonen franchises for you- can’t leave them, can’t live without them.
So that’s about it. Now that I have calmed down, I don’t feel like editing that sightly-hypocritical angry diarrhea at the beginning of the post- that wouldn’t make it a rant. I’m sorry.