Gintama just officially ended a few days ago, and I can’t put to words how I feel about it – firstly, I haven’t watched the final movie yet, and secondly, I’m not sure whether to feel sad or relieved that the show’s finally over. It’s complicated.
What’s not complicated is my adoration for this anime over all these years, it’s an absolute favorite of mine. So this is a small way of remembering my love (and laughs) for Gintama.
Prepare for a severe overusage of the word “nostalgic”.
Truth be told, most of the openings of Gintama follow a formula: the songs are mostly 4-part pop-rock songs with a festive tempo, Gintoki on his motorcycle, and the rest of Yorozuya tagging along and spring motifs (like sakura petals). But even then, I enjoy most of the openings and there’s a handful of catchy ones – like 11 of them, according to my shortlist. After pitting them against each other for a couple of hours, here are my top 5 picks:
5. Prague – Light Infection (Opening 8)
Out of the more serious sounding Gintama intros, this is my favorite. The bassline is groovy and rumbling at the same time, with the winding vocals effectively adding tension to the song. I also love the orange, sunset visual aesthetic of the OP.. There’s also a based-as-hell MS Paint version of the OP – evidence that Gintama staff are often comedic visionaries.
4. OKAMOTO’S – Beautiful Days (Opening 16)
With Shinpachi’s stylish change of outfits, a poppy color coordination, and a catchy hook – this OP leaves me no other option but to love it. The vocals have a character to them. I don’t know what else to praise about… I can’t get over how much the intro’s visual identity appeals to me.
3. Redballoon – Giniro no Sora (Opening 3)
The track’s got such a sunny, nostalgic tune – I get reminded of this opening every time I think of early Gintama (the 201-episode season). The animated sequence itself isn’t much to rave about, compared to other intro sequences for the show, this is pretty much the usual. I would like to give a shout-out to the final OP because that also is a nostalgic tune as well.
2. serial TV drama – Togenkyo Alien (Opening 9)
This showcases the chaotic yet endearing brand of Gintama’s humor the best. The title revealing part with the three showing their mugshot faces highlights the most meme-able of Gintama’s reaction faces. The theatrical shift of the song in the middle meshes well with the character intros of the antagonists. I love the stumbling guitar riff at the beginning and Elizabeth raising the “Uh!” sign on tempo is the cherry on top.
1. SPYAIR – Sakuramitsutsuki (Opening 13)
I think this has my favorite storyboarding out of all the openings – I tear up almost every time during the chorus where Gintoki is running alone and then he turns around to see that Shinpachi and Kagura are beside him, it’s not subtle but it’s still a very powerful moment.
The sakura petal motif takes on a whole new level in this opening – it gives thematic cohesion between the character intros. And of course, that shimmery guitar riff complements the nocturnal lighting throughout the intro like bread and butter.
I went into picking the endings expecting the selection to be easier since I skip endings in most anime but NOPE – picking a top 5 from the endings was an even harder ordeal. Not only is there a bigger pool of songs to choose from, but there’s also more stylistic variety in the ending tracks for this show. So… I ended up making a top 10 to make my anxiety go away (temporarily).
10. Kuroneko Chelsea – Anagura (Ending 19)
I was pitting this against Ending 27 because they have the similar loud rock vocals but this won me over because… suits. I’m telling you Kyuubei in that striped suit is a vibe and a half. I also dig the garage instrumental and the punk vocals – the song kicks ass.
9. SPYAIR – Samurai Heart (Ending 17)
Gintoki’s fight with Jirocho (and the entire arc, in general) is one of the more memorable ones in the series and the ending summarizes the gravity and stakes involved leading up to it. Momiken (Spyair’s vocalist) sounds very bright and it adds an interesting contrast with the rainy, gloomy visual feel of the animated sequence.
8. DOES – Shura (Ending 5)
The Benizakura arc was the first “serious” arc in Gintama, so the ending to it is very nostalgic to me. Takasugi looks menacing here and the serious, foreboding linework adds to that atmosphere. Also, my younger brother pointed out that the opening vocal line for the ED sounds exactly like Prince Hata and I can’t unhear it XD
7. THE RODEO CARBURETTOR – Speed of Flow (Ending 8)
I was torn between this and Mr. Raindrop (Ending 2) for the best ED featuring Elizabeth, but I went with this over the ice-cream bop because it’s got Elizabeth driving against the sunset tinged skies – and that’s badass. The song’s prominent, pummeling drums complement the sequence well, too.
6. Takahashi Hitomi x BEAT CRUSADERS – Wo Ai Ni (Ending 14)
If this isn’t one of the sweetest EDs in Gintama, I don’t know what is. Hitomi’s vocal lines (especially in the chorus) and Kagura’s brighter-than-the-holy-sun smile complements each other so well. And the bubbly synths coast over so well with the pop rock instrumental – it’s like drizzling a brownie with chocolate syrup.
5. Snowkel – Kiseki (Ending 6)
This was my jam in middle school, before I even knew about Gintama – so its nostalgic value is already pretty high. The visual motifs – the shooting stars, Yorozuya stargazing under the open skies – are so wholesome that it adds another layer of sentimentality to the ending sequence.
4. ONE☆DRAFT – Wonderful Days (Ending 15)
Featuring one of my favorite animated sequence concepts – just the cast going on a morning walk – this ending displays and summarizes the character dynamics between the ensemble cast members in very simple, succinct ways. I also dig the sunny synths and uplifting chorus of the song.
3. monobright – Moonwalk (Ending 21)
With the company of a soaring chorus and a shimmery, retro-pop instrumental, the bond between the Yorozuya members is so strong that they break the atmosphere and conquer the moon while sharing the same dream at the same time. Watching this warms my heart. Always.
2. redballoon – Yuki no Tsubasa (Ending 3)
I love the ripping guitar riff that opens the sequence and it has the effect of a strong wind tearing your face off and the chorus is so emotive – this is defintiely one of my favorite ending songs I have heard in all of anime. The only reason this isn’t number one is because they didn’t do very much with the snowy visual motif. Other than that, love, love, love this.
1. BURNOUT SYNDROMES – Hana Ichi Monme (Ending 29)
What a gorgeous animated sequence this ED boasts. The line work and the hand-drawn feel to the animation is something else, the scenes feature moving scenes from landmark arcs in the entire series. There’s an emotionally crushing yet revitalizing sense of closure in this ending sequence, and the band’s anthemic vocal lines only make that amalgamation of emotions feel all the more real.
And here’s a special shoutout to one of my favorite insert songs in all of anime…
Kamagata Eiichi – Banjiya Blues (also known as Yorozuya Blues)
I can’t end this post without mentioning this track from the OST. It sounds like a regular ol’ blues ballad but in context of the two scenes the song was used in it’s unforgettable and carries so much sentimental weight. Still, it also emits mixed feelings of lazy contentment and hope contrasting this heavy sentimental weight – it very much depicts the amalgamation of these contrasting states of mind that Gintoki has as a character, which translates to what the spirit of the anime itself is about. I might be overanalyzing but that’s my sincere reading of this song.
I will end this post with the (roughly translated) lyrics of the chorus of the song:
Gin iro no kami nabikasete
Gin iro no tamashii mune ni himete
Silver hair swaying,
Silver soul kept at the chest.