English: Silver Soul
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Apr 4, 2006 to Mar 25, 2010
Producers: Sunrise, Aniplex, Sentai FilmworksL
Genres: Action, Comedy, Historical, Parody, Samurai, Sci-Fi, Shounen
Duration: 24 min. per episode
Rating: PG-13 - Teens 13 or older
Gintama is not an anime that one should approach expecting a plot. It's an episodic action and adventure comedy that details the hilarious and ridiculous daily escapades of Gintoki and the other boarders that are a part of his freelancing business. The only thing that Gintoki, Kagura, and Shinpachi want is to be able to pay the month's rent but instead wind up attracting trouble like a magnet. The jokes can be downright hilarious and the characters will literally go out of their way to say something funny at the wrong time. It's not a series that I would recommend to new anime fans because a lot (but certainly not all) of the jokes poke fun at the anime subculture and even the more seasoned fans might have trouble understanding some of the Japanese cultural jokes to a point where it's like a Japanese Family Guy. The fansubs do, however, take the time to explain a lot of the references. It's also great to approach this series with at least some knowledge of Japanese history, particularly the Bakumatsu and Meiji Periods, due to the fact that a majority of the characters are based on historical figures.
The characters watch television dramas and read Weekly Shonen Jump but the scenery and the clothes do a good job of reminding us that this series is supposed to be based on the Meiji Period. The backgrounds are detailed and the animation is generally smooth. Facial expressions, as with any comedy anime, are important and the character designs suit the characters. The overall semi-realistic art style helps the characters seem more realistic as well, though, it's not something I personally found to be especially unique.
The themes are fun, catchy, and upbeat. I found that one of the most memorable things about Gintama's music was the fact that one of the ending songs, Mr. Raindrop, is entirely in (good) English! The background music does not particularly stand out but its "wild" style suits the anime. The voices fit the characters well and the acting is excellent.
And did I say that the most memorable thing about the sound of this anime was Mr. Raindrop? I meant to say that the most memorable thing about this anime was the popular idol singer, Otsuu, who writes these catchy songs with crazy lyrics, like, "Your brother is a hikikomori!"
Characters are the single most important feature in an episodic series such as Gintama and this is one area where this anime does not disappoint. Every character has unique quirks that makes them interesting and the few "archetype" characters that are in this anime are parodies. Shinpachi's sister Otae, for example, has the appearance of the typical "sweet older sister" character but she's actually one of the most violent characters in the entire series aside from trigger-happy Okita. There is no "self-righteous" hero in this anime; every character is just another person trying to get by in the new Japan no matter how rude, weird, or downright strange he or she might be.
This is the first series that I have seen in a long time that has made me truly laugh-out-loud. I sometimes even have to stop myself from laughing while reading the manga in study hall to avoid being stared at!
The best thing about this anime is that it's not afraid to laugh at its demographic, its medium, its culture, or even itself. It almost goes out of its way to make sure that it crosses the line. And, even though some of the jokes are hit-or-miss references, it's an anime that can leave even new anime fans laughing or literally thinking, "WTF?"