Directed by Shinji Takamatsu
Featuring Voices of Tomokazu Sugita, Rie Kugimiya and Daisuke Sakaguchi
Feudal Japan meets space aliens and a sci-fi setting in this action comedy, but is it as interesting as it sounds?
In mid-1800s Japan, aliens invade and thrust the world into a strange mix of feudal Japan and sci-fi future. Swords, which for some reason aliens with highly-advanced technology have a problem with, are now banned. Now, former samurai Gintoki Sakata works odd jobs with odd companions to scrape together what little cash they can while dealing with mobsters, feudal police forces and corrupt alien governments, all to buy the next issue of Shonen Jump and sweets.
Gintama is an action comedy series. It heavily relies on the tropes and clichés of the shonen genre (action/comedy anime and manga for teen males) for parodies and jabs. The main characters get into fights with mobs and government and random other people, usually devolving into slapstick humor before the main character Gin wins because he’s just that good. Formulaic and not really suspenseful.
It’s also a highly referential comedy, often bringing up fellow shonen series, particularly those from the manga anthology Weekly Shonen Jump (where the Gintama manga is originally published). The series also references Japanese pop culture, celebrities and history. If you know anything about any of this, you’ll get the jokes, but even still they’re not all funny.
Otherwise, it’s still a workable show, but it’s not a particularly interesting one. This collection contains the first thirteen episodes. Aside from the two-parter beginning to introduce all the characters, the episodes are stand-alone, episodic stories lacking anything interesting to grab hold of. The main character Gin tries to be the skilled but lazy bum with a mysterious past, but it doesn’t really go anywhere with these episodes. The other characters are even less captivating, not doing much outside each episode’s formula of finding a client and screwing up until the case is solved. There’s nothing to care about here.
This series is built for those genre fans to revel in the comedy of the clichés, not for anyone else. Fans of shows like Bleach, One Piece and Rurouni Kenshin will probably enjoy some of the humor, but these first episodes are pretty passable.
The show is in 4×3 fullscreen. The animation is simple and average. The art is mediocre. Not good or bad. It just is.
Japanese 2.0 stereo audio only. The sound comes out clearly enough. The soundtrack isn’t spectacular, but the opening song is kind of catchy (“Pray” by Tommy heavenly6).
The Packaging and Bonus Features
These first 13 episodes are spread across two discs within a single DVD case. The case has some average character art on the jacket against a mostly red and white background. The disc art, however, has much nicer character art with a softer, more drawn look.
Special features include the usual clean opening and ending, trailers and DVD credits. Nothing really special here.
This 201-episode series starts off pretty unspectacularly unless you get a kick out of the references and parodies. If so, good, but you’re not going to get anything from the quality of the collection itself. If not, there’s nothing else really for you.
Overall (Not an Average) 5/10
The Series 5/10
The Video 5/10
The Audio 6/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 5.5/10
Overall (Not an Average) 5/10