Details: This is a review of episodes one through one hundred and twenty-five. Originally released in 2006, but is still airing new episodes. There is confusion in how the seasons are divided as Wikipedia lists one thing and crunchyroll.com lists something else. Each episode is little over twenty minutes long, like with most thirty minute long anime.
Along with One Piece, Gintama is one of the longest running anime that is still currently airing new episodes. I tried to like this show and to watch the over three hundred episodes of Gintama. Unfortunately, the lack of an overarching story as well as the tiring slapstick humor drained my interest. I only got as far as episode one hundred and twenty-five before giving up on this show.
Gintama is show about the white-haired protagonist, Gin, and his friends as they make their way in an alternate version of Edo, or what is now known as Tokyo. As many Rurouni Kenshin fans will know, prior to the beginning of the Meiji Era, there was a big revolutionary war between samurai and the emperor’s forces that was substantially caused by the arrival of American forces to Japan who threatened military force if Japan did not open its borders to trade with the Western world. In Gintama, replace Americans with aliens and you have a world that is a mishmash of science fiction and historical reenactment.
Ultimately, none of this matters as to what this show is mostly about. Gintama is mostly a comedy that makes fun of and parodies aspects of Japanese media. Slapstick humor is heavily used. Japanese celebrities and aspects of otaku culture are heavily referenced. Accordingly, if you have no grasp of what’s going on in Japanese pop culture, a lot of the humor will likely be lost on you. However, the subtitles on crunchyroll.com do a surprisingly good and detailed job of explaining the context behind more nuanced jokes.
While there are a few story arcs that occur over two or three episodes, the grand majority of episodes are stand alone episodes and are comedic. This is likely what makes this show popular, but what also tanked the show for me.
I found the first fifteen episodes to be pretty bad. The show then picks up a little, but never enough to draw me in. I found the comedy to be hit or miss. Some things were really funny, most things were not. I found the story picked up again around episode eighty-seven, but it still wasn’t great.
Overall, I found Gintama to be a waste of time. I gave it a fair shot and it bored me. I was never drawn in. I could see myself watching Gintama if it aired on a prime time channel in America and I had just come home from work and needed something to watch in order to relax, but that’s not how I digest anime. Gintama is not a show that was easy to binge. There is not a lot of drama or mystery here. Gintama is a comedy that references a lot of aspects of Japanese pop culture I have no idea about. If you need some anime to watch and you have already watched everything else, then you could give Gintama a try. Otherwise, avoid this show. There are a lot of other shows that are funnier, more compelling and less time-consuming than Gintama. For most people, Gintama should be skipped.