“Gintoki and his Yorozuya friends (or rather, employees suffering under labor violations), Shinpachi and Kagura, continue to scrape by in the futuristic, alien-infested city of Edo. They take on whatever work they can find while trying not to get involved in anything too dangerous. But when Katsura, the leader of the Joui rebels and Gintoki’s long-time acquaintance, disappears after being brutally attacked by an unknown assassin, Shinpachi and Kagura begin an investigation into his whereabouts and the identity of the assailant. Meanwhile, Gintoki takes on a seemingly unrelated job: the blacksmith Tetsuya requests that Gin recover a strange and powerful sword called the Benizakura which was recently stolen.
As the two investigations gradually intersect, the Yorozuya crew find themselves in the midst of a major conspiracy that hinges on the sinister nature of the Benizakura sword. Gintoki resolves to take the fight directly to the enemy headquarters, and together with a few unexpected allies, sets out on one of his most perilous jobs yet.” – MAL Synopsis
This movie had been teased and joked about for over 100 episodes during Gintama’s original run and it actually came out! A re-telling of Gintama’s first “serious” arc. I was looking forward to getting around to watching this movie. I really enjoyed this arc while I was watching the first series. But while this wasn’t the arc that made me fall in love with this show like it was for many ( I had already been fully engaged less than 10 episodes in). It was the arc that made me think that this series, while it was already great, had new heights it could and will go to. This review won’t have the same structure as my others cause it’s just a retold slice of the whole picture in which I already did a review of (here). Also, I’m not going to go beat by beat but I’m not being spoiler consciousness here. If you’re reading this and you haven’t watched Gintama. Watch the first series then come back and watch this movie.
I have to say right off the bat the dub for this movie is horrible. I’ve never been the one to participate in the great dub vs sub-war. Cause honestly I normally don’t care and just watch whatever is available. Multiple times I’ve watched the majority of a show’s episodes dubbed then switch over and finish the series with subs. It’s not that deep to me. But Gintama has some very telling signs that the dub would be underwhelming. Only 50/201 episodes of the first series are dubbed. Then they got a new cast to do the movie. Then they skipped over everything else in between and only dubbed the 4th series with I think a whole new dub cast as well. That’s not very promising and I say all that to say. I watched a very small portion of this movie dubbed and I don’t think I’ll ever mentally recover.
This movie is the perfect version of this arc. While I enjoyed the original telling. The added flashback scenes focusing on Gintoki, Katsura, and Shinsuke’s past were weaved in nicely. If I’m not mistaken too, this movie is the first time they actually name-drop their sensei and he has some speaking lines. There were also added scenes with Bansai going to meet with the Harusame to strike a deal between the groups. In those scenes, they added Kamui and Abuto. All of that heavily builds on the foundation of what’s to come in the show. So it was a nice touch to add in retrospect.
The Benizakura arc was only like 4 episodes in the anime. Which put together is just a few minutes shy of this movie’s run time. Along with the added scenes for the story’s sake. They also added a funny gag in the beginning and a really wholesome gag at the end with all the characters that were even semi-important showing up at the end. But I’m fairly sure they cut a few jokes for time’s sake and the movie as a whole has a way more serious vibe to it. More so than the anime version. I feel like the change in the color palette and the overall animation upgrade attribute a lot to that aspect. They changed a lot of the background colors for scenes, the more minor skirmishes towards the end get great animated moments. The whole Gin & Katsura vs. Harusame Pirates fight was a thousand times better than it was in the anime. The actual Gin vs. Nizou fight didn’t seem that different though. But across the board, everything just looks better.
Each character has their moments in all of the serious arcs. The Shinsengumi Crisis arc Hijikata, Itou, and Sogo stood out amongst the rest of the cast. During the Yoshiwara in Flames arc, there were so many standouts to me. Gintoki, Kagura, Hosen, Kamui, Abuto, and Tsukuyo. Then in the Red Spider arc, Gintoki and Tsukuyo really stole the show. Coming back down to this arc. The whole Odd Jobs crew is great and so are Elizabeth and Shinsuke. But until I watched this movie I had forgotten how good Katsura is here. Katsura seriously might be the funniest character in this show and I think it’s because he says and does things in a 100% serious manner and tone. Like the stupidest most abnormal thing he’ll play it like it’s completely serious which makes it hilarious. But in this arc, he’s actually serious serious. His conversation with Shinsuke where they talk about their upbringing and then the moments that he and Gintoki shared. This is a side of Katsura that wasn’t seen a lot during the first series and I’m even almost halfway through the second series and it still has yet to be really seen. It was a nice change of pace for his character and hope to see a lot of it down the line.
So yeah Gintama: Benizakura Arc: A New Retelling is a great present for the fans of the show who were teased about this movie for over a hundred episodes. Very little of substance was cut and a lot was added or enhanced for this version of the arc. Which ultimately is the better version overall. The Benizakura arc isn’t my favorite in Gintama but I really enjoyed it in the anime and I definitely enjoyed it here.
Gintama: Benizakura Arc: A New Retelling – 9/10