Still Going Strong – Gintama. (Season 5) Anime Review

“After joining the resistance against the bakufu, Gintoki and the gang are in hiding, along with Katsura and his Joui rebels. The Yorozuya is soon approached by Nobume Imai and two members of the Kiheitai, who explain that the Harusame pirates have turned against 7th Division Captain Kamui and their former ally Takasugi. The Kiheitai present Gintoki with a job: find Takasugi, who has been missing since his ship was ambushed in a Harusame raid. Nobume also makes a stunning revelation regarding the Tendoushuu, a secret organization pulling the strings of numerous factions, and their leader Utsuro, the shadowy figure with an uncanny resemblance to Gintoki’s former teacher.

Hitching a ride on Sakamoto’s space ship, the Yorozuya and Katsura set out for Rakuyou, Kagura’s home planet, where the various factions have gathered and tensions are brewing. Long-held grudges, political infighting, and the Tendoushuu’s sinister overarching plan finally culminate into a massive, decisive battle on Rakuyou.” – MAL Synopsis

Episodes: 12 – Studio: Bandai Namco Pictures – Sub – Aired: Winter 2017 – Finished – MAL Rating: 8.98 – Genres: ActionComedyHistoricalParodySamuraiSci-FiShounen

Coming off the best season of Gintama yet. This season had me very excited to see where it was going to go. A lot of questions were raised last season. What’s Utsuro’s backstory? Hows is the political climate in Edo after the last arc? The status of Shinsunke and the Harusame. Among others. This season answered those questions and many more while also answering questions from way back and season 1 and tying a lot of things together for the story. All while keeping that same Gintama charm. As always with these, spoiler alert.

One thing with Gintama’s storytelling is that it’s only subtle sometimes. If I had to give a major critique to the series as a whole, it would be its overuse of exposition dumps during its serious arcs. It’s something that I noticed early on and even now it doesn’t bother me that much. It’s part of the experience now and I’ve come to enjoy it most of the time. But it’s kind of jarring for the biggest reveal and wtf moment of the series to just be exposition dumped by Nobume in the first half of the very first episode. But hey it was informative and it only gave one part of the story which we get the full picture of later. This is like the first time in this series that the vast majority of it is spent off the earth. Even in the gag stuff it almost always stayed on earth. So this arc was a big change of scenery that’s very welcome. For a show, that’s initial premise is an alien political take over we don’t get to see a lot of aliens or alien planets that much. The stage set for this arc being the home of Kagura and her family makes it all the more sweeter.

This arc is battle after battle. Which makes it a shame that the animation wasn’t that great. But ill circle back to that. Regardless of said animation woes, there are still a lot of cool moments. I thoroughly enjoyed Bansai fanboying over Gin, Katsura, and Sakamoto. When they all break up and begin their individual fights I got a heavy One Piece vibe. Oda loved doing that pre-time skip. Out of the three individual fights, Gin’s had a lot of funny moments and it thematically would go to not only tie with the big fight this arc but also the show as a whole. Not that memorable though. Sakamoto’s battle answered a question that I’ve been wondering about for a while. Which is, why does use a gun not a sword? The flashback and reason why tieing directly into Gin’s fight. Also, Nobunobu did a lot of self-reflecting during this. I mean, he gets a couple of pitty points from me but I think there’s little redeeming him in my eyes. Katsura’s fight is probably the best animated and the second-best overall this season. We get a real deep look into his personal philosophy. Which is interesting to me. He’s always had to be independent, so he views himself as a leader. And a leader has to know when to pick and chose his battles to ensure his men’s safety. So it was dope getting that perspective then seeing him abandon that for the sake of the fight and fight not as a leader but an individual. Obviously, Katsura is strong, but he showed a different level of strength in his fight with Neptune. He looked so badass with his robe off. I thoroughly enjoyed that fight.

Now to the big stuff. First off Umibozu is op as hell. I always enjoy it when he shows up cause it’s so infrequent. Man, that whole backstory with him and Kouka was heartbreaking as hell. Two lonely souls. One trapped on a planet only she can live on. One who can’t return home and wanders space by himself. It was sweet. I will say It felt very forced to have Kouka’s hair be a combination of both Kagura’s and Kamui’s. It just didn’t look good. Fast forward to when they’re a family. Seeing Kamui as a sweet innocent child is so weird. That scene where Kouka was throwing stuff at them while Umibuzo was running away with him on his back was cute as hell. Parts of the conflict between Kamui and Umibuzo were very well foreshadowed long ago. The full picture is sad. He blames his father for his mother’s death. While Umibozu always instilled the idea of strength cures all into him but he didn’t fully foster that point into him in a productive way. Mostly because he himself didn’t fully understand it at the time. Which ultimately leads to him becoming who he is. The empty shell who yearns for nothing but strength and casts away all emotional and personal connections to get that. Also in those flashbacks, I loved Abuto. I’ve yet to get a chance to talk about him but he’s definitely in my top 10 characters in this series. He’s a very interesting character and his perspective is always welcome. Kouka is also great. She reminds me of Kagura but kore deadpan. Wish we could see more of her.

Visually the Kamui battle was okay. It had its moments but overall it was serviceable. That doesn’t stop this overall battle between Kamui and everyone who tried to stop that monster from being one of my favorite fights. Specifically Kamui vs. Gin. Gin is ridiculous. The amount of damage he endured and inflicted on maybe the strongest Yato currently is insane for just a human. Every time a blow looked like it put him out for good he got right back up. His resolve is otherworldly and that is the reason behind his strength. The deluded belief of how to attain strength that Kamui has is to empty himself. Devoid himself of personal attachment because he believes there’s no protecting anything you care about unless you’re the strongest. There’s no point in making those personal connections if you can’t protect them. Whereas Gin is the complete opposite. We’ve known this for hundreds of episodes now. His resolve is so strong because he has so much to protect. They both know what it’s like to lose people you care for because you’re relatively weak. But Gin was at that place where mentally where Kamui was at but he came to realize that’s not the way. He came to take that pain and use it to cherish these bonds that he has now even more versus Kamui throwing it all away. So thematically I loved their fight a lot. Kamui got it beat into that he still has people that care about him and even if he didn’t what’s the point in reaching the top of the mountain (ala being the strongest) if you have nothing? This was an amazing climax to a good arc.

Back to the first episodes big exposition dump, we learned that Utsuro is an immortal being born from Earth’s Altana. Who defected from the Naraku and went missing. First off, I haven’t heard of Altana since like way before episode 100. But I mean it makes sense how easy it was and why the Tendoshu wanted to take control of Earth. To control its supply of Altana as to which they’ve made themselves the authority of it in the whole universe (there’s a USA oil joke just begging to be made here). So that’s crazy and it immediately disproved my theory from the previous review. But the main question I had from that initial exposition is, why did he defect? Funnily enough, my brain went straight to multiple personalities and I was correct about that. Fast forward to episode 12 the full reasoning is revealed. I loved the stylistic choice made for the art style during the backstory segments. Gintama does this often and it’s always cool. Utsuro is an ancient immortal who was persecuted, tested on, killed, and reborn for who knows how long before he was locked away in isolation. In said isolation developing multiple personalities to cope with the situation. I couldn’t imagine being in that situation for a day, let alone however long it took for the bars on the cell to rust away. That’s crazy. As always in these situations, there’s a dominant personality. Which we now call “Utsuro.” I wanna know what exactly was the trigger for the Shoyo personality to begin to rise up and eventually take over.

Something that I did not see coming was Oboro being the first member of Shoko Sonjuku. Saved by Shoyo’s immortal blood and becoming an imperfect immortal himself. Then sacrificing himself cause he knew Shoyo wouldn’t fight against their pursuers. Then years later running into him walking around with Gin and company. Jealousy is a hell of an emotion and I felt for him when he reminisced and said what if things were different that day? What if I just felt happy for Shoyo and his new life and went on with my day? What if I became one of your guys?. That revelation just adds so much to the execution scene. All of Shoyos’ students around him. His first student there fueled by jealousy. His second student is forced into a position in which he has to kill his master. Shinsuke and Katsura watching helplessly, believing that this is their fault. That scene keeps getting more powerful with each reveal. But in episode 10 I love how they paralleled Gin executing Shoyo with Utsuro executing him internally. One could see how he could hold resentment to Gin at that moment yet his final message was still pure till the end. There are a lot of stories that progress and plot revelations don’t have that much bearing on previous events. Every new plot reveal in Gintama seems to just add more weight and depth to everything we’ve seen so far. I love it, it’s like the story is constantly evolving past and present. It keeps me very engaged and wanting more.

Next season is going to be crazy. Like a lot of immortal people in media, Utsuro’s ultimate goal is to die while also killing the planet that birthed him and persecuted him, that being earth. And committing planetary destruction across the universe is a really good catalyst to start a galactic war. I’m excited to see this war play out. Umibuzo has an idea on how to kill him, that’ll be interesting. Amanto were kinda far and few between in the series at times but Odd Jobs has countered a few so I wonder how they’ll play in. Ultimately though, I need more Joi 4 action scenes asap. Shoyo told Gin at a young age that a demon can’t defeat a demon, so grow strong in your own way. So whenever we get that battle, whether it’s a 1v1 or a 4v1 I’m ready. Also, the return of the Shinsengumi will be hype. This season, like always, delivered on the soundtrack and voice acting. I’m just hoping next season’s animation is better.

So yeah this season was pretty good overall. Outside of flashbacks and a funny gag here and there, and Katsuras fight. The first half of this season was just alright. Once the Joi 4 reunite things start to really pick up and it’s pretty great after that. A lot of answers to a lot of questions were given. I feel like the whole Kamui plotline has come to a great ending, as well as the whole Shinsuke plotline though we may see more of both. Gintama is still going strong.

Gintama. (Season 5) – 9/10

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