Still Great – Gintama’ (Season 2) Anime Review

“After a one-year hiatus, Shinpachi Shimura returns to Edo, only to stumble upon a shocking surprise: Gintoki and Kagura, his fellow Yorozuya members, have become completely different characters! Fleeing from the Yorozuya headquarters in confusion, Shinpachi finds that all the denizens of Edo have undergone impossibly extreme changes, in both appearance and personality. Most unbelievably, his sister Otae has married the Shinsengumi chief and shameless stalker Isao Kondou and is pregnant with their first child.

Bewildered, Shinpachi agrees to join the Shinsengumi at Otae and Kondou’s request and finds even more startling transformations afoot both in and out of the ranks of the the organization. However, discovering that Vice Chief Toushirou Hijikata has remained unchanged, Shinpachi and his unlikely Shinsengumi ally set out to return the city of Edo to how they remember it.

With even more dirty jokes, tongue-in-cheek parodies, and shameless references, Gintama’ follows the Yorozuya team through more of their misadventures in the vibrant, alien-filled world of Edo.” – MAL Synopsis

Episodes: 51 – Studio: Sunrise – Sub – Aired: Spring 2011 – Finished – MAL Rating: 9.02 – Genres: ActionSci-FiComedyHistoricalParodySamuraiShounen

Another 51 episodes down the hatch. After taking a year off and coming off a movie, Gintama’ picks up right where the first season ended more or less. The first two episodes are a hilarious parody of anime time skips with multiple references to other anime like One Piece and Dragon Ball Z. To say this season starts very strong is an understatement. The first half of this season is so far Gintama at its peak for me. Hilarious standalone episodes, funny multi-episode arcs, and an S-tier serious storyline in the Four Devas arc. Outside of that, the rest of the series another serious arc that lays the foundation for a future conflict. Gintama is still in peak shape.

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Gintama has never been scared to make fun of or parody anything. This show has always been bold in that regard. But something definitely changed this season. Prior to this season, a lot of names would be bleeped or altered when referring to something like anime or manga in the real world or a real-life person. There’s still some of that here but it was really shocking to see just straight-up name drops and very blatant references this season. They got very bold this go around and that’s not even the only factor that added to that feeling that the leash got a lot longer when it comes to the comedy. There’s a lot more political humor, a lot more lewd humor and the lewd humor felt a lot lewder. I love that it seems like the show got a lot more freedom to be as wild as it is cause it just allows the author and the studio to be more creative in what they do. And with arcs like the Renho one, that creativity and freedom were on full display.

Gintoki & Jirocho

I write notes here and there as I’m watching anime to keep track of what I want to talk about when I eventually get to writing these reviews. A good chunk of my notes on this season are about the Four Devas Arc. If I were to rank the previous serious arcs in order of my favorite to least favorite it’d go: Yoshiwara in Flames, Red Spider, Benizakura, Shinsengumi Crisis. I really love Yoshiwara in Flames and Red Spider. Benizakura and Shinsengumi Crisis are both pretty good. The Four Devas arc might be the best arc up until this point. When the antagonist and protagonists are parallels of each other I gush over that type of stuff. I enjoy that type of writing of the villain and hero and it adds a lot to their conflict. That’s how Gintoki and Jirocho are to each other. There’s a lot of raw emotion in this arc from multiple characters. It tells a story with very personal conflicts on a semi-big scale. Everybody shines in this here. It’s everything I love about Gintama in like 6 episodes. The fights were so damn good on multiple levels. Like we’ve seen Gintoki get beaten and bruised psychically, but it seemed at a point that Jirocho kind of broke his spirit in a way. The connection and parallels between Gin/Jirocho and Otose and her husband were really well written. Then you also have Jirocho and his daughter’s story line, almost every character Odd Jobs has helped in the city come back, the Harusame scheming in the background like usual. This is an S-tier Gintama arc.

Gintoki continues to be one of my favorite characters ever. Once again he, along with the rest of Odd Jobs were great this season. We get to see his character in a different state than we’ve ever seen him before up until this point. He’s always been a strong-willed character and to see that kind of person get broken by Jirocho and then him having to get picked back up by Kagura, Shinpachi, Tama, and Cathrine went a long way in showing that he’s not infallible in spirit. The Four Devas arc also really strengthened that tight familiar bond that Odd Jobs and the Employees of Otose Snack House have. Gin and Otose in particular have some of my favorite moments in the show during this arc. Outside of that arc, Gin is Gin. I talked about it in my last review and it still stands, he’s the heart and soul of this show.

Hasegawa is so damn funny this season. Not to say he and his gags weren’t hilarious last season, they were. But something about how over the top homeless and hopeless he is this season is hilarious. Like last season I feel like a good chunk of Hasegawa-centered episodes had some sort of hope for him in them that would eventually fall apart. There’s some of that here but for the most part, he spends his time being the bummiest bum in Edo and the show never fails to miss a moment to point that out. I think what makes his character so funny is that I kind of feel bad for him. And it’s one of those things where I kind of feel like I shouldn’t be laughing at this but the fact that I shouldn’t makes it even funnier. It’s just feeding a constant loop of semi-dark (not even semi really. There are so many suicide jokes with him) humor. He was great this season.

Human Boarding

I take back everything I said about any other character being my favorite. The Shogun is the best character in fictional history. Gintama’s not shy to have a character be a punching bag for an episode. More than likely that character is one-off and very important in society so they really shouldn’t be taking the psychical and mental abuse that they do. Like there’s another episode this season that has a prestigious Host club-goer who becomes the punching bag for that episode. It was funny. What’s funnier is the man who rules over all of Edo and is feared for the political power he holds being the biggest punching bag there is. It’s the funniest thing seeing the mishaps and abuse that happens to him in all the episodes he’s in. The 3 episodes this season that feature him are the funniest hands down. Watching him get called out for dirty underwear, get used as a damn snowboard while naked, get embarrassed and verbally assaulted by every cast member. All while he barely talks but we can visually see him try to play it off and act cool. It’s actually hilarious. Shogun episodes are the best Gintama has to offer comedy-wise and they’re very spaced out and his character is used sparingly enough that it’s not overdone and it’s a real treat when his episodes come up.

Finally, the forever sought-after 16:9 aspect ratio is put in play. All jokes aside this season just looks better across the board. Everything is cleaner, sharper, looks great. On the music side of things, the soundtrack is spectacular as always. The second opening is pretty solid but the first one is one of the best. Also, we finally got the Star Wars music over a Star Wars parody. Speaking of which, that arc was so full of Star Wars and Gundam references it was so funny to hear a parody of a Gundam song during a transformation scene or the little sound effect that happens when something catches a character’s attention. There were only a couple of new voice actors this season and just like the last the cast across the board is stellar. I think Gintokis va just keeps raising the bar and of course, we got some Sakamoto this season with his awesome laugh.

So yeah, Gintama is still on a roll for me. I loved the first half of the season. Very strong start. Really only the last 13-15ish episodes were kinda up and down for me. But Gintama is Gintama. There are still a lot of high points on the back half of this season too, but some of the stand-alone episodes and gags just weren’t as funny. I think as a whole this season’s highs rival or even surpass the highs of last season. But its lows maybe just feel a lot lower due to it being 1/4 of the length of last season. I still have like 2 more movies and 150 more episodes left to go and from what I’ve heard I haven’t even gotten to the really good stuff yet. Overall not quite as good as the first season but Gintama is still peak shounen.

Gintama’ (Season 2) – 9/10

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