0 Items | £0.00

VIEW BASKET

Gintama and Japanese steam punk

Friday 21st December 2012


Andrew Osmond gets to grips with Gintama the Movie

Gintama

Gintama doesn’t start like your average anime. It begins, Muppet Show style, with the main characters fretting about the movie we’re going to watch – “Why are the Warner Brothers (sic) making a samurai movie anyway?” They squabble over how to tell the story; it’s suggested they should explain everything for newbies, but that’s nixed because, “Only hardcore fans will come anyway; we’re very selective!” In fact, it’s easy for newbies to pick up the basics, especially if you like oddball comedy and SF, but here are some pointers.

The Gintama film is based on a long-running anime and manga series created by Hideaki Sorachi, which has racked up nearly fifty manga books and over 200 TV episodes. It is, indeed, a samurai anime, set in the nineteenth-century city of Edo (Tokyo as-was) with plenty of swordplay and lean, cool warriors furiously pledging their honour. It also has a giant duck (well, something like a duck). And a giant dog. And flying warships, and spaceships, and A.I. technology. Er, what is this again?

You can class Gintama as alternate history, or as a very Japanese kind of steampunk, but the most fitting category for the show is “messing things about.” It’s a riff on real history; in 1853, Japan’s fate was transformed when America’s “black ships” sailed to the isolated island, and made Japan open up to the world. Gintama, though, imagines that instead of Americans, Japan was visited by honest-to-goodness aliens, who thrashed the samurai and conquered the country. Decades later, Japanese society has been transformed by all manner of anachronisms, from TV to manga comics. It’s a burlesque, pantomime Japan, accommodating bloody battles and Carry On Edo comedy.

The show’s main characters are three self-employed odd-jobbers. Gintoki is a full-fledged samurai who fought on the losing side against the aliens. Like many anime heroes, he’s nonchalant and undignified, but has superhuman skills. Shinpachi is a meek youth with glasses, and the butt of much of the humour, but he wields a decent blade too. The girl Kagura is a peppery tomboy with kick-ass speed and strength. She’s actually an alien, but very earthy (if she challenges you to a spitting contest, look out!). Another ally who plays a large role in the film is Elizabeth, the aforementioned giant duck, with a deadpan demeanour and the habit of commenting on the action with signboards (“This is a violent anime!”).

If you want to consider Gintama seriously, the retro-invasion might seem daft, but it’s a cartoon of how Japan’s development was accelerated in staggering ways from the mid-19th century. By extension, the conflicts in the film reflect the lacerating identity crises that would drive Japan to Pearl Harbour. As in anime like Summer Wars and Towanoquon, the past persists in the present. The main weapon in the film is a tech-enhanced super-sword; one character praises the capriciousness of making such a tool in an age of guns. But ideals aren’t necessarily good. The sword’s creator is eaten by his desire to make an ultimate, invincible weapon, for which you can read A-Bomb. The film’s main adversary, Takasugi, is obsessed with avenging the past through destroying Japan as it’s become.

The conflict between Gintoki, Takasugi and a third samurai may mean the least to newbies who’ve not seen the show. You get an idea of the scale of the series, though, from the comedy epilogue after the fake end credits. In it, a massive crowd of Gintama characters burst in, demanding a proper role in the next film! British viewers may get the chance to see more of them in the show itself. Manga Entertainment has said it’ll consider releasing it if the film sells well.

But just on the film’s own terms, how many anime can match it for fourth-wall busting humour; an Akira-style cyborg mutant who brings down flying ships with a sword; gags about Bleach, Naruto and Lupin; and the most adorable oversized bird since Eva’s Pen-Pen? Not to mention my favourite line of dialogue, which is said sternly by Kagura to her loyal canine steed as she sends it on an urgent Lassie mission. “Even if you see a cute doggie – no humping!”

Gintama the Movie is out on UK DVD on Christmas Eve from Manga Entertainment.

Buy it now

MANGA UK GOSSIP

Gintama The Movie

£7.99
sale_tag
was £19.99
Hilarious violence is guaranteed. Your sanity is not.
Odd Jobs Gin has taken on a lot of odd work in the past, and when you're a Jack of All Trades agency based in a feudal Japan that's been conquered and colonized by aliens, the term Odd Jobs means REALLY ODD jobs. But when some more than slightly suspicious secrets from the shadows of Gintoki Sakata's somewhat shady former samurai past and a new pair of odd jobs collide, the action is bound to get so wild and demented that only a feature film will do it justice!
Sit down, strap yourself in, and make sure you're not wearing anything too tight or constricting as the junior half of OJG takes on the task of tracking down a tenacious terrorist while their silver-haired slickster of a partner seeks out a certain sword in the stunningly side-splitting and screwy Gin Tama!

FEATURED RELEASE

RELATED BLOG ARTICLES

Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Matt Kamen on the “Evangelion of magical girl shows”
Magical Girls can be traced as far back as the 1960s, with the likes of Fujio Akatsuka’s Secret Akko-chan or Mitsuteru Yokoyama’s Sally the Witch – the first manga and anime, respectively, to dabble in the genre of girls gaining powers from a piece of jewellery or trinket of some kind. Hundreds more would join their ranks over the years, some merely using their powers for twee but ultimately everyday adventures, others transforming into battle-ready warrior women fighting for the safety of the entire planet. Ever since Naoko Takeuchi’s Sailor Moon exploded in popularity in 1992, the more superheroic approach has dominated the field.

Madoka Magica versus Angel Beats

Andrew Osmond says if you liked that… you might like this…
So, you’ve finished Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Good, wasn’t it? Don’t be too depressed that it’s over. A new story is being prepared as a feature film (not to be confused with the two-part compilation recently released in Japan). Moreover, writer Gen Urobuchi revealed in October that a further TV incarnation of the show is on the cards. But if you’re looking for something to watch till then, consider Angel Beats, out on Blu-ray and DVD.

Cosplay: Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Paul Jacques rounds up the best dressed fans
Amy Sun is in the pink as Ultimate Madoka from Puella Magi Madoka Magica.
With all three of the Madoka Magica Movies available on DVD and Blu-ray now in the UK, it’s the perfect time to take a quick look at the franchise.

RECENT FEATURED POSTS

Dragon Ball Z Resurrection "F" hits UK cinemas September 30! Book your cinema tickets now

Naruto's World of "Jutsu"

Rayna Denison sneaks into the background of ninja anime
What is it about Japanese martial arts that these shows celebrate? In the case of Naruto, and now the second series, Naruto Shippuden, it is the “mysterious” art of ninjutsu that comes in for exploration and explosion.

Who's Who in Dragon Ball #4

A rogues' gallery from the latest DVD box set
Ever wonder just how Goku and friends became the greatest heroes on Earth? Wonder no more, as the original Dragon Ball reveals the origins of Akira Toriyama’s beloved creations! The faces may look familiar, but everything else is different in this classic series!
The official Japanese website for Blue Exorcist (Ao no Exorcist) has recently launched a countdown, which is set to end on 4th July at 8:00 JST (23:00 GMT).

Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water

Andrew Osmond on an anime classic, available at last in the UK
Hideaki Anno takes on Captain Nemo and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, in an anime series that began as a proposal by Hayao Miyazaki... It's one of the best-love anime ever, and it's only now getting a UK Blu-ray release.

New Ghibli Film Announced

Suzuki’s swansong will be the ultimate in exclusivity
Rough artwork has been leaked of Studio Ghibi’s next film, announced as the ultimate in collectibles: a film released in a single print, with a guarantee of no DVD or Blu-ray release. Slated for release in one year’s time, Gertie the Dinosaur began with the most unlikely of inspirations for a much-loved children’s studio.
Contact Us   |   Refund Policy   |   Delivery Times   |   Privacy statement   |   Terms & Conditions
Please note your card statement will show billing by MVM. Gintama and Japanese steam punk from the UK's best Anime Blog.