Gintama’s Return – Episode 1 Review

Another year, another season of Gintama. This time however, it is a little bittersweet. As the manga is in it’s final arc and will most likely end sometime this year, fans are starting to see the end. It’s great that the anime is back but there is not too much content left to animate, and that’s quite a sad fact. Regardless, due to the fact that Gintama is my favorite manga/anime franchise, I thought it fitting to review each new episode. The structure of these reviews is still up in the air so bear with me. All these reviews will be spoiler free, so with that, let’s begin!

Episode 1 – The Monster and the Monster’s Child

This season animates the Rakuyou arc, which is the arc before the one currently going on in the manga. After a cute opening scene, the show jumps right into it by further developing the relationship between Shoyo/Utsuru and his disciples (Gintoki, Katsura, Takasugi, etc.) The biggest plot point that the episode gives is the reason Utsuru is alive. This episode certainly feels like the start of a new arc because of all the set up but that is pretty impossible to avoid. In terms of tone, this arc continues the trend of a much more serious Gintama that started with the Shogun Assassination Arc. This allows for more character development and the great fight scenes that Gintama has always had. The downside is that the focus on comedy that is one of the main pillars of why the series is so successful is far less prevalent. Every time a funny moment comes up, it feels like nothing has happened and its the good old Gintama that fans fell in love with. This feeling is fleeting however, which brings the viewer back to the reality of Gintoki’s world. It is slowly breaking apart and laughter can distract them only so much. I love when the humor pops up but with this episode I started to feel that the jokes were being a bit shoe horned in. The series is running a thin line between drama and comedy so I will give it props for still making the humor work overall, but this episode was the first time I ever felt like the comedy bits didn’t necessarily need to be there.

Looking at the more technical aspects of the episode, the animation is spot on as always. The characters look great and action scenes are smooth and easy to follow. The music is classic Gintama, so you either love it or don’t care about it. The new opening and ending songs sound good, nothing special, however the opening animation is great, even though it spoils some big plot points.  The voice acting is full of emotion and character and I could praise Gintoki’s amazing voice for the rest of the review but I’ll restrain myself.

All in all, for the first episode in the season, it works well. It is not the best first episode Gintama has had but it sets the scene well and I am excited to see how this arc will be animated. There are lots of fights and drama to come and I can’t wait.

またね! (See ya!)

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