Here it is. What has been teased for the entire run, no jokes or strings attached. Straight up REAL DEAL right here, right now. This is it. This is the birth of White Demon.
Before we really get into this.
Yes. Hell yes. Hell fuckin’ yes.
This may have simultaneously been the most simultaneously informative and action packed episode in the entire series. Once it gets going, it is GONE, this gravy train is NONSTOP. Despite the standard Gintama use of still screens, all else right here is animated through the roof for this show’s standards. The Four Devas arc may have produced the best singular fight which looked fantastic, but what we’ve got here is spread throughout the entire episode. And there are so many sweet sweet bits for the pickings.
Starting from the top. Nobume in tow, the 5 insurgents storm the castle for the nation toppling battle. And in the midst of it all, Sorachi reaffirms that he has a great cast of both men and women in play. I’ve touched on the topic before, but with the topic matter involved this arc, sounds like a good time to get more into it. Because the guy really has a handle on female characters. The whole bunch of them is infinitely likable, and moreover unique and memorable. Not only are they strong in their ideals and emotions, but in their actions as well; they don’t lost out to the male cast at all, and that’s all there is to the secret of their charm. The Three Sadisteers are hilarious, with Kagura pulling out of this world faces as Nobume and Soyo participate in scaring the life outta every guard on the compound. Tsukuyo’s speech follows it up, hitting both Yoshiwara tones that relate to her on a personal level, and on a more general level, spells out exactly why the female cast is so good. There is nothing that separates them from the just as good male cast.
They are all equally freaks.
I gotta mention, it is nice to see some of Gintoki’s war experience seep into view. As they’re all back to back, his encouragement to focus on what’s in front to leave what’s behind to another is telling of the times he fought with his former Joui compatriots. And while Kagura steals the show, playfully sitting on a cannon as a hole is blown into the Shogun’s front door is hard not to call the most adorable thing ever, but even Shinpachi proves himself capable of keeping up, heck, dealing some serious damage, if at his own expense. A cool little detail later on the episode, Shinpachi shields Kagura as she runs out of ammunition and is down. Sometimes… with great averageness comes great responsibility.
Making an entrance of the very best kind, who awaits them than Sadasada himself, smug look plastered over his face. He carries about a clear air of superiority, prattling on about his untouchable status; of how he is not above law, but is the law itself. It provokes an understandably strong reaction from Tsukuyo who intends to enact a Yoshiwara sense of justice, while Nobume continues to work to her own hidden agenda. Thinking it over, I’m starting to feel that the contrast between Nobume during the Thorny arc and now was intended, as she demonstrates her knowledge on cult-like Tenshoin Naraku, an envoy of Sadasada’s dirty work. And hey, now this is a surprise, as the leader of the group, Oboro, is voiced by none other than Nyanko-sensei (Kazuhiko Inoue). He pulls off the pretentious eloquence that the guy spouts in strides, this was excellent casting right here.
Less excellent news awaits though, as Sadasada reveals Maizou’s current, now completely armless, state. The intent clearly to further enact his heavenly justice, leaving the old man unable to even embrace Suzuran if they were to meet. This is where Gintoki runs out of patience. Yes. Yes. This is all good. That animation trick, yes, break blade bite, yes. Yes to all of it. The former Shogun’s momentarily shocked face is so very satisfying, even if Oboro pulls off a recovery, wooden sword through his baskety little head or not. The fight picks up again, and it’s so friggin’ cool to see how Gintoki uses ingenuity and the environment to his advantage. Also major props to the music, as it tones down the new track as a false sense of security settles in, followed by bringing it back in full force as a serious blow is dealt. And just like that, thanks to a combination of acupuncture and poison, Gintoki is downed.
And then it happens. Oboro takes off his baskety little helmet to reveal himself, and it’s about as instant of a reaction as there can be that Gintoki recognizes him. And from both of their reactions, it’s more than likely that Gintoki did not come out of that encounter on top. But that’s not the bombshell here. It’s what comes next. This is the story of the Kansei Purge, the years when Gintoki lost his teacher. It’s actually based on a real life event, like most of Gintama is loosely, the Ansei Purge. It was basically a crackdown on all of those who opposed the increasing foreign trade which went in and out of Japan. Fittingly, the event here is largely the same, but of course applied to the Amanto instead. High ranking Joi rebels were hunted down, and their heads were put on view as an example to the public. It was largely effective, but one last group continued to struggle.
These were the last samurai, and we’re more than familiar with who this group was. Their strife was not patriotic in nature, although possibly joined by those who were, but rather entirely personal as their teacher Yoshida Shoyo was taken captive. At this point, it’s hard to say it wasn’t kinda surreal when this came up. This is the legit background on what happened to this guy who’s been an enigma since practically the very beginning. Gintoki’s desperation as he’s held back from his teacher is tough to watch, and I’m so glad that a reaction from Tsukuyo on all of this. Not just ’cause I think she’s cool, but it’s a great take-back to the Red Spider arc and Tsukuyo’s teacher, as well Gintoki’s actions back then. And to hear from the two people most responsible that Shoyo was taken simply for his act of teaching, a precaution against potential dissenters. Which is great, since instead of letting him guide the children into being respectable people, they now fought to regain their teacher’s freedom. To have these two talk down to him, helpless, as he can only remember back to the moment they lost Shoyo.
On a technical level, the episode could have been better. But as it is, this is monumental episode for Gintama, and it is done justice. Totally lost on how I can really mention the last minute entry of the Shinsengumi and Mimawarigumi properly at this point, but to save time. Yes.
That was good.
It was all good.