The Fall 2017 Anime Preview Guide
Gintama. season 4
How would you rate episode 329 of
Gintama Season 4 (TV 6/2017) ?
What is this?
The season premiere finds Kagura's alien hunter father Umibozu visiting Earth, only to discover that his little girl has recently gotten her first boyfriend. Once Gintoki becomes aware of this development, the two men struggle to come to terms with the fact that Kagura is growing up. In full-on protective father mode, Gintoki and Umibozu insist on meeting Kagura's suitor, but it turns out that he's more of a “grown-up” than either of them… Gintama is based on a manga and streams on Crunchyroll, Sundays at 2:35 PM EST.
How was the first episode?
Thanks to last summer's live-action movie and robust manga sales, Gintama is experiencing a resurgence in popularity. So it only makes sense for the powers that be to bring back the anime. Fortunately, while the staff waits for Hideaki Sorachi to conclude the parent manga, they have a small well of unadapted pre-Shogun Assassination stories to draw from. (As indicated by the opening credits, this also means that characters who have died are once again part of the usual ensemble.) Opening the season with a story that prominently features Kagura and Umibozu is an interesting choice, given that this comes hot off the heels of fans watching The Battle on Rakuyo. Since the previous arc featured these characters at their most dramatic, it makes sense for the show to remind us of how funny they both can be. It's also great to see Shinpachi, who's largely been sidelined throughout the past few arcs, once again at the top of his game as the ultimate tsukkomi.
This story also uses family as a central theme, albeit in a far more comedic fashion than the previous Kagura-centric arc. Even though Gintoki brutally insults Kagura at the beginning of the episode, he regards her as an adoptive daughter, so he's every bit as shaken by the prospect of her having a love life as her actual father. Although Gin and Umibozu are well-intentioned, Shinpachi is the only man in Kagura's life who handles the situation properly—by acting as a supportive older brother and discussing the issue with her in a reasonable manner. Gintama's mean streak has frequently given way to hilarious situations, but the show often hits its stride when it's able to balance out its meanness with a bit of warmth.
Being the season opener, episode 329 features attractive visuals and fluid animation. Like many long-running anime, Gintama's animation quality and general aesthetics tend to fluctuate from episode to episode, but the staff often brings their A-game to premieres. As long as the proceedings are funny, I don't place too much importance on the show's visuals, but it's always nice to have the usual zaniness complemented by good art and animation. (Going off the preview, next week's episode doesn't look quite as sharp.)
Devoted fans who have stuck with the series this far will rejoice at virtually every minute of this debut, but as this is the show's 329th episode, it isn't the best place for new viewers to jump in—and you'll get no help from the deliciously absurd recap provided in the cold open. However, it's also far from the most inaccessible premiere, and I'd argue that it's a better jumping-in point than the 2011 and 2015 openers. Still, this will be a lot funnier if you have a general idea of who these characters are and what drives them.
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