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Episode 272

by Amy McNulty,

Viewers are treated to more wartime flashbacks and several big reveals in the conclusion to the Joi rebels reunion story. Over the course of the episode, all is revealed concerning the mysterious identity of Kurokono Tasuke, the phantom fifth member of the group, as well as who really organized the aforementioned reunion. Last week, the show prioritized madcap humor over serious flashbacks to the Joi War. This week, the jokes are still a prominent part of the story, but there's weightiness to some of the scenes and a general feeling that the flashbacks are more grounded in reality—or whatever passes for reality in the world of Gintama. Also, in stark contrast to last week's episode, the fourth-wall breaking is limited to a post-credits scene this time around.

Viewers who tune in purely for the comedy may be disappointed with the slight decrease in gags this week. Of course, even a slightly serious episode of Gintama is more humor-laden than most other anime. Then again, long-time viewers are used to the show diving into more serious fare on occasion, and this episode is far from the most dramatic offering the series has produced. Seeing Gintoki and Takasugi snipe at each other during their days as Joi rebels is well worth the price of admission for any fan of the show's humor—as is Gintoki attempting to ward off a vengeful spirit with a panicked rendition of the Doraemon theme song. Funny or serious, it's always a treat to see Gintoki, in his White Yaksha garb, visit a time when he did more than laze around, farm for boogers and avoid his landlady.

Although his face never appears entirely on screen—as befits a character who only wanted to be forgotten—keen-eared viewers will recognize that Kurokono Tasuke is voiced by none other than Kenshō Ono, the voice of Tetusya Kuroko, the protagonist of Kuroko's Basketball. It's just another example of the limitless leeway Shonen Jump editors, creators, and anime producers give to Gintama when it comes to parodying other titles in the magazine. If Gintama were serialized in a different publication, a fair number of its regular targets would likely be off-limits.

Paced well and fraught with (humorous) tension, the conclusion of this storyline pulls off a near-perfect landing. It's nice to dial down the toilet humor on occasion and give the viewers a little room to breathe. The episode cuts back on the crassness and develops the characters just enough to make you care, without making you feel like you're watching another show entirely.

While episode 272 doesn't adopt the rapid-fire, gag-a-second approach found in the rest of this season's misadventures, it hardly skimps on the humor. By the end of the episode, you've enjoyed an abundance of laughs and a few touching moments centered on Kurokono Tasuke and his role among the Joi rebels. Given the sheer outlandishness of most Gintama stories, that's a strange feeling to have.

Rating: A

Gintama is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Amy is a YA fantasy author who has loved anime for two decades.

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