by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 347 of
Gintama Season 4 (TV 6/2017) ?
On Earth and in outer space, our heroes continue to fight valiantly against Ensho's army. Although Gengai's cannon gave the good guys a temporary advantage, the war is far from over. With the Altana Liberation Army's ground troops headed straight for the Kabuki District and Utsuro's forces lurking in the background, the battle for the blue planet is only just beginning.
In the end, Gengai's phallic cannon is able to bring down an armada of ALA ships, but this victory comes at a cost: Tama, Kintoki, and the rest of robots have completely depleted their energy. However, in light of Gengai's vow to repair them, we're likely to see the bots back in full form again before curtain call. Although the gang was able to take away the enemy's technological advantage, the ALA's extensive ground forces (which include powerful combat races like Shinra and Dakini) still represent an immediate threat. To prevent the villains from seizing the Kabuki District, Odd Jobs Gin-chan, the Shinsengumi, and the Oniwaban begin taking down their enemies en masse. Meanwhile, old allies like Jirocho, Chin Pirako, Ikeda Asaemon, Shachi, Seimei, Douman, and Gedomaru rush to the scene to lend a hand.
As the battle on Earth heats up, things hit a snag in space. Predicting that negotiations with Ensho might go south, Sakamoto tasked Katsura and his Joi rebels with standing by in a stealth ship in case the gang needed a speedy rescue. Unfortunately, as a result of Zura's airheadedness, the ship is spotted and its crew is captured by the animal-loving Prince Hata, who's put together his own Noah's Ark for the purpose of preserving all of Earth's species. (We also discover that Hasegawa, whose species is classified as “Loser Underdog,” is aboard the ship too.)
Even though she's likely to be back soon, Tama's sacrifice is staged beautifully, and it's hard not to get a little choked up as she bids farewell to her friends. Her removal of the screw Gintoki bought her many episodes ago is both a masterful continuity nod and arguably the episode's most powerful moment. Still, the fact that she's been destroyed and rebuilt before somewhat detracts from the emotional heaviness of the situation. The rapidity with which the episode shifts gears is also slightly jarring, as it leaves the audience little time to process Tama's “death,” however temporary it may be. It's a well-directed sequence, but like so much of this cour, it unfolds too quickly to have the intended emotional impact.
Katsura is as reliably hilarious as ever this week, and his bungling of the stealth operation serves as one of this season's funniest bits. Like the past few installments, episode 347 does a nice job of blending the show's trademark comedy with its more serious elements, and so far this arc has been better at balancing humor and seriousness than the previous three endgame arcs. Zura continually questioning the limitations of stealth technology feels like something straight out of classic Gintama, as do Prince Hata's space ark and the various sign gags scattered throughout. Going off the preview, it looks like we'll get some info on the prince's backstory next week, which feels like a perfectly Gintama-ish turn for the narrative to take.
Gintama is once again firing on all cylinders this week, but as was the case last week, the show crams too much content into a single episode. This isn't to say the proceedings feel overly condensed or difficult to follow, but certain developments like Tama's sacrifice warrant more reflection than they're given. As our heroes continue defending their home turf and more seldom-seen supporting characters pop in for their final crumbs, fans can likely look forward to another rollercoaster ride next week.
Gintama is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Amy is an author who has loved anime for over two decades.
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