by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 350 of
Gintama Season 4 (TV 6/2017) ?
The fight for the Kabuki District looms closer to its climax as an ALA battalion of Shinra warriors led by the ice-cold Sotatsu takes over from where Ougai left off. Intent on finding the inventor of the nanomachine virus and bringing the ALA's ships back online, Sotatsu demands that Gin and the gang hand over Gengai. However, before the villains can claim victory, Jirocho and Pirako arrive on the scene to help turn the tide of battle. Even with Ougai back on his feet and Kyubei critically injured, our heroes are able to valiantly hold their own against the Shinra through clever trickery and brute force. Despite their efforts, the battle still looms on, and as the post-credits preview indicates, a certain Dakini florist may soon enter the fray as well.
As an off-color comedy, Gintama has served up its fair share of lecherous humor, but for the most part, the series has treated its women as fully realized characters instead of objects of desire or damsels in distress. Sexist jokes are generally kept to a minimum, and the supporting cast's gender ratio is almost equal. As the first third of the episode reiterates, the women of Gintama are often just as strong as their male counterparts, although this message is somewhat undermined by Otae and her fellow cabaret ladies quickly being taken hostage by Sotatsu, and Kyubei being incapacitated by Ougai's enormous club. Of course, it's worth noting that the hostages are rescued by a woman when Pirako shows up.
This portion of the episode also attempts to shine a spotlight on Tsukuyo's feelings for Gintoki, but it doesn't reveal anything new or necessarily interesting about this plot point. Through flashback, we learn that Hinowa encouraged her friend to leave Yoshiwara to fight alongside the person she fell for, as Seita and the Hyakka defend the homefront in her stead. However, in light of everything Tsukuyo and the Odd Jobs crew have been through together, it's practically a given that she would help them defend the Kabuki District, even if she didn't harbor feelings for Gin.
Seeing the Doromizu family after an absence of over 100 episodes is certainly fun, particularly during Jirocho and Pirako's one-on-one interactions. As the audience quickly learns, traveling with his daughter has softened the old man to a point where he's almost unrecognizable to Shinpachi. Although the flashbacks to Jirocho, Tatsugoro, and Otose's youth are interesting, they don't show the audience anything that wasn't already revealed during the Kabuki District Four Devas Arc. Then again, given how long Jirocho's been gone, it stands to reason that some viewers might need a refresher course on his personal history.
As was the case last week, it's difficult to gauge how seriously certain threats should be taken. For example, toward the beginning of the episode, Gintoki is buried under heavy logs and pierced with kunai in the name of comedy. Then, just minutes later, Kyubei is seriously injured after suffering a direct hit from Ougai's club. Even Otae's fall to her “death” seems less perilous than the show frames it to be. To be fair, this is less jarring in Gintama than it would be in virtually any other show, but featuring hardcore physical comedy in a story with genuine stakes has presented some minor tonal issues.
Even at the nine-episode mark, Silver Soul continues to deliver fast-paced action, light drama, and hilarious comedy in each installment. Minor tone problems aside, it's great to see semi-forgotten supporting characters come out of the woodwork to lend a hand each week. With this portion of the arc set to conclude next week, all signs point to a satisfying and memorable end to the battle for the Kabuki District.
Gintama is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Amy is an author who has loved anime for over two decades.
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