by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 355 of
Gintama (TV 7/2018) ?
This week, Silver Soul shifts its focus back to Earth, where our heroes receive aid from more former adversaries. Although Kagura is able to rescue Gengai from his captors, she quickly finds herself surrounded by the Altana Liberation Army's Yato fleet and the mysterious elder who serves as its leader. However, thanks to some timely help from Kamui and the 7th Division, Kagura's predicament begins looking far less hopeless. As Kamui reveals, Neptune Shokaku, Pluto Bato, and the remnants of their respective divisions are currently fighting against the ALA in space. Now united, the siblings make a play for the mysterious elder, only to discover that he can asphyxiate or revitalize himself, thus enabling him to control his lifespan. Their opponent is also able to shrink and enlarge any part of his body at will.
The battle quickly devolves into a squabble between super-powered siblings, with the Yato elder being treated as both an afterthought and a prop the duo use to hurt one another. Things take a decidedly Gintama-ish turn when Kagura and Kamui focus their attention exclusively on the elder's groin, prompting him to enlarge his manhood to a comically excessive degree, which ultimately enables the siblings to take him down more easily. Unfortunately, their victory is short-lived. Shortly after Gintoki, Shinpachi, Hijikata, and Sogo arrive on the scene, the group is approached by a battalion of Naraku assassins led by Utsuro. After effortlessly slaughtering some nearby Yato, the immortal mutant reveals that he's finally destroyed Earth's ley lines. Gin and company can do nothing but stare in horror as Edo is engulfed in multiple explosions of green light.
The Yato elder being rendered a non-threat and ultimately used as a vehicle for comedy is a perfectly Gintama-esque development for the narrative to roll out. It's often hard to predict how long the show's “serious” arcs will stick with a particular tone, so while the elder's fate is very much in tune with the show's sophomoric humor, it isn't exactly predictable, either. It's a little disappointing that the siblings are able to take him down without much effort, but at the end of the day, this fight is more about Kagura and Kamui working as a team and letting out pent-up aggression than showcasing the abilities of a new enemy. (Plus, unlike other Shonen Jump properties, Gintama generally doesn't draw out its big fights.)
While it's fun to see Kagura and Kamui unite against a common enemy and even use their bickering to their advantage, there isn't much new progress made regarding their strained relationship. Kamui saved Kagura's life toward the end of the Shogun Assassination Arc and decided against killing her in The Battle of Rakuyo, so the formerly emotionless killing machine having a soft spot for his little sis isn't exactly a new development, but it's always satisfying to see these get along—or whatever passes for it with them.
As is customary with the show's action-oriented arcs, this action this week is fast-paced and to-the-point. Although the movement is a little choppy in spots, watching the Yato combatants fly through the air, throw each other through walls, and land comedic attacks is a real treat. Episode 355 also features a number of creative deaths. Kamui kicking off an opponent's head so quickly that the severed head has time to react is a great piece of gallows humor, and Utsuro's lightning-fast slaughter of multiple Yato serves as a stark reminder of how serious a threat he is.
As usual, Utsuro manages to be menacing without crossing the line into moustache-twirling territory. Even if his ultimate goal is somewhat unoriginal, he never comes off as shallow or predictable, and like a good master villain, he becomes more frightening with each appearance. In light of how monstrously strong most of the series' characters are, it seems only fitting for Gintama's Big Bad to be someone who's practically a god.
Silver Soul continues to fire on all cylinders, deftly weaving its trademark comedy into action-packed moments of this increasingly hard-fought final battle. This week's episode even manages to work some character growth into the action, with Kamui coming as close as he realistically can to acknowledging that he cares about Kagura. The only real downside is being left with such a game-changing cliffhanger.
Gintama is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Amy is an author who has loved anime for over two decades.
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