by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 360 of
Gintama (TV 7/2018) ?
After several seasons of buildup, the Odd Jobs crew and their strongest allies kick off the final battle against the seemingly unkillable Utsuro. Having been gifted Ane and Mone's remaining Zen energy, a beleaguered Sadaharu is grievously injured by Hitsugi upon arriving at the Gate. An enraged Gintoki then lops off one of the emotionless killing machine's arms before promptly being beaten back by Utsuro. As more ley lines go berserk, a massive hole in the Earth forms right outside of the Terminal, and before Shinpachi and Kagura can get to him, Sadaharu is consumed by it. However, being an Altana mutant, the trusty pup is able to cocoon himself in planetary energy as he attempts to bring the ley lines back under control. In the continuing battle against Utsuro, Gintoki breaks out his new crystallite sword and stabs his enemy in the eye, but the all-powerful immortal is able to shatter Gin's new weapon with little effort. With his last ounce of strength, Gintoki manages to drive one of the crystallite shards through Utsuro's remaining eye.
Things continue to heat up when Umibozu, Kamui, Abuto, the Seventh Division, and the Shinsengumi arrive on the scene to throw their hats in the ring. Not at all fazed by his temporary blindness, Utsuro effortlessly kills scores of Kamui's crew and nameless Shinsengumi members. (At one point, he even appears to slit Yamazaki's throat, but whether this wound proves to be fatal is currently unclear.) With the series' strongest fighters out of commission, Shinpachi and Kagura attempt to prevent Utsuro from reaching the vulnerable Sadaharu. Much to Utsuro's surprise, he's unable to immediately recover from the damage the kids manage to inflict. Gintoki then appears and reveals that his aim in taking out the villain's second eye had been to get the crystallite shards into his bloodstream, effectively impairing his superhuman healing abilities. With Utsuro finally at a disadvantage, Odd Jobs Gin-chan prepares to take this epic battle into the homestretch.
Even though Silver Soul has put nearly every major character through the wringer, seeing Sadaharu repeatedly stabbed and nearly impaled is particularly hard to watch. Despite being left out of many of the show's later stories, Gintama's adorable anti-mascot remains as easy to love as ever, and given the track record dogs have in fiction, it's hard to definitively place him in the “safe” camp. Still, it's touching to see how far the Odd Jobs crew goes to protect him—and how he repays the favor by saving Gintoki (his least favorite member of the team) without a second thought. In spite of all his bellyaching about the tribulations of owning a comically large, destruction-prone dog, Gin becomes downright bloodthirsty when he sees what Hitsugi did to his pet. Even Shinpachi, who's physically the weakest of the main trio, is able to overcome his (justifiable) fear of Utsuro and will himself to take action when Sadaharu's life is on the line. Coupled with Kagura's subsequent assist and Gintoki's long-game shard attack, this is the perfect Odd Jobs Gin-chan combo attack.
Although the animation is fairly choppy for an action-heavy episode, the latest installment does an excellent job of showcasing Utsuro's seemingly limitless strength. Sure, we've seen him in a few fights prior to this, but watching him topple the Gintama-verse's most seasoned warriors while barely lifting a finger truly drives home how powerful a threat the gang is now facing. Portions of the episode even feel downright horror movie-ish, especially when Utsuro takes out an entire Shinsengumi battalion with a well-choreographed leap and a single sword swing.
An emotional, action-packed rollercoaster ride from start to finish, episode 360 feels like it's over before it's barely begun. Utsuro is no longer a Big Bad whose comeuppance is dozens of episodes away; he's now an immediate threat who can't be defeated through anything resembling normal means. Earth's destruction is no longer a far-off scheme that's still in the planning phase; it's happening as we speak. If our heroes don't act quick and exhaust every possible trump card, everything will come to an end.
Gintama is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Amy is an author who has loved anime for over two decades.
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