by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 363 of
Gintama (TV 7/2018) ?
The time skip hijinks continue this week as more characters' increasingly bizarre fates are revealed. As Donald Zarump announces his plan to introduce a Japanese constitution (which he intends to serialize in Weekly Shonen Jump), Matsudaira and some former Shinsengumi officers orchestrate a failed assassination attempt on the newly-minted prime minister. Never one to give up, Matsudaira then strong-arms Shinpachi (who's still being followed by Tamako) into meeting some black market merchants at the docks and obtaining a special secret weapon he intends to use in his next assassination effort. Shinpachi is shocked to discover that these pirates are led by Mutsu, who reveals that Sakamoto lost all of the Kaientai's money after investing in cryptocurrency and is currently riddled with debt and entangled in a Kaiji-esque death game. Additionally, the weapon being delivered is a miniaturized version of Kagura, who claims to have been born when the real Kagura ate too many bananas and puked her up. Before Shinpachi has time to fully process this, the group is surrounded by a battalion of former Shinsengumi led by Sogo, who insists on testing the merchandise as he lunges for Mini-Kagura.
Meanwhile, in the countryside, Gintoki makes his way to the charred remains of what was once Shoka Sonjuku, where he finds Takasugi lighting incense at a grave he built for Oboro. Following a brief skirmish that ends in Takasugi revealing Utsuro-like healing powers, the men are surrounded by a group of police officers led by the recently demoted Hijikata. Shinsuke makes a hasty escape, but Gin is taken in for questioning. At the station, Hijikata reveals that the Tendoshu are rumored to have returned and are intent on reclaiming the Altana they lost. Even though they had become barely-functional meat puppets, they still possess Utsuro's immortal blood, and neither they nor Takasugi have been seen since the war ended. However, this revelation is quickly brushed aside when a Robocop-esque android officer (who goes by “Mobcop”) malfunctions and remembers that's he actually a robotized version of Yamazaki, whom Gin and Hijikata admit to having forgotten about in the war's aftermath. (Yamazaki's actual body is currently undergoing treatment.) Before departing the station, Gin asks Toshi how the Odd Jobs crew is doing, to which Toshi replies, “Go see for yourself.”
Two episodes in, and nearly every major character has made an appearance in Silver Soul's third act. Despite the abundance of featured players this week, the proceedings never feel overwhelming, and the jokes flow at an organic (albeit rapid-fire) pace. There's no shortage of laughs this week, and in true Gintama fashion, viewers are frequently left to wonder how far certain jokes will be taken. The birth of Kagura's “daughter,” Katsura's allusions to the 45th U.S. President, and the reveal of Mobcop's true identity are hilarious WTF moments that are both perplexingly bizarre and perfectly in tune with this show's outlandish humor. Sorachi has always enjoyed mining comedy from toying with audience expectations, and so far, this portion of Silver Soul has been an extended exercise in this. In light of how plot-focused Gintama has gotten as of late, it's easy to forget that at the end of the day, this is a show in which very little can truly be taken seriously.
Now that we've rejoined the majority of the principle cast, there's room for the story to continue moving forward, and at present, this feels more like the beginning of a new arc than the series' denouement. Although Gintoki and Mini-Kagura have shown up, we still have only a vague idea of what they've been up to during the time skip, but this is likely to change once the core group is back together. Terrorist attacks occurring on planets with nationalized Altana, Takasugi's new healing ability, and the potential return of the Tendoshu all sound like promising mysteries to build a new story on, so at present, this feels like anything but a wind-down.
While Gintama's unique brand of shock humor has always been outrageous, episode 363 has moments that border on full-on surrealism, making it clear that Sorachi intends to go out with a bang. As good as it feels to have madcap comedy return to the forefront, it'll be exciting to see all these outlandish elements gel into a cohesive story. Fortunately, this type of thing is Gintama's bread and butter.
Gintama is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Amy is an author who has loved anime for over two decades.
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