Gin Tama (Japanese: 銀魂-ぎんたま- Hepburn: Gin Tama, "Silver Soul") is a Japanese manga written and illustrated by Hideaki Sorachi and serialized, beginning on December 8, 2003, in Shueisha's Weekly Shōnen Jump. Set in Edo which has been conquered by aliens named Amanto, the plot follows life from the point of view of samurai Gintoki Sakata, who works as a freelancer alongside his friends Shinpachi Shimura and Kagura in order to pay the monthly rent. Sorachi added the science fiction setting to develop characters to his liking after his editor suggested doing a historical series.
The series has been adapted into an original video animation (OVA) by Sunrise and was featured at Jump Festa 2006 Anime Tour in 2005. This was followed by a full anime series, which debuted on April 4, 2006, on TV Tokyo and finished on March 25, 2010. A sequel titled Gintama' first premiered in Japan on April 4, 2011 and ended on March 26, 2012, before returning once again for a brief run from October 4, 2012 to March 28, 2013. A continuation of the TV anime series titled Gintama° began airing on April 8, 2015, and ended on March 30, 2016. Two animated films have also been produced. Besides the anime series, there have been various light novels and video games based on Gin Tama. A live action film adaptation of the same name was released on July 14, 2017 in Japan by Warner Bros. Pictures. A new anime series continuing after the events in the Gintama° anime series, named Gintama. premiered on January 9, 2017.
The manga has been licensed by Viz Media in North America. In addition to publishing the individual volumes of the series, Viz serialized its first chapters in their Shonen Jump manga anthology. It debuted in the January 2007 issue, and was serialized at a rate of one chapter a month. Sentai Filmworks initially licensed the series. The website Crunchyroll purchased the anime's streaming rights and home video rights.
In Japan, the Gin Tama manga has been popular, with over 55 million copies in print, making it one of the best-selling manga series. The anime and its DVDs have been featured, at various times, in Top Ten rankings of their respective media, while TV Tokyo has announced that the first Gin Tama anime was responsible for high sales overseas along with the anime adaptation from Naruto. Publications for manga, anime and others have commented on the Gin Tama manga. Positive responses have focused on the comedy and characters from the series, as well as its overarching plot and action choreography.
The story is set in an alternate-history late-Edo period, where humanity is attacked by aliens called "Amanto" (天人, "Sky People"). Edo Japan's samurai fight to defend Earth, but the shōgun cowardly surrenders when he realizes the aliens' power. He agrees to an unequal contract with the aliens, placing a ban on carrying swords in public and allowing the invaders to enter the country. The samurai's swords are confiscated and the Tokugawa bakufu (shogunate) becomes a puppet government.
The series focuses on an eccentric samurai, Gintoki Sakata who works as an odd-jobs freelancer. He helps a teenager named Shinpachi Shimura save his sister Tae from an alien group who want to send her to a brothel. Impressed by Gintoki, Shinpachi becomes his freelance apprentice to pay the bills and learn more about the enigmatic samurai. When the pair rescues a teenage alien girl with super strength, Kagura, from a Yakuza group, they accept her into their freelancing business and the three become known as "Yorozuya" (万事屋, "We do everything" or literally "The Anything Store").
While working, they regularly encounter the Shinsengumi police force, who often ally with Gintoki when work involves dangerous criminals. The trio also meets Gintoki's former comrades from the Amanto invasion, including the revolutionary Kotaro Katsura who is friendly toward them despite his terrorist activities against the alien-controlled government.
Although the story is mostly episodic, a few story arcs and recurring antagonists develop. For example, Gintoki's former comrade Shinsuke Takasugi is a major antagonist who regards Gintoki and his other former comrades as enemies and seeks to destroy the shogunate. Over time, Takasugi gains allies, including Kagura's brother Kamui, and the elite fighting unit Mimawarigumi to prepare for his large scale coup d'état. After the true antagonist--the immortal Utsuro--is introduced, Gintoki works with both friends and enemies to stop Utsuro from destroying both the Universe.
Themes and style
Hideaki Sorachi's main focus in Gin Tama is the use of gags; during the manga's second year of serialization he started to add more drama to the story while still keeping the comedy. Various jokes from the manga are comments regarding clichés from other shōnen series. For example, in the first chapter after Gintoki fights a group of aliens to protect Shinpachi and Tae, Shinpachi complains that he only fought for "one page" and Gintoki replies, "Shut up! One page is a long time for a manga artist!" Gintoki's exaggerated desire to read the Weekly Shōnen Jump (which causes him to fight other readers in order to get it) also makes fun of shōnen, since during those parts characters quote them. Other types of comedic situations are more general, so that the reader must know about Japanese culture to understand them. The humour is described by publications as being "bizarre" and "weird". It is also described as being divided between two categories: "sci-fi comedy" and a "samurai comedy" with the former referring to the aliens. It tends to point out "an irritating foible about modern society" including celebration days or famous mythical figures. Additionally, there are references to several historical figures with a few characters from the story being based on them. Besides the series' comedy, the aliens' invasion of Japan brings several social issues between them and the humans with the most recurring one being the lack of social equality. As a result, one of the main themes involves society trying to preserve their own way of living rather than fulfilling a dream like in other shōnen series.
In 2003, Hideaki Sorachi was an up-and-coming manga artist who had already created two one-shots for the Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine. Although he was preparing to write his first serialized series, his editor suggested he create a manga series based on the Shinsengumi, mostly inspired by an upcoming TV-drama about the 1860s troupe as depicted by idol actors. Sorachi attempted to create this series since he admitted to liking the Shinsengumi, but ultimately failed to get anything off the ground. Instead of abandoning the idea completely, he remained focused on the historical Japanese era but began to create his own story, adding in elements of science fiction and fictionalizing many of the figures from the era to create a story more to his own liking. The original title of the series was meant to be "Yorozuya Gin-san" (万事屋銀さん, lit. "Odd Jobs Gin-san"), but it did not have any impact on Sorachi. After great debate, he decided to go with the name Gin Tama after discussing it with his family, deciding on a name that sounded close to the edge without being completely off it. Although Sorachi considered the one-shot "Samuraider" to be very poor, the setting of such one-shot served as the base for Gin Tama such as the addition of alien characters. Sorachi liked the Bakumatsu and Sengoku periods due to how both were eras of change and thus presented the positive and negative points of humanity. The series was then set in an alternate Bakumatsu to give a bigger significance to the characters' bushido as in that time samurais were at the low point of their lives.
The main character of the series was originally meant to be Toshiro Hijikata as Sorachi was a fan of the Shinsengumi, most notably from Hijikata Toshizō (the Shinsengumi who was the base for the one of Gin Tama), after he saw the film Burn! Sword!. When Sorachi could not "shake off" Hijikata's initial design, he decided not to use him as the lead character, but added him along with the Shinsengumi to the story. The pilot chapter from the series had a different plot to the one from the serialization: Shinpachi already met Gintoki in the story and there were more Shinsengumi to the story such as one based on Harada Sanosuke. As all these new Shinsengumi were older than most of the recurring characters from the series, Sorachi removed them thinking they were not entertaining. When asked by a fan, Sorachi mentioned that most characters from the series are based on real-life Edo citizens while Gintoki's character is roughly based on the folk hero Sakata no Kintoki.
When starting serialization the manga was unpopular and was close to being cancelled. Although Sorachi was pleased with the first tankōbon selling all of its copies, he later learned Shueisha was afraid of poor sales which resulted in the minimum printed. In order to increase its popularity, the author introduce new characters, the Shinsengumi, who felt memorable to his assistants. Sorachi had little hope on the manga's popularity, as he noted that people used to tell him the manga would not surpass the number of two tankōbon volumes. However, once the third volume was released, Sorachi found that he did not have "any fresh material to use." During the first year of the series, Sorachi believed that the source of the popularity of Gin Tama was partially connected to the Shinsengumi drama. While the drama ran during the first year of the series, when the manga was mostly shorter stories that established the characters and the world, he felt uncomfortable of making things related to the drama. By the second year and beyond, he became more daring in his stories and concepts, creating longer storylines that included more drama while keeping his sense of humor and satirization of modern Japan by way of his fictionalized past. Gin Tama serialization ended on June 20, 2019.
When working on a chapter of Gintama, Sorachi sometimes has problems finishing the manuscript, leaving his supervisor to take it before he can revise it. He figures out what to write by staying in his room or going for a walk. Although he commented that some of his ideas are "random," he focuses on the fact that they are all related to the manga, and when he has problems coming up with ideas, Sorachi is often helped by his editor. Thinking of Gin Tama as a "non-sense manga," before writing a chapter, Sorachi decides whether it should be a comedy or a drama. Sorachi defines Gin Tama as a "science fiction human drama pseudo-historical comedy."
When Sorachi is illustrating Gin Tama, he usually uses a felt-tip pen, a fountain pen, a brush-tip pen, and a multiliner, but for the major characters he only uses a felt-tip pen and a fountain pen, and does their outlines with a multiliner-0.8.
TagsBased on a NovelActionFantasyDramaSuperpowersMature ThemesViolenceWarMysteryRomance
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