Finally the season has ended and phew, what a journey it was. This season is the first one where I watched it as it aired. I used to be one of those people who were pissed off because Gintama took too many spots on MAL's top anime page but never actually tried to understand why people liked it. I had always been hesitant to start because the premise didn't seem interesting at all but hey, it only took me 2 months to finish all the available episodes back in 2014 because once I started, I just can't stop. That's just how good this series is in its entirety.
Now to the review of this season!
Well, Gintama had never been an anime with high budget so please don't expect ufotable's godlike level of animation. For a long-running anime though, I think Gintama has the better animation out there, and especially during the last arc, the animation was pretty top notch. The characters design and the setting has always been distinct (I've always been a fan of their portrayal of 'modern' Edo) and I always thought that Gintama has good art anyway so in this season it still deserves a high score.
This is one of my personal favourite aspects of Gintama. I like how they could make a recurring theme to give off different feelings according to the scene they're accompanying. The new OSTs for this season are very good too, especially for the last two arcs (there is one theme song for a new character that I really like in this season, it gives me literal chill everytime I hear it haha).
This season started with a very controversial comedic episode which reminded us that Gintama won't ever be afraid to make jokes on pretty much everything. The episodes which followed are great too (the lottery one is still my fav though) and the comedic arcs in this season are among my favorites (soul switch arc, dekoboko arc, afro arc, feigned illness arc, confessional arc...). They are very well written and always left us with an afterthought in a classic Gintama way.
The serious arcs, particularly the last two, are among the best in the entire series. The strength of the serious arcs in Gintama is that the pacing of the story is quite fast that our hype was always being kept at high. Also, as an anime-only watcher, a lot of the twist really caught me off-guard, and all I can say is despite some of the twists being typical shounen tropes, the way Gintama handled them are very tasteful. I guess it's because Gintama isn't your typical shounen with teenagers as MCs, which bring us to its endearing characters.
Characters : 10/10
The characters are the reason why I finished all the previous seasons in only two months. If you asked me when I started to love a particular character I would never be able to answer that; they were all slowly creeping on me.
Gintama's character are well-rounded. Nobody is perfect; in fact some of the characters are really gross that it may seemed impossible to love them at first, but given the time, they are all endearing in their own ways. I mean, I can sympathize with a gorilla stalker that sometimes walk around naked and a gross homeless old man who seemed to have no ambition in life. My other favourites includes the clumsy leader of a rebellious faction nicknamed "nobleman of fury" who keeps an alien (duck?) as a pet, an inhumanely strong little girl with a weird accent who always eats like there's no tomorrow, and a police officer who should have been arrested for exposing everyone with secondhand smoke and for ruining all the good foods in this world with his disgusting mayonnaise addiction.
The new characters this season are also memorable, but what hits me the most is the development of all the supporting characters. We've known them for 250+ episodes and we're very much already knew their personality traits. However, Sorachi gradually exposed bits by bits of those characters so what I feel that watching Gintama is not about the characters growing, but me knowing them better. I don't know if this makes sense or not, but watching Gintama feels like knowing your friends better in life instead of rooting for a celebrity you've only seen on TVs. So when they're hurt or something bad happened to them, the feels hit me as if something happened to someone I hold dear (okay this is getting out of hand because my inner otaku coming out but whatever).
So yeah, the supporting characters in Gintama are too good that they can probably lead their own series. That being said, the MC is by no means being overshadowed by them. Gintoki is deservedly the leader of the bunch, and this season just cemented the fact. There are many instances where Gintoki shines as the best shounen MC I've ever seen, both because his persona and how he deals with his relationship with other characters. He handled all the cliche shounen tropes in a surprising manner that keeps me rooting for him (there's one moment in this season when it's shown that he's really emotionally strong and mature and that was something I rarely saw in shounen jump's heroes).
Gintoki though, has always been a contradiction; he had always been annoyingly talkative but actually he rarely said anything important, he always seemed greedy but when we think about it, he is actually very selfless. In this season, I feel that Gintoki had opened up and showing his true self more (he's talking about his past more, and he's also openly expressing his wishes). All in all, his relationship with all the characters, especially with his Yorozuya family and the Shinsengumi, is the highlight for me in this season.
Hell yeah the fast pacing keeps the enjoyment and the hype real and high. If you still don't get it from my ramblings above I really enjoy this season. Wednesday had been the day I waited the most for these past year (even more than the weekends!)
Oh, and the seiyuus is another highlight (especially Sugita and Nakai!) because without them masterfully voicing these weird characters, it won't feel the same. I believe I will listen if Gintama was made into radio series, their voices are already the heart of Gintama.
Watching Gintama actually makes me very picky in watching other anime. It has a complete package that is hard to beat; I bet you it's not easy to make a series where you can laugh a little in between tears because they decided to put a slight comedy in an otherwise very emotional scene. Or makes you laugh like a madman because sometimes it's too funny that you need to stop watching to collect yourself first. And this season just has that perfect mix of comedy and action (and drama too) that I cemented it as one of the best series ever made.