Since the release of its live-action movie in July 2017, Gintama has been gaining non-stop attention from fans. Honestly, even if the movie had not become a big hit, the author Hideaki Sorachi would probably have made a great joke about it. In any case, as a Gintama fan, I am very happy that more and more people are getting to know the charms of my favorite manga. The manga, which is still being serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump, has entered the final part of the story and is getting more exciting every week. We cannot take our eyes off the huge-scale battles among the ultimate best characters! We have no idea of how the story would conclude, but let’s hope for an exciting Gintama-like ending!
To express all my love and support towards the manga and movie adaptation, I would like to write about my favorite anime episode of Gintama. Out of the long Gintama history, I have chosen Episode 104, ‘Taisetsu na Mono wa Mienikui (The Important Things are Hard to See)’ from the Shinsengumi Crisis Arc (Shinsengumi Douran Hen). Among fans, this is said to be one of the best arcs of Gintama because of its story, animation, and composition. The episode is based on chapters 164-166 in Volume 19 of the manga.
This article contains major spoilers up to Episode 104 and Chapter 166 of Gintama
The Depiction of the Bloody Scenes
The battle scenes are always powerful in Gintama. Especially in the long arcs, viewers can tell how much effort the animators have put in their work. Although many new detailed scenes are added in the anime version, the original storyline never gets changed. When we think about the differences between the manga and the anime, one of the most obvious ones is that the anime is more dramatic thanks to the movements and sounds. However, I don’t think that is the case with the scenes of injury and blood in Gintama.
When a battle manga gets adapted into anime, usually the painful and bloody scenes get illustrated in a lighter way than the original. For example, the life-threatening injuries become less severe, and the amount of blood decreases. Sometimes, when the original story itself is too grotesque, the graphic scenes are changed into different expressions. Some people may be unsatisfied with these changes. However, there are some times when these changes are necessary, especially when we consider the fact that there may be viewers who do not like bloody scenes or who are still very young.
For some reason, however, the battle scenes in Gintama’s anime are bloodier than in the original manga. A good example is Episode 104 when Itoh protects Kondo and Hijikata and gets shot. His left arm is missing and blood sheds from all over his body. He coughs up blood and has empty eyes, and then he collapses to his knees. Because the movement of the animation was so smooth and beautiful, even the fans who already knew the story gasped in astonishment. It is almost impossible to express such graphic scenes in manga because both blood and the Shinsengumi’s black uniform are drawn in black. It is unbelievable that this scene full of blood got broadcast on TV in the afternoon.
Error in Animation?
In the story, because of the Kiheitai’s betrayal, the railroad track gets blown up and Itoh loses his left arm. After the explosion, Itoh finds an arm under a heap of rubble. He first thinks that it is Hijikata’s arm, but he soon finds out that it was actually his own.
Both in the manga and anime, Itoh loses his left arm. Therefore, of course, in the manga, a left hand is illustrated under the rubble. However, in the anime, the hand drawn was a right.
Considering the storyline after this scene, it is very unlikely for this hand to be a body part of someone else’s besides Itoh. Itoh was in the same carriage as the one that Okita had helped Kondo to escape from. Although every Shinsengumi member on the train (besides Okita and Kondo) was Itoh’s follower, no one had attacked Kondo when he was alone on the carriage. This means that no Shinsengumi member who planned to kill Kondo was in the same carriage as him in this scene. Moreover, no members of Shinsengumi or the Joi group, who later came to help, had entered this carriage. It is impossible for anyone to become a victim of the explosion except for Itoh.
Therefore, the arm which is covered with rubble is definitely Itoh’s arm, and it should have been a left arm. Since the quality of the arc itself was so high, this was a disappointing error.
The Invisible Bond
In one of Itoh’s inner monologues, there is a line that goes, ‘The bond that I always wanted was here all along’. In the manga, the word kizuna (bond) has the furigana (Japanese reading aid) that reads ito (string), but in the anime the character pronounced the word as ‘kizuna’. When we consider the story development, I believe that ito was a better word choice. However, if the character said ito, it would have been confusing for the viewers who have not read the manga. This change in the scene must have been a difficult decision for the animators.
After this inner-monologue, the scene changes to Gintoki and Bansai’s battle. Gintoki becomes wrapped with Bansai’s instrumental strings and he is incapable of moving. Nevertheless, Gintoki continues to try to move forward, and he screams while heavily bleeding.
He shouts out, ‘Strings (ito) are pulling me from the front and back, it is so annoying. Even if your strings can cut flesh, I’d like to see you cut this inseparable relationship!!’
Since the Ikedaya incident, the Yorozuya and Shinsengumi have been involved with each other on many occasions. They have had a strange, but strong, connection. Because Gintoki is not the Shinsengumi’s comrade, he does not call their relationship a ‘bond’. That is why the word ito is used in the manga. For Gintoki, the relationship with the Shinsengumi is annoying, but the invisible bond between them has always pulled him strongly. Using the power of this ito, he tears apart the actual string wrapped around him. This scene proves that the invisible and unstable string that connects Gintoki and the Shinsengumi is much stronger than Bansai’s visible string with the strength of iron.
The Power of Words in Gintama
The author Sorachi always carefully chooses the words he uses in Gintama. There have been many scenes of Gintama in all of its arcs in which he plays with words. If you are a fan of the anime, I strongly recommend you to read the manga too!