Hi everyone! This is Ayumi, your favorite MANGA.TOKYO otaku writer, and I have a question for you: Do you like Gintama?
Just in case you don’t know what Gintama is: it’s a popular manga series created by Hideaki Sorachi that serializes in Shonen Jump. Even if you haven’t read the manga or watched the very popular anime, you might have watched the trailer of its live action movie recently.
An exhibition of original manuscripts from the manga recently took place at Akihabara UDX to commemorate the coming conclusion of its series in the very near future. I couldn’t pass the opportunity to visit the event and here I am with an exclusive report just for you!
However, taking photos was prohibited at the exhibition except for one area. I’m afraid there are fewer photos in this report, but I’ll try my best to tell you all about the attractions of the Dai-Gintama-Ten (lit. Huge Gintama Exhibition). I hope you will not mention my lack of literary genius and you will read this article to the end… ^^
Ok, let’s start:
It’s December 28, 2016 and the sky is clear. I arrived at Akihabara at 11 o’clock. First, I had to get a timed ticket, as Dai-Gintama-Ten is so popular they had to control the number of people entering. I got the ticket for 12:40.
Now, I only need to come back and join a queue at that time! By the way, when you enter the exhibition you can get one of the character’s business cards! Every day is a different character’s business card.
Today’s character was Tatsuma Sakamoto. I really liked the authentic design. No wonder some fans are coming back every day to collect them.
I rented an audio guide by the Gintama voice actors for 700 yen at the entrance. As expected from Gintama, the audio guide is really funny, and I’m not gonna lie, I laughed out loud at several points. The real voices of almost all the main Gintama characters make an appearance in these guides.
Be cautious if you are on your own, because you will certainly look like a weirdo if you start laughing on your own. If you are thinking that you won’t enjoy it because it’s only in Japanese, there is no need to lose hang your face: Overseas fans can still enjoy listening to their voices! It’s the Gintama cast, after all!
No sooner had I entered the exhibition than I encountered this kind of, how do I explain it, objects or life-size figures. Deochi is the word for it. I laughed so much! (NB: Deochi means ‘grasping laughter at the very beginning’) Who expected a kneel-down apology from an event to commemorate finishing the manga?
Does the exhibition owe us an apology? Is it going to be that bad?
From here on I was not allowed to take photos, so I must report only in words. Please keep on reading! I wish if I could show you some pictures…
After ‘the figures’ waits the ‘Kawaya’. This means ‘public restroom’ in Japanese. I thought it was just a very Gintama-ish joke to put a ‘Kawaya’ sign in the middle of the exhibition area. I was wrong. Maybe I owed an apology to the exhibition for not understanding Gintama fully.
Why was I wrong? Because there was a line of actual toilets in the ‘Kawaya’.
I’ll say it again: There were ACTUAL toilets in the middle of the booth. I wish I could take a picture for you. I had to sit on a toilet in front of many others. Believe me, I’ve never experienced something like this before! Although quite embarrassed, I sat on a toilet and watched a black and white film explaining the concept of the exhibition. It’s a really funny film with lots of Gintama dirty jokes. By the way, the film is black and white because they didn’t have enough money to make a color film, according to Gin-san.
After watching the film, we heard the staff saying ‘Be aware of your belongings. Don’t flush them away in the toilet!’, and they showed us the next exhibition area. Here, the main exhibition is spread out and it’s amazing! I’m really sorry for not being able to show you in pictures (yes, I am going to apologize many times in this article.)
What was included in the main exhibition? I blush even thinking about it: I couldn’t believe I was watching a pair of briefs, a rope bondage, and an arsehole at an exhibition of a respected company like Shueisha… I was ashamed at myself since I expected an ordinary exhibition simply displaying original manuscripts. I should have known better as I had been reading Gintama in Jump from the start. The anime has been accused by the PTA many times and has published outrageous parodies. Obviously, it was inevitable that the exhibition ended up scandalous, wasn’t it? I felt as if I was a failure as a Gintama fan. I think I saw the mental fortitude of Sorachi and the staff as they didn’t change the Gintama spirit even a tiny bit wherever the exhibition was held, be it Akihabara UDX or any other museum.
I have to point out that the actual manga illustrations, which were juxtaposed with newly written jokey pictures, were all brilliantly drawn and demonstrated Sorachi’s obsession and resolution. Each of his hand-drawn pictures was beaming with his soul and gave me shivers. The lines were fine and detailed and the use of white-out was impressive. They were totally different from the pictures in the manga. The pictures of the fighting scenes were so fervent. I have to admit that I didn’t know he draws each page with such intensity, even though I have been reading Gintama for such a long time.
As shown by one of Sorachi’s episodes, he spares no effort in making his manga interesting. At one point he continued drawing in the taxi as he was heading to the publisher to hand in the pages, while suffering from a fever.
You can see the same effort in his pictures, which are full of corrections and redrawing marks. I even cried unintentionally, moved by his sensibility and will-power. I still remember when I read the manga that had these pictures. But through this event I felt new emotions. I admire Sorachi from the bottom of my heart, and feel privileged to be able to see these pictures.
Apart from Sorachi, there are Gintama collaboration illustrations by famous manga artists, such as Fujimaki of Kuroko’s Basketball, Eichiro Oda of One Piece, Osamu Akimoto of Kochikame, and Kenta Shinohara of Sket Dance (did you know that Shinohara used to be one of Sorachi’s assistants?). Each picture captures the characteristics of Gin-san, as well as each artist’s originality. If you are a manga fan, you’ll understand the parodies. For example, in one there is Gin-san with a villainous face mumbling ‘things are going according to plan…’ (Keikaku Doori…)
At first, I thought the exhibition was outrageous, expecially when I was forced to sit on a toilet at the start, and again forced to watch Sadaharu’s bottom. Although some of the exhibited contents might need an age restriction, such as the underwear and rope bondage, the rest are just amazing manga pictures. I’ve just realized that is the real Gintama spirit, enthusiastically earnest and at the same time hideously silly. I feel like I’ve just experienced the true Gintama through the exhibition.
I was a bit overwhelmed by the exhibition: I realized that it takes passion and persistence to have a serialized manga in Jump. Being a mangaka is a tough job. It affirmed for me the prominence of the Jump and Gintama.
At the end of the exhibition, they had a replica of Sorachi’s workspace. It’s actually quite tidy.
After the exhibition, I went into the shop which sells the exhibition-exclusive goods. Since I haven’t had the chance to take pictures of the exhibition, I took pictures of the items I bought. ^^
An illustrated booklet of all the original pictures that were exhibited here. (1800 yen)
This one is a reproduction of an original picture. (1000 yen)
Well, I didn’t plan to buy either, but I was at the till opening my wallet when I realized I was holding the items.
Obviously, I didn’t regret buying either. The booklet contains all the color pictures in great quality, including all the famous manga artists’ pictures I mentioned before. I say it’s worth more than 1800 yen. There are pages to store the character business cards. Maybe I should come back and collect them all…
Can you see how elaborate the original picture is? Imagine the exhibition filled with pictures of this quality. You would be totally blown away by the power of the pictures at the end. I think I now better understand what it takes to be a professional manga artist who has a series in Jump.
There were so many cute and funny items at the shop. I would have bought all of them if I were a millionaire!
Gintama is Amazing
Gintama Expo closed its doors at Akihabara UDX on January 9, 2017. I hope they will be able to continue the exhibition in other areas. At least Gintama Expo will be re-opened in Osaka in summer 2017! If you are around Osaka in the summer, it’s worth a visit.
The Gintama manga series has entered its final arc. Whatever happens, we shall continue to support Gintama. Don’t miss the new anime series that started in January.
Well then, have a lovely otaku life, everyone, and see you in my next article!