|Medium:||manga (2003-ongoing), anime (2006-2010; 2011-2012), OVA, light novels, video games|
|Country of Origin:||Japan|
|External Links:||Official manga site/JP, TV Tokyo site/JP|
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Gintama is a popular manga series in Japanese fandom, with a small English-language fan community.
Gintama is an ongoing shounen manga series by Hideaki Sorachi. It has been adapted into several other formats, including a long-running anime, a high-school AU light novel series, and video games. Being a comedy first and foremost, Gintama makes deliberate use of gags and satirical elements, often enough balanced on the border of good taste. (Case in point, the title, "Gin Tama", translates to "Silver Soul" - but happens to sound an awful lot like "kintama," lit. "golden balls," slang for...exactly what you think.) Pop-culture cliches are mercilessly mocked, references and parodies of other fiction abounds, and frequent fourth-wall-shattering meta commentaries pry open diegetic conventions. However, serious plot arcs develop as well throughout the series.
The series takes place in an alternate universe in which Tokugawa-era Japan was opened, not by American warships, but by an extraterrestrial alien empire, thus creating a supposedly 19th-century Japan that mixes samurai nostalgia with modern futuristic elements. Sakata Gintoki, an impressively lazy, Shounen Jump-obsessed samurai, runs a small business together with Shimura Shinpachi, the inheritor of a broke dojo; and Kagura, an alien girl from a superhumanly strong mercenary clan. They specialize in everything and nothing, taking on any job that might bring in some money. During their daily struggles they have to deal with former comrades (now terrorists), a bunch of trigger-happy Shinsengumi, ninja clans, politicians, weather girls... and much, much more.
Gintama is one of the more popular series in Japanese fandom, inspiring a great deal of doujinshi and fan art, some of which revolves around the canonical High School AU "Class 3-Z Ginpachi-sensei" (a parody of Class 3-B Kinpachi-sensei, an influential Japanese TV drama.)
Being largely a satire of shounen manga and Japanese history and pop-culture, Gintama is less popular outside of Japan, where much of its references are completely opaque (as has been remarked upon by the characters in the anime itself, though when one character feared they might lose their foreign audience, the other characters retorted that Japanese fans don't get a lot of the jokes anyway.) Some of the fan-subs (especially Rumbel) for the Gintama anime include notes, often quite extensive, explaining the various parodies and allusions. In spite of this, between its crazy humor and unexpectedly compelling characters, the series has gathered a small but loyal English-speaking fanbase.
Despite its sometimes absurdly crass nature, Gintama is surprisingly egalitarian. Along with a boatload of eminently slashable male chars, it also boasts an extensive cast of developed female characters, with remarkably little fanservice for a shounen series (or any manga series, really), and quite a lot of examination and sometimes deliberate inversion of gender roles.
As with most shounen series, yaoi pairings make up the lions' share of fandom focus, both Japanese and English-speaking, though there is some gen (most focusing on the pre-series Joui War with Gintoki and his former friends, Katsura, Sakamoto, and Takasugi--sometimes called the Joui-4, or "Joy-4" in Japanese fanworks) and solid followings for various het pairings - hentai doujinshi exist for most of the female chars, and particularly the Okita/Kagura pairing garners quite a lot of female-penned doujinshi and fanfic as well, possibly because of the antagonistic friendship of the chars has elements in common with various m/m rivalships.
In yaoi, Gintoki x Hijikata is the most popular pairing, along with a fair amount of fanworks for its reverse, HijixGin. Gintoki x Katsura also has a strong presence, particularly in English-language fandom, in part thanks to an lj community dedicated to the pairing (ginzura), as of 2011 the only regularly active Gintama comm with a single-pairing focus. Hijikata x Okita and Gintoki x Shinpachi also have followings.
- the-gintamards (deviantART Community)
- Yorozuya Soul (general fan-site, including episode list and historical influences overview)
- Gintama on ff.net
- Gintama on AO3
- gintama-doujin (doujinshi)
- ginzura (Gintoki/Katsura)
- ginhiji (Gintoki/Hijikata)
- See "(Gintama) Life is a series of choices." on afeministotaku: "I re-watched one of the pivotal episodes of the Yoshiwara arc the other day and wanted to post about a very specific scene that exemplifies the way in which Kagura subverts common shonen anime/manga trope." (Accessed 23 May 2011)
- As of 23 May 2011 ginzura had 109 entries and 190 members, compared to ginhiji's 19 entries and 131 members.