Tuesday, May 24, 2022

REVIEW: Gintama (live action movie)

Gintama is a live action movie adaptation of the manga, which is largely a comedy but which also has some dramatic moments. I bought my copy brand new.


This takes place in an alternate Edo-period Japan in which aliens have invaded the country and taken control, outlawing swords. This technically starts in a cafe, where Shinpachi first meets Gintama, a former samurai. However, that's just a fake beginning: the real beginning is a quest to capture a beetle (Kagura just wants one, while Gintama hopes to sell it for a profit). And the actual for-real beginning is when Gintama learns about a serial killer, and a dangerous sword. The killer may have murdered a friend of Gintama and his group, so they go after him in an effort to find out the truth and stop him from killing again.

I've only read a few volumes of Gintama, and that was a very long time ago. I don't think I ever got far enough into it for it to be more than just a wacky comedy that occasionally broke the fourth wall, although I'm aware of some of the series' serious moments due to things I've seen posted by its fans. Although I know that Gintama is very popular, it never really struck a chord in me.

That said, I seem to feel the same way about probably-bad live action manga/anime adaptations as I do about light novels: I see them and at least want to try them, even though I know they'll probably be bad. It seemed like Gintama would be really tough to pull off.

This should probably be taken with a grain of salt considering my lukewarm feelings about the original series, but, surprisingly, I thought this was actually a pretty decent adaptation, although not necessarily a good movie. The special effects weren't great, but it did the best it could when it mattered and otherwise embraced its badness in a way that felt true to the series. An example: Elizabeth, Katsura's pet alien, is a guy in a billowy costume, and at one point the characters discuss how much she looks like a guy in a costume. It's absolutely the sort of humor you'd find in the manga, translated into live action form. Same with Kagura's "your panties are dirty" trick (it is downright weird seeing actual humans do Gintama-style trolling).

For the most part, it didn't really make me laugh, although it had some fun surprises here and there. I was not expecting some of the references that popped up near the end. 

I'm pretty sure the initial beetle storyline was taken directly from the manga - at the very least, I had vague memories of reading something similar. As for the serial killer/demon sword storyline, I have no idea whether that was an adaptation of a manga storyline as well or invented for this movie.

This isn't something I'll probably ever want to rewatch, but I enjoyed it more than I expected to, once I got used to seeing Gintama weirdness in live action. I'm glad the bulk of the movie was devoted to the demon sword storyline - if it had all been like the bizarre beetle hunting bit at the beginning, this would likely be a much less positive review. Overall, I'd recommend Gintama fans give it a shot, after adjusting any special effects expectations they might have.

No comments:

Post a Comment