Sometimes, it is epic, with explosive action and great character development. Sometimes, it is crude, rude and lewd with fart and sex jokes. It can be bloody. It can also be hilarious. With pardox mixing with the action that can go on par, if not surpass, any shonen that is out there today. Gintama will not be denied by anything. Join the adventures of the irresponsible, but aloof swordsman Gintoki, the super strong and vivacious Kagura and the straight man idol fan Shinpachi as they work odd jobs to pay the bills in a world where aliens came to Earth during the Edo Period and combines modern day technology (even surpassing some of it in some cases) with said period. Get ready for a laugh and kick some butt with Gintama.
To celebrate the return of the anime to the small screen, here are the top 5 arc that I feel are among Gintama’s best. A few things though before we get started. I do not count any arcs of the new anime season. It just started, so let it breathe a little before I jump on it. Second, I am obviously only using arcs seen in the anime. Third, these are the list of what I felt are the best arcs that represented Gintama, its main characters and its universe as a whole. So, sit back and relax.
5: The Shinsengumi Crisis Arc
This arc was what kicked off the third season of Gintama. And boy, what an arc it was. As the name suggests, the Shinsengumi, particularly Hijikata takes center stage. Hijikata founded the ideals of the Shinsengumi and is known as the no nonsense second in command. Yet, after getting a cursed blade, Hijikata Toshiro becomes possessed by a dead, cowardly otaku and develops the persona of Toshii. Toshii’s anime loving ways only leads to a coup for the Shinsengumi by a new character, Ito Kamotarou, and secret dealings with Kiheitai’s own Kawakami Bansai . This arc is amazing because it balances the comedy and action extremely well. We got some great character development for Hijikata, which was seen before but never so much of it.
The Shinengumi might take center state, but Gintoki still gets his awesome moment. The only things that work against it is that Kagura and Shinpachi, who are the other two main characters of the show, have less moments in this. Sure. Shinpachi has his geek out moment against Toshii … and that is the extent of it.
And while it is great to have supporting characters take center stage for some great stories: This arc gives great development for Sogo and Kondo too; our main characters are relagated to smaller parts in this arc when they could have had a bit more significant parts.
4: Benizakura Arc
This was the arc that significant changed Gintama. While the show had other arcs before, this arc truly herald the arc, stand alone episodes then another arc again formula that became standard with Gintama. It introduces the Keiheitai as a major force to be reckoned with. As many battles as we saw at this point of the show, we never seen Gintoki been beaten so badly before. And previous arcs and episodes were leading up to this beautiful arc.
We get introduce to Takatsugi’s crew, the Kiheitai, fully. We get the demonic sword known as Benizakura. We get a wonderful mix of Gintoki’s and Katsura’s pasts coming back to haunt them, there is a difference on how both Keiheitai and Katsura’s group operate. We have a story that is inadvertently brother vs sister. All this glorious action as Shinpachi and Kagura even face enemies. This one storyline is a culmination of a bunch of stories before the arc and major point moving forward. Yet … the thing that both made this great and what made this # 4 … No showdown with Gintoki or Katsura vs. Takatsugi. This is both a plus and a minus. Still, Gintoki’s final battle with Nizou was epic. This arc was so epic that it was remade into Gintama’s first movie.
3: The Popularity Poll Arc
This is one of the funniest, most interesting arcs of Gintama in general. What starts as a simple countdown between the characters in a fun, 3D skit … turns into a fourth wall breaking, down and dirty war to get a high spot of popularity amongst the fans. The majority of the regular supporting characters were there … from Shinpachi’s sister Otae to Shinsengumi’s Sogo to the newer, and much more popular character, Tsukuyo. (She had only appeared in 2 arcs at this point and already was the 10th most popular character on the poll). It has become a battle between characters as Shinpachi and Shinsengumi’s Yamazaki took center stage as the more straight laced characters of this insane menagerie. Suddenly, Yamazaki’s 16th place turns to 111th place after he is “attacked.” Katsura, the man duck thing known as Elizabeth, the s&m loving ninja known as Sa-chan and more come out of the wood work in what becomes a fight for supremacy. And why numbers aren’t that important at the end of the day …who am I kidding?
2: The Yoshiwara In Flames Arc
Much like the Benizakura Arc, this was a face changer for Gintama. We get a brand new area of Gintama to explore with the underground city of Yoshiwara. A legion of female protectors, hookers, illegal trade and more within the dark city. We get a feared master of this city alongside a beautiful woman in distress. Gintoki, Kagura and Shinpachi meet a young boy who wants to meet with the most prized and guarded courtesan … who happens to be his mother. We get more cross dressing by Gintoki and Shinpachi.
We get a good amount of humor. And we get the very brutal introduction to Kamui, Kagura’s brother. This arc adds so much more. Kagura’s fight with her Yato blood was never so apparent as she faces off against her brother’s lieutenant in order to save Shinpachi. And we meet a woman that ends up becoming one of the most popular characters of the show as we meet the deadly and assertive Tsukuyo. She is established as a major player and becomes an important supporting character throughout Gintama from this point on.
If you thought the other arcs were serious, this arc took Gintama to a new level. At this point, comedy, drama, action and adventure had blended to one and the main arcs of Gintama were starting to bear some great fruit. Besides the Benizakura Arc, this presented us with the next major evolution of our characters, the show and their direction.
1: The Four Devas Arc
Gintama has always been about not just our three main characters in Gintoki, Kagura and Shinpachi, but the world around them and the people they help along the way. Many of them become supporting characters that even get focus on the show like Tsuyuko, Hijikata and Otae. Otose gets a lot of shine as we finally dive into her status among the Four Devas, the true power behind the city. Yet, as the arc begins, we are introduced to some new characters that have profound effects on our cast …the blood thirsty but quirky Chin Pirako and the Deva known as Jirocho.
This arc directly affects Gintoki and the rest of the gang of not only Odd Jobs Gin, but the building as Catherine and Tama are also affected. What starts out as dealings amongst the Four Deva ends up being a chess game for control with Otose targeted. Now, Gintoki, Kagura, Shinpachi and more must fight for Kabukicho … or a Deva will rise to rule it all.
This story had it all, including one of the greatest anime battles in history. If you don’t believe me, play the video. And that isn’t even the final battle. So much emotion, action, drama, mystery and comedy blending so well that this is a favorite to nearly every Gintama fan out there. Every character in this arc gets to shine a bit and it is paced so perfectly. This shows the depths of the bonds of Otose with Gintoki and company and shows us the inner workings of the Kabukicho. This arc develops our characters so much and reminds us of all the good Gintoki and company have done over the years. With beautiful animation and some of the best voice cast performances ever to be rendered, this arc is a masterpiece and is why it is the #1 Gintama arc.