22 Oct 2012


I initially found myself avoiding Gintama like the plague, despite it having stellar scores and brilliant reviews everywhere I came across it. The cheesy slapstick comedy in the small clips I had seen mostly appeared a little too childish for my taste.

This is Gin, and probably his most common expression.

Foolishly looking back on that time, I can happily say the phrase 'don't judge a book by its cover' is still something nobody should screw with. There's a damn good reason people are handing out ultimatums on forums and preaching about the wonderful Gintama. It's funny, and churns out jokes at such a fast pace you will eventually smile which undoubtedly leads on to a chuckle and so forth.

The story is very simple. Gin and his friends work as freelancers, solving problems that are probably beneath anyone else. Catching cats, dealing with questionably dangerous criminals and such. The amanto are aliens that captured Japan during the Edo period. As a result, a ban on swords is in place- putting a lot of samurai out of jobs.

Yes, there's a lot of references to other media.

Japanese humour is something nobody should ever underestimate. From the downright creepy to straightforward slapstick, it's something that you might struggle to appreciate. However, most people I find will just burst out laughing at how ridiculous it can be; and from there on they enjoy it.

The story is about a samurai living in a futuristic era a long time past samurai is a valid profession. Not only are samurai not needed, I'm surprised people even know what they are. Humans co-exist with aliens, and space travel is common.

A lot of references.

I do suggest reading the manga first or you might have to soldier through the first couple of episodes in the anime, which may demotivate you (I could barely hold interest) because it's mostly introductions and doesn't really capture your attention. However, once it gets into full swing, you may find it hard to stop watching Gin and his escapades with Shinpachi and Kagura.

I wouldn't suggest Gintama to somebody not already comfortable with Anime in general. It's really a hit or miss for anybody outside Japan. So if you really don't like it I can't imagine you getting into it.

Although I'm not one for anything too episodic, I still thoroughly enjoyed watching Gintama. Overall it didn't really suit my tastes; however the quality of the show is undeniable, it has earned all the praise and fanboys that it has accumulated.

10 Oct 2012

Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei

The main character from the anime
Our protagonist and sensei.

I've recently been watching this school comedy anime at my girlfriends insistence. It's actually not bad. The premise is based around a depressed teacher and his innocent class of often eccentric yet lovably optimistic girls.

I haven't finished the anime yet, but it's fairly predictable and episodic in nature. Itoshiki Nozomu, our protagonist and sensei, spends his time living in 'despair'. He carries a noose wherever he goes, just in case the need for suicide arises. He rants a lot about the injustices of the world to his young and optimistic class- explaining the futility of life and encouraging them to give up. This always has the opposite result, the girls find a way to take his speech to heart and find a way to see it as inspirational.

Image of the anime Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei
The main girls in Itoshiki's class.

Each episode typically introduces you to a new student in his class, showing us their personality and flaws. As you progress through the show, you learn new things about them and they often give the suicidal sensei a new outlook on life.

As you come to understand more of his students and they establish a rapport together, it's easier to appreciate the show. Their interactions are often amusing or cute. I got annoyed that this anime plays into so many stereotypes, but it does it intentionally and usually makes light of it by making fun of the standard genus. 

There is a lot of hidden meaning and often subtle writings in the background of every episode. This aspect provides a certain amount of depth to the program, giving you the option to watch it again and pick up on parts that you missed.

The best thing about this anime is anyone can enjoy it. For me it acts as a buffer between watching anime, because I don't think it quite stands out from the rest. However, I can see plenty of people loving it. Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei represents a fair amount of different genre stereotypes, such as a small harem factor; and the common school element. The most prominent category would be slice of life, backed up with comedy.

An image of the sensei being depressing in the anime
The black overly is frequently there to indicate his pessimism.

Although I somewhat enjoyed it so far, it didn't pull me into the fray, forcing me to empathise with the characters and feel involved. I can see how some people would relate to it on many levels; just not me. It's not got that cocaine pull that I've experienced from so many anime.

The anecdotes that are often brought up from the students antics are very natural, and it's entertaining enough to inspire a laugh or two from anyone.

If anything, give the sensei a try because there are only 12 episodes, without counting the second season. If you like pessimistic yet charming protagonists, with an obsession with conspiracies (Welcome to the N.H.K. anyone?)- This anime should certainly be on your list.