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The cinematic treatment of Hideaki Sorachi‘s Gintama is concluding with the release of The Very Final to home video in North America. For some, that may well mean a renewed interest with this amusing samurai cum science fiction manga series. The ending offered in this animated take differs from the print version and this work wastes no time in telling viewers this fact.
Ever since its debut in Weekly Shōnan Jump nearly 20 years ago, the additional products that followed quickly put this universe in other narrative mediums. The anime was released in 2006, and typical of any successful product, there came soundtracks, light novels, original animation shorts and films. There’s a lot to like because of its fourth wall breaking moments, and the humour doesn’t end there. It not only pokes fun at itself but also references anime classics, especially Dragonball. But it doesn’t stop there. It makes oddball remarks about American pop culture, which includes jabs at Beyonce and Donald Trump in this latest.
The idea of three miscreant “freelancers” eking out a life as the firm Odd Jobs. But in this alternate take of feudal Japan occupied by space invaders, I feel the business they offer is a misnomer. The team are actually street cops. Here, the samurai are gone due to the demands of the occupying alien force (collectively known as the Amanto) when peace was negotiated. They also wanted swords taken away, and that led to the decline of Japan’s military past.
Gintoki Sakata’s (Tomokazu Sugita) skill as a samurai is in demand and he’s one of the few who’ve kept his blade. Shinpachi Shimura (Daisuke Sakaguchi) wants to learn from him, and these two are joined by Kagura (Rie Kugimiya) and Sadaharu (Mikako Takahashi). They aren’t human; the girl is an extraterrestrial, a Yato, resembling a young woman and the other an Inugami (a canine). This supernatural pet is this series’ mascot and he’s so cute! In most marketing material, this animal is depicted biting into Gintoki’s head, and this man takes it as though he’s invulnerable. Amusingly, in this film, we find there must exist a pocket dimension in this dog’s tummy.
This movie introduces the team trying to prevent the second coming. At the Terminal, a spaceship is absorbing large amounts of energy known as the Altana that’ll be converted into ‘mana’ so that an alien child can become immortal. The Japanese want the return of the old ways, and the team are doing what they can to help advance this idea. But a former mentor turns evil; Shoyo turns into Utsuro and he plans to destroy the entire planet because he realizes true immortality is a curse. It’s up to the Odd Jobs team to stop him.
Tama–an android who’s been with this group since the start, and with the memory of C3P0 (without the data wipe)–sees a future sealed, but can that come true?
This film is even nuttier than the series because in order to win the day, the Odd Jobs team have to dish out some cowboy style diplomacy when dealing with the aliens. To make sense of this film needs repeated viewings because the story comes fast and furious. A breather is needed, and some knowledge of the previous story arcs (at least from the movies) are certainly required.
The dub is quite reasonable, and I have the subtitles on to see how much of the dialogue has changed. One problem this series has is with its sense of humour. Some of it very culturally nuanced, and it’s not easy to carry that across in a translation. The other lines of dialogue are just fine, and I can chuckle along.
The 16-page booklet is a nice addition to this release, so fans can study the character designs. But for anyone who isn’t too familiar with this universe, some review is needed before touching this film. Anyone who’s followed the printed material to its conclusion will be glad for the change and as one who’s still working on that (there’s 77 books in total), I’m okay with it instead of jumping ahead so that I can enjoy the best of both versions.