Hideaki Sorachi – Viz – 2009 – 32+ volumes
It’s rare for me to really get into a shounen series this late in the game. Usually you have to be aware of the attack system and the millions of side characters, and also they tend to get really… formulaic, I suppose, after ten volumes. But not Gin Tama. Gin Tama is a rare and beautiful flower. As much as I like Bobobo’s concept, in practice, that series is near impossible to read. Gin Tama is like Bobobo, except funnier and easy to get into and follow.
This volume features more random side stories, which I like immensely. Usually long storylines are cooking by this point, and one kinda sorta starts at the end of the volume, but these chapters are just more of Gin and the side characters being goofballs. The longer story that starts up at the end is about his assistant’s sister being married off to a man she may not like that much and a big group of characters going into the Yagyu sword school to get her back. But even this story doesn’t look like it’ll last more than a few chapters, which is fine by me. There’s so many gags and non-sequitors, that I think more than three chapters of the same topic might be a little much unless things focused quite a bit.
Other chapters featured plots that included Gin coming down with a cold and his assistant Kagura mimicking him in every way, the news following around the last samurai who simply refuses to hide his identity and is constantly chased down by the Shinsengumi, and my favorite, an eating contest between an alien sweet shop and a shop with 400 years of experience. The crowds may prefer the new guy, but can they out-eat Gin and his co-workers?
Its humor is totally bizarre and non-sequitor, and what I love best about it. It just… starts off telling a story, then goes off in a completely unrelated direction, but is somehow still telling a story, if that makes sense. The characters seem to just do as they please, with no regard to what others may think. The best example is one of the early stories, where a mother who wanted to hire Gin to find her son moved into his house and started playing the role of actual mother, something that wasn’t questioned by anyone.
Basically, I am definitely 100% sure that I’m going to go back and read the early volumes of this series. It is amazing.
This was a review copy provided by Viz.
Hideaki Sorachi – Viz – 2008 – 31+ volumes
This has been recommended by a couple people. The plot summary sounded exactly to my tastes, which mentions an odd job dealer who isn’t above making a fool of himself, aliens, and ancient Japan. Yes. Make it work, Gin Tama.
In all honesty, I was a little disappointed with the first couple chapters. The volume starts in the middle of a battle using the weird terminology of the series, and the one thing the series has going against it is the fact that it’s set in Ancient Japan and seems like it requires some familiarity with… stuff, like the Shinsengumi and the government system and stuff like that, things that I have not committed to memory.
After the first couple chapters, I was completely won over. Even without knowing any of the characters or much about what was going on, I still loved it. There was a weird chapter where a ninja was sent in to spy on Gin and company, and kept running into weird obstacles meant to stop Gin from escaping and… had actually trapped stalkers, or something.
A later chapter was Christmas-themed, featuring Santa and a really manly looking reindeer. Rarely do we see Santa in manga, and this chapter was particularly awesome since Gin didn’t seem to… get the fact that he was Santa, and kept trying to help him by turning him into a burglar.
This is also one of those Shounen Jump series with awesome letter segments between chapters, like Oda’s SBS Corners. Sorachi even answers questions for D-Gray Man that got sent to him by mistake. I love it.
I actually can’t say anything about the story, because I don’t know what’s going on, but I love what I’ve seen of the characters, and I adore the sense of humor, which is hard to get right. The goofy madcap ridiculousness is great. I’ve got one more volume of this, and I hope I learn a little more about what’s going on. In all actuality, I hope it continues with the one-shot chapters like the last 3/4 of this volume rather than returning to whatever the plot is. I love it best like this.
Also, it made me happy to read a manga with Santa in it around Christmas. Hope yins are having a Merry Christmas.
This was a review copy provided by Viz.