Review by: Faith McAdams
Publisher: Sentai Filmworks
MSRP: $39.98 US
Running Time: 95 minutes
Rating: TV 14
Release Date: Available Now
There will be blood … and a man in a bird costume named Elizabeth.
If you’re not familiar with Gintama then you seriously missed out on a quirky and different kind of samurai anime and manga series that introduces a different kind of Edo period. Imagine the era only with an alien invasion having changed the face of the world and Japan in general as old world Japan meets advanced alien technology that mixes things up in the most strangest of way. It’s no wonder Japan needs a jack of all trades like Odd Jobs Gin as the Sentai Filmworks brings us Gintama: The Movie and on Blu-ray, no less.
Here’s a warning: the movie does not go through the trouble to introduce you to the characters nor will it explain the events that occurred throughout the main story of the series so it makes it clear that this movie is targeted at the fans of the series. It does, however, briefly explain the fact that the “Land of the Samurai” has changed because of an alien invader named Amanto who has made a puppet out of the Edo Shogunate and thus sparking the Expulsion War against all foreigners.
Oh yeah, and the cast makes it very clear that it’s been five long years since the 2005 Jump Festa Anime Tour so they’re thrilled that the movie made it to the big screen and – as we find out more than once – brought to us by the good folks at Warner Bros. Pictures. They even run the Warner Bros. logo three times just to let that fact sink in nicely.
The movie finds Edo in some troubled times as a serial killer has been said to slaughter wandering samurai. This does not seem to worry Kotaro Katsura, a Loyalist who fought in the Expulsion War and alongside the famed White Knight otherwise known as Gintoki Sakata. Unfortunately for Katsura, though, he does run into the serial killer late that night who pulls out a most unusual sword that seems to gleam a color similar to the pedals of a cherry blossom. Despite being a talented swordsman, Katsura just isn’t a match against the sword wielded by a very familiar face.
After a body is discovered by the police, the Special Police of Shinsengumi Garrison makes an interesting discovery as well. It seems that the most dangerous ronin of them all, Shinsuke Takasugi, is still in Edo. On top of that, it seems that Shinsuke has assembled a very dangerous bunch that includes Nizo Okada, a sexy gunslinger named Matako Kajima, the genius strategist, Henpeita Takechi and a samurai named Bansai Kawakami. With a crew like this, who knows what Shinsuke is capable of or planning?
Meanwhile, in the offices of Odd Jobs Gin, an odd man in a bird suit shows up. It calls itself Elizabeth and although it only speaks through a number of signs he carries around, it is clear that Elizabeth is here about the murder of Katsura. Gintoki Sakata’s two associates, the perky yet scarily capable Kagura, and the reliable Shinpachi decide to take the case that will have them going up against the serial killer.
Meanwhile, Gin answers a summons from a potential client who happens to be a sword smith named Tetsuya who is something of a loud talker. Along with his sister, Tetsuko, the pair wants Gin to find a special sword that was made by their father that just happened to have been stolen not too long ago. It sounds easy enough; however, Tetsuko mentions that the sword (called the Benizakura or the Awesome Cherry Blossom) happens to be a cursed sword, which is not so awesome.
While Kagura and Shinpachi investigate Elizabeth’s case along with their giant-sized pup, Sadaharu, Gin is attacked by none other than Nizo the Killer who happens to possess the very sword he is searching for with a most unusual gleam to its blade. It becomes clear to Gin that the sword isn’t cursed but something else altogether alien. Before he can discover more, Gin’s battle with Nizo quickly becomes one-sided. It’s a good thing that Shinpachi is nearby.
In the meantime, Kagura follows a clue to the port where she encounters Shinsuke and battles the gunslinger, Matako who is quickly annoyed by the other girl’s taunts and the fact that her own companion has a Lolita fetish so he isn’t much help in the fight. Despite her impossibly incredible strength and amazing fighting ability, Kagura is taken prisoner and, comically, continues to torment Matako who goads the gunslinger into a spitting match.
With Gin recovering from his battle with Nizo, Shinpachi and Elizabeth locates the ship where they are holding Kagura and stages a rescue as members of Katsura’s clan decides to get revenge for the murder of their Lord. What results is a massive and bloody battle as Shinsuke sets his own crew loose as Gin takes it upon himself to face off against Shinsuke and Nizo the Killer as he discovers the truth behind the sword and its maker.
Clocking in about 95 minutes long, the movie manages to add more than enough action and story to keep things exciting. It’s also great to see the series’ brand of quirky comedic elements that – in this case – center on duo of Elizabeth and Shinpachi that practically steals the show. Add the fact that the movie also gives us a peek into Gin’s past, including scenes of him as a child taking in the wisdom of his sensei. It’s great stuff and it adds a little more dimension to his character. Even the animation in the series is impressive and it certainly lovely enough to warrant a Blu-ray release.
Gintama: The Movie is a refreshingly original and outrageously entertaining animated film that is exactly what Gintama fans would expect from the series. It’s great to see returning characters show up and with plenty of twists and turns you will find yourself caught up in the sci-fi samurai goodness that made the main series so darn fun. While it does nothing to accommodate those new to the series, those who do know the story and characters should definitely pick this one up right away.
BLU-RAY REVIEW BREAKDOWN
In the wake of an alien invasion during Japan’s Edo era, much has changed in the country as a serial killer with a very familiar face kills Kotaro Katsura. Odd Jobs Gin suddenly gets some business as the mysterious Elizabeth (some dude in a bird suit?) hires the staff to look into Katsura’s murder while a swordsmith and his sister hires Gintoki to recover a power sword that might fall into the wrong hands especially since the most dangerous ronin, Shinsuke, has put together an impressive crew.
VIDEO QUALITY: A+
The animation in this movie fits right in with the series and it looks even better on Blu-ray, which is definitely the way to enjoy this movie, Gintama fans. You’ll come for the snazzy visual effects and awesome battles but stay for the over-the-top crazy sight gags that are directed at Elizabeth.
AUDIO QUALITY: A
You’ll have quite a decision on your hands such as whether to watch the movie in its original Japanese voice track, which is my personal favorite way to watch it thanks to the great performances, or the solid English dub cast that includes the always great Luci Christian, Chris Patton and Blake Shepard just to name a long list of amazing voice actors. Then there’s the music that is just perfect.
There are no real extras to speak of except for some Sentai Filmworks trailers and the fact that this movie can be found on Blu-ray. We would have really loved an audio commentary track from the cast for this movie.
Strictly for the die-hard fans, Gintama: The Movie is what you call a guaranteed good time that not only does justice to the series but also manages to be spectacularly outrageous in the best possible way. With plenty of bloody samurai battles mixed in with the series’ zany sense of humor and sci-fi elements, this is certainly not your average animated feature film and thus deserves to be seen and more so if you’re a fan of the series.
Review copy provided by Sentai Filmworks