By religiously recreating the tone and feel of the manga and anime, Gintama (2017) ends up being a weird and nonsensical watch. Fortunately, it redeems itself by openly acknowledging its many flaws.
Gintama (2017) Synopsis
Gintama (2017) is a live-action remake of the 2010 Anime movie, Gintama: Shin’yaku Benizakura-Hen. Katsura Kotaro is attacked by a mysterious serial killer and the next morning, his body is found by Bafuku officials. While Shinpachi and Kagura search for Katsura, on behest of Elizabeth, Gintoki is tasked by a pair of swordsmith siblings to recover a missing family heirloom. After he is brutally attacked by the same serial killer, Gintoki learns that the heirloom, the cursed sword Benizakura, was stolen by the killer to incite revolt against the Bafuku. Soon, he also discovers that what he encountered is but the surface of the plot. At the heart of the larger conspiracy is none other than his former comrade and arch-nemesis, the vicious Kiheitai leader Takasugi Shinsuke.
I’ve long concluded that live-action remakes of popular manga and anime series tend to suck. They tend to such BIG TIME.
Don’t you agree? There are just so many problems with such remakes. What’s comedic in print or animation tends to be unbearable in real-life. What’s oshare and cool also feels disturbing when repeated on an actual person. In many cases, it’s like watching a cosplay parade at its worst and weirdest.
And though most of us wouldn’t actively notice it, our minds actually fill in a lot of blanks when reading manga or watching anime. In turn, we form deep perceptions of beloved characters after doing so. The slightest deviation, and we’d immediately feel the character is wrong. These deviations include seeing digitally coloured flesh transformed into actual human skin. Somehow, everything just starts feeling uncanny.
Gintama (2017), I’m sorry to say, suffers from all of the above issues. In some cases, very badly. What lifts it, on the other hand, is how it openly, even gleefully, celebrates these flaws. Five minutes into the movie, the main trio pops up in a crudely animated sequence, acknowledging these shortcomings and begging the audience to be forgiving. (They also declare outright they KNOW die-hard Gintama fans would diss the movie) This makes a difference, a huge difference to the viewing experience. During the most awkward scenes, I found myself remembering this exhortation and as a result, much more inclined to forgive. Unlike how I would be with other live-action adaptations, I also didn’t mind (that much) that the amanto were all wearing ridiculously cheap-looking masks and costumes. Heck, even the badly rendered flying vessels didn’t feel that awful after a while.
To summarise, I’d say that while I didn’t end up loving Gintama (2017), neither did I step out of the cinema hating it. This was entirely the result of the movie’s honesty, and I suspect some die-hard fans would be affected the same way I was. In a way, I suppose it’s also hard to hate the movie, in spite of its many flaws and stumbles. There is such a strong and marked determination to celebrate the source material. This determination greatly pleases, even if the actual movie didn’t.
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