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, at the 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 adaptations 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 is often unbearable when enacted in real life. What’s oshare and cool in anime also feels creepy when reproduced 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. The slightest deviation, and we’d immediately feel that the character is wrong. These deviations include seeing digitally coloured flesh transformed into actual human skin. Somehow, everything just starts feeling uncanny.
Gintama (2017), bluntly put, suffers from all of the above issues. In some cases, very badly. On the other hand, what lifts it is how it openly, even gleefully, celebrates these flaws.
Five minutes into the movie, the famed 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 huge difference, at least to me. During the most awkward scenes, I found myself remembering this cheeky exhortation and as a result, was 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 this absurd fun-fest, in spite of its many flaws and stumbles. There is such a strong and marked determination to celebrate the source material, you cannot resist joining in. This determination also greatly pleases, even if the actual movie doesn’t.
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