Gintama 2 (銀魂2): Rules Are Made to Be Broken is a celebration of all there is to love about the Gintama series.
Gintama 2: Rules Are Made to Be Broken (銀魂2) Synopsis
Based on the Shinsengumi Crisis arc, the story begins with the Yorozuya trio taking on absurd jobs for money after Otose goes berserk over defaulted rent. Meanwhile, Hijikata is ambushed while protecting a VIP, necessitating the intervention of Itou Kamotarou, a child prodigy who’s previously Hijikata’s rival in the Shinsengumi. To make matters worse, Hijikata soon undergoes a dramatic personality change, transforming from cool vice-captain to lame-duck otaku. As Hijikata predicts, but soon stops caring about, Itou ultimately stages a coup to take over the Shinsengumi. The prodigy’s first target is none other than Kondou Isao himself.
To the uninitiated, fans’ love for the Gintama series is probably baffling. To say the least.
The humour is decisively, insistently, over-the-top. Calling it slapstick is an understatement.
The premise of Hideaki Sorachi’s bestselling manga also defies categorization. The story begins in what looks like Edo Era Japan, but very quickly, aliens and spaceships stroll into the story. This, on top of the characters almost obsessively breaking the fourth wall and referencing other otaku joys.
Speaking of the story, I don’t think it’s an insult to say the episodic arcs can get downright schizophrenic. In the Anime, a hysterical comedic segment is frequently followed by poignant adventures that would rival any top shonen manga. To paraphrase what I once read on a fan forum, there are moments to relax and moments when creator Sorachi decides to get serious and kick-ass. It’s almost as if Sorachi is using the slapstick segment to condition you for the intensity of his “serious” moments.
The summary of it, Gintama is weird. Very weird. And for a live-action adaptation of such strange source material to work, I think the only way is to embrace that weirdness, which incidentally was the treatment given to the first adaptation.
What’s different this time, though, is a heavier emphasis on characters instead of mythos, and a more careful, if rather plodding, lead-in to the actual conflict. The climax, when it finally arrives, is incredibly satisfying. Like any good Anime series, you are moved by the action because you have already been moved by the characters. This includes the newly introduced antagonist.
One last thing. The combat sequences in this sequel are superb! I haven’t been this thrilled by combat scenes in Japanese live-action adaptations for a long time because they always tend to be so overcooked. The ones in Gintama 2 are not only exhilarating, they correctly capture the essence of manga combat posturing. Several times, they were so splendid, I nearly stood up to cheer.
Click here to view the trailer.
Check out my other snappy movie reviews.
Read my other Asian Movie Features.