It appears that Justin and I are on the same road these days when it comes to manga reviews. I recently picked up the 18th volume of Fullmetal Alchemist to review as a standalone and introduction to the series, and here I am again with the 8th volume of Gin Tama.
By Hideaki Sorachi
Publisher: Viz Media/Shonen Jump Advanced
Age Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Gin Tama starts off with the usual “What’s been happening since we started” page, and shows off the characters. There are a lot of them, and throughout the manga, they make a lot of appearances. It seems that all of them have very distinct personalities, but vol. 8 doesn’t seem to be that great of an introduction to any of the characters. We start in the middle of a story arc that gets finished within the first 5 lessons (chapters) of the book, and move on from there.
Gin Tama is set in Edo at around the same time as Perry’s opening of Japan. Instead of Americans, though, Hideaki Sorachi has used Aliens instead. This lends the setting both a grasp on both past and current events, and allows Sorachi the ability to give his commentary on both. This commentary bubbles out of the character’s conversations, references, and other visual sight gags.
The content itself at first seemed pretty bland. The illustration isn’t as good as other Shonen Jump series, and the shading and toning is almost non-existent. At first, I thought of this manga as another “combat” shonen manga, and was almost completely turned off. After a thorough read through, I realized that Gin Tama can’t truly be compared to those comics because of one thing: the jokes.
Sorachi has made almost every page into a gut-buster. One of my favorite scenes happens in Lesson 65, where we get to see three grown men riding a carousel holding sniper rifles. The context is hilarious, and Sorachi only builds on his zany comedy. Jokes are cast and remodeled throughout chapters, and the banter between characters is amazing.
As a whole package, Gin Tama is rough around the edges. The visuals are lacking in places, and the illustration can be sparse. This doesn’t stop it from being a great comedy, or a great read.