The silver-headed, wooden sword wielder Gintoki Sakata is the highlight of today’s discussion. Even though he doesn’t fit into the fancy definition of a shonen protagonist, yet he is regarded as one of the best among them. He is neither active nor motivated and non-heroic for sure. He is a man in his late 20s, not a teenager. He is an idler, a slacker, loves to gamble, keeps picking his nose, and even cross-dresses from time to time. But he still manages to come atop in the list of protagonists, here are the reasons.
Gintama as a shonen anime has emerged as a game-changer. Unofficially this anime doesn’t quite fit the shonen anime standards. The setup is in Feudal Japan, which is forced into modernization after an alien invasion. You will witness a samurai wearing kimono, wielding katana, and aliens, and spaceships existing side by side. Most of the episodes lack a definitive storyline, although there are some pretty good arcs, they don’t satisfy anime standards. The creators have a good hand in showcasing parody and humor.
Talking about Gintoki, he is more of a Gemini man. More often you will find an oddball retired samurai who believes; “Not having money is like having a sinus infection, it goes away if out don’t pick at it”. As long as he is able to snooze on his couch, and buy the latest jump and sake, he is perfectly content. His business is not so profitable and he has issues with the landlord. But when needed, he becomes a badass fighter. He can take down any of his opponents with his unnamed wooden sword. He has a strong affinity for justice.
In any situation, he emerges like a protector. The best thing about him is his ability to pull us out of our despair by cracking smile out of us. Affiliations mean nothing to him, he can befriend Shinshegumi and its top target but that doesn’t make him a traitor. His state of relationships, emotions are connected to his past and are not that simple. One thing that is common between a typical shonen protagonist and Gintoki is their history. Gintoki had a heart-wrenching childhood.
Nothing is known about his family, he used to live off the battlefield until he met his teacher and two friends (what a unique story). He was feared as a legendary warrior and was known as a ‘white demon’. Although these are things from the past, they still have an influence on Gintoki’s life and provide great depth to the character itself.
The other characters in the series are dependable on Gintoki, they don’t look so considerate in the first place but in reality, they mimic him, try to inherit his qualities such as helping others. This influence is what makes him a greater than life character and a hero for sure.
Gintoki is much more complex than what we give him credit for. He is definitely the kind of hero which we want in the galaxy full of overhyped superheroes.