As soon as Otose makes her entrance she attempts to convince the remaining forces to band together in order to protect their town, and when this draws the attention of Kada’s forces Katsuo shows up to defend her. And at the same time Gintoki and Jirochou are busy cutting down Kada’s elites known as the Shinra.
And so another arc draws to a close, or at least what we’re led to believe. Also there’s something in my eye again.
Catherine also manages to make it to Saigou’s son but upon seeing her along with Shinpachi and Kagura in matching costumes as the Kabuki Cats, he gets scared and locks himself in the storeroom. Back on the streets Katsuo brings the battered and bruised members of Jirochou’s faction back together, explaining to Pirako that while they would abandon their lives for their boss and his daughter they’re not going to let the town he protected be destroyed. And as Kada’s forces move into attack Saigou, he receives a message that his son is safe and he stops holding back. In Kada’s casino however Gintoki and Jirochou continue to hack and slash their way through the Shinra, covering the entire room in blood as they cut down one after another while still taking a few hits at the same time. And once they’ve wiped them out Kada’s mind starts to crack and is forced to retreat as Otose marches the Kabukichou on her casino.
Following this Gintoki and Jirochou pull themselves up and talk about the promises they made to Tatsugorou, of how Gintoki swiped his jutte and Jirochou his pipe, the latter being reminded of the days when Tatsugorou would smoke with one hand and twirl his jutte in the other when he smokes it. And in the end, he blames himself for his death and while he’s tried to protect the Kabukichou, whenever he saw Otose and the Yorozuya he wanted to go back to who he was before. But in the end he’s being held back by Tatsugorou and with Gintoki having no intention of breaking his promise again, they realise that in order for either of them to move forward one of them will have to die.So they prepare their blades and Pirako arrives just as they make the final slash, the pipe falls in two and Jirochou’s blade shatters, but he doesn’t fall, and as Gintoki catches the still intact jutte he explains that the promise he made was to protect everything that Tatsugorou loved. Even if it was an old man like him, and because of this he tells him to stop smoking.
Ironically after all of this Otose and Jirochou find themselves in the same hospital room after all of this, and while they bicker at first they start to talk, with Jirochou telling her that the fight he had with Gintoki was the best he’s had in a while and what he thinks of Gintoki’s promise and determination to keep it. At the same time he’s also realised that for the past twenty years he’s been running away and was never able to truly keep his promise, unfortunately everyone had been piling up at the door attempting to record this heartwarming moment and the door falls in. So as they start to turn it into a party Otose tells him that he doesn’t have to worry about the Kabukichou anymore and should try to keep the other promises he’s made, and along with that she’s happy to have met Tatsugorou and later everyone else there, including quite recently the gallant Jirochou who she and Tatsugorou loved.
Just outside however Kada returns to take her revenge but what forces she has are taken out by Pirako and the Yorozuya, and with this all done she tells them how she admires everyone in the Kabukichou and thanks them for reuniting her with her father, apologising at the same time for being unable to fulfill her obligations. And expecting Gintoki to lay her out, he gives her a note with a date and place. During the epilogue we’re shown that things have changed in the town but the characters still live out their lives, and as the episode draws to a close Pirako arrives in an open field where a lone figure is waiting. The man, concealing his face then introduces himself as a Yakuza would, of how he was born and raised in Kabukichou, how he’s been called many things and was led astray, however he’s now on a journey for redemption to pick up the things he left behind, father of Chin Pirako, Doromizu Jirochou. Pirako responds with a similar introduction, that she’s the lowest member of the Yorozuya and with tears in her eyes, that she’s on a journey to find her lost father, and so considering this a fateful meeting Jirochou asks if he could accompany her on this journey.
In some ways of was kind of disappointed with this episode, for what was an action packed point where Gintoki and Jirochou clashed once more and tore their way through Kada’s elites, the Shinra, there was a lot of still shots or just points where things weren’t exactly moving. But despite that the things that made this episode up easily made up for all of that, and this arc has easily turned out to be one of my favourites.
All the things that make for a good serious arc in Gintama were there, some awesome action packed moments, some heartwarming almost tear inducing ones as well, along with a few solid characters. And if anything it reminded me of why I watch Gintama in the first place, it’s a show that can not only make you laugh, but cry as well, often in the same episode. Other than that the serious arcs it does are just done right, they may be fairly formulaic like a lot of things in how they carry out, the Yorozuya gets a request and later resolves to save someone, Gintoki takes a beating and after recovering almost instantaneously he takes on the one who defeated him before and somehow beats him. But despite how simple and repetitive Sorachi’s style of storytelling comes across by summarising it like that, it doesn’t really get old.
Along with that the antagonists for them are really good as well, take Jirochou for example, initially the first impression I had of him was that he was some old jaded slightly bitter badass, but as this arc carried out he turned into something else. A character who we could truly empathise with and at the end of the day could say that he wasn’t really a bad guy, in the end he was a guy who blamed himself for his best friends death and because of it he felt overly obligated to ensure that his widow was happy and protect the town he loved, to the point where he gave up almost everything to do it and was effectively chained down by it. In my opinion I just thought he was a great character, he was someone we could truly empathise with and understand why he was doing the things he was doing.
Other than that I also liked how he effectively opened the window into Otose’s past and allowed us to learn a bit more about her, most notably introducing her late husband, Tatsugorou. Who when you think about it has actually been a pretty important character, if it wasn’t for him Otose would have never visited the cemetary and Gintoki would not only have froze and starved to death, but he also wouldn’t have made the promise to protect her. Which given the state he was in at the time must have been a big turning point for him. So like I’ve said before, it’s just interesting to see how Tatsugorou has influenced things from beyond the grave. And even then with how Jirochou talked about him you could also consider him to be Gintoki’s spiritual predecessor, the sort of guy who used to walk the streets the same way he does now. So given that I’m starting to wonder whether the facial similarities are intentional, before this episode Tatsugorou was still kind of faceless but I’m wondering whether Sorachi did this to represent that.
Aside from Jirochou’s character one of the things that I loved in this episode and probably this entire arc was Pirako’s journey to find her long-lost father, not in a physical sense but instead in a spiritual sense. Since it’s quite easy to head off somewhere and come back but when you’ve been through some of the shit that Jirochou has been through that just isn’t the case, he came back but he just wasn’t the man he was before. And it was this man, her father, that Pirako wanted to bring back. So when you think about it this aspect alone would have made for a nice heartwarming story, and I must admit, I was teary eyed at the end of it. That introduction man, I knew it was going to happen the moment I read it but with the almost perfectly synchronised ending theme playing into it and the amazing job Ai Nonaka did at voicing Pirako it hit me a lot harder than I expected it to. It provided the perfect happy ending to all of this, or so we’re led to believe as Takasugi and Kamui start things up.