The episode opens with a new fad spreading across the Kabukichou, one that Shinpachi has become caught up in, Love Choris. A game that has been gaining popularity by giving the player some sort of virtual girlfriend, which to outsiders looks as if they can’t distinguish between reality and games.
Simply the best episode in a while.
And so, extremely disappointed in her little brother Otae pleads with Gintoki to do something, at which point Kondo shows up from his hiding spot and explains that games like these are known as dating sims, and that those who play them tend to have little luck with women. Of course he’s hooked on the game and his copy nearly gets smashed by Otae. But in the end the way to drag Shinpachi back is clear, Gintoki must play the game to reach his level, and to do this Kondo takes up under his wing to teach him the mechanics of the game. First there are three heroines, the one he has the athletic Sayaka, the one Shinpachi has the older sister character Momo, and finally the widowed Pinko. The one Gintoki will have to use.
However while he doesn’t want Pinko the decision process is a tough one, in order to get your desired heroine you have to play a game with near impossible odds and win, if you lose you’re stuck with Pinko. So having lost, he’s forced to go with her but faced with a frustrating set up process he slams it shut and leaves it at that, however he didn’t know that doing this makes the heroine pout. And while Kondo’s Sayaka has a somewhat cute reaction, Gintoki’s Pinko now resents him for killing her son, Enari and now bears a great grudge against him, and even though he now wants to give up. Kondo presents him with the tournament he’ll need to win to break Shinpachi’s illusion and bring him back.
So he keeps playing, being faced with Pinko’s curses all the time as Kagura begins to despise him, and eventually he reaches a new level, the point where players of Love Choris begin to see and can interact with their girlfriends in reality. Creeping him out even further as he now has to put up with Pinko carrying around Enari’s lifeless body. However the tournament soon approaches and Kondo arrives to pick him up, happy to see that he’s made the basic step, that once they reach a certain level their girlfriends manifest for other players to see. In other words another world, the Love Choris Hole.
To other people though, they would look like they’ve lost their minds, and as they arrive at the tounament Kondo notes on Gintoki’s choice of the Yandere archtype for Pinko while he tries to swap her for Sayaka, yet her loyalty towards Kondo is unyielding. Until at least her real master arrives, Sougo and it turns out that her and Kondo’s entire relationship was just an exercise. Aside from that they also bump into Tojou with a Pinko poorly molded to look like Kyuubei and Sacchan dressed like Sayaka with a Pinko molded to look like Gintoki, an attempt to make him jealous. And having lost his Sayaka, Kondo begs Gintoki to at least give him Enari but they’re soon interrupted a beam of light. The arrival of Shinpachi and his ideal Momo, and with the odds truly against him Gintoki wonder if he can really beat him.
Simply put this was an amazing episode, one of those episodes which starts off average yet continually spirals into insanity, with each segment or even gag driving it one ridiculous step further. This time covering of all things the Love Plus fad. Aside from that it even introduced a new opening theme and ending theme.
But anyway, it was interesting to see how all of this was handled, in Sorachi’s typical screwball manner it was just crazy, it started off fairly normal, enter your name/nickname and pick your heroine along while I’ve never played Love Plus myself, also the things that are generally associated with it. A realtime relationship with the heroine complete with cute gestures and pouts if the player abruptly shuts their Nintendo DS or turns it off without saving it. But that’s where the normality to it ended, with two of the heroines being parodied in a recognisable way while the third was a completely screwball attempt at the heroine that no one really wants. And if that wasn’t enough there was even the absurd selection process, where the game pretty much throws the player in a random direction. In a way it was all reminscent of the dating sim parody from over a hundred episodes ago, where Sorachi threw in of all things a Swordfish route. Simply put I think the guy has an interesting view on these games.
Most of all though how the players and their obsession with the game was made use of and represented as well, adding its own spin on it all by having the players able to see and interact with their girlfriend once their dillusion reached a certain point. Seeming to represent it all through the use of an entire dimension exclusive to them, in a way saying that outsiders wouldn’t understand while adding an action twist to it, as you could even say that they were parodies of Stands or something similar. And if anything, even though Gintoki was completely creeped out by everything in the game, Kondo of all people was his mentor. Which given his deluded stalker nature made perfect sense.
Finally it was also a lot of fun to see the other characters that were into it come into the picture, and given the way that their girlfriend is molded to their wishes, just what they looked like. With the likes of Toujo having one that looked like Kyuubei which literally babied him while Sacchan had one like Gintoki while modeling herself after Sayaka. Which at first had me believing that Gintoki was going to drop his one in favour of her, but then again it would have been too easy for him if he had. You can’t forget Sougo NTR’ing Kondo either. And last of all regardless of the subtext for Shinpachi picking the older sister character, it wasn’t that surprising to see him have the supposedly perfect illusion, it’s going to be interesting to see how Gintoki goes about breaking it.