Quick comic comments: Gin Tama vol. 2

I’m going to have to stop saying things like “I don’t like comics about dim-witted lowlifes,” because every time I do, something like Hideaki Sorachi’s Gin Tama (Viz – Shonen Jump Advanced) comes along to contradict me. In my defense, I think Gin Tama is an uncommonly good comic about dim-witted lowlifes.

The second volume builds smartly on the virtues of the first. Gin and his cohorts run through another round of decidedly odd jobs that range from the weirdly romantic to the disturbingly creepy. Sorachi’s aggressive approach to comedy ties everything together, and his cast (disarmed samurai Gin, scolding four-eyes Shinpachi, and adorably violent alien Kagra) really start clicking as a unit. (Okay, they don’t function well as co-workers, but they make quite a comedy troupe.)

It’s fairly episodic, but there are enough recurring elements and hinted-at secrets to give it a little more heft than it might otherwise have. Gin’s uneasy relationships with both the local cops and the hometown terrorist cell have lots of promise for future stories; both factions are about equally morally iffy, which is interesting in its own right.

And it’s very, very funny. Underlying all of the low-brow antics is some real wit and perceptiveness. There’s a very high rate of return on even the throw-away gags. The art is just right for the material, too.

About a third of the way through the second volume, I said to myself that this is one of the best new shônen series I’ve read all year. For a book whose kanji title can be read as “Testicles,” this is quite a surprise, though it’s certainly a pleasant one.

(This review is based on a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.)

7 Responses to Quick comic comments: Gin Tama vol. 2

  1. […] checks out Yume Kira Gift Shoppe at Manga Life. At Precocious Curmudgeon, David Welsh enjoys vol. 2 of Gin Tama. Miranda posts a short but positive review of Only Words at Prospero’s Manga. At Manganews, […]

  2. Matt Brady says:

    Damn, now I’m really going to have to check this one out. Yet another one to get to “one of these days”.

  3. davidpwelsh says:

    I have this terrible fear that “one of these days” is going to be spent buried under manga, y’know?

  4. Simon Jones who is blogless says:

    I’ve always had a soft spot for Gintama. Partially because it’s actually genuinely funny in places and partially because the characters are generally so unpleasent to one another. Which also makes me giggle. Kagra, for example, avoids the usual Tsundae girl thing by actually being an essentially malevolant sociopath.

    Also, it has the first female character to vomit in something like 40 or 50 years of Shonen jump.

  5. davidpwelsh says:

    Even her puppy is a malevolent sociopath. But cute.

  6. […] in its fifth volume) and the second volume of Hideaki Sorachi’s quirky, action-packed Gin Tama (discussed here already). I wouldn’t go so far as to say all of the same people would like both, but they share an […]

  7. foru says:

    Um what?! They call Shinsengumi=local cops? >______>;; Gintama is quite hard to translate. If Viz left out Japanese cultural references or parodies notes and inside joke (like the real meaning of the news anchor Ketsuno Ana whose name really means “asshole”), then it wouldn’t be as funny as it should be. Gintama is really famous in Japan but the vibe of it in western apparently is not as strong as in Japan D:

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