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Gintama 2: Rules Are Made To Be Broken (Blu-ray) (Normal Edition) (Japan Version)
Oguri Shun | Miura Haruma | Yagira Yuya | Yoshizawa Ryo
Gintama 2: Rules Are Made To Be Broken (Blu-ray) (Normal Edition) (Japan Version)
More gags, more Gintama
November 30, 2018 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
In the "Countdown" introduction at the start of the first Gintama, Oguri Shun referred to the film as "the one-time-only Gintama live-action adaptation." But when a manga adaptation makes over three billion yen at the Japanese box office, you can bet there's a sequel coming, and fast! Hence, a mere year later, we have Gintama 2 and even more of the giddy gags, insider jokes and manga-mined stories that made the first film such a crowd-pleasing hit.

When I wrote about Gintama last year, I noted that the Shinsengumi were well cast but underused. Well, they take front and center this time! For most of the film's first half, the Yorozuya trio of Sakata Gintoki (Oguri Shun), Shimura Shinpachi (Suda Masaki) and Kagura (Hashimoto Kanna) are mainly delivering sketch gags in amusing side quests about them taking up part-time jobs they're not qualified for (cabaret hostess, barber) and unwittingly subjecting the visiting shogun-in-disguise (Katsuji Ryo) to crass humiliation.

The film's main conflict and action is based on the Shinsengumi Crisis Arc of the manga. Internal strife breaks out within the Shinsengumi police unit with the arrival of shifty advisor Ito Kamotaro (Miura Haruma), who schemes to break up the trio of Commander Kondo Isao (Nakamura Kankuro), Vice-Commander Hijikata Toshiro (Yagira Yuya) and Captain Okita Sogo (Yoshizawa Ryo). After encountering a strange ambush at the beginning of the film, the usually cool and formidable Hijikata Toshiro begins to transform against his will into a wimpy otaku. As Hijikata's split personality takes over him, Ito takes over the Shinsengumi from the inside and stages a coup. Yagira Yuya gets the plummest role of the entire film and he's very much up to the task, overacting effectively between the two poles of drawling, chain-smoking badass and flailing scaredy-cat.

Naturally, Oguri Shun's Gintoki does return to the forefront for the climax, and the shogun gag stories do somehow tie back in with the Shinsengumi infighting when the conspiracy behind the crisis is revealed. Gintama 2 goes impressively full throttle at the end with life-or-death blow-out fight sequences on a speeding train that leave piles of Shinsengumi bodies.

Dramatic Shinsengumi fighting and bonding aside, Gintama 2 is still very much about the lulz. It opens straightaway with a hilarious voiceover discussion among Oguri Shun, Suda Masaki and Hashimoto Kanna that mainly emphasizes how Suda Masaki has won the Japan Academy Prize for Best Actor, and Oguri Shun most definitely has not. The film is packed with juvenile jokes, clever ribbing and manga/anime references, including a raccoon bus that looks like Totoro's cat bus and an extended Neon Genesis Evangelion parody that made me snort out loud in the theater.

Much like its predecessor, Gintama 2 will not be anywhere near a critic's award anytime soon, but it's great for fans and audiences looking for unpretentious entertainment. No word yet on whether there will be a third film, but when a sequel makes over 3.5 billion yen…

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