Gin Tama Volume 18: Men, Be Dorks
Story and Art: Hideaki Sorachi
Release Date: 2nd May 2007
Covers Chapters 149-157
Shonen Jump Advanced /Viz Media
The Video game story ends at the start of this arc and from one funny arc ending we move onto more doses of small stories aiming for people’s smiles. The serious side Gin Tama which likes to show off of late goes for a vacation and instead we get stories of old men being used as weapons, a sage who can’t teach his new powers to his lazy master, a giant woman in love with an evil two-headed cherry man, a sniper assassin who jumps to conclusions, a court case over a Muscle Buster and a fat camp involving crisps awaits.
Volume 18 never goes for the emotional story, every story is going for that big punch line and it is nice to see a full volume of just fun stories. Not all the stories are the best seen in the series, the video game arc really only catered for people who enjoyed games and the valentine story with the giant monsters feels rather dragged out and forced as she tries to confess her love. The story about the power up with a sage resembling Zangetsu from Bleach also may go over some people’s heads but at least that story has the fun family for the reader to contend with. It feels like after two arcs centred on robots and games, Sorachi has made a slight stumble into bringing back the Gin Tama without those less universally enjoyed elements.
But the first chapter which really delivers is the assassin story. An assassin who talks about his cowardly ways positions himself in a flat trying to assassinate someone with his sniper but he sees Gintoki at the park who he believes is watching him. The story is all through this man’s mind and what he sees and is fantastic. Seeing what Gin is really doing and the way this assassin is reacting to things is the perfect comedy and things continue in quality with the lawyer story as Gin becomes Hasegawa’s lawyer after Hasegawa supposedly committed a ‘muscle buster’ to a woman on purpose. It has some touching moments too as Hasegawa despite being unlucky never gives up and the friendship between Gin and Hasegawa is shown in a way I found touching. These two stories are excellent and some of my favourite in the series, it would be good if these type of stories never ended. I do find Sorachi’s recent obsession in showing events through imaginary events a little jarring at times though. You get Hasegawa dressed as a dog chased by a giant child and Gin dressed as a school girl to express and show events in a visually more interesting way for the reader but it can be a little confusing and tacky feeling at times.
It all ends with a fat camp story which feels a little stretched at two chapters with all the good stuff taking place in the second chapter. All the female characters have put on a bit of weight (they are all drawn in a comical round way) and they must steal people’s crisps to avoid starving during the rigorous seven-day training. While it has a rather uninteresting start it quickly picks up and becomes deliciously funny. Volume 18 of Gin Tama packs a lot of laughs, some maybe just mild laughter but any laughter is better than no laughter. A great success.