Little Noboru from the 1998 GTO drama, Oguri Shun, has grown up to take on the role of our favorite samurai lazy-bums, Gintoki Sakata! I've also seen him as Shinichi Kudo from the live action Detective Conan movies, but his acting chops have definitely improved here in Gintama.
The Benizakura Arc was the first major story arc for the Gintama anime, and it has now been made into two movies, an animated retelling and live action. Personally, I feel like Benizakura isn't the most amazing arc compared to the later ones (especially the Shogun arc), but it's understandable that as a live action film that's seen by many newcomers, this is the most accessible story arc for them. There's a lot of familiar humor for old fans of the anime as well, along with some new ones. In particular, the meta-humor stands out the most, including self-mockery about how the movie needed to appeal to newcomers as well and thus requiring an obligatory origin story at the beginning. The funniest jokes I found were the references to other anime and the characters' fear of being sued for copyright infringement, including a hilarious cameo by Nausicaa.
Unfortunately, the humor can fall flat sometimes in this live action format. Humor in anime (or just animation in general) rarely works as effectively as live action. When you try to imitate the kind of exaggerated comedy in anime, it can come off as lame and contrived. For example, the (lackluster) special effects of Shinpachi being punched stand out more than the unfunny joke itself, and that gag got old after the first time. Some of the characters attempting hyperbole (like Tetsuya Murata shouting) also look really awkward in real life. These comedic moments just don't work well outside of anime, and that's the same problem I had with Scott Pilgrim when it tried to emulate such cartoonish effects in live action. Henpeita Takechi also looks nothing like his anime counterpart because of his eyes, but that's something live action is incapable of adapting, so that's inevitable (though I'll bet Marvel Studios would go above and beyond to keep such aesthetic details faithful to the source material in some shape or form; shame that Japanese studios couldn't do the same).
Some of the actors do manage to pull off their gags relatively well. Oguri's "straight man" retorts work well enough (though definitely never surpassing the brilliant Tomokazu Sugita). Nakamura Kankuro as Kondo was not bad, but that had more to do with him being a good sport, letting himself get covered in honey (or whatever that golden sauce was) than his acting chops. The other casting choices, however, were kinda iffy. Domoto Tsuyoshi as Takasugi just looked weird, as his face was too chubby for the role, and his attempt to act stoic just came off as dull and lifeless. Also, why is Shinpachi shouting all the time? And why is he so violent in this movie? Totally out of character.
And finally, we have to talk about those cheap special effects. I don't know many anime adaptations in Japan have such low quality CGI. The Japanese just don't seem capable of matching the Americans in realistic-looking CGI for some reason, and Gintama live action is no exception. They even used blatantly fake masks in place of the Amanto... I wonder if that's intentional as some form of satire, but I highly doubt it since they didn't address these cheap props.
Finally, there isn't that much important information about the Gintama universe to make this a must-watch for newcomers. The sword-fights in live action do look cooler than the anime, that's the movie's one saving grace, but other than that, it's not really an impressive retelling for you to go out of your way to watch this. Watch the animated telling of Benizakura instead - it has the awesome "Bakuchi Dancer" by DOES playing in the final fight whereas this live action version just has some forgettable score.
Dream: Will post a little later what the next voted anime will be that I will watch and review.
Jan 18, 2020 19:48:38 GMT
Dream: Next anime up to cover will be Dance in the Vampire Bund. Suppose a short anime will do for now following Chobits.
Jan 18, 2020 21:32:36 GMT
Dream: Concluding things at episode 2 with Vampire Bund for the night. Hoping to get back to Basquatch tomorrow, as long as I'm not swamped with anything.
Jan 19, 2020 3:00:33 GMT
Dream: Geez, it's really quiet. No activity in the forums since I posted my review from yesterday.
Jan 19, 2020 15:57:41 GMT
Taka: I'll email the receipts. The best anime and manga of 2019 will be extended to Wed. I don't get time off for Mon because of community service. Please vote if you haven't yet. Thank you!
Jan 19, 2020 20:44:07 GMT
Dream: Hmmmm... looks like the version of Vampire Bund I'm seeing on Funi's YouTube channel's an edited version. A couple minutes of episode 2 were clearly removed with Mina in nothing but underwear battling human assassins. Then again, recall there was a good...
Jan 19, 2020 22:49:15 GMT
Dream: ...deal of controversy with the series a decade earlier thanks to the seemingly underaged nudity of Mina while in her younger form.
Jan 19, 2020 22:50:13 GMT
Dream: Not sure if I should be donning the nostalgia goggles or not giving a damn. Looks like the original Digimon Adventure series is getting a reboot airing starting in the Spring season.
Jan 21, 2020 3:21:13 GMT
Taka: I'll watch it if there's nothing catching my eye in Spring. winter 2020 was a weak anime season for me.
Jan 22, 2020 18:29:46 GMT
Dream: Wouldn't say it's all bad for me. Have a few titles holding my interest. Just it typically doesn't have as many major titles of note that would hold me over.
Jan 22, 2020 23:54:44 GMT
Dream: Done with Vampire Bund. Will be working on a review of it before I hop into the next Funi series. Hoping to get it up either tonight or tomorrow, depending on how lengthy my thoughts get.
Jan 24, 2020 1:44:49 GMT