I am the marathon type of manga reader. I prefer reading completed manga or picking up new titles which already have plenty of scanlated chapters. Unless I am very curious about the story development, I usually wait until there are a couple of chapters released to start reading again. Then I focus on finishing the manga or all the available chapters before I read any other. This is not the case with Gintama. I describe my reading style as slow and distracted.
Obviously, I do enjoy reading this tale of silly, easy going, airhead silver curly haired samurai, whose dream is to have a straight hair. If not I would not have been so persistent in reading it. The manga is jammed pack with gags, parodies and puns. Despite accusation of being a copycat and unoriginal because of them, it does have a story of its own and its characters are also very well developed. Hideaki Sorachi had exposed me to as many variety of plots and settings a mangaka can do in one title; amongst others: a video game face off, a naval siege, robotic coup de tat and my favorite, servitude in a haunted ryokan.
So why am I reading on a snail speed?
Well, first of all, some of the arcs are usually under eight chapters and as short as two. A handful of major arcs are between 10-20 chapters, but they are only a handful. I usually take breaks after reading around one or two arcs and marathon read other manga.
I am actually very glad that some of the arcs are not terribly long. There are just those chapters with crowded pages. Reading a bombardment of speech bubbles and thoughts continuously is quite straining to the eyes, regardless of level of comedy. In one of a Q&As, Sorachi did say that sometimes he ran out of pages and had to go back and changed up earlier pages so everything can fit into a chapter. That explains everything.
As I mentioned before, the use of parody and puns are a large part of Gintama’s charm, but it is also its turn off. I’ve watch plenty of anime and hoards of manga, so that helped me a lot in the parody department. There are still a couple that I don’t know about. It’s not that bad though, some are still funny regardless.
The puns are the worst. Many times I frowned and thought, “I don’t get it.” Only those who are familiar with the puns will get it. Thankfully, Hi was Mata Noboru is doing a good job in explaining them in their scanlation. Although the jokes have become clearer with the explanation, it is still not funny. Gintama must be a tough manga to read for those who have not read/watch too many manga/anime and are not familiar with Japanese culture, both popular and traditional.
I don’t want to sound like I am whining. I still love Gintama no matter the hardship. It is one of my favorite action comedy manga. It is just not a manga I can read 40+ volumes continuously, marathon style. I will just keep my pace and savor the laughter.
OK. I am going to read some more Gintama now and leave you with a picture of me James took in front of Shounen Jump Store in Osaka.