Gintama anime ep 316/manga chaps 550 - 551
Dear Gintama gods and Sorachi-sama,
I thought perhaps it was the lateness of the hour and the weariness of my eyes last night that caused the tears to run down my face right from the first moment of the episode: I lost it as soon as I heard dear sweet Yamazaki’s voice dictating his final report as the member of the Protectors of Edo, the Shinsengumi. Switching up Swimy’s ending song to the opening sequence instead just made me cry harder. When I watched the episode again tonight, though evening had only just fallen, and the same thing happened to me, Niagara Falls all the way, I was relieved to know that my tears hadn’t been due to exhaustion, that in fact the sadness I had felt and was experiencing again, was indeed completely genuine.
This episode means so much to me because it perfectly brought to life the moment that started my letter-writing campaign to you. As silly and most likely futile as my efforts might be, as soon as I started doing this I instantly realized how important it was to me to properly express my gratitude to you for all the joy you have brought and continue to bring to me on an almost weekly basis, whether it’s through the pages of your manga or by the way of the anime. I still regret not writing to you sooner; I should have started as soon as I fell in love with Gintoki right when he was introduced. But much like Gin-chan, I am a lazy person by nature, and therefore as much as I loved him and Gintama, and shipped Gintoki/Hijikata with the fervor of a thousand shippers, I did not do anything proactive about my love and appreciation, even as my affection grew in spades over the years. In fact, somewhere along the line, I actually started shamefully falling behind on both your manga and anime, since even as much as I loved Gintama, I began to take it for granted, figuring that it will always be there waiting for me. The fact that the anime always came back further lulled me into a false sense of security.
But then, towards the beginning of last year or maybe at the end of the year before, I got word that the anime was returning yet again and also, most importantly, that I have been missing out on a pretty epic arc that was taking place in the manga. It finally hit me then just how much I had been grossly neglecting Gintama and how I should really hit the books again to see what I’ve been missing. In doing so, I almost flipped out when the truth of just how much I missed really struck me since I dove in right when you were in the middle of the Shogun Assassination Arc. It felt a bit like experiencing whiplash, as all of a sudden all these important events were happening. Little did I know that arc would just be the tip of a pretty epic iceberg. I also quickly realized that I needed to do a lot of back-tracking since I missed just so damn much and had forgotten even more than that. As a result, even though I was probably less than 100 chapters behind at that point (I think I missed out on most of 2014 chapters), I actually started over from around chapter 200 and quickly caught up to chapter 520-something within just a short 2 and a half weeks span of time. If I did not have real life obligations I would have probably finished sooner. Revisiting the old chapters of Gintama felt like returning to a land of endless joy: a place I didn’t want to leave and couldn’t even remember why I would leave it in the first place.