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Silver Soul.

Ninth card in the {G} Series.
"From now on, you will swing that sword to protect your very soul." -- These are words that Gintoki has carried with him since he was merely a boy receiving his teacher's very own katana. They're words that he very much lives by. Gintoki operates on his own rules and fights in order to protect his spirit and soul--and is always willing to do so for others whose ideals align with his own. The idea of the "soul" is probably one of the main, overreaching themes of Gintama--I mean, it's in the damn title.
It may be hard to see between all the poop jokes, mosaic censors, and blow up sex toys, but I swear it's there! Gintama is really all about what's beneath physical appearances or outward personality--Gintoki being a fine example of that. He may come off as one of the laziest, most useless and pathetic heroes to ever grace the pages of Shounen JUMP, but underneath all of that he actually has a shining soul.
Gintoki, more than anyone, has the outstanding ability to see (and often times, bring out) the good buried deep within other people. Whether that's the dirt-covered MADAO or the stalker-creepy gorilla, Gintoki recognizes people's true natures and is willing to help even the biggest of losers if he can understand what really lies within their soul. Though Hijikata is one of Gintoki's mortal enemies and he can't stand the sight of him--he was willing to help him in one of his most desperate times of need.
When Kamotarou Itou came back to town in hopes of disassembling the Shinsengumi, Hijikata became cursed by a sword that turned him into a useless, cowardly anime otaku that went by the name of "Tosshi". Though the curse caused him to be too scared to fight in order to rescue his commander and everything that was important to him, Gintoki and the Yorozuya fought alongside him while Gintoki worked to "awaken" Hijikata from his otaku-state by trying to bring him back to reality.
"Hey, are you listening? Don't retreat and shove your problems onto other people! Are you the type that asks things of others? Are you the type that shoves the fate of your Shinsengumi onto someone else? If you're going to die, die while swinging your sword alongside the things that are important to you! That's who you are!"
--Sakata Gintoki
Because Gintoki is familiar with Hijikata's usual workaholic-disposition, he works as a motivator to reignite Hijikata's true fighting spirit.
When it comes to the friends he knows and loves, he's more than willing to give them the slap in the face or extend the hand they need in order to come back to their senses and fight for what they really believe in. Whether that's through a physical kick out the car door or through his iconic epic monologuing, he will always momentarily shine in order to act as an inspiration for the friends who need a pick-me up. Let's be honest: the current state of Edo in Gintama's time period ain't-so-great and Gintoki is surrounded by people who are miserable with themselvs and their lives.
Hasegawa Taizou, a former Bakufu official (before Gintoki ruined his life) is ironically one of Gintoki's closest drinking/gambling buddies (possibly becuase they're so much the same, miserable person), but because Hasegawa sacrificed a "good job" that he hated in exchange for living a terrible life that was free from working for a cause he didn't believe in, Gintoki finds a great amount of respect in even a useless MADAO like him.
"If you want me to prepare a rope for the sake of hanging yourself, forget it. If it's a rope for the sake of pulling you up from hell, no matter how many ropes it takes, I'll prepare it for you. You'd better remember that."
--Sakata Gintoki
But Gintoki doesn't simply recognize the pure-hearted souls of the "good guys". Even moreso than that, he's also got a knack for bringing the good out of the "bad guys" as well. The swordsmithing Murata siblings are the family behind the demon sword, "Benizakura"--Tetsuya being the forger, corrupt with the idea of creating the perfect sword, and sacrificing his "soul" in order to do so. His sister Tetsuko, much quieter and more reserved than her brother, simply forges swords in hopes that the would protect the people who use them. Though Tetsuya looked down upon Tetsuko's work and weakness, Gintoki ultimately uses Tetsuko's sword in order to battle against Nizou, who wileds the "perfect" Benizakura.
In order to prove his point, Gintoki defeats Nizou with Tetsuko's blade and reiterates a statement that the two had heard many years ago from their father: it doesn't matter how perfect a sword may be forged, it will never be able to compete with one that's crafted with the swordsmith's heart and soul. The same could be said for almost anything--unless we put our heart and soul into everything that we do, the outcome will never be sincere. This is simply a lesson that Gintoki wishes to teach everyone.
"Giving up everything else and living on only to forge the perfect sword? You think that is the mark of a craftsman? Don't be so dramatic! ... Look at this pitiful blade, and see its great power! This blade that your sister put her soul into forging! Look at how well it cuts! Burn that image into your eyes!"
--Sakata Gintoki, Shinyaku Benizakura-hen
Though often times Gintoki's "enemies" realize their mistakes too late--they pass on peacefully because his words bring them to understanding the mistakes in the way they've lived, allowing them to reconcile with those they've hurt before they die. Tetsuko may have lost her brother to the Benizakura, but is able to hear his sincere apology before he passes on. Perhaps one of the reasons that the Benizakura arc is praised as one of Gintama's greatest arcs (and perhaps also why it was turned into a full-length feature film) is because it fully encompasses the message Gintama is trying to relay: no matter what kind of person you are, no matter how hard you work or what you do, do it protecting the most important aspect of yourself--your soul, your heart, your spirit--and you can survive in a crazy world.
Gintoki works at the Yorozuya to spread that idea to small bratty children, fat made-up gyaru and useless MADAO alike. It was among the many lessons he learned from his beloved Shouyou-sensei, yet the one lesson that he kept closest to his heart. The most important thing in the world is to be yourself and stick to what you believe in. Gintoki believes that with that kind of disposition in life, you can live happily and tackle just about anything.
"All that a sword can do is kill people. It doesn't matter how hard you worked while forging it. Even so, we cannot stop our hammers. What we create are weapons. That is why we must keep hammering until the end. Not the iron, but your soul. While striking the iron, you must strike your very soul as well. Become a kind person. Live beautifully. If you live your life in that way, then the people that that would use your swords for good will gather before you."
-- Murata Jintetsu, Shinyaku Benizakura-hen
1 comment
Gintama just captures the true craziness in life and all the truth that comes with it