Director: Yuichi Fukuda
Cast: Shun Oguri, Masaki Suda, Kanna Hashimoto, Masaki Okada, Masami Nagasawa, Tsuyoshi Domoto, Jiro Sato, Kankuro Nakamura, Yuya Yagira, Ryo Yoshizawa, Natsuna Watanabe, Ryo Katsuji, Shinichi Tsutsumi
Runtime: 2 hrs 14 mins
Rating: PG13 (Some Violence)
Released By: Odex & Golden Village Pictures
Opening Day: 8 November 2018
Synopsis: Gintoki Sakata, Shinpachi Shimura and Kagura run short of money while running their Yorozuya office. They are not able to pay their rent and decide to do part-time work. Whenever they go for part-time work, they meet Shogun-sama. Around that time, the special forces Shinsengumi, led by Isao Kondo is divided among itself. The internal conflict of Shinsengumi connects the conspiracy involving Shogunsama.
A year after the huge success of the first live-action Gintama, the sequel featuring more or less the original cast and director Yuichi Fukuda is back for more irrelevant humour and exaggerated acting. Consider they have less than a year to churn it out, it’s miraculously a speedy turnaround for a Japanese flick we must add.
Together with his friends, Shinpachi Shimura (Masaki Suda) and Kagura (Kanna Hashimoto), Shun Oguri returns as former samurai Gintoki Sakata aka White Demon. As per the first Gintama, the trio is still making a living running Odd Jobs R Us and they are still facing financial difficulties in paying their rents.
The first half of Gintama 2 is basically a series of comedic acts and outrageous gags being string together. We see our heroes trying to meet ends meets by auditioning as hostess for a night club. Audiences familiar with the first movie will spot a familiar face. The stuttering pimp or club owner is played by veteran actor Jiro Sato, in yet again another hilarious scene-stealing role. In order to please the visiting Shogun (Ryo Katsuji) and Police Chief (Shinichi Tsutsumi from Suspect X), Gintoki and Shinpachi has to dress in drag and that includes yet another recurring character, Masaki (Kotaro Katsura).
The next task sees the trio manning a barber shop which ironically with no real barber in the shop as he is on vacation. With apparent zero hairdressing skills, expect ridiculously funny results when the Shogun drops in for a surprise haircut. Of course, it’s yet again full of mo-lei-tau aka nonsensical humour which true fans of the material or fans of Stephen Chow comedies will appreciate. You know how the movie it’s like when you see the Warner Bros logo being flashed thrice and a voiceover that pokes fun at the Japanese Academy Awards and the award-winning Shoplifters.
It’s almost an hour before we get to the meat of the plot- a coup is rising in the Shinsengumi with the talented loner Itou Kamotarou (Haruma Miura) planning to take over the police force discreetly with returning villain Shinsuke Takasugi(Tsuyoshi Domoto) while the force’s heroic deputy chief, Hijikata (Yuya Yagira) is turned into a Otaru (fan of anime and manga) by a chip embedded in his body. Throw in a powerful mysterious killer, Bansai (Masataka Kubota), the dynamic trio has their hands full. Will our heroes able to resolve the crisis this round and pay their rents on time?
Fortunately, Gintama 2: Rules Are Made To Be Broken has a more coherent plotting and less of the haphazard storytelling aspects of the first. It’s pretty much easier to follow even for non-manga fans though the constant yelling among the characters can be a bit irritable. Repeating the same mistakes as the first, some of the sequences are still very talky even for a fantasy comedy flick and in desperate need of a tighter editing which explains why the sequel clocks in at 134 minutes, 3 minutes longer than the first.
Gintama 2 continues to parody and mocking fun of other Japanese pop culture with obvious reference to Evangelion and a guarantee laugh-out-loud sequence featuring a familiar “vehicle” from Studio Ghibli’s My Neighbour Totoro. Generally, while the CGI remains shoddy and low budget, there’s enough intensity and fun in the massive chase featuring a runaway train, explosions and a decently choreographed swordplay showdown between Bansai and Gintoki for audiences to immerse themselves in.
Shun Oguri who will be making his Hollywood debut in Godzilla Vs Kong is more than comfortable playing the man-child samurai in his second outing though his counterparts liked Masaki Suda, Kanna Hashimoto, Kotaro Katsura and his loyal alien friend, Elizabeth has lesser screentime as much of the story is devoted to the Itou Kamotarou and Hijikatastory arc. As for the unresolved villain arc, given that both Gintamas have performed very well in the Japanese box-office, chances of encountering Shinsuke Takasugi again is very high.
Thus is Gintama 2 a more accessible flick to casual audiences than its predecessor? Again the Gintama property remains a niche movie. It’s more of a treat to fans of the original manga while it’s best for audiences not used to absurd gags and cheesy humour to simply steer away.
(Love it or hate it. Gintama 2 is an improvement over the first with a more coherent storyline and far more outrageous gags for its second outing)
Review by Linus Tee