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Gintama (銀魂, Gintama, lit. "Silver Soul"), also known as Gin Tama, is a Japanese manga written and illustrated by Hideaki Sorachi and serialized, beginning on December 8, 2003, in Shueisha's Weekly Shōnen Jump. Set in an Edo which has been conquered by aliens named Amanto, the plot follows life from the point of view of samurai Gintoki Sakata, who works as a freelancer alongside his friends Shinpachi Shimura and Kagura in order to pay the monthly rent. Sorachi added the science fiction setting to develop characters to his liking after his editor suggested doing a historical series.
The manga has been licensed by Viz Media in North America. In addition to publishing the individual volumes of the series, Viz serialized its first chapters in their Shonen Jump manga anthology. It debuted in the January 2007 issue, and was serialized at a rate of one chapter a month. An original video animation (OVA) of Gintama by Sunrise was featured at Jump Festa 2006 Anime Tour in 2005. This was followed by a full anime series, which debuted on April 4, 2006 in TV Tokyo and finished on March 25, 2010. A sequel titled Gintama' premiered in Japan on April 4, 2011. An animated film premiered in Japan in April 2010. The website Crunchyroll is streaming the series on its site, while Sentai Filmworks licensed the series, with distribution from Section23 Films on DVDs. Besides the anime series, there have been various light novels and video games based on Gintama.
In Japan, the Gintama manga has seen much success, selling over 29 million volumes as of December 2009. The anime and its DVDs have been featured, at various time, in Top Ten of their respective media, while TV Tokyo has announced that the first Gintama anime was responsible for high sales overseas along with the anime adaptation from Naruto. Publications for manga, anime and others have commented on the Gintama manga. Positive response have focused on the comedy and characters from the series, while negative responses concern the manga's artwork.
The story of Gintama takes place in Edo (known today as Tokyo because of its name change in 1868), Japan, which was conquered by aliens called "Amanto" (天人, "Sky People") in the late Edo period. The samurai of Japan fought the aliens, but after their defeat the Amanto placed a ban on carrying swords in public. The plot is focused on an eccentric samurai, Gintoki Sakata who helps a teenager named Shinpachi Shimura save his sister Tae from a group of aliens who want to make her part of a brothel. Impressed with Gintoki, Shinpachi becomes his apprentice and works with him as a freelancer in order to pay the monthly rent where Gintoki lives, as well as to know more about him. The two of them rescue a teenage alien girl named Kagura from a group of Yakuza who wanted to use her superhuman strength to kill people. Kagura joins Shinpachi and Gintoki to work as freelancers and the three become known as "Yorozuya" (万屋, "Jack of All Trades"). While doing their job they encounter the police force Shinsengumi several times, who normally ally with Odd Jobs Gin in their work since they commonly involve dangerous criminals. They also come to meet Gintoki's former comrades during the Amanto's invasion, including the terrorist Kotaro Katsura who maintains a friendly relationship with them despite his ambitions to destroy the bakufu. On the other hand, Shinsuke Takasugi acts as a major antagonist throughout the series, as he wants to destroy the bakufu in a more violent way than Katsura does.
Although the series' story is commonly episodic, there are also a few story arcs which are developed through several chapters.