Over the age of 18? Yes
Your preferred contact: PM to the player journal (pachintoki ) or on plurk at tropospheres
Other Characters: N/A
Name: Gintoki Sakata
Canon point: Just after the Shinsengumi leave Edo, in 55
Age: Late 20s
gintoki.shinkirou.net/hello.php (scroll down to where it says 'silver soul' for setting information)
Gintama is an AU (Alternate Universe) story set during the Bakumatsu era of Japan, or the final years of the shogunate. Rather than foreigners from the Western world, aliens from outer space have invaded and integrated themselves into society.
Gintoki is the owner of the Yorozuya, a word that means something similar to 'House of 10,000 (or many) businesses'. Basically, anybody can make offers to the Yorozuya, and they'll take the job which can be anything from finding someone's lost cat to standing in line to buy a new game system for a client, to even helping the Shinsengumi. On the surface it may seem like Gintoki is just trying to make a living in an era where it was, in historical Japan, often difficult for former samurai to do so. Despite this, the Yorozuya hardly seems to make enough money for Gintoki and it's employees, Kagura - a freakishly strong teenage girl who belongs to a clan of crazy stong aliens called the Yato - and Shinpachi - the son of a former samurai and the only straight man- to survive. This is something that the two kids remind him of often. Their relationship is very sibling-like, and they pester, nag, tease and argue with each other to no end. But as Gintoki himself says, life would be too boring without them.
Gintoki can be very lazy about traditional work, happy to do as little as possible for as much money as possible, even to the point of refusing a job because it might be too much work, or something he doesn't want to be involved in. There's really no reason to work when a person could be napping or enjoying the finer things in life, such as fantasizing about the attractive weather lady or building a careful chocolate stash. At the same time, money speaks to the Yorozuya, as we see when Gintoki is first hired by Hasegawa, and he often will accept money for any reason. Anything to buy his weekly Jump and daily sugar requirement; his favorite seem to be large ice cream and fruit parfaits. He's childish, he sleeps late, talks like a hooligan and sometimes has a quick temper. Other times, he can't be bothered to do anything other than laze around under a kotatsu with the television on. He's terrified of scary things like ghosts or even a scary movie. He's also not a man who is above taking an extra glance at an attractive lady or reading a dirty magazine, being just a little too comfortable with those rated-M things.
However, there is much more to Gintoki than the lazy former samurai, a typical good-for nothing man who mooches business and living space off of Otose. She is the owner of the building and a bar/snack house on the first floor. There is also much more that the Yorozuya represents besides a struggling business. Although jobs don't always go as the client plans, we always see Gintoki resolving issues relying on his own personal convictions, or bushido, and that nearly always means the resolution is on the side of justice, on helping those who are in need, and generally doing the right thing. While initially refusing a job from a man who has no money, the moment Gintoki learns that he's dying in the hospital, he takes the man's job anyway and does what the man asks. Countless times we see Gintoki uses his business to help individual people, as opposed to his former comrades who seek major reform of the country and the bakufu, even to the point of complete destruction.
And those former comrades of Gintoki's lead to a much darker past than his more light-hearted existence with Shinpachi and Kagura, with whom his relationship is very familial ( it's very obvious he cares about them deeply and would do anything to protect them), reflects. We know nothing about Gintoki's actual family; he was found by Yoshida Shouyou, a teacher and samurai, on a battlefield, taking food from corpses and protecting himself with stolen swords. It's pretty obvious that Shouyou-sensei was the most important person to Gintoki growing up, and was a model of protection and care and kindness and strength to him. Although it's hard to say given the limited background information that we have, Shouyou is someone that Gintoki relied on and someone who never disappointed him, living according to his convictions to the end, much like Gintoki tries to do. It's natural that Gintoki's desire to protect his soul and the souls of those who can't protect themselves stems directly from Shouyou's teaching, and it's a big part of what motivates Gintoki in everything he does with the Yorozuya, and everything he does in life.
"From now on, you will swing that sword. Not to cut down your enemies. Not to cut away your weaknesses and protect yourself. But to protect your very soul." -Shouyou-sensei
Doing this is likely, to Gintoki, to feel as though it's the only way to honor and repay his teacher, who likely served as a familial figure to Gintoki as well, having no family of his own at all. To avoid major spoilers, Shouyo was taken prisoner by the government, which led to at least 3 of his former students (including Gintoki) joining a 20-year conflict against the Amanto, aliens that invaded the earth. It's clear that they joined what's called the Joui war in the final years of the conflict, when it quickly became looked they had no way to defeat species' with such advanced technology. During this period Gintoki was known as Shiroyasha, or the White Demon; his swordsmanship was highly feared, and the destruction he caused was devastating. Sensei was killed during this conflict, which crushed Gintoki and his comrades.
Gintoki clearly only joined the conflict to rescue his sensei. This reasoning is hinted at during a flashback with Katsura, one of his comrades and one of Shouyou-sensei's students. As they are surrounded by Amanto, Katsura says they should commit seppuku and die honorably. Gintoki's reply is one of the most well-known quotes from the series: "If you have time to fantasize about your beautiful death, then why not use that to live beautifully until the end?"
This is clearly again in reference to Shouyou-sensei's teachings, Gintoki believing that his teacher would much rather have him survive than die for something like honor. Gintoki doesn't seem to care too much about honor; killing himself rather than surviving for the sake of others would seem very selfish to him, especially since his life was given to him by Shouyou-sensei, and he's going to treasure it. To Gintoki, dying isn't much of a victory, even if he has shown himself to be self-sacrificing when he isn't sure there's another way to protect those he wants to protect. After the conflict, we know that Gintoki spend some time in prison waiting to be executed; he was arrested after trying to protect children and families of former comrades who the government had started targeting after the Joui Wars. He was then allowed to escape by an executioner who didn't feel he deserved to die, even if Gintoki was ready to throw his life away. Sometime after that he met Otose, a woman who owns a bar, and he now lives in an apartment above the bar. She is definitely a mother/grandmother figure for him. He pays her rent, but he's also her protector. He also takes the well-being of the Kabukicho district somewhat seriously, and proudly owns the community as his own. He's created his own little family with the people he looks out for, and that is how he sees them.
In his life at the Yorozuya, as far as we know few if any of Gintoki's acquaintances and friends know all the details about his dark past. Despite the occasionally nightmare about past battles, he's definitely left the past behind as far as he's able to, to the frustration of former comrades Katsura and Takasugi, former students of Shouyou-sensei who seek the dismantling/reform of the Shogunate and it's destruction, respectively. But it’s easy to see that he’s still somewhat haunted by the past, and past events influence his decisions in many ways.
For a man who largely acts like he doesn't want much to do with others, Gintoki sure manages to get into others' business pretty effortlessly, and he will help them tenaciously, with that indomitable soul of his. He also manages to get involved with his former comrade again when Takasugi plans to assasinate the Shogun by using a local inventor, Gengai, whom Gintoki ends up befriending. Takasugi also deliberately makes use of Amanto technology in combination with swords to form the Benizakura, a bio-mechanical sword. In their attempts to stop him, Katsura and Gintoki learn that their former friend has offered their heads to the band of Harusame Space Pirates, in an ultimate act of betrayal. It is here where we can truly see that Gintoki's actions after the Joui war are in complete opposite of Takasugi's; Gintoki tries to exist in the country on his own terms and look after people, forming bonds with people, where as Takasugi wants to tear down and destroy the country so it matches his own convictions. Both Katsura and Gintoki are concerned about their old friend, but despite this, claim that they will kill him if they need to.
Because he never had a family, the people close to him are extremely important to him, and much like a family to him, particularly Otose, Kagura, and Shinpachi. By extension, he has others that he'll do a lot for, such as Hasegawa and Otae-san, Tama and Gengai, Tsukuyo and those in Yoshiwara, and even a few unnamed idiots in the Shinsengumi. He comments that it's ironic that those without families understand what's important in a family better than those who have them. It's a particular sort of anger Gintoki feels, when he sees others betraying or failing to protect their those closest to them. We definitely see this with regards to Gintoki's interactions with Kagura's family; while he doesn't seem to dislike Kagura's father, Umibozu, there is definitely contempt for a man who would leave his own family behind. And in the red-light district Yoshiwara, when Gintoki and Co. help the courtesans there rebel against Yato clan member, Housen, we also meet Kagura's brother, Kamui. Kamui seems to be a cold killer who cares only about fighting the strongest, beating the strongest, and getting stronger to the point where he tried to kill his own father. This is practically the first thing Gintoki berates him for, pointing out the kind of person he must be to have tried to kill his own father and sister. Unfortunately, Kamui's only response to Gintoki is being excited to find someone new who is strong enough for him, and Kamui hopes to fight with Gintoki someday. When Umibozu tells Gintoki that Kamui wasn't always that way, and Kagura still hopes to save and change her brother, Gintoki is left without anything to say. When faced with the idea of having to fight with Kamui in front of Kagura, who still cares for her brother, the decision on what he will do is clearly very, very weighty.
At the same time, this gradually growing attachment and care for the people around him - no matter what he says, it's clearly there - is what draws so many to the often abrasive, bristly, lazy, sugar addicted ex-samurai, and he has people who care about him; Shinpachi and Kagura especially are visibly very distressed when he gets injured, and the same goes for Gintoki if anything happens to them. Because he can see the good in them, they can see the good in him too - Gintoki's shining soul. For now, it's one day at a time
Gintoki is a samurai and has very well-developed skills. Although he usually will use a bokuto (wooden sword) he has been shown to use a normal katana when he needs to truly defend himself. He has also been shown to be able to cut through things with his wooden sword. In his youth during the Joui war, he was known as Shiroyasha (the White Demon) and shown to be very destructive, slaughtering countless enemies by himself. As a swordsman, along with his strength he also shows speed and ingenuity in battle, along with an incredible ability to fight through any pain or injury. But he's not invincible.
Gintoki largely will use his sword only to protect his convictions and those people important to him. He'll also use it to stop others from doing bad things. It's very rare that he will even fight for fun, such as with members of the Shinsengumi. Still, as a samurai, if someone challenged him, he'd likely accept. He'd probably think it was stupid though, and we see from his 'duel' with Kondo that he doesn't really take it seriously. He gives Kondo a secretly broken sword so he can easily win and walk away from the duel. He's a major cheater, and he'll run away if that's the best option.
He seems to like the idea of justice, and defending those who can't defend themselves. Just as potent as his sword sometimes can be the inspirational lecturing he tends give those who are doing wrong. He can cause quite a bit of destruction, but his reasons for doing so would be for the greater good; he's very unselfish when it comes to his sword.
One wooden bokuto/sword – his primary weapon that he usually has on him or around. His clothes, including boots and his kimono. Some photographs that he has tucked away in his kimono. A now-empty carton of strawberry milk and four copies of Shounen Jump magazines that were on the sofa, as well as a cheap blue sofa he was sitting on at the time he ended up in the Interim.
SAMPLESSample 1 is my post to the test drive (unfortunately nobody tagged it): http://realitydrome.dreamwidth.org/513.
Sample 2 is from a now-defunct game but I think it shows some good humor and tone: http://sidestreet.dreamwidth.org/368.