Gintama is mostly comedic in tone, but the anime has also been shown to have some serious arcs too. Gintama’s serious storylines have made the show much more exhilarating and emotional for fans.
With the series’ incredible characters and fight choreography, Gintama had its fair share of great arcs that went a little more serious than comedic and received great feedback from viewers. Which ones were the best in the series? Well, let's rank the 10 best serious arcs from Gintama (according to IMDB).
The averaging rating of an arc's episodes will be used as the main metric.
10 Renho | Rating: 8.1
Elizabeth may be one of the most mystified characters in Gintama and this arc dives deep into who she is. The show revealed that Elizabeth belonged to a race of humanoid creatures that wear duck costumes called the Renho.
As convoluted as it sounds, we soon learn that Elizabeth was a spy for the Renho in order to gather intel to help them take over Earth. Even though the storyline has bits of comedy, it was still considered one of the show’s serious arcs because of the emotional relationship shown between Elizabeth and Katsura Kotaro. The arc had a delicate balance between dark and light in tone.
9 Red Spider | Rating: 8.4
Going deep into this particular arc, things got really dark for the anime and that is meant literally. This batch of episodes takes place with little light, almost like a horror movie. This is all because of the antagonist Jiraia, a mysterious foe who is malevolent and vicious with his fighting technique.
We get some cool flashbacks with Jiraia and Tsukuyo. We even learn about Gintoki’s first time meeting Yoshida Shouyou. It gives viewers a chance to see how much progress these characters have made since we first saw them. The fight between Gintoki and Jiraia will always be one of the best highlights of the series. It may be one of the weaker arcs in the Yoshiwara trilogy, but it’s a memorable one.
8 Shinsengumi Crisis | Rating: 8.6
Shinsengumi has grown to be one of the most important aspects of Gintama. As the first of four arcs revolving around the special police force, it was great to see how these guys operate in the story. We are introduced to the season’s arc, antagonist Itou who was such a tragic character.
The whole arc revolved around him at the start until we realize that he was only a pawn of the Harusame to dismantle the Shinsengumi. Kawakami Bansai represents this mysterious group, a character who has a fondness for music. When we put all this together, this arc has a lot of emotional impact with so many pieces and a sad ending with Itou’s death.
7 Yoshiwara In Flames | Rating: 8.6
This was the beginning of the Yoshiwara arcs that brought in a lot of characters into the story from the Yoshiwara clan. Seita and Hinowa are the two characters that begin the arc strong. When Seita tries to steal from Gintoki, little does she realize that she’s on a path towards Otose’s group.
She ends up asking for help to save Yoshiwara from Housen, the ruler of the clan. It was a sad moment when we find out that her mother was dead after all that searching. We also get to know the Yato tribe members who play an important role in this arc. Everything that takes place in this arc results in an exciting story that completely blows everything away with stellar fights and emotional moments.
6 Shinigami | Rating: 8.8
The show introduces a new part of the world of Gintama, the Yaemon family. This clan is known for their reputation as the shogunate’s executioners. This arc focused primarily on the conflict between Asaemon and the Yaemon, which split the family apart.
Asaemon didn’t go along with Yaemon’s plan to kill everyone that their father has given freedom to, including Sakata Gintoki. The story also includes flashbacks to Gintoki’s backstory. Other than the nice flashback, the fight scenes in this arc stand out as some of the best on Gintama. This was a big build-up for the Shogun Assassination arc as well as our introduction to Hitosubashi Nobunobu.
5 Benizakura | Rating: 8.8
Gintama had its first serious arc with the Benizakura. Straight out of the gate, this storyline was full of intense and pumping action. This proved how much potential the show had for more action-oriented content by going into some humorless territory.
What brought the show to the forefront was the fight with Katsura, Harusame, and Gintoki in this arc. This was considered one of the best fight sequences to come out of Gintama. The end of the storyline took quite a toll on Nizou but seeing him fight Gintoki was a spectacle to watch.
4 Baragaki Thorny | Rating: 8.8
Most fans would bypass this arc, but this set of episodes is filled with craziness and mixes both comedy and action. Baragaki focuses on the Shinsengumi rival police force called the Mimawarigumi. This elite group is filled with members from some of the wealthiest families in the nation. They are rivaled against the lower class group of samurai that are comprised of the Shinsengumi.
Tetsunosuke, the brother of Mimawarigumi chief Sasaki Isaburo, ends up as a member of the Shinsengumi when his family loses faith in him. Chaos ensues between the two police forces when he gets kidnapped by a group of rebels. It was certainly a surprise when it is revealed that Gintoki was playing the villain in the entire arc. Certainly a surprise, but it is regarded as one of the most underrated arcs in the series.
3 Kintama | Rating: 8.9
After seeing this arc, it gave fans another reason to love the characters of Gintoki so much. The dilemma faced by Kintoki (blonde Gintoki) is handled throughout the arc, while also showing just how much of an impact Gintoki has made on all the other characters.
No matter what crazy antics Gintoki has pulled, it still made a deep impression on viewers and the group. The way the arc handled Gintoki as well as Mantama was a good way to keep people invested in the story. It does break the fourth wall at times, but it was a different story than most had come to expect from Gintama and that’s why it tends to be a fan favorite.
2 Four Devas | Rating 9.1
The Four Devas arc was a bold storyline that went onto become one of the greatest stories in the series. The storyline followed four devas: Otose, Saigo, Jirocho, and Kada. These are the four powerhouses of the Kabuki District and they all fight for power.
Fans get to see Jirocho’s relationships develop with both Otose and Tatsugoro. Gintama shows Jirocho at his most powerful when he teams up with Gintoki to fight against the Shinra army. A lot of story goes into this plot, but the civil war with these four individuals is what drives the show into one of the best arcs we’ve seen.
1 Yagyu | Rating: 10
The character of Yagyuu Kyuubei gets introduced in this arc and becomes very crucial later on in the series. We get to see Kyuubei start to build up as a character, showing us her drive and growth when the arc progresses.
When first introduced, Kyuubei gives the impression that she is a man. However, she is only pretending to be a man because of the burden that her family placed on her as the Yagyuu heir. The arc does shift its focus away from the main characters, but at least we get some good material on Kyuubei as well as her relationship with Otae.