Some of you know that I am a big fan of Gintama. No show surpasses Gintama in variety: the plots cover all kinds of genres and moods, the animation stretches across the spectrum of awesome to mediocre, and the humor ranges from wordplay to toilet humor. All episodes of Gintama are not created equal. Yet, despite the frequently absurd or even vulgar comedy, Gintama has a latent core of high ideals and sensitivity which frequently shines through. The Christmas special broadcast in episodes 200 and 201 stands as no exception to this rule, as the absurd contest over who’s the real Santa turns into a message of the joy found in the society of friends and family.
The story begins with Kagura upset that she did not get a present from Santa Claus last year (Sometimes, it’s easy to forget how young this Amazon in brevet type is.) and wishing for her father to come to Earth this Christmas. (Everyone needs a break from intergalactic war now and then.) Her father is moved to visit Kagura this Christmas, and he also wants to play the part of Santa for Kagura. To his surprise, Gintoki and four other friends also want to play the part of Santa for either Kagura, Gintoki, or Tae. This leads to some hilarious gags as each one vies for the title of the real Santa Claus.
These episodes start with the characters preoccupied with gifts and the mercantile aspects of the holiday, but eventually they underline the importance of family and spending time together as the chief joy of the solemnity. Yet, these episodes stop short of the real joy of the holiday: how Christ’s birth led to the reunion of the human family with God the Father, and how this holiday looks forward to Christ’s second coming in glory.
Today, it is common place for people to believe that no one goes to hell. Regardless of the fallacy of that idea, it was a sure thing before Christ’s birth, passion, and resurrection that every human being from the most noble to the most vile would end their existence in hell. If Ancient Greek tragedies always surpass their comedies in quality, we should not wonder: the ancient pagans knew more of sorrow than of joy. They themselves foresaw a shadowy afterlife, and we know that they were heading for eternal torment with the rest of the human race.
It took Christ’s entrance into the world to bring joy back to mankind–that joy concomitant with God’s gift of supernatural charity. First, God, looking forward to the merits of Christ’s Passion, imparted this gift to Mary. Then, the very Source of supernatural charity became incarnate when God the Son joined humanity to His divinity. Humanity, wounded by the Fall of Adam and Eve, attains salvation beginning with the consent of the New Eve in the Annunciation and ending in its accomplishment by the Blood of the New Adam on the Cross. Thus begins a new race of men, brothers in Christ under one Father and sharing in the same Spirit.
Christmas, Christ’s birth into the world, marks the end of the reign of darkness and the beginning of joy. On that day, I hope that all our dear readers are able to spend time with their natural families. But, don’t forget our supernatural family, which has God as our Father, Mary as our mother, Christ as our Brother, and innumerable souls in heaven, on earth, and in purgatory as our kin. All honor and praise and glory be to God the Father for the Gift of His Son which made this all possible!