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▒ Character Name: Katsura Kotarou.
▒ Canon Name: Gintama.
▒ Canon Point: Post-Renhou arc.
▒ Age: Mid-twenties; around 26.
▒ Appearance: Terrorist pretty-boy.
▒ Setting: Gintama.
▒ Abilities: Katsura has no magical abilities apart from still being alive for someone so ridiculous. He can also produce stupid disguises out of thin air and do bad imitations of Mickey Mouse.
But actually; Katsura is a samurai, a highly skilled swordsman and war veteran, once hailed as “The Young Noble of Fury” in his youth. His strengths lie in being a charismatic leader, a cunning tactician, and a passionate fighter for what he deems his cause – the last of which leads him to become a moderate terrorist and revolutionary in current day canon, giving him a skill set of arson and bomb making/deployment as well. His style of fighting is highly typical of the tenets of bushido, being efficient, fast, and controlled. He is very adaptable and has keen fight or flight reflexes, honed both on the battlefield and in the streets of Edo, evading police and striking or absconding as situations deem necessary. His endurance is what one might expect of someone considered a legendary samurai; he is cut with a killing blow and survives in the Benizakura arc, without aid or assistance. Katsura is a one-man army – when he’s not dressing in drag or going fishing in swimming pools.
▒ Personality: Katsura Kotarou is an enigma wrapped in a riddle coated in a slathering of total bullshit. It’s not easy to get through the layers of ambiguity and insanity that he has to figure out just what he might be thinking at a particular time – but if you ask if Katsura is a madman or a savior, the answer is just ‘yes.’ Katsura’s personality can be roughly broken up into two sides, one of which is a noble pillar of Japan, and one of which is a ridiculous parody of that same figure. He’s a constant play off of contradictions, an archetype of the noble samurai class played both straight and completely subverted. While this kind of personality makes for a schizophrenic app, it all comes pretty organically together in how Katsura reacts in any given situation.
A few examples might give a clearer picture of just what kind of contradictions I mean; on the one hand, he’s a serious samurai wholly and genuinely dedicated to his cause. On the other, he’s a space-case with no stable sense of reality, who gets easily caught up in the dramas in his own head, evidenced in the anime and manga by long daydreams and absurd responses. Although he usually speaks extremely formally and traditionally, using outdated honorifics, high vocabulary, and stiff sentence structure, he can also be an incredibly rude, loud asshole, switching from ultra-formal to ultra-absurd whenever it suits him. Despite giving off the impression of an intense, blank-faced, hard-working character, he goes weak in the knees for fuzzy animals and over-enjoys what is essentially a constant game of dress-up with the authorities; in every character book, it’s emphasized that just because Katsura has to disguise himself, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t enjoy it. Although he’s one of the most logical characters in the series, often seen as the only one seriously playing the role of a detective or tactician, in lighthearted moments this is amplified, and he is shown very logically thinking through completely absurd situations. This tendency shows how that in everything, Katsura puts forth his all, whether it’s ridiculous or deadly serious – his entire heart, soul, and mind, when totally united, form a kind of unstoppable power that pushes him forward to the end of the punch line or the end of his life.
He is a character with a strong sense of identity and a stronger sense of history, carrying the past with him while trying to build a better future. This implies a certain sense of missing out on the present, however, which shows both comically and realistically. Comically, Katsura can never catch up with the popular television show of the week, always stuck in the past, talking about things his revolutionary group has long found out of date (when everyone was in line for a new OwEE, Katsura was waiting for the Famicom). In a more serious light, Katsura cannot leave the past to the past and move on with his life, along with characters like war-comrade Sakamoto or childhood friend Gintoki. Despite the war being over in current canon, he still fights against the government and the slow decimation of the samurai class, having never given up his sword or acceded to the modern era, making him both a fugitive and disconnected from the normal, regular lives of most characters in the show. He is more akin to the show’s antagonist and other childhood friend, Takasugi, in this sense, both strengthened and weakened by history’s grasp on him.
Katsura also has contradictory relationships with those around him; he is happiest when surrounded by people he loves, and his efforts are always fiercely put forth for the sake of others, but he tends to work alone and keep distanced from the main characters, due to his dangerous and erratic lifestyle. There is a long-standing joke that Katsura often goes uninvited or unremembered, instead staying “on standby,” fruitlessly waiting for invitations that never come. While this is a funny joke, it’s a little heart-wrenching, too, because that is also how Katsura operates sincerely – he will not impose himself into someone else’s life for his own happiness, instead watching from the fringes or resolving problems on his own without seeking help. This comes up especially in the Benizakura arc, in which he actually refrains from letting his closest comrades know he hasn’t been killed, because he doesn’t want to put them in danger for his sake, and would rather sneak around in the background to resolve the situation. While Katsura is sincere and honest, he sometimes tends to subscribe to a ‘lying by omission’ kind of policy when it suits him, employing a kind of mental and moral flexibility in serious situations. Yet, despite his constant outer ambiguity, Katsura is a Good Guy at heart, a true samurai soul, who wants to protect the innocent, champion the ideals of love, country, and peace, and live a long and productive life.
He breaks the 4th wall a little less than most main characters in Gintama, since he is absurd enough in himself without resorting to that kind of comedy. But he does break it occasionally, once referring to himself as a “hilariously serious” type character, and another time as a “cute type.”
In one of the EDs, Katsura is overtly compared to bamboo; the symbol of the noble gentleman, it looks refined and upright, and when harsh winds blow, it bends and flexes, but never breaks. This is Katsura’s character put as straightforwardly as possible, whether in serious or comedic situations; he keeps his sense of self and his code of living thorough hardships he must adapt to, and because of this inner strength, he will always spring back.
- ▒ THREAD 1
- ▒ THREAD 2
- ▒ THREAD 3
- ▒ THREAD 4
▒ Your Crime: Destruction; the unlawful bombing of nationally run government buildings.