Best known for its comedy and memorable characters, Gintama is a slice-of-life at heart, but not without its fair share of action-heavy arcs. Each arc typically comes with a new villain (or an anti-hero). It's fun to watch Gintoki exchange blows with them, and often he does it with great suave, but is there someone Gintoki truly hates? Who is his archenemy?
Major Villains in Gintama
A member of Kihetai and a master of Iaijutsu, Okado Nizou had lived in darkness for so long that he starts murdering people to see the light within them. After fusing with a biomechanical sword Benizakura, he becomes a monster devoid of sanity.
A recurrent villain in the anime, Takasugi has a long history with Gintoki. They were disciples of Shouyo’s school for poor children. Both adored Shouyou, but after Gintoki was forced to execute Shouyou, Shinsuke goes on his own path to destroy Japan.
Aside from being a Yato, a member of the strongest race in the universe, Housen is also the tyrant ruler of Yoshiwara, the land of eternal night. With his superhuman invulnerability and agility, his power equals that of Umibouzu, the strongest Yato in all of space.
It seems Umibouzu is skilled at making villains out of people. His own son, Kamui, the brother of Kagura, had left his family behind to attain strength and even severed his father’s arm in a duel. He allies with Takasugi to destroy Japan and becomes a major villain.
What might have been comedic relief to us meant serious business for Gintoki. Growing tired of Gintoki always leaving them behind, Kagura and Shinpachi asked Old Man Gengai to make a perfect replacement. When Gintoki returns, he finds that no one remembers him because Sakata Kintoki had erased him from everyone’s memories.
Mostly a villain, but later revealed to be an anti-hero, Jirochou was one of the 4 Devas of Kabuki District, or one of the de facto overlords of the district.
Opposite to Jirochou, Oboro doesn’t give off major villain vibes until much later. As a member of the Three Feather, Oboro has received a blood transfusion from Utsuo himself, making him one of the strongest antagonists across the anime and a great match for Gintoki.
Who is Gintoki’s archenemy?
As Gintama spends the majority of its time on episodic humor and fragmented arcs, you would think there isn't much space for a permanent villain.
But there is actually a final boss tying the whole plot together. It's none other than Shouyou himself, the former teacher of Gintoki.
You know your sword cannot reach me — Utsuro
Master Shouyou was a disguise worn by Utsuro, the founder of Tenshouin Naraku. Utsuro is practically immortal because he can absorb a ridiculous amount of Atlanta, the life force of a planet.
His magical ability to regenerate had resulted in his persecution and imprisonment. He was jailed for so long that eventually the cell doors rotted away. After being freed, he engaged in mass killing and developed multiple personalities.
Shouyou was one of these personalities that took over Utsuro. By teaching poor children, Shouyou engaged in a kind of retreat to atone for the countless deaths he had caused.
What does this mean for Gintoki?
Utsuro's existence reverts every single ideology that Gintoki stood for because he had originally shaped them after Shouyou's image.
From here on, wield the sword not to strike down enemies, but to strike down your own weak self. Wield it not to protect yourself, but to protect your own soul — Shouyou
Gintoki had lived his whole life believing that Shouyou is dead — not just dead, but that Gintoki killed him — only to realize that he's not only alive but also the founder of the evil Tenshouin Naraku. Here's the cherry on top: Utsuro is hellbent on destroying the earth.
This means Utsuro isn't just any villain, but an archenemy. His strength lies not in his immortality, but in his capacity to destroy the very soul of Gintoki, which no other villain in the anime could possibly dream of.