Review and Synopsis by Anime Girl
Gintama°: Aizome Kaori-hen, also known as Love Potion Review by AnimeGirl.io
Gintama°: Aizome Kaori-hen, also known as Love Potion, starts with a flashback. Two of the main characters, Tsukuyo and Hotaru, talk about finding love. They are in the underground red light district of Yoshiwara. They believe that finding real love can be very difficult especially in the red light district. They believe this because the red light district makes love very deceptive. True feelings in the district remain unknown.
During their get together, Hotaru reveals that she is about to elope with a customer she just met. This behavior is unusual for Hotaru. While has a history of relationships with men, she usually knows that for a while longer before doing anything.
The show moves forward to the modern day city of Kabukicho. An usual form of incense is spreading without regulation or permission. Tsukuyo accidentally inhales some. She finds herself more embarrassed when around Gintoki Sakata. She only saw him after watching him drunkenly walking to the bathroom, but her feelings changed. Tsukuyo has clashed with Gintoki throughout previous more serious arcs of the Gintama series. She finds her sudden embarrassment and extra attraction to him odd. Other characters also poke fun at her for her sudden feelings, also not realizing what’s happening.
Other strange moments happen. Shimura Shinpachi and Kagura also attempt to investigate the event. Kagura and Tsukuyo end up falling in love with Shimura’s glasses, of all things. Some believe this was written into the story to show the overpowering ability of the potion and the absurdity of the story.
Gintoki and Tsukuyo try to find the source of the incense drug. They need to eliminate it because it is too potent and is spreading rapidly in the city. The relationships being developed between characters are confusing and many don’t seem to be real.
Love potion only gets crazier. More and more people unwittingly, and sometimes knowingly, use the potion. People who are already in relationships become enamored with others and complicate existing relationships. In some cases like Hotaru herself, she wishes to get serious and married quickly.
Another character, Kondou Isao is brought into the story. He already has a crush on Otae. The potion doesn’t make that big a difference except that Kondou is now just wearing a chastity belt. Otae is now chasing Kondou too.
Hotaru at one points gathers all the people who have fallen in love with her. Included are Gontiki, Tsukoyo, Kyubeii, and Otae. Otae becomes furious with the situation and all the crossed lovers and spins Kondou by his chastity belt to knock several people down. She then punches Kondou, who is no longer under the potions spell. He cries and says he just wants to be friends and shopping partners. He may be crying because hs is somewhat interested in Otae but cannot express it with the potion. The potion is making her feel unneeded feelings of jealousy about someone she isn’t that interested in.
The source of the potion turns out to be Hotaru herself. She found herself hurt by a teenage lover who she fears found another woman. She used the potion to make others fall in love with her, though it didn’t work out as planned. Individual love become a more tangled and disruptive and confusing web.
In the end, Love Potion is a single episode that is more meant to be a comedy. The idea of characters from conflicting backgrounds coming together because of a love potion is odd. It’s a nod to thinking that love is easy to find and chemically changeable. Love Potion makes the process of chemical love alarmingly unsubtle and helps viewers better appreciate the friendships already formed.
The story immediately addresses the power of chemical love. This love that isn’t born out of mutual adoration when Hotaru wants to elope with an unknown man. The potential here is scary enough for a stoic and protective character to begin understanding that a problem might exist.
Many viewers like the episode because it makes the idea of fake love into a bit of a caricature. The episode also doesn’t have what amounts to a fairy tale ending. Not much changes in the end, besides some characters realizing their relationships weren’t possible. The story is oddly the opposite. The intent of the main characters is to keep people from falling head over heels in love with each other without a passing thought.
Love Potion becoes more about friendship than love. All the characters remain friends and have a better understanding of each others wants, or lack of wants and needs in the end. The episode is a fun one in an otherwise serious Gintama series.
Since Hotaru is the center of the story, we will start with her. Hotaru is clearly hurt by childhood and teenage lovers. She wants stable, secure love. She also does not enjoy being broken up with.
Hotaru is definitely confused by love, and possibly jealous. She asks Tsukoyo what love is while also preparing to elope with a man she may not have met yet. She doesn’t seem to understand the concept of love since is asking a childhood friend about her own affections. She felt like she was dependent upon the love of a person she didn’t even know.
Her initial intent was to infect Kubakicho but decided instead to try to infect everyone. She felt that having many lovers could make her feel less insecure. Her desire is to be loved by anyone and everyone, and doesn’t understand the value of a single positive relationship.
Sakata is a war veteran and highly skilled samurai. He sports a muscular physique and often has silvery hair. His combination of ability and look earn him the name “White Demon” on the battlefield. He owns a company that does a huge variety of services for a fee, though he doesn’t do well since hs is always behind on rent, or spends his money elsewhere.
Sakati is quite lazy. He has no money. He willingly calls himself a child in a man’s body. During the love potion incident, Sakata becomes a Casanova and appreciates women in all forms.
This experience is somewhat unusual for Sakata, as he normally just pursues hanging out with friends and avoiding paying rent. He normally doesn’t over pursue relationships.
Sakata’s presence in the story reverses the purpose of the potion. Sakata doesn’t seem ready for or want love. Many female characters including Tsukoyo seem to be interested in him, but he is more interested in the weather girl. He also randomly expresses interest at passing beautiful women. He is prone to crude comments and made a pass at Kyubeii, saying she had big jugs before realizing it was her. The same crude comments make others laugh and help Sakata lighten up moments with inappropriate jokes and deadpan humor.
Sakata still has lots of charisma, especially while drunk, and has many friends. Love may not interest him though. He prefers to have fun and isn’t a committed person by any means. Someone like Tsokuyo who expresses interest in him is likely turned off by his instability but might be attracted to a man with many friends.
Tsokuyo becomes the center of the story simply from having Hotaru as a childhood friend. She becomes among the first to unravel the mystery of what is causing unusual behavior amongst her friends in the city.
Tsokuyo can be stoic and quite serious, even at moments that are meant to be comedic. Tsokuyo is also never hesitant to help despite her tough exterior. She is quite intellectual, which is a necessary skill for her role as a ninja.
This combination of personalities makes her helpful to Hotaru. She wants to understand why her emotionally opposite friend is being led by a man again.
Tsokuyo does have a bit of a crush. She is attracted to Sakata Gintoki. Sakati is a strong samurai with many friends, though he is lazy and probably disinterested. She feels stronger feelings toward Sakato while incensed by the love potion incense.
At the end, Tsoyuko shows her caring by helping Hotaru. She helps her understand that she can find love without using overpowered scents to find an attraction.
Tsoyuko addresses her feelings toward Sakata at the end too:
“I toldja, tha’s not…anyhow, no matter what happens now, that weak man’s not gonna shake his bottom-of-the-barrel status. That’s just how the guy’s always been. He ain’t the sort of man that can make a woman happy. No matter what enemy’s in front’a him, no matter what situation he ends up in, he’ll never belong ta anyone.
And even so, at some point, he ends up in everyone’s hearts. He’s that sorta shitty man.”
Tsuyuko displays a clear understanding of Sakata, mostly through observations. He would rather connect with many people and have friends than commitment. This also shows the movie creators willingness to not force a love connection. The characters themselves explain why things won’t work. Instead of leaving the issue to interpretation, they are clear that the characters themselves understand their issues.
She later tells Gintoki she is satisfied having what he wants – true friends, including her blowing smoke at his face.
The reason for her feelings toward Gintoki are not well known. Does she like him because he is a muscular, strong, and somewhat fun war veteran? Their friends even make fun of a potential relationship between them. Love Potion again shows that relationships and love are complicated and might not make sense to outsiders.