Substance over appearance (華より団子, hana yori dango) is the sixty-sixth episode of the Gintama anime.
When an intergalactic pastry shop threatens to put Gintoki's favorite dango shop out of business, the Yorozuya rise to the challenge in helping them win a contest to keep it open.
The episode starts out with Gin-san eating dangos at an old man’s shop. He tells the old man that the place still looks like junk. These days people are eating all the new exotic stuff like parfaits and cakes. No one cares about the old traditional dango. The owner tells Gin-san that he’s a dango store owner and that is what he’s been doing for his whole life. The old man then sees Gin-san’s bo-ken and asks him why he still wears that around when samurai are a thing of the past. Gin-san replies that it keeps him at ease to wear that on his hip. They then start getting into talk of how the world has changed, and everything is like “digital” now verses the past where it was “analog”. He gives the example of the television. The two guys hear people making a lot of noise down the street in what looks to be a sweets shop. Some guy opened up the new sweets shop called the Andromeda and its been quite popular. Of course that means that all of the dango shop owner’s customers have gotten stolen by the Andromeda. Gin-san tells the old man that his shop doesn’t have enough appeal to attract customers, i.e. like cute waitresses. The old man says that they do and shows off his daughter, and of course Gin-san isn’t talking about that… Which of course was made worse when the old man says that she has a nice round “rear end”. The girl comes over to give him some more dangos as special service, but he gets scared and runs off. We find Gin-san goes to sneak into the new sweets shop to check it out. It looks like the old dango shop owner follows along as well to spy on his competition. Yes, every time it dings Gin-san or the old man say that they saw “panties” as the waitresses in maid outfits pass by. Gin-san tells the old man that he thinks that sweets and dangos are separate things, so he shouldn’t worry. As they walk back to the old man’s shop they see a man sitting there being waited on by the daughter. She asks what he’d like to order and he replies that they only sell dangos here right. It turns out its the owner of the sweets shop. Apparently the man wants to buy the dango shop from the old man but he doesn’t want to give it up. He tells the old man that the era of the dango is over. No one would want to come to an old junky shop like this. He talks about how he wants to open up chains of his Andromeda store all across the country. Even makes a poke at the digital bit saying that the sweets could be manufactured easily by the recipe. Kind of like with digital you can easily duplicate things. The old man tells him that this store has been around for 400 years and his family has been keeping the secrets for making dangos all this time. He still has customers and isn’t willing to give it up. The Andromeda owner then asks for a little competition between the two. He says if the old man wins he’d probably get the publicity and more customers would come back to his dango store. He wants to have a dango competition. For one hour who can sell the most dangos, if he wins he’ll take the store from the old man. Theres no way that a 400 year old recipe could lose right? Gin-san says all they have to do to win is eat the most dangos right? The day of the competition is upon us. There is a host and a judge and its like a cooking show. The host introduces the old man and his dangos and no one cheers. When he introduces Andromeda’s owners everyone cheers. Before the competition starts all the crowd run to wait in line in front of the Andromeda booth. No one goes over to the old man’s booth. It looks like the competition is going to end before it even starts. But look here come three people and they walk towards the old man’s booth. Its the yorozuya of course, and they are hear to eat! The gong rings and the competition begins. For one hour who can serve the most dangos. The host introduces that old man from a few episodes ago (I think he’s homeless) as Musashi the food critic. He asks him about the dangos and all he keeps saying is “when its time to eat you better eat.” or something like that. On the Andromeda side there are plenty of people to order up the dangos. But when they check out the other side its Gin-san, Shinpachi, and Kagura chowing down on dangos at an unbelievable rate. They are able to keep up with the Andromeda side. Actually on the Andromeda side there are too many people there so its too hard to serve to the crowd in all the ruckus. Even poor dangos fall to the ground untouched. The old man feels touched that the three are eating so much for his sake. Theres a huge family waiting in line for the Andromeda dangos but the line is too long. So the father asks the kids if its ok to eat the other booth’s dangos. They resist at first but then a couple of the kids say they are hungry. So they go run to the other line. But when they do Gin-san kicks the father in the face and tells him not to come into our area! The old man is shocked wondering why Gin-san would stop what potentially would be help for them. Gin-san then offers the father one dango stick and says to hold on for now. He happily accepts it and gives it to one of his sons. I’m not quite sure why that was such a touching scene :D He says that they can live for another day with that. Gin-san goes back to eatting and all the sudden Kagura-chan asks for some rice to go with the dangos. The old man gets shocked once again saying why eat the rice you’ll end up stuffing yourself with the rice! Kagura replies that she has to eat the dangos with rice. We get a shot of Gin-san again pushing away more customers while Kagura argues with the old man. She says if she doesn’t have rice she wont feel like eating the dangos. On the other side one of the Andromeda owners gives an “objection” and asks the judge if it is within the rules to eat something along with the dangos. The judge says that its ok with the same line he’s been saying. So they allow it, as the host brings up eating it with ketchup or even mayonnaise is within the rules. Next we see Shinpachi playing around with the dangos. He used the sticks to make a box and then packed in some uneaten ones inside it. The old man gets mad at him and Shinpachi replies that he is just keeping them for later. The other side again sends an objection to this. They ask the judge Musashi and he gives the same line, when its time to eat you better eat it. So obviously this means what Shinpachi is doing is against the rules. So Shinpachi has to go back to eatting and again Gin-san is still pushing away other potential customers. The Andromeda guys then call out some very large men to help eat their dangos. They put em down in one go. Shinpachi and Gin-san can’t eat anymore it seems. The work is now about to begin they say, as Kagura gets ready to rumble. They start an assembly line of pulling the dangos off the stick (Shinpachi), throwing them to Kagura (Gintoki), and then of course eatting them (Kagura). This efficient assembly line starts to pull away from even the big sumo guys eating on Andromeda’s side. Those guys start getting full, but Kagura’s infinite stomach can still keep on going. She even continues to eat rice with it. Gin-san starts yelling at her for eating the rice, but again she says she just has to have it with rice. Somebody lost their concentration and Kagura gets hit with a pair of dangos right in the eyes. Kagura cries out in pain that she cant see! Looks like a chance for Andromeda now! Gin-san decides that he has to take this into his own hands. He puts on a bandana and starts to eat as many as he possibly can. Shinpachi warns him not to eat anymore as his stomach looks like its about to burst. The last time Gin-san had too many sweets he had to visit the doctors apparently. Everyone on the Andromeda side start falling down unable to eat anymore. One of them says that he cant stand looking at a dango, as its gonna make him puke. The old store owner laughs saying that the dangos that they made aren’t good enough. When someone eats too many of them they get tired of it. While his dangos, people can keep on eating them. The old man forces the last dango down Gin-san’s mouth for the win at the gong.
- Sakata Gintoki
- Konpeitou Dango Shop Owner
- Konpeitou Shop Owner's Daughter
- Kinya 禽夜 (cameo)
- Hedoro (cameo)
- Shimura Shinpachi