Don't be afraid! I defiantly was the first time I started the first episode of Gintama: Somewhere in the future, where aliens have invaded and taken all the jobs, crappy animated and with a... moderate overall ranking, how could an anime under these circumstances become a great anime?
I'm not quite sure, but it sure showed me. Now it is my favorite anime of all times. I'm normally a person that hates mecha, magic and supernatural stuff. So the fact, that the anime is set in a future setting with aliens living on earth and a samurai running around with a wooden sword as a main character, was bound to be a failure for me. But damn, it worked flawlessly for me. The story is not one of the main factors in the show, it is just a minor factor helping construct the awesome silliness of the show. In fact everything always end up going back to normal after a story arch finishes, and that is what you want and expect when you see the show. It also worried me that it had 200+ episodes, which would lead me to believe it was something in the lines of Bleach, Naruto or One piece, which I have outgrown for some time now. It was nothing of the sorts, they don't need 200 episodes to come out with a moderate storyline. They need 200 episodes to get all of their awesome jokes out in the open. The animation was a pain to look at in the start, but it quickly grew on me and now I wouldn't want it any other way, it really helps the humorous nature of the show to have it animated the way it does. Not pretty in any way, just plain old regular drawing style, no special effects used. Well.. there are some pretty epic “fight” scenes here and there, where they did go all out on the visuals, and it really shows. Also resulting in a filler the next episode, where they admit they spend all the resources on the previous episode, so had to make a slow one this time. What is most incredible is, that it actually works and it is funny.
When all my fears for this anime dwindled, and hopefully yours aswell, it is really time to look into the things that makes the show awesome. First things first, without a doubt, the characters. All of the … what +50 reappearing characters in the show, all of them are awesome, yes awesome. Well there is most likely two characters you don't like depending on your preferences, but if you don't like them, they will stay in the background of the show for some cool reason. Gintoki the main character obviously shine above all others, the perfect lazy protagonist, having all the cool traits nobody in other animes have, and voiced by the best voice actor (you'll learn to love him). Even though he got the lead role, you don't really mind having entire episodes without him since the entire cast is so brilliantly cool. There are so many cool characters, I don't have the keystrokes in me to describe it in detail, it is something you just have to watch the show, to understand.
Then comes the awesome humor of Gintama, I would be telling the truth if this was some type of Japanese Monty Python. Only gintama have made me laugh as much as Monty Python have, I get the feeling that it is persons of the same mind that wrote manga / directed anime as made Monty Python. Though the humour displayed is not anything like Monty Python, it got this silly silly silly undertone of pure random silliness, which I have to say, it really works for me. Take an example, a person sits beside a tennis playing field, and somebody yells “Watch out!” - The person tries to defend against incoming balls with his bat since he has been hit by balls previously, but for some reason a horse jumps out and stomps him in the face. This is the amount of silliness that Gintama stands for, it might not be something that silly, but it will always be something that gives you a big smile and think “lol”. And every now again there comes the jokes that you are totally unprepared for, and you really start laughing out loud.
The show in itself is based upon two types of episodes. 1: a lot of single random episodes, where we follow Gintoki trying to buy a new fan for the apartment or one of the other characters going around doing other more or less meaningful stuff. 2: We follow Gintoki and his followers on some more or less deep stories about some of the characters of the casts, there will be fighting, there will be heartwarming moments, heck I even shed a tear or two at some point. When that being said I cannot decide what kind of episodes are best, the first type of episodes are definably more fun, but the second part also gives you a bit more than just humor. You decide it is all worth watching.
I don't know why I wrote down the episode structure, I just wrote something I guess. My main point is, don't let anything fool you, this is one of the kind anime, it is some of the most funny s**t I have ever seen, and you don't want to miss out on it. If you are like me, you will most likely be a bit “mah” after the first 5-10 episodes, which is how I was, but when that is done, you start to realize how the humor works and start loving it. You are having the time of your life until you start reaching the 200th episode and then you start being a bit sad. All of the episodes are funny, and for some strange reason, the same humor in the series never gets boring, you always look forward to seeing the next episode. Unlike other animes, where you watch the next episode, so you know you'll understand the episode 10 episodes away. Don't waste your time reading this, this is littoral the s**ts(more excrement jokes than any other anime!) Don't be afraid, make yourself time to watch 30 episodes, and for some reason when those are done, you got enough time to watch the remaining 170 aswell. Don't worry, more episodes are coming as you read this ;)