Gintoki Sakata is the main protagonist of the Gintama anime and manga.
Gintoki is the founder and president of the Yorozuya and as well a highly skilled samurai, having fought in the Joui War in the past. During the war, he became known as the Shiroyasha (literally meaning "White Demon") due to his powerful swordsmanship and demonic white appearance.
In the AWA fics, Gintoki is part of the AWA and serves as the Class Adviser of Class 1. He is referred to as Ginpachi-sensei by his students and colleagues.
In the TWA fics, Gintoki is one of the major characters. Gintoki is part of the Honor Fighting Force and is a member of The Ragtag of Heroes.
Gintoki has a natural perm which causes him no end of distress. His silvery-blue hair is in a perpetually messy state, which is sometimes exaggerated into a frizzy afro when Gintoki's hair is hit by extreme heat. He has indeterminate grey/green (in the manga) or bordeaux-colored (in the anime) "dead fish eyes" (comparison courtesy of Hijikata Toushirou), which are called such because they are nearly always half-lidded.
His standard outfit consists of a white yukata with a blue swirl pattern on the bottom and at the end of the sleeves, worn so that his arm only goes through the left sleeve and the right half droops down over his obi. Over this he wears a black belt buckled so that there is leftover dangling from the buckle, from which his bokutō Lake Toya hangs. Underneath, he wears a black red-lined shirt with a popped collar and black pants. He also wears knee-high black boots, buckled at the top and above his foot, which appear to add about half an inch to his height. It is shown that he has a closet full of replicas of this outfit, so whenever it gets destroyed he can appear in the next episode or chapter with a new one. All in all, his outfit suggests an air of laziness and may be a reflection of Gintoki's own personal sense of style, though it is revealed that his usual attire is actually the school jersey for the Zunborans (episode 292).
During the winter, he will sometimes wear a haori, thicker kimonos, or more layers of vary colors as well as scarves.
During the events of the Dekoboko Arc he switched genders due to a curse and was seen in his female form. In that form he had silvery-blue hair and was wearing Gintoki's normal clothes. Later, he wears a sleeveless white yukata with a blue swirl pattern on the bottom with a blue obi and black boots.
As with most Gintama characters, his outfit and appearance change regularly for the sake of gags.
Gintoki is extremely lazy. He is often seen wearing a dumb expression on his face and spends his days lounging around reading Shounen Jump whilst imparting wise and sage-like advice to his younger employees, even though he doesn't actually know what he's talking about most of the time. Due to his poverty and unwillingness to do mostly anything, he is always behind on his rent and often runs away when Otose, his landlady, comes to collect the payment. He often blows all of his savings on Pachinko and other gambling games, which Shinpachiand Kagura often scold him for. However, even though he is lazy, Gintoki is quite dedicated to his job and tries to help people with the best of his abilities (usually in a very strange and twisted way).
Gintoki's past continues to influence who he is and how he acts. He admitted to Umibozu in episode 42 that he believes that having a loving family is all someone really needs in life, due to his lack of a family during his childhood. He is very respectful of the memory of his teacher Yoshida Shouyou due to his actions (the arrest of his teacher is one of the main reasons he joined the Joui War. The other was to protect his friends who also joined the war). When Jiraia called himself Tsukuyo's teacher and yet harmed her both emotionally and physically, his ideal for what a teacher was supposed to be resulted in Gintoki becoming enraged and taking his anger out on Jiraia.
His inability to protect many of his friends in the Joui War still haunts him, especially the crushing guilt and regret that consumed him when the Tendoshu forced him to execute his own teacher in front of Takasugi and Katsura. As a result, he is very protective of his current friends and holds very little value to his own life. This carelessness can be seen in how Gintoki can plow through armies without tiring, apathetic to the serious injuries he sustains whilst cutting down his enemies. He told Kawakami Bansai, during the Shinsengumi Crisis Arc, that the only reason he fought in the Joui War was to protect his friends and not his country or the samurai way.
The more comical stories depict Gintoki as a coward, attempting to leave behind many of his friends to save his own life. However, he is willing to risk his life for anyone and he is shown to be extremely caring towards his friends, and has killed Naraku members, terrorists and Amanto to protect them. He is extremely frightened of ghosts, but will usually deny their existence so that he doesn't look like a coward. His fear for the supernatural is shared by Hijikata and usually results in quite a few comic interactions between the two.
He has many childish personality traits despite his age, and has even called himself a "child in a man's body." One such trait is his insatiable love for sweets, which has placed him at a risk of getting diabetes several times. His favorite food is chocolate parfait and he loves chugging down strawberry milk whenever he gets access to it.
He loves alcohol, but his tolerance for sake is not high. At one point, his tendency to act like a complete idiot while being completely smashed resulted in the major female characters Otose, Shimura Tae, Kyuubei, Sarutobi Ayame and Tsukuyo deciding to teach him a lesson by playing a prank on him along with Zenzou during the Scandal Arc.
Though several female characters have shown an interest in Gintoki, such as Shimura Tae, Sarutobi Ayame and Tsukuyo, it is shown that most of their love is unrequited. However, he does have a huge crush on the weather girl, Ketsuno Ana, and once stated he wished to marry her (possibly because of her smile). While Gintoki does not seem to care for any of the women he knows, he still gets excited when he sees random beautiful women, for example, when he was spying on the women in an indoor pool with binoculars and got super excited until he found out the woman he had taken a liking to was Tsukuyo. After realizing this he lost all interest, commenting on how she is a "drunk terminator". He also got excited when he saw a girl with "big jugs" not realizing the girl was actually Kyuubei.
According to Tama, Gintoki is quite a sadist, much like Okita Sougo. This may possibly explain why Sougo feels a certain attachment to him as he addresses Gintoki as "Danna" ("Boss"). This can be showed as he always mistreat Sarutobi, Katsura and Hijikata is various extreme ways and his tendencies on quitting easily on certain moments which can lead to a punishment and someone's death, in which he can handle easily and even enjoy it. He actually has some knowledge on certain sadistic and abusive fore-play showed throughout the series, as he hires prostitutes for Shinpachi and Sarutobi obsession on him. He admits being a sadist, liking to see Ketsuno Ana (who he has a crush on) being abused and his tendency to abuse everyone he is attached to.
Despite or due to all of these traits Gintoki possesses an immense amount of charisma and has amassed a quite large group of friends. When it is needed, he is able to impart words of wisdom and can make those around him feel much more alive even with his inappropriate jokes and deadpan statements. This ability has given him very loyal allies, friends and even former enemies. As Hinowa pointed out, he was able to affect Tsukuyo (who is usually a dead-serious and cold-blooded woman) and even made friends with the Shogun, despite the situation always turning out less than ideal whenever the latter would be around.
Gintoki's feats are very wide, being a veteran in the Joui War. His powerful swordplay and range of abilities gave him the nickname "Shiroyasha" ("white demon"). He is capable of turning the tide of any battle, being called "The Ace" by Katsura and Takasugi. He defeated strong Amanto and killed many high ranking ones, even those who are in legendary status (like enma and ogre). He's also strong enough to defeat opponents considered the strongest in their respective class. However, his biggest weakness is his rage/anger. Despite becoming faster and stronger, he is a berserker whose only goal is to kill his enemy, leading to enemies that are equal or stronger than him to defeat him or hold him off, as was the case with Oboro, Jirochou, and his later interactions with Utsuro.
Immense Strength: Of the Yorozuya trio, Gintoki's physical strength is not as high as Kagura's, given the fact that he is human while Kagura is from the Yato Tribe. However, Gintoki's physical strength is still nothing to scoff at and he is probably the strongest human known so far, strong enough to even be recognized by Kamui, one of the strongest Yato in the series. He can destroy enormous pieces of machinery or drive his blunt bokuto through a man's skull with ease. When fighting Kawakami Bansai, Gintoki was able to break through his strings, which were stated to be as strong as steel, with nothing but brute strength alone. He was also able to pull down Bansai's helicopter just with his power.
Tremendous Endurance: One of Gintoki's defining traits is his extreme level of physical endurance. Gintoki fights without consideration for his life, most of the time, and while this gives him the ability to fight without limits, it is also a testament to how little Gintoki values his own life. Coupled with his incredibly high pain tolerance this makes him an incredibly fearsome fighter. A day after having his forearm impaled by Doromizu Jirochou, Gintoki fought evenly alongside him to defeat dozens of Shinra assassins, withstanding countless injuries in the process and losing very high amounts of blood.
Agility: Gintoki is incredibly nimble, capable of matching the agility of the renowned shinobi Hattori Zenzou. In addition, his reflexes (while often downplayed for comedic purposes) are great and he is capable of dodging, deflecting or in some instances throw back knives, arrows and similar projectiles. When Gintoki is particularly enraged, his speed and reflexes reach absurd heights, allowing him to perform such feats as shattering a sword in mid-swing with his teeth or closing meters of distance between himself and his target in a fraction of second.
Master Swordsmanship Specialist: Gintoki's swordsmanship is rough, but far from unrefined. He tends to wield even full-length katanas one-handed with fair wide but quick chops. His level of skill has been complimented by several esteemed swordmasters, such as Yagyuu Binbokusai, who noted that his style is something not taught but developed by Gintoki himself.
Expert Hand-to-Hand Combatant: As part of his brawler-like fighting style, Gintoki regularly uses his fists and kicks in combat. As such, he is far less bothered by being caught unarmed than most other swordsmen in the series. While his bokuto is usually used to deliver the final blow against an opponent, many of his most consistent damaging attacks are kicks delivered to the torso.
Combat Intuition: Gintoki is noticeably skilled in terms of battlefield tactics, likely due to his extensive experience. He is capable of developing adaptive strategies as he fights, often within seconds, and knows exactly what to look for in an opponent's fighting style to create openings for himself.
Weapon Expertise: While Gintoki vastly prefers to make use of his swordsmanship in combat, he is well-versed in the use of many types of weapons, from naginatas and kunai to senbon and explosives, likely due to his training as a samurai and time spent on the battlefield. He is able to incorporate the use of almost anything he finds in a fight and frequently catches his opponents off-guard by using his surroundings against them.
Spiritual Affinity: Gintoki can see and communicate with spirits, as shown during the Ghost Ryokan Arc. However, this ability has failed to manifest on a few occasions and simply applies to specific types of spirits.
Musical Talent: Gintoki is shown to be a passable singer and is capable of using the Shamisen.
Charisma and Leadership: Just like his fellow Heavenly Kings, Gintoki has shown to be a charismatic leader. Though in much of the Joui War flashbacks, unlike the other three, he usually works alone with even Takasugi commenting that his specialty was covert operations. His leadership skills, although underplayed, can be seen when he leads some of his present allies in fights. His charisma is the most notable thing in the series as it is thanks to this that he gained friends and allies by both his actions and words.
- Gintoki was the first character from Gintama to appear in the AWA fics. Although he and Shinpachi Shimura appeared at the same time, Gintoki was introduced first.
- In the AWA fics, Gintoki rides his scooter even inside the school.
- Among his students, Chizuru Tachibana got influenced by his personality and teaching methods.
- Gintoki's last name & character design are recycled from Sakata Tomiko & Gorouzaemon; characters from a rejected one-shot story Sorachi wrote before Gintama.
- According to Sorachi, Gintoki's name was based on Sakata Kintoki, also known as Kintaro, from a famous folk tale set in the Heian Period. Kintaro became friends with the animals that lived on the mountain where he was raised, and was even capable of battling with them. After certain events, he became a samurai and eventually went under the name Sakata Kintoki. Sorachi-sensei, in one of the question corners explains this, and doesn't intend on making Gin-san a descendant of Kintaro. His robot counterpart actually does take the name of Sakata Kintoki.
- Gintoki likes to order a custom "red beans on rice" dish at his local restaurant.
- He might not look like it, but Gintoki was noted by Sorachi as a skilled chef. It was said that he was at the "steel man" level when it comes to cooking (mentioned in episode 92's behind the scenes). He is also a capable baker, being able to bake his own strawberry cake at Shinpachi's house as shown in episode 2.
- His design was actually meant for Hijikata when Sorachi lost his first design.
- Apparently, Gintoki can sleep with his eyes open.
- His favorite drink is strawberry milk.
- Lu Lingqi, a character from Dynasty Warriors, seems to be based on Gintoki's Gender Bender form.
- Gintoki can't swim.