It's a quiet day in the Yorozuya office-cum-household-apartment; no jobs, no clients, no day-saving adventure to embark on for one to take pride in one’s life-and-career path as a Can-Do-All, NEET Samurai and Friends Pty Ltd., Odd Jobs™ business. The sort of day where face-planting on the desk for catnaps is considered high productivity and the walk from the couch to the fridge for a well earned snack after doing nothing for an hour is worthy of office-cum-household-apartment bragging rights.
So really, it's like every other day when they're not out disastrously, fantastically doing some combination of saving the world from mad aliens, accidentally joining forces with an assortment of oddball characters who really ought to get some life counselling, travelling through interdimensional planes of existence on ridiculously wacky adventures, or whatever have you, instead of actually, you know, making the required revenue to run a profitable business.
In other words: a standard Yorozuya working day.
At this current point in time, momentarily unaware of the literal office tour taking place for the convenience of this tired narrator, the self-made boss of the Yorozuya is seated at his desk, last week’s copy of Shounen Jump fanned out in a roof over the top of his head. His two young employees-in-training-slash-unofficially-adopted-children are lounging about the main room, one on each of the twin couches framing the apartment-cum-office’s only coffee table. The small, rickety thing has its worn, scratched-marked surface covered with evidence of the day’s work: magazines and dirty tea and coffee mugs. Advertisement catalogues, cooking magazines, idol pop magazines, sports magazines, cars, fashion, home real estate, and everything beyond and in between build up a veritable paper fortress blocking either couch camp from each other.
Odd Jobs™ business, you see; gotta be ready to deal with anything and everything.
As usual on these lazy working days, the trio that make up the Yorozuya spend more time making indulgent commentary on their reading material than actually reading the material itself. Then again, it could only be expected; none of trio have spent any considerable amount of time in school on account of their traumatic backstories which this tired narrator will ask both the beloved characters and readers to conveniently ignore for the sake for easy comedy, and so the expectation that any of them would seriously engage in any real, productive work is entirely preposterous, like seriously, what did you expect, we all know these characters are as dumb as bricks and—
“Hey, some people are trying to read here!” Kagura yells.
“Quiet, Kagura,” Gintoki say, an apathetic tone and expression in his voice and face reminiscent of old men working middle management roles that have no end-of-year bonuses or promotions to look forward to, “the boss is in the middle of important business and needs all his concentration.”
“A proper boss who has important work to do would be doing the work instead of wasting everyone’s time nagging at his employees,” Kagura bites back.
“Well you wouldn't know because you're not a boss, are you?”
“Miss Teen Idol says I am!” Tossing aside the magazine she's currently reading, Kagura tears through the paper fortress like a hurricane uprooting and scattering cities into the skies.
“Oieee!” Shinpachi yells, as his perfectly stacked tower of magazines with Otsuu’s name and face on the front cover, however big or small or scandalously associated, goes toppling over. “Don't worry, Otsuu-chan, I'll save you!”
The broken fortress becomes a battleground, hands and magazines flying as (thankfully empty) cups fall over. It's a battle of speed and precision, Kagura attacking with her rummage-glance-throw-away technique against Shinpachi’s valiant defence in protecting creases and wrinkles from Otsuu-chan’s face.
“Ah-ha!” Kagura crows later, after two minutes of constant barrage. Her arm swings wildly above her head in triumph, the magazine clutched in her hand waving like a banner of victory.
Gintoki yawns without bothering to cover his mouth. There's an empty cup of pudding on the side of his desk that he eyes mournfully. It had been the last one in the fridge, now serving as an ineffective paperweight to last month's overdue gas bill. He’ll have to go buy more soon, lest he suffer from sugar withdrawal. Maybe some of those new jelly-filled chocolate bites he saw at the convenience store too while he's at it.
But then again, a new ice cream parlour had opened two weeks ago, just twenty minutes away by foot from the Yorozuya office.
And he also dimly remembers a commercial from last night's re-run of My Pretty Kitty Takes Over The World, featuring some wildberry confectionery shaped into wearable cat ears.
Gintoki’s still daydreaming sugar-coated dreams when Kagura smacks her magazine onto his desk. The wave of air that comes fanning out from the two-page spread is so violent, it tickles his nose and sends his fringe billowing out around his face.
“Here!” Kagura points to the page she's opened up, revealing a blazing red title asking, ‘Are you Beauty, Brains, or Brawn? Find out your best attribute to win over the Man and Job of Your Dreams!’
Shinpachi joins them at the desk, scanning the heading with a frown. “Why is it ‘Man’ and ‘Job’?” he wonders aloud. “Since when did relationships and careers have anything to do with each other? They’re are totally different things.”
“What are you talking about, Shinpachi? Don’t you know that dealing with men is a full time job?”
“That's right,” Gintoki agrees, nodding along, “men are scum.”
“Yup, yup. They're a parasite on the industry of life. Oi, boss, you should give me a raise for all the effort and overtime I put in dealing with the scum in our workplace.”
“Sorry,” Gintoki says, “the agreement of the contract you signed stipulates that wage raises can only be considered after gaining a minimum of ten years’ experience in your working role.”
“Oh,” Kagura says, complete lack of understanding on her blank face. She shrugs. “Okay then.”
“Wait but we never signed a contract!” Shinpachi says, perplexed.
“What do you call that then?” Gintoki says, throwing his thumb out behind his shoulder.
Shinpachi follows the invisible line to a copy of one of their old advertisement flyers stuck on wall behind the desk. It's instantly recognisable, featuring three handprints and one paw print haphazardly framed around a picture of the Yorozuya team.
A prickly, tingly feeling rushes through his chest—it might be bad business manipulation at its best, but Shinpachi can’t find it in himself to argue against that. He clears his throat.
“In any case,” he says, “the quiz is clearly making the mistake of lumping the two together!”
“Now, now, Shinpachi,” Gintoki interrupts, back in that deliberately overemphasised, sagely, rather quite condescending tone, “it is merely your youth and inexperience with adult matters that make you think that way. You see, the office or workplace romance is the most intense and thrilling romantic experience the ordinary human will have in their measly lifetime. Therefore when a person takes on a job, they’re investing not just in their career and financial stability, but also in the promise of a lifetime partner. That’s what people mean when they talk about being married to work!”
“Gin-san, I don’t think that’s what that means at all, and anyway, you’ve never worked in an office or workplace with other people in your life!”
“You wound me, Patsuan. How do you think I got this far, CEO of my own business with one hundred percent employee loyalty at the prime young age of twenty-eight, if I didn’t have a lifetime of experience dealing with the intricacies of workplace liaisons, huh?”
“Gin-san, you have two underaged employees which I’m sure counts as child labour exploitation, and you never paid the registration fee for the business registration application. I’m pretty sure that the Yorozuya is technically an illegal operation.”
Immediately, Gintoki turns around and closes the window blinds. The room goes quiet as the possibly illegal boss and his two employees glance furtively around them to make sure they hadn't been overheard by any men in black suits who just happened to be creeping around for no reason other than the wacky slice-of-life genre specification.
“Oi, oi,” Gintoki says after a moment, with a shaky laugh, “don't joke about that, Shinpachi-kun. What kind of role model would we be to all our lovely viewers watching and reading us if they thought we were an illegal business? Sunrise would have our heads!”
“It's okay, Gin-chan,” Kagura goes to reassure him, “the only people watching this sketchy anime and reading its sketchy fanfiction are probably sketchy people themselves already.”
“That's right!” Shinpachi adds helpfully, though his neck still cranes around as if looking for hidden microphones and cameras. “Besides, even if we were illegal—which we're not!—then they would still know better than to waste their time coming after us. We're so poor, we wouldn't be able to pay the bail out money anyway! If anything, they should be targeting those multi mega corporations that do way more sketchy stuff! Like tax evasion!”
“And Amanto discrimination!” Kagura adds.
“And killing the environment!”
“And disrupting the view with their giant billboards!”
“And taking advantage of the working class to fuel their corrupt profits!” Shinpachi cries in heated passion, slapping his hand on the table.
“And increasing the price of pudding by ¥240 so Gin-san can only afford to have his sugar intake three times a week instead of four!” Gintoki joins.
“Um, Gin-san, that's not—"
“Down with capitalism!” Kagura cries, jumping back onto her couch and rising one fist into the air while her other hand still clutching the magazine waves it again like a great banner. “Come comrades! Let us take down the abominable bosses and factory managers who exploit the good-hearted working citizens!”
The magazine gets rolled up and becomes a baton which now points accusingly towards the Yorozuya boss. Gintoki looks to his left, and his right, and seeing no one on either side of him, points a finger to his own mug and mouths, “Who, me?”
“Rise up!” Kagura continues with her impassioned call, turning back to her audience of one. Shinpachi hears the call solemnly, eyes burning with the bright rage of workers’ rights. “Rise up and take down the evil corporations and greedy CEOs and business owners who use their money to hoard all the good things to themselves and never leave the sesame-flavoured subonku for the common folk!”
“Well if someone didn't spend all their money on monthly pork barbeque bun sales, they might have enough left over to buy sesame-flavoured subonku whenever the stores have them in stock!”
“But Gin-chan, two pork barbeque buns for the price of one!”
Shinpachi coughs delicately. “You have to admit, Gin-san, it is a very good deal.” Aside to himself, he mumbles, “they’ve saved me more times than I can count,” and hopes Tae never finds his stash of frozen pork barbeque buns he sneaks out at midnight when dark matter dinners prove too much for his stomach to handle.
“What are you two, video game characters who can only revive their health with pork barbeque buns?” Gintoki grouches, then leans back on his fake leather and plastic desk chair. “Ahhh, but really, society is scum. All those flashy, money-grabbing advertisements and media turning the free-thinking man into a mindless drone. Bah!”
“Well,” Shinpachi hedges, fidgeting with the Otsuu-chan NekoNeko double spread special open in front of him, “maybe it's not all so bad…”
“Eh? Don't tell me they've caught you already, Pachi-boy! Those sirens, always luring in the innocent cherry boys with their wily charms and pretty faces! Cover your ears, Shinpachi, before you drown!”
Shinpachi’s face turns bright red as it always does when reminded of his cherry-boy status, like soup that someone put beetroot in and left on the stove for too long so all the vegetables became a mushy red mess like a bloody murder scene like someone dropping a basket of actual ripe, red cherries.
“Like the bright flag of revolution!” Kagura adds to the overly extended and entirely nonsensical metaphor, waving her magazine again even though the front cover is yellow.
For all the embarrassing state of their being, the fantasies of cherry boys cannot be underestimated: in a split second, Shinpachi finds himself in the grip of a fervoured daydream where he's leading the pop idol revolution, Otsuu’s grateful, adoring eyes centred upon him from her Queen Idol throne made from glittery microphones and album awards, while he stands bearing her image and flag upon the conquered mountain of her rivals’ platinum albums and singles. Shaking himself free of this intoxicating dream takes truly the will of only the most stout-hearted and tenacious of samurai, but Shinpachi has always been deceptively strong, underestimated as he is by his otaku appearance.
“No, that's not what I meant!” he says vehemently, crossing his arms over his chest. “It has nothing to do with cherry boys, or rather, not only to do with cherry boys! Yes, the capitalist market may be a money-grabbing, exploitative, manipulative, marginalising machine"—he takes a deep breath here, having run out of air after his string of long, multisyllabic words—“but you can't deny that it's also given some people the chance to achieve their dreams, and in that way, helped inspire others too!” He gazes lovingly at his Otsuu spread, conveniently ignoring the headline to the side exclaiming, ‘Otsuu production company bankrupt?! Employee scandal!!’
“Ahhh,” Gintoki says in a bored, dry voice, “that was sure quick of you to swap sides there, Shinpachi. You went from glass half-empty to glass half-full in, what, less time than it takes for a teenage boy to hide his dirty magazines when his mum unexpectedly bursts through his bedroom door. What, you playing double glasses or something? Doubles G’s? Is that what you're into, Shinpachi?” Gintoki tuts, shaking his head. “Teenage boys are so greedy, always thinking more is better. No wonder they make such good prey for those dirty media companies. It's okay, Shinpachi, you'll learn, you'll learn.”
Shinpachi splutters, the thought of double G’s such a force against the foundations of his feeble cherry boy mind that he cannot pull out his defences. Taking advantage of the moment, Kagura jumps in with a question.
“What are you talking about, Gin-chan?” she says. “Shinpachi has always had two glasses. Like a pair of glasses! G. G.!”
She crooks her thumbs to her forefingers, touching the tips together so they make a pair of circles just the right size to peer out of, and presses them to her eyes. Somewhere in the distance, a group of broke university students break out into a flashmob, a chorus of ‘G’s and ‘baby’s rising up while a crowd of people just trying to reach the end of the street look on in confusion.
“Bless you,” Gintoki says, while Kagura continues to blink owlishly out of her literally hand-made glasses.
“My glasses look nothing like that,” Shinpachi complains to Kagura, because that is far safer than remaining in the grips of a Double-G dream. (Already he has had to discreetly wipe away the trickle of blood from his nose while Kagura and Gintoki were busy fooling around.)
“Of course not,” Gintoki reassures, “your glasses look like those cheap, mass-produced products that break and fail you right when you need them.”
“Well maybe if you actually paid us a living wage, I could afford brand glasses if mine offend your sensibilities so much!”
“For someone who’s only just over legal working age, you sure have high expectations!”
“You're not even paying me minimum wage, I could report you, you know!”
“Oh yeah? Report me to who? The boss?” Gintoki snorts, waving a dismissive hand.
Shinpachi’s nostrils flare, eyebrows drawing together in an angry line.
“I'll report you to… to… to the industry union!”
Gintoki laughs an evil, corporate laugh. “What industry union? The Odd Jobs union? Ha! Good luck with that! Even if one existed, it would never get anything done because its members would be too busy looking for odd jobs to make their daily living!”
Kagura’s eyes flash. “Pachi-boy, let's start a union!” she says, though what a fourteen year old alien would know about industry unions, the never-ending battle for workers’ rights, petitions, rallies, strikes and other various union organisation stuffs remains an unanswered question. Still, one couldn't fault her enthusiasm.
Unexpectedly, in utter abandonment of his straight man role, Shinpachi jumps onto the idea.
“Yes!” he says. “We can invite all the other Odd Jobs teams from the anime crossovers we have! ‘Odd Jobs’ is such a well known and overused trope, I'm sure there will be plenty who will want to join us!”
“The Odd Jobs industry revolution!” Kagura bellows, arms spread out wide like she’s presenting a magic trick. “Led by the Yorozuya!”
“O-Oi!” Suddenly faced with a revolution and overzealous employees, Gintoki has no idea what to do.
Luckily for him, right at that moment, the phone rings. Its noisy call goes on for two ring cycles, cutting through and silencing all conversation in the room, before Gintoki wipes out a hand to pick up the receiver. Suddenly Kagura and Shinpachi are pressed right up against his side, intense looks on their faces as they eavesdrop on the call, union revolution promptly forgotten at the prospect of a new job.
“Hello, you've reached Yorozuya Gin-chan, how may I help you? Yes, a job? Right now? You're desperate? Of course, of course, that's what the Yorozuya are here for! What exactly…? Yes. Uh-huh. Uh-huh, of course, yes.” As he listens to the job details, Gintoki catches the gaze of his employees and does a fist pump in the air. Kagura and Shinpachi grin at him and return the gesture. “...Yes, just leave it to us! We'll be down there before you can blink!”
With that, he hangs up the phone, pushes back his chair and stands, grabbing his bokutou and slipping it into his belt with a smooth motion.
“Alright, people!” he says, turning around to look down at Kagura and Shinpachi. “We've been called and now we got a job to do. Tell me: Are the Yorozuya ready to put their all, to go beyond, plus ultra—"
Shinpachi sighs; of course they couldn't get away without referencing another anime. He hopes at least with fanfiction’s grey legality, they won't be sued or have to cop another lecture about copyright laws from Sunrise.
“—to deliver the best Odd Jobs service to our dear and valuable clientele?”
“Yes!” comes the enthusiastic response, Kagura and Shinpachi standing with straight backs bearing their pride and excitement as a true Yorozuya member.
Gintoki cups his hand over his ear, leaning forward. “I said, are you ready?!”
A short, approving nod. “Alright. Yorozuya Gin-chan, move out!”