A very Ainu episode this week. As far as I’m concerned, that’s only a good thing. I may have mentioned that I was first drawn to Golden Kamuy out of interest in Ainu culture, which tends to be a less explored topic in anime, so I welcome what could have a been a straight action-adventure sure take out time to portray the Ainu people in any sort of depth. Sure, this episode still has plenty of the gory thriller (including the return of the infamous taxidermy bear) but it seemed to me that was more a bribe for the audience so that we will stick around for the anthropology lesson. Obviously the mangaka did a deal of research on the Ainu before writing Golden Kamuy and wants to show off his reading. I don’t really mind that, as it is at least a sign that he cares about the subject matter. And the care and attention is important, because the Ainu are such an integral part of Asirpa’s character. If her characterisation is to be more than just, ‘look, she’s Ainu!’ Golden Kamuy must explore how the customs and beliefs of her people have shaped who she is. Short answer: a lot. So all in all this visit to the Ainu kotan was not only educational, but also a very fruitful piece of character development for Asirpa.
I do worry about her village, though. Nothing good ever happens to nice hometowns like that in stories like this. We do know that our erstwhile protagonists are being tracked, because of course they are. Golden Kamuy wouldn’t be much of a thriller without danger always nipping at our heels. At least now we have an idea of what our antagonists are like. One’s a crazy person, and the other is… an old Hijikata? The Shinsengumi show up so often in anime that I have trouble keeping track of all the different incarnations. I can’t say I can really tell what this one’s all about. Maybe he’s organising the escaped prisoners to fight the military purely as a matter of survival, but enigmatic old men always have more of an agenda than that. At the moment he’s not even necessarily antagonistic, but he’s probably going to be anyway because Sugimoto has to fight everybody before we’re through. Like this guy, who demonstrates the downsides of mercy this episode. You leave someone alive, they become a loose end, they get their own subplot, and now you and your doggy are being hunted by yet another ex-black ops supersoldier for completely extrinsic reasons.
Well, that’s episode 03, which should make for a pretty comprehensive overview of what Golden Kamuy is like and what it can offer. At this point, I’m not sure about whether I should keep covering the show in the long term here on RandomC. Make no mistake, it’s a good show and I’m enjoying it, but there’s always the time constraints. We’re in the last stages of sorting out our site’s coverage schedule so let me know in the comments if you have any strong feelings or compelling cases on behalf of Golden Kamuy. Then I’ll at least know how much self-flagellation I’ll have to do before we make any final decisions.
Full-length images: 30.