So there’s, say, a crew of five pirates who are about to split their booty. The pirates are ordered in terms of seniority from the captain down and have 100 gold pieces to divide amongst themselves. According to Ancient Pirate Law, each pirate will, in order of seniority, propose a distribution of the coins between the crew, and then the entire crew will vote to accept or reject it. If a majority of the crew rejects the distribution, the proposer will be thrown overboard and killed, and the remaining crew will repeat the process. While all the pirates will follow the ancient laws they are also perfectly logical and value, in order: survival, gold, promotion (via throwing others overboard), and nothing else. How will the booty be distributed?
This was a logic puzzle I remember getting in one of those Philosophy 101 courses that I took to pad my average, and it doesn’t really too much backwards working to figure out the optimal distribution. My takeaway from this puzzles and others like it, though, wasn’t mathematics but the fact that the perfectly logical, rational human being is always characterised as being greedy and treacherous. Sure, that makes for cleaner puzzles, like how physicists like to remove friction in their thought experiments, but I think it say something about how we see ourselves. We, as a species, have awfully low self esteem. Logical thinking is valued even though no human is perfectly logical, and yet at the same time we conceptualise perfectly logical beings they’re always complete jerks about it (and here’s where I plug Darker than Black). There’s something cynical about the human condition, and it’s an undercurrent that certainly runs through Golden Kamuy. Everyone is after this gold, everyone has their own ambitions, and they’re willing to kill and maim over them like it’s the most natural thing in the world.
So now, the Escape King has joined the party. Now, I like the guy, He’s chill while Sugimoto and Asirpa are both mostly serious people (…mostly). He’ll add a refreshing twist to the group dynamic. But I don’t know how much I can trust him. For one, while he’s fairly effective this episode (???) I’m not sure about someone who got caught and sent to prison calling themselves ‘the Escape King’. Also, we’re talking about gold here and at the end of the day we’re greedy bastards one and all and it’s all about maximising the share. And if you manage to make out with all the gold by yourself, you don’t have to share! And in Golden Kamuy, that usually means killing the competition. Like in the pirate puzzle, and like how it is with any risk-taking behaviour, it’s a balance of greed versus fear. Sure, they want to the gold, but it’s no good to them if they’re dead. Any cooperation we see now is a product of fear, but you just know if greed starts to weigh heavier we’ll get a round of treachery for sure.
Well, we can worry about that later. For now, subplots! We have this hunter guy who’s probably going to be after Retar, but I’m actually more worried about old Leaky Brains. He seems to be something of a detective, and if he manages to figure out an Ainu killed his horse then I fear for Asirpa’s kotan. I was so please that Sugimoto left before it got burnt to the ground as a narrative device. Please don’t make my joy premature.