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Golden Kamuy – 07 »« Golden Kamuy – 05

Golden Kamuy – 06

「猟師の魂」 (Ryoushi no Tamashii)
“Hunter’s Soul”

Sugimoto is hunting a deer. He will kill the deer. And then he will eat the deer. But while he’s doing that, he doesn’t want to hurt the deer. There seems like there should be contradiction in there somewhere, and perhaps vegetarians will find cause to protest. For the Sugimoto, though, I think it’s just a matter of where he draws his lines. It must be an ethical thing, because otherwise chasing the deer until it bleeds out does seem to be a perfectly effective way to hunt. Even when pursuing prey that are not wounded, the simple human ability to run around for a long time is one of our only natural advantages over wild game. Just our ability to sweat is incredible; many four-legged beasts, like deer (or your dog) pant to release heat, but they can’t pant while they gallop. Humans though, we sweat, and can do that even as we jog. So basically a (sufficiently fit) human can chase down a deer until it overheats. Before the invention of our overpowered weapons, killing stuff quickly and mercifully wasn’t easy. Mostly, we outlasted them.

But Sugimoto is just one of many hunters in this episode, and they all bring their own background and philosophy to the discussion. Asirpa has her Ainu spirituality. Tanigaki has his Matagi ways. Nihei Tetsuzou is just a bag of testosterone. But this is about more than how these people get their food. The larger point is about the human condition, about what their practices say about what we are as a species. Hunting is innately animalistic, a bloody contest between man and beasts that will, in the decades after the events of Golden Kamuy, be made obsolete by the efficiencies of modern agriculture. But is that right? Do humans ever ascend about primal animal instincts? Nihei would argue, no. He talks about following ‘the law of the mountain’ over the constructs of society. He is a nihilist who lives for momentary thrill and only aspires to fall back into the foodchain. In contrast, we have Asirpa, and we have seen that hunting has a special place in her culture. The deer are connections to their gods, and hunting about more than killing and consuming. No common animal prays over their meal. So, perhaps, this is proof that there is more to the human soul than just savagery.

But all this contrasts with the war Sugimoto had just finished fighting, and the PTSD that he apparently suffers. He has killed many. Throughout the course of this series, on the search for this gold, he may yet kill more. And manslaying in Golden Kamuy has always been portrayed as being brutal. Nihei may perhaps argue that brutality is natural. But Tanigaki remembers that the Matagi pay their respects to every bear they hunt. No such respect is given to the soldiers he killed. And perhaps that’s the point that Golden Kamuy is trying to man. Hunting may seem uncivilised, or crude, or bestial. But it is when man kills man that we are most devoid of humanity.

May 15, 2018 at 8:39 am
  • May 15, 2018 at 9:03 amGuile

    I feel like we kind of lost track of the plot during this whole deer thing, only saved by the random fact that the King of Bear Killing hunter guy has a tattoo.

    • May 15, 2018 at 7:39 pmPasserby

      Personally, I never found the plot overly important in a story like Golden Kamuy. I talked about MacGuffins in an earlier post, and when the destination doesn’t matter the journey often goes through many curious twists and turns.

    • May 15, 2018 at 10:16 pmMami

      If you’re not prepared for more of this, I’d suggest you drop it while you’re ahead. While the story doesn’t ever completely leave the plot, you’ll spend as much time watching them hunt and eat a variety of animals as you do watching them go gold hunting

  • May 15, 2018 at 9:56 amdanny

    I’ve come to see this show as being less about humanity and more about humans eating food.

    It’s another food anime.

    • May 15, 2018 at 7:36 pmPasserby

      Food is culture, though, and Golden Kamuy has always been surprisingly cultural. I really appreciate that.

  • May 16, 2018 at 9:19 amZaiden


    • May 16, 2018 at 11:31 amChimp


    • May 16, 2018 at 7:43 pmPasserby

      Thank you for your astute insight, Zaiden. :P

  • May 19, 2018 at 12:33 amKurik

    I think they mentioned it in the episode that if you don’t do a clean (quick kill) it affects the taste of the meat. I have also heard that elsewhere as well even though that is not the reason for Sugimoto. I can easily say that I am fine with the story meandering as long as the story telling is good and I am enjoying the journey.

  • May 19, 2018 at 2:30 amewok40k

    Asirpa literally going thru the roof was what made me chuckle…
    I wonder if Matagi and former prisoner might make peace with Sugimoto and Asirpa?
    The former prisoner is completely uninterested in gold and might let himself be copied onto paper… While the Matagi (is it name of clanm renowned for hunting?) seems to be headed back home once the hunt for Retar ends…
    Only problem is they are set on killing Retar and Asirpa, and therefore Sugimoto would have none of that (let alone Retar himself who has literally skin in the game).
    I wonder how far will the violence go.
    Damn cliffhanger!

  • May 20, 2018 at 7:12 amAngelus

    Hunting made obsolete? It’s obsolete in the sense that it’s not necessary, but really that goes for domesticated meat production too. I often eat wild food that has been hunted – pigeon and other birds, rabbit, hare, deer, wild boar and so on. Can’t say I’m all that keen on bear, though.