You know, I expected better of Asirpa and Sugimoto. They’re hunting for this tatooed murderer in a fishing village, and apparently the best plan they can come up with is to just ask around about it. They’re fairly savvy people, and should have known that they could easily alert their prey. That’s why you shouldn’t beat around the bush; it wastes time, it scares away your quarry, and sometimes a snake pops out and bites you. When hunting dangerous game, it’s too easy for the hunter to become the hunted. Sugimoto gets away with it mostly through dumb luck and, of course, immortality (why does he still keep his hat on?!) but with every creepy madmen in Hokkaido out to kill him/use him/undermine him I wish he’d be more wary. Or maybe it’s a matter of confidence. When one is immortal, what is there to fear?
While we’re at it, compare the death of Henmi Kazuo to Sugimoto’s stubborn refusal to do so. Sugimoto promises to remember Henmi’s final, shining moments, but from our perspective, as third party voyeurs, does Henmi really ‘gleam’. Despite the visual effects, the music, and the homoerotic undertones, I would have to say: no. In the end, Henmi’s death was just as brutal, bloody, and senseless as any other in Golden Kamuy, and he himself still a twisted psychopath. It’s precisely his indulgence in death that robs the occasion of the stoicism he admires. Contrast on the soldiers he kills in this episode. His first reaction to be stabbed in the face is annoyance, and the second reaction is pulling the trigger. Gruesome, but in a macabre way admirable. ‘Stoicism’ is rooted in an ancient Greek school of philosophy of the same name, that tuaght that happiness should be sought only in virtue. One would be hard-pressed to call Henmi a Stoic, but Sugimoto fits the bill. He takes no pleasure in death. He never gets off on being immortal. For him, killing is not a hobby, it’s a task. Contrast the orca. It plays with its food. I’m guessing this one came after Henmi in service of karma as much as anything else.
Speaking of playing with one’s food: shooty guy and his homicidal sidekick. The worst of our fears have come to pass, and the army men have found Asirpa’s kotan, and nothing good can come out of it. I honestly feared for their lives, honestly; Asirpa’s folks are good people, and good people have no protection in a bloody story like Golden Kamuy other than their appeal to decency. Good news is, it works, and spurs Tanigaki to take a level in badass in their defence. I hope he doesn’t die now, especially since we’re rather short on good and redeemable characters here and, well, he’s got two opponents and only one bullet. And those two aren’t even the main threat we should be worrying about; both Tsurumi and Hijikata seem to have taken an interest in Asirpa (though the latter may be more setting up for a Darth Vader moment than anything else), and maybe they won’t have as much compunction about killing old ladies. Damn, it’s already episode 09 and there are still so many plot hooks dangling. I feel like things are getting really exciting now but we’re already about to end.