「殺人ホテルだよ全員集合!!」 (Satsujin hoteruda yo Zen’in Shuugou! !)
“Everybody Get in Here, It’s a Murder Hotel!!”
Back around the late 16th century, there was a Hungarian countess by the name of Elizabeth Báthory. Maybe you’ve heard of her? Of course you’ve heard of her, and if you’re blanking on the name you’re probably at least are familiar with her story. Unlike other (in)famous historical figures, Elizabeth Báthory is not remembered by being a great conqueror or influential statesman. No, she was a serial killer. What she would do was, she would lure young girls to her estate — first peasant girls looking for work, and later noblewomen attending her court — and then torture and kill them. Yeah. Not a pleasant story, by any stretch, but it did capture the popular imagination at the time, eventually becoming one of the inspirations for another bloodthirsty Transylvanian noble, Count Dracula. Of course, the Countess was not a vampire of any sort, but that didn’t stop her contemporaries from running wild with the idea. Later accounts would tell of a monstrous witch who would bathe in the blood of virgins in order to maintain her youth. There’s no contemporaneous verification of those claims and no proof that the Elizabeth Báthory was much more than a sadistic murderer, but who can fault those embellishments? They’re fun. Hansel and Gretel could have been a simpler tale about child abuse and stranger danger, but a witch who lures kids to her home to eat them is much more exciting. There’s is something about these gory details that draw us to these stories, where we can savour the horror still safe in our beds.
Golden Kamuy, being fiction, obviously has much more room for embellishment, and so we have an episode that ramps up the ‘fun’. Never before has Golden Kamuy used an exclamation mark for its episode titles and perhaps it never will again, but for this week we have two. They’re serious about that hype. And indeed, this was the most over-the-top of all of Golden Kamuy, in plenty of good ways. The dark heart of humanity is a familiar topic for Golden Kamuy, but where plumbing the abyss is usually a disturbing journey (like with our previous arc), here we have an almost vaudeville horror. Sure, the entire premise is still spine-crawling, but there is a comic edge to the entire thing that almost borders satire. The penny-dreadful setting of an old hotel that’s secretly a death trap where guests are murdered one by one makes for an effective spook by the campfire, but in Golden Kamuy it turns out our cast is just too badass to care. In fact, our would-be murderer, while an inhumane, unrepentant psychopath cuts an almost sympathetic figure just because his plans fall apart so very spectacularly in the face pure testosterone. Crossdresser whose name I can’t remember, you were a horrible person who will fall straight to hell. But you got no respect while still giving us great explosions, so I feel sorry for you.
Still dark, still Golden Kamuy, but huge fun. Definitely one of most entertaining episodes we’ve had so far, in my opinion. But it’s not the kind of episode I’d expect considering how far we are in the series, at the 11th hour. I was expecting a serious, dramatic arc to close out the season, but we’re still here having our fun without much care for how close we are to curtain call. I can’t really see how Golden Kamuy is going to wrap everything up in just one episode, and perhaps it doesn’t intend to. That means we might get an inconclusive ending, but it also means we’re probably getting a second season. That’d be good news.