「青い眼」 (Aoi Me)
Golden Kamuy has never shied away from portraying the uncomfortable and the grotesque, from unthinkable acts of depravity to plain old bloody violence. That’s to be expected from a show involving twisted criminal minds that symbolise the darkest abyss of human nature. But, certainly, no episode of Golden Kamuy demonstrates the trauma that Golden Kamuy casually inflicts on us, the poor, innocent audience. One would be hard pressed to argue that the first half of the episode had anything to do with plot; rather, its scenes were calculated to disturb, unnerve, or at least make us shrink back from the screen a bit. Perhaps for you it was the thought of gutting a fish alive while it stares at you helplessly. Perhaps some of you were blinded by Shiraishi’s shiny arse. My persona phobia was the locust plague. What a nightmare. First it was Concrete Revolutio and now Golden Kamuy is also breaking out the freakish insect swarms. Please, stop. I’d take the psychopathic manchildren and faceless murderers over the eighth plague any day.
Horror show aside, I suppose much of this episode was dedicated to bonding, and the most direct way to portray that is with sex and, er, whatever. And of course, because this is Golden Kamuy, a rollercoaster of cynicism, developing those bonds was evidently so that it could tear them down again. To be fair, these tensions have always bubbled underneath the surface of the Sugimoto party and they’re simply now rising to the top because Asirpa has no subtlety whatsoever. This is framed as a bad thing, with direct confrontation threatening to undermine party unity. Sugimoto and Asirpa’s third faction aren’t nearly as single-minded as Tsurumi’s or Hijikata’s; they’re hardly a faction at all, and more a loose collection of coincidental travel buddies. If paranoia is allowed to fester beneath the surface that may end up being much more corrosive in the long term than a direct confrontation. So perhaps it’s best to address any and all grievances now, air that dirty laundry and sort out everybody’s personal agendas while they’re still willing to ask questions before shooting. It worked for Shiraishi, at least. So Asirpa’s blunt personality may actually have been unwittingly helpful here. In the great poker game of Golden Kamuy perhaps it’s good that we have a player who always calls like Asirpa, someone who will insist that everybody show their hands.
Well, at the very least the party is kept together by Sugimoto, who is conveniently neutral, trustworthy, and can be counted on to repay treachery with bloody, immortal vengeance. But this is at best a stopgap measure; the only cure for all these suspicions is the truth. And what is the truth? Obi Wan Kenobi taught us that, ‘Nopperabu killed your father’ can be, shall we say, open to interpretation. If not Asirpa’s father, who is that faceless man? Usually a villain is more interesting if they have some connection to the hero, and that’s what I’d prefer. But what connection? Whatever the truth may be, it certainly won’t come easily, considering that Tsurumi is already one step ahead of our protagonists. While we’re already at episode 20, I have a feeling that the prison is far from their final destination.