Why would a prison housing supposedly the most heinous criminals in the country have a switch that opens all the cells at once? Obviously the welfare of the prisoners is not high on anybody’s list of priorities, so what other reason would there ever be to let them out all at once, especially if we’re working under the (in hindsight, correct) assumption that when you do they will immediately riot? Is this like a self-destruct button in the secret base of an evil supervillain, made only to spite heroes after death or to set up a disastrous yet comical pratfall? Installing fatal weaknesses into your structures is just asking for it, if you ask me. For that matter, why do the Abashiri cells have an exhaust vents the size of a womp rat that allow proton torpedoes to be launched straight into the reactor, causing a devastating chain reactor that will destroy the entire Death Star? At this point we have to assume wilful sabotage.
All this is to say that a lot of things end up being awfully convenient for our heroes. As an exercise, count how many times the main cast just run into each other this episode. Yeah. Usually coincidences are the crutch of a poor storyteller and the bane of suspension of disbelief but it all works in the execution of the episode because Golden Kamuy knows how to keep the pacing snappy. Sure, there are a lot of coincidences, but they don’t all work out for the goods guys. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t, and the tides pull in and out in quick succession to create a constant rise and fall in the tension. It’s a deliberate simulation of chaos and in chaos we are more accepting of coincidences because, well, that’s simply the nature of the beast. It also helps that Sugimoto is the kind of protagonist who thrives in chaos so when plot is flailing its arms about we’re really watching Sugimoto work. Of course his expertise mostly comes from being actually unkillable, which is the most handy skill to have in these situations. I’d argue, though, that the title of ‘immortal’ should rightfully goes to Nikaidou. Sure, Sugimoto suffers grievous wounds and still keeps on chugging and his will to live is incredible to behold, but Nikaidou loses a limb every other story arc and he’s still alive. It’s true, the power of hate is definitely stronger.
Next week is our final episode, and from the looks of things we’re going to end with an epiphany. If we go by the Greek tradition we’d call that an anagnorisis, in which our protagonist learns a great truth, realise they had made a fundamentally wrong assumption about how things actually are, and the recognition of the truth changes the nature of their quest, who they thought they were, or their relationship with the antagonist. This is, unfortunately, often a traumatic experience, from Oedipus clawing out his eyes after finding out that he had killed his father and married his mother to Luke Skywalker searching his feelings after learning that Vader was his dad (though the role of ‘Guy Who Loses His Hand’ is played by Nikaidou here). It’s also a rather awkward spot to be stopping our story. Either this is a huge turning point in the narrative and we’re just left hanging, or nothing comes out of Asirpa meeting Nopperabo (by Sugimoto proxy, at least) and we’re left unsatisfied that so much built up to what is essentially an anticlimax.
Either way, we’ll probably be wanting for more Golden Kamuy. Ah, I’m frustrated already.
Full length images: 30.