“Spoiled Rich Kid”
What a wild ride- phone tag with kidnappers, stunt moves on a turn of the century motorbike, and a young boy’s first love. With his macho gun-slinging and cool death defying air, Tsurumi could easily claim the title of action hero (which he certainly does for young Otonoshin). Papa Koito doesn’t let him steal the scene, transforming into hot pants-wearing daddy (complete with a rockstar power pose). It’s always a hoot to see GK pull out the all the sexy stops in the most bizarre ways. I think that’s the first time I’ve seen an action hero aim a shot while seductively straddling an old dude or a grey-whiskered guy rocking muscle machismo in a way that belies his age.
As privileged as the Koito family is, gloom presides over their house- the oldest boy dead in a battleship explosion, the father as witness. I can’t imagine the emotional scars that would leave, to see your child die painfully, unable to do anything to save them. The trauma strains the relationships in the household- the remaining son feels unloved and burdened with the expectation to take his brother’s place.
There was so much that was telling without getting overly expository. In the first few seconds, we hear classmates and teachers refer to Otonoshin by his family’s reputation-setting the tone that what mattered most was not Otonoshin as himself, but Otonoshin as the privileged Koito brat. That made it that much more significant when a young Tsurumi (startlingly intact and looking reminiscent of Clark Gable) confronts him with “If you want to fight, use your own name” after the lad pulls a hit and run. Otonoshin takes this reprimand surprisingly well. I would have expected a spoiled son who grabs a cane off an old man to throw a fit when told off. Tsurumi is probably the first person to acknowledge Otonoshin as an individual, and that leaves a lasting impact on his heart.
It speaks to Otonoshin’s character that in spite of family circumstances and a free rein to do whatever, he isn’t rotten to the core. After realizing his wrongs, Otonoshin makes amends by driving Tsurumi to the grave of the famous samurai, Saigo Takamori. Then, rather than keeping the sweet delights of Tsukisappu Anpan all to himself, the lad offers half of it to his brother’s grave. He seems a sweet kid and it was heartwarming to see him and Tsurumi share that moment.
Their encounter is barely over before Otonoshin is kidnapped in a political move by the Russians to kick-start an invasion. But never fear-Tsurumi is here! In a suspenseful game of phone tag, Tsurumi and Koito Sr. locate the kidnappers, who demand destruction of the Japanese fleet in exchange for Otonoshin’s safety. Tracing the enemy through the phone lines and the ensuing chase put me in mind of a detective escapade, building off of the mystery vibes I got from the previous episode.
What a crushing position for a parent to be in-save your child at the expense of many other lives or experience the loss of another son. None of those options is optimal. Obviously, you wouldn’t want to start a war and cause millions of deaths. From a logical standpoint, the choice is clear. Yet, from an emotional standpoint, it’s not that easy. For Koito, there is no quandary-duty comes first. Even if he didn’t flinch at his choice, I certainly did.
The ensuing phone conversation between father and son was utterly gut-punching. Father Koito utters one of the last lines one would ever want to hear from their father-“I’m not going to save you”, followed by Otonoshin sobbing one of the last lines one would ever want to hear from their son “Please pretend I was never born.” Otonoshin expected this from the start and reciprocated in following his duty to an honorable death. At least they were on the same page, tragic as it was.
In typical Golden Kamuy fashion, the action escalates from there. Tsurumi and Koito loosen their guns, barreling into a third option to save the day- making the “there’s always another option” optimist in me happy. All’s well that ends well and the three men end the escapade by laughing merrily over the ties of fate.
As usual, GK performed brilliantly from beginning to end. Everything went full circle-Tsurumi and Otonoshin’s first meeting with the motorbike and anpan, and their next meeting likewise with motorbike (though just the wheel this time) and anpan that sustained the lad through his kidnapping. The drama also did a 360, beginning with one son’s death and almost ending in the second son’s. It went from 0 to 100 all in 23 minutes, starting out incredibly dark then ending with a happy ever after, with a blushing Otonoshin joining Tsurumi’s division.