Posted by SuperMario on 16 May 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Golden Kamuy

Well, (animal) shit. Golden Kamuy starts slow this week and ends with a bang. This episode presents many of Golden Kamuy’s ups and downs so it’s best to dissect them one by one. For the negative part, the pacing is still off. This episode spends too much time on Sugimoto and Asirpa hunting that poor deer that there’s no sense of urgency, then it follows up with another food-fest that is out of place and rush up to the white wolf hunting. On the cuisine-of-the-wilderness matter, the manga actually does a better job of infusing the light touch to this heavy thriller, but that’s more because of the chapter format works better that way. Here in an episode it feels like a bumpy ride. In addition, this small-arc revolving Nihei Tetsuzou and Tanigaki feels aimless at first. I feel the same directionlessness when our Asirpa and Sugimoto hunt the deer down. Isn’t this a story about them chasing gold? I asked myself. The Golden Kamuy starts to connect all the dots and I actually find myself engaged and all the themes start to make sense. Well, the development still has some lucky coincidences (like Nihei Tetsuzou “happens” to be an ex-prisoner, Shiraishi just “conveniently” gives the duo the news or where are the 7th Unit Army and these tattooed prisoners this week?), but otherwise it’s a decent showdown we’re getting here.

It’s the episode’s narrative thread that starts to emerge with the gold chase premise. On Sugimoto and Asirpa’s side, the early part of them pursuing the injured deer speaks more about Sugimoto and his own reflection. Here’s the man who never bat an eye when killing enemies, yet he’s hesitant and somewhat shaken to kill this poor deer. The deer’s survival instinct reminds him of himself, when facing death in the eyes he becomes fearless – in one of the episode’s stunning visual metaphor: the deer becomes a vision of him. The notion of death, or rather, the cycle of life, is further elevated by the point of view of Nihei Tetsuzou, who regards to die in the forest, get eaten by the animals and become animal shit as a perfect cycle of life (that view is shared by Asirpa too). Killing and hunting are one main identity of Golden Kamuy, and it makes a fair distinction between those. In Golden Kamuy, human hunt animals, but they pay proper respect and believe the prey’s presence go back to the nature of life. Killing, on the other hand, is merciless and receive no such respect.

In a completely different sense, we can view this episode as the games of several hunters. On one side we have our duo hunting the deer (I swear I stop bringing up that poor deer now), on the other side we have superhunter and deserted soldier hunt for legendary white wolf. Then we have Asirpa and Sugimoto hunt these villains instead and now it’s a matter of which team can outlast the other. And this wonderful standoff in the end furthers bring the main premise back up front, now that the bear-hunter himself carry that skinned map in his body. It’s a single stone that kill two birds huh? Save Rectar and have the map for themselves. One last thing I’ve noticed though is the way Golden Kamuy increasingly hints us at the possible death of Sugimoto (this week it plays out as a joke and the way he sees himself in that poor de– Damn, again), and it’s that the case I think it makes sense as Sugimoto is pretty much the tragic hero suited only for battle, so he’d have no place when the war and this gold chase are over.

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