Sugimoto and Asirpa come to the city of Otaru to begin the hunt for the remaining tattoo’d escapees – not, like, the kind of hunt where you kill your prey, though – Asirpa has conditioned their partnership on avoidance of taking human life. Twice does a criminal notice the pair sniffing around and follow them back into the woods, only to run afoul of traps the pair have laid for just such events. The first, while restrained so that his tattoos can be sketched, is shot and killed by a soldier from an elite army unit, who proceeds to engage the protagonists until he is knocked out and falls into the nearby river. The second turns out to be an escape artist whom Sugimoto chases until they both fall into the river – during a cold snap, which necessitates a bargain to ensure that they both don’t die of hypothermia.
Not only is the military aware of the treasure hunt, but the second captive reveals that the escapees are killing each other, with the one most likely to be in cahoots with the original criminal being a prominent warrior from the previous era.
Man, this show is moving right along – which is good, considering the revelation that there are twenty-four pieces to our puzzle. Of those whose fates are currently known, we have two whose remains are held by our protagonists, one now at large, one whose remains are held by 7th Division, and an unknown number presumably in the possession of prisoner ringleader Hijikata Toshizou, Demon Vice-Commander of the Shinsengumi – a speculative imagining of a historical figure more than twice the age at which he was recorded as having died in real life.
I’m kind of intrigued about how this instance of Toshizou compares to other instances of the man in popular culture, but I’ll be honest: I’m not familiar with any of them and I really don’t know anything about the Shinsengumi. Basically, I skimmed his Wikipedia article and I’m pretty much hoping that that’s enough context to get me through the show – though, if I find the role particularly interesting, I could be convinced to research further. Watching this show could turn out to be a rather educational experience, considering that just this episode had me also looking up information about frost cracks (real things, though I’ve yet to delve into the kind of cold front shown in the episode) and Otaru (a real place whose thunder was stolen by nearby Sapporo recently enough that being nicknamed “Wall Street of the North” is more plausible than I originally thought).
I’m not generally a stickler for consistency in tone, but I am a little worried that Golden Kamuy has a little too much swing in its pendulum. The premise is gruesome enough that a little humor goes a long way, so a gag like the one in the top image is almost as jarring as it is funny. There’s still plenty of time to see how things will average out, though.
Speaking of the premise, I was initially worried that the show was going to be a lot darker, but Asirpa’s insistence on not killing anyone for the gold is kind of refreshing. I’m probably showing my age – and a general lack of paying attention – but I feel like it’s been a while since not-killing-people-in-typically-life-or-death-scenarios was a big thing like it was in Trigun or (to the best of my recollection) Gundam Wing (feel free to straighten me out in the comments). Our protagonists are already about to feel some negative consequences of this moral stance, and I hope to see more interesting tension in the episodes to come.
Still too early to tell how exactly the show will pan out, but it’s going well so far. Come for the action; stay for the history.