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Rolling Review – Golden Kamuy (05)

Episode Synopsis:

Asirpa and escape artist Shiraishi hatch a plan to free Sugimoto from the clutches of the 7th Division – it derails quickly, but some quick thinking allows the gang to flee to the wilderness and deal their foes a significant setback.  Meanwhile, Toshizou makes contact with another high-ranking former member of the Shinsengumi – who actually did survive into Golden Kamuy’s time period – and the pair go soliciting for allies in what appears to be the beginning of a bid to establish Hokkaido as a sovereign state. Even more meanwhile, the soldier whose life Asirpa sort-of spared was for-real saved by a local bear hunter, whose help he seeks in bringing down the white wolf who maimed him…


There’s a fair bit going on in this show.

I guess we’re more or less consolidating the Escape King into our band of protagonists, but we’ve still got the 7th Division as a looming threat, the resurgent Shinsengumi as a rival group that is currently more distant but has the promise of becoming significantly more powerful, a puppet master who may finally have gotten a couple of seconds of screen time in this episode, and now we’ve got a couple of guys with a personal interest in taking down Retar, the melee powerhouse who serves as Asirpa’s mount and closest companion.

I’m looking forward to each of these conflicts continuing, largely because I rather like the spread of antagonists. The hunters look like they’ll come into their own in the next episode, and they already have a very different angle and vibe than either of the two faction heads – a professional warrior out of his time carrying deep if unclear personal/political motivations, and another military man with his own bone to pick with the establishment, who is intelligent and just unbalanced enough to be frightening but still believable as a leader.

The cut to having caught up to Sugimoto was a little jarring, but he recovered from getting unhorsed like a BOSS.

It’s enough drama that I am wishing that they’d tone down the gags. Not stop them completely, mind you – for now I’d probably be cool with just dialing back the exaggerated shock (or at least the shouting – most of the faces can stay). Unfortunately for me, I’m fairly certain that this is a deeply ingrained aspect of Japanese humor, so I’m pretty sure it’s not going to stop. At least it seems like the miso gag has finished its run, though I wouldn’t rule out a callback later on.

One other minor complaint is the voice of Hijitaka Toshizou having a little bit of the same affectation that really bothered me when his actor was in The Ancient Magus’ Bride, though it is much less prevalent in his current role. Speaking of that Toshizou, though – I’ve been thinking:

The way I figure it, Hokkaido in the early 1900s is the rough equivalent of the American southwest in the late 1800s – except for the obvious geographical difference that it’s an island of the size and climate of the state of Maine instead of the entire Mojave desert and then some.

Think about it: both regions are the last holdouts of indigenous peoples being overrun by technologically advanced societies; the levels of that technology are pretty similar, since it probably took a little time for western developments to make it to Japan; those societies had recently engaged in significant internal and external conflicts – the Mexican-American war followed by the American Civil War, and, in reverse order, the Bakumatsu in Japan followed by the wars with China and Russia during the Meiji Restoration.

Basically what I’m getting at is an attempt to contextualize the presence of prominent figures from the Shinsengumi as not unlike how it would be to have Confederate leaders like Stonewall Jackson and/or Leonidas Polk trying to take over the territories of Colorado or Arizona or something. It’s not a perfect analogy, but I’d be interested if anyone can think of westerns or the like where something like this was actually written.

The way that the bear hunter is introduced at the end of this episode makes me think that he’s supposed to be some frontiersman who was a weird mashup of Buffalo Bill and Kit Carson or something, but his name doesn’t show up on Wikipedia, and I’m already learning too much about two sets of historical figures to go any further than that right now. Curse this show for instilling in me a thirst for knowledge!


Nitpicks here and there, but the setting and main storylines continue to prove compelling. If the writing can stay tight, this could remain a satisfying watch… except for the part where there’s a heck of a lot more source material than they’re actually going to get to in seven more episodes.

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2 comments on “Rolling Review – Golden Kamuy (05)

  1. Pingback: Rolling Review – Golden Kamuy (04) – The Con Artists

  2. Pingback: Rolling Review – Golden Kamuy (06) – The Con Artists

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