Miss my review last week? You can find it here!
Following their tentative agreement to work together to find the hidden Ainu gold, Asirpa begins demonstrating some of her superb survival and hunting skills in the early minutes of the episode. After making their way through the forest, the two of them make their way into Otaru, a large port village in northern Japan. They begin asking around at bath houses and other establishments that require people taking their clothes off about the unique tattoos. At one point a shop owner begins harassing Asirpa about being an Ainu before Sugimoto comes up and jams his throat into the guys larynx. Fun times.
Their questions do raise the suspicions of a mysterious figure who tails them out of the city. Wandering back into the forest, Sugimoto and Asirpa lure him into a trap, tie him up, and Asirpa begins to sketch the design of tattoos on his back. The prisoner, realizing he isn’t going to be killed, begins talking about the man who led the prisoners and orchestrated the plot involving the tattoos when he’s suddenly shot in the head.
Diving for cover, Sugimoto offers Asirpa some cover as she creates a smoke-screen for them. A similar trap they had employed before snatches away the assailant’s weapon as he moves closer, and he and Sugimoto square off.
It’s revealed that the soldier is from the famous “7th Division”. Known for their battle prowess and ability, Sugimoto realizes that he’s getting mixed up into something pretty serious. His enemy recognizes Sugimoto’s uniform as well, and he cautions Sugimoto to leave it alone. After Sugimoto denies being in it for the money, and instead is after the love of a woman, the two return to blows. Sugimoto is nearly killed but manages to escape the grapple and pin his enemy. Asirpa interrupts right before he’s about to make the killing strike, and the pinned soldier takes advantage of the hesitation to escape. However, Sugimoto’s got a good arm, and great aim, and clocks him in the back of the head with the butt of a rifle from a distance. The soldier falls, hitting his head on a rock before collapsing into the river.
Following the battle, Sugimoto tells Asirpa that he’s not afraid to fight for his own life. He’s not a murderer, but will defend himself at all costs.
Returning to Asirpa’s hunting tent, the two share in a traditional Ainu meal known as “chittatap”. Essentially diced squirrel formed into meatballs, it’s typically eaten raw. However, Asirpa indulges Sugimoto and cooks it for him.
The next day, they catch another curious adventurer through the woods. After tying him up the same way they tied up their first prisoner, Asirpa is distracted by a rabbit and before they realize it their latest captive had escaped. Unfortunately for them, the man they captured is Yoshitake Shiraishi: The Escape King!
Sugimoto gives chase, but in the bitter cold of the forest, the two find themselves accidentally tumbling into the nearby river. Threatened with a quick death due to hypothermia, they reach a tentative agreement in a frenzied mission to build a fire. Thankfully, they are successful, and share a moment.
The Escape King tells Sugimoto a bit more about the leader of the prisoners: a former Shinsengumi captain and samurai by the name of Toshizou Hijikata. Confident that his escape skills will keep him out of danger, the two part ways as they promised they would.
Meanwhile, the 7th division soldier that Sugimoto fought at the beginning of the episode is revealed to have survived, and a mysterious man pledges to go and “pay him a visit”.
Golden Kamuy continues to impress this week, this time with 100% less awkwardly animated CGI bears! It manages to preserve the culture and recipes of Asirpa’s Ainu heritage, while swinging drastically from comedic exchanges to brutal combat and battles for survival.
Seeing Asirpa’s processes and cooking in an animated form was really cool, coming from the manga. Their whole interaction around the chittatap recipe helps to set the tone for the sort of relationship the pair will continue to nurture in the coming weeks.
Sugimoto’s battle with the 7th Division soldier was awesome, the brief hand-to-hand sequence, even the finish with his impressive rifle-toss maneuver. I look forward to seeing more of the brawls and battles ahead if that is any indication of what’s to come.
I will say that although it was a “flashback”, the Hijikata Toshizou scene where he takes down a few of the soldiers with his swordsmanship felt a bit clunky. I hope it’s smoothed out by the time we see the grizzled old warrior in action.
Overall, I’m happy with the direction the series is headed. Looking forward to seeing their adventure play out in the coming weeks!
You can find Golden Kamuy on Crunchyroll every Monday morning!
Update: Episode 3 is here, along with my review!
Golden Kamuy - Episode 2
- So far it's maintained the spirit of the anime impressively well
- No odd CGI decisions this time around
- Introduction of one of my favorite characters - The Escape King
- The world gets a bit bigger as key players come into focus
- Despite no odd CGI, some scenes were a bit rough around the edges