Miss my review last week? You can find it here!
Asirpa and Sugimoto continue their journey through the woods, with Sugimoto sampling the young Ainu’s delicious cooking. As they enjoy a bowl of rabbit soup, Asirpa is horrified when Sugimoto pulls out a container of miso to help flavor his broth. Convinced that it’s poop, she vehemently rejects it, and tells him not to eat it either.
The next morning, the pair come across a bear den. Asirpa is interested in setting a trap to kill it, but Sugimoto doesn’t see the need and they go on their way. Just then, Asirpa notices some light flashing from the mountains near where they had stayed the night before. Sugimoto recognizes the flashes as coming from binoculars, and they begin to run.
Realizing that they won’t outpace their pursuers, Sugimoto tells Asirpa they need to split up. He hands her the skin they had collected and tells her to hand it over without resisting if she’s caught. The soldiers from the 7th division maintain their pursuit, one of them finding Asirpa without too much difficulty, and the other 3 cornering Sugimoto.
The 3 that cornered Sugimoto are almost thrown off the trail when he claims to be a hunter looking for forbidden deer, claiming that Asirpa is his Ainu guide. However, one of the soldiers recognizes Sugimoto from the 1st division, and it’s revealed that the soldier he fought in the previous episode was able to muster enough strength to say one thing: Immortal.
Knowing that he was caught, Sugimoto turns and dives into the bear den they had previously left undisturbed. The soldiers attempt to shoot into the den to injure him and lure him out, but instead royally piss off the bear that’s inside, who claws the face off of one of the soldiers, causing his gun to misfire and take out a second.
The final soldier puts up a valiant fight and finally takes down the bear, dying as well from horrific injuries. Sugimoto emerges from the den with a baby bear, commenting that with Mama Bear dead, he would need someone to take care of him.
Meanwhile, Asirpa had been discovered by one of the soldiers as well. Trying to play dumb, she speaks in Ainu to try and maintain her front. However, in trying to hide the skin-pelt, it accidentally falls to the ground and the soldier realizes that she can understand him after all.
Things escalate, until Asirpa’s white wolf Retar appears and tosses the soldier around like a rag-doll.
Sugimoto and Asirpa reunite, with Sugimoto trying to keep the baby bear a secret, afraid that Asirpa will gobble it up. When the baby bear pokes its head out, Asirpa calls it out and Sugimoto pleads with her to let him keep it and be the bear’s “Mommy”.
Asirpa explains that they won’t eat it, and that in fact it’s an honor for Ainu to raise a baby bear. After a year or two in the village, however, they do perform a ceremony to “send it back to the Gods”. Still, after returning to Asirpa’s village, it’s safe to say that the baby bear is safe for now.
In the village we meet Huci, Asirpa’s maternal Grandmother and the de facto matriarch of her village. Huci laments that Asirpa can’t do “women’s work” like weaving and sewing, and is afraid that she won’t find a husband to marry. In Ainu, she asks Sugimoto to marry Asirpa so she won’t be alone. When Sugimoto asks for the translation, Asirpa translates the request as “You shouldn’t eat poop.”
Back in the forest, we see the soldier that Retar played chew-toy with is still alive, and obsessed with the silver-white coat that the wolf had. Motivated by its beauty, he resolves to find and kill Retar.
The episode closes with our bad guys “on the move”. First, Tsurumi and his men close in on Otaru, just as one of his commanding officers appears to criticize the odd-looking Lieutenant. Citing men lost and severely injured, not to mention a stockpile of weapons that was recently relocated, it appears as though Tsurumi is in deep trouble. Just as he’s being lambasted, he leans forward and bites off the Captain’s finger as he waggles it in his face. After the Captain attempts to have him shot, the soldier with him actually turns on the Captain instead, joining Tsurumi’s ranks.
Meanwhile, at a “Gentleman’s Club” not far away, Ushiyama the Undefeated is enjoying some company when the samurai known as Hijikata Toshizou appears. He offers an alliance of sorts as they prepare for the encroaching 7th Division. When asked by Ushiyama if he plans on leading their fight with an antiquated weapon like a katana, Hijikata replies:
And with that, the episode closes.
This week’s episode was a bit of a mixed bag, but let’s get the obvious detriment out of the way first: whose idea was it to animate the bear like that? Seriously. The CGI bear is way out of place and makes me feel like I’m watching a straight-to-video release of some poorly adapted fairy tale.
I also saw some gaps in the animation quality in general, particularly in the opening 5 minutes or so. Rough outlines of Sugimoto, some choppy movements…less polish than usual.
That being said, this episode did a lot of things right as well. Sugimoto and Asirpa’s conversation about Miso/Poop and Sugimoto’s attempts to adopt the baby bear were excellently done, bringing a light-heartedness to an otherwise brutal and threatening situation.
Visiting Asirpa’s village was a unique glimpse into Ainu culture as well, including how they name their kids after distasteful things to keep demons away. Particularly interesting is that while Asirpa respects her Ainu heritage, she also understands the need to evolve.
Overall, this episode did some great work in deepening the relationship between Sugimoto and Asirpa, but animation mishaps gave me some pause. Here’s hoping for more consistency in the weeks to come.
Golden Kamuy - Episode 3
- Lots of great comedy in this episode
- Cooking lessons and culture tidbits continue to be fascinating
- Characters seem to be moving and bringing the wider story into focus, albeit slowly
- Bear CGI is a mistake
- Overall animation seems inconsistent