Golden Kamuy

Title:Golden Kamuy
ゴールデンカムイ
Overall:Buy
Keywords: , , , , ,
Notables: Animation - Geno Studio
KOBAYASHI Chikahiro
SHIRAISHI Haruka
In the early twentieth century, Russo-Japanese War veteran Saichi “Immortal” Sugimoto scratches out a meager existence during the postwar gold rush on the wild frontier of Hokkaido. When he stumbles across a map to a fortune in hidden Ainu gold, he sets off on a treacherous quest to find it. But Sugimoto is not the only interested party, and everyone who knows about the gold will kill to possess it. Faced with the harsh conditions of the northern wilderness, ruthless criminals and rogue Japanese soldiers, Sugimoto will need all his skills and luck—and the help of an Ainu girl named Asirpa—to survive.
(Summary Courtesy of Anime News Network)


12-episode TV anime that premiered on April 9, 2018.
Animated by Geno Studio.
See series sequel, Golden Kamuy 2.
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Buy 8 7 8 7 8 9 Ggultra2764 [series:3505#1552]
Golden Kamuy follows the journey of Japanese soldier Sugimoto and the Ainu girl, Aspira, partner up to track down the whereabouts of stolen Ainu gold with the map of it being tattooed in portions to the bodies of escaped convicts. Also in the search for the convicts are a couple rival parties consisting of a criminal alliance and Japanese imperial officers who are seeking out the gold for their own ends.

Golden Kamuy sticks out particularly for its historically accurate depiction of the Ainu indigenous people. Through Aspira and other members of her tribe, the series offers a look at the indigenous customs, appearance, language, and beliefs of the Ainu. The Ainu trends focused on in Golden Kamuy included their belief in animism, following specific hunting trends depending on the season, and having their own unique language different from the Japanese. The series also took time to explore some of the historical challenges faced by the tribe at the early part of the 20th century. The Ainu were finding their lands and culture marginalized by the Japanese government as the Ainu were being assimilated with Japanese culture due to the country's efforts to try modernizing its culture to fit the Western style and wishing to claim the abundant natural resources found within Ainu territories. This is seen with some imperial Japanese soldiers trying to lay claim to animals and resources within Ainu lands at a number of points throughout the series, as well as Sugimoto occasionally having to stand up for Aspira when she is discriminated against by Japanese folk.

Beyond its focus on Ainu culture, Golden Kamuy offers a solid mix of gritty adventure, action, and comedy exploring Sugimoto and Aspira's adventures to claim more of the tattoo skins from the escaped convicts. Our two leads offer some solid and fun chemistry with one another throughout the series as both delight in the company of one another, fight against animal and human threats together, and will tease one another during the anime's more lighter scenes. In addition, Golden Kamuy also takes the time to flesh out both characters to depict their moral beliefs and motives for committing to their journey. The series offers solid exploration of the different factions in the Ainu gold hunt as more is revealed about the motives of each faction and more details on the tattoos are revealed in regards to locating the Ainu gold.

The show does have some imperfections. For an action anime, the visuals to Golden Kamuy are a bit on the subpar side for a 2018 anime as character designs looked a little rough with visual details, the animation okay though nothing remarkable, and some bad use of CGI animation (notably with the rendering of some of the animals confronted). While I enjoyed Aspira and Sugimoto's interactions together, the comical banter between them was a bit hit-or-miss for me. Also, the series does end inconclusively as Sugimoto's group and others are still seeking out the whereabouts of the Ainu gold. But with news of a second season of Golden Kamuy coming out for the Fall 2018 season, the third issue would be a minor one compared to the rest.

Minor gripes aside, Golden Kamuy offers an engaging, gritty, and solid mix of action, adventure and comedy in the search for the lost Ainu gold as well as being unique for its believable exploration of the Ainu culture during the turn of the 20th century in Japan. With the news of a second season coming along in the near future, I look forward to seeing more of what this series can offer up.

Last updated Tuesday, June 26 2018. Created Tuesday, June 26 2018.
Unevaluated Stretch [series:3505#628]
(Three episodes watched):

I initially found this to be an interesting and unusual story, set back in the early 20th century and involving a race to find a trove of hidden gold and also Ainu legends and culture. The Ainu are sort of the Indians or aborigines of Japan, a culture which existed before what we know as the Japanese arrived, and which was then marginalized and pushed to the remote regions. Character designs are very simple, and I was kind of annoyed by Sugimoto's too-good-to-be-true strength and luck, at least as it was revealed on a battlefield. But his goal of helping the wife and children of a fallen comrade are admirable (and I hope the show goes into some detail about that). I was curious about how this would work out, and decided to watch some more to see if the story continued to expand and if the whole would be as clever as episode one had seemed.

Episode two left me feeling that this would be an OK show, but not a brilliant one. I wish we got to know the main characters, Sugimoto and Asirpa, better. We learn a number of tricks and customs of the Ainu, but so far not much about Asirpa herself. She wants justice for the murder of her father as well as some fellow Ainu, and is a skilled hunter, but other than that we know very little about her as an individual. Sugimoto is a good guy, is tough and doesn't like taking orders, but again that's about as far as his personality goes. And if the main characters remain simple, no doubt the villains will be two dimensional. As a result I can't get completely engaged in this story, and if I can't get completely engaged I tend to forget things.

Making things plausible doesn't seem to be a high priority. All sorts of amazing strokes of luck occur which make it difficult to suspend disbelief--like the white wolf that saves Asirpa or the bear that saves Sugimoto (two rescues by animals, almost simultaneously?). If a little more care had been taken with the writing it would have been much easier to take these events seriously. I decided to quit this show. There's no sign of serious character development, just lots of tricks and nonsense, and as a result I don't really care whether justice is served or who gets the gold. This turned out to be about as sophisticated as a children's show.

Last updated Friday, May 25 2018. Created Wednesday, April 18 2018.

Other Sites
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Official Japanese Series Web Site http://kamuy-anime.com/

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