Golden Kamuy Season 3
Episode 12

by Grant Jones,

How would you rate episode 12 of
Golden Kamuy (TV 3) ?

Asirpa, Sugimoto, and Shiraishi trek across the ice with Sugimoto toting the unconscious Ogata on his back. Further back, Sofia sees Kiroranke and Koito stabbing one another in a deadly knife fight. Kiroranke is bearing down on Koito but Tanigaki and Tsukishima shoot him before he can deliver the killing blow. They approach thinking Kiroranke is done for, but he tosses a bomb at them - which Koito slices out of the air with his sword, saving them all. Just as Tanigaki is about to kill him, Asirpa and company arrive and she wants to ask him a question. She tells him quietly that she remembered what her father told her, and Kiroranke feels content that the journey was not for naught. With Sofia on his mind and lips, he passes, and they bury him in the ice.

They set out once again and run into Gansoku – their large Russian friend from the sweaty wrestling escapade. He comes along to help guide them, and the team begins making their way to Hokkaido. Sofia visits Kiroranke's body one last time before she says her farewells and leaves.

Our heroes eventually make their way to Ako, a Nivkh village. The Nivkh keep dogs, and their clothing is similar to the Uilta garb. The team takes refuge in the village and tries to discern Ogata's motives while he rests. Tsukishima convinces Svetlana to travel back with Gansoku and we get an aside that they have exciting adventures (!) as a travelling duo. Tsukishima's wounds are worrisome, and the team attempts to get a Russian doctor to help with Sugimoto wearing Nivkh clothing as a disguise. However, the doctor identifies him as Japanese immediately because he fought in the war. Sugimoto then asks him to help – this time at gunpoint. He can patch Tsukishima up a bit, but he will need to move him to perform surgery, and promises not to sell them out to the Russian government.

The doctor attempts to help both Tsukishima and Ogata. However, he says that Ogata will not survive the night. Sugimoto decides to go in and deal with Ogata himself, but finds the doctor in a bloody heap on the floor and the window open. Ogata has escaped and the chase is on. But Koito enters right behind him to check on the doctor only to discover Ogata is still in the room with a hostage nurse. Ogata threatens the nurse and the doctor takes out Koito. That's when Ogata makes his true escape on horseback with Sugimoto firing shots in vain. Sugimoto and Asirpa have a conversation the next morning about how they are still on the same path; they renew their contract as partners and set off again.

A strong season finale for an already terrific show.

I honestly think this is a great example of just how good Golden Kamuy is. This episode has beefcake comedy, touching character moments, engaging and bloody action with true stakes, moments of outrageous tension, twists and turns that surprise without insulting the viewers intelligence, interaction between various real world cultures in a seldom-explored time period, and the only thing really holding it back from being one of the best episodes ever is that… well… last week's Golden Kamuy was somehow better(!?).

I think this has one of the most touching moments between Sugimoto and Asirpa as well. Their relationship is the driving force behind the show and their dynamic as leads is so engaging that it would work well even with the complete absence of the stellar supporting cast. Now that they are back together and have reaffirmed that oath between them even in light of the changes that have occurred, it feels like next season will be stronger still.

Hats off to Geno Studio for their work this week, particularly in Kiroranke's last fight sequence. The timing and fluid motion of the bomb, as well as the (literally) explosive screen shaking dynamism of Koito cutting it in two, is an excellent showcase of animation and direction.

I feel like I'm just gushing without being very critical, but I think this season really sold me on Golden Kamuy wholesale. I enjoyed the first two seasons a lot, but this has cemented it as an all-time favorite for me. Bravo.


Grant is the cohost on the Blade Licking Thieves podcast and Super Senpai Podcast.

Golden Kamuy is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and Save on Anime Streaming Subscriptions with Funimation.

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