Golden Kamuy Season 3
by Grant Jones,
How would you rate episode 4 of
Golden Kamuy (TV 3) ?
Asirpa, Ogata, and Kiroranke are out hunting and manage to down a deer. There is a discussion of musk and how the Hokkaido Ainu make little triangles called hohchiri that young boys wear over their bangs when they are younger. After making their first kill in a hunt, they cut the hohchiri off. Asirpa reveals that she had one when she was younger and had no idea it was meant for boys.
Meanwhile, Sugimoto and the gang are running through town full speed to catch Chokichi, a young boy who stole from him. He runs back to the circus where he lives, thinking that he's lost them, but they catch up. The circus ringleader – Yamada – by way of a dramatic faux punishment of Chokichi, shows them a fake sword used in their harakiri shows. In no time the gang is roped into trying circus tricks, to which all but Koita are comically bad at. Yamada shows them the trick behind the harakiri show, and Sugimoto gets signed on to perform it for the crowd. The crew decides to join the show in the hopes of Asirpa hearing about it and letting her know they are on their way, and that they have joined the circus show, because of course.
The day of the circus arrives. The audience goes wild for all of the acts, and the boys acquit themselves well. Koita is doing great until his personal picture of Lieutenant Tsurumi is left on the high wire and he chases after it out of a deep thirst that can only come from being a True Fan™. However, when Sugimoto goes to perform the harakiri show… the blade is real! Unwilling to back down in front of the crowd, he goes on with it anyway. But just as he pressed the blade to his skin a group of Russians enter the ring and stand over him. They proceed to shoot him with pistols but he lashes out with his blade, while Tsukishima comes in to knock out the third.
After some interrogation, it turns out that they were not there to kill Sugimoto specifically, but just the man performing the harakiri show. Yamada was a spy embedded in Russia during the war and they caught on to his identity. They execute the remaining Russian hitman and bury the three bodies under the tent. Yamada tells them of another prison that Kiroranke would most likely be heading towards, and the team decides to follow up on it.
I love Golden Kamuy so much.
There are a few critical character developments even though this is definitely an episode that leans more heavily into the more absurd aspects of the series. We get an important character and cultural piece for Asirpa in the form of the hohchiri. Additionally, we see the lengths of self-humiliation and self-mutilation Sugimoto will undergo just for the chance at letting Asirpa know that he is on his way. Both of these are excellent and profound.
That said, this episode is mostly a laugh riot.
The entire circus scenario is too much. It is a bit contrived, and definitely has a sense of starting from a place of asking “Okay, how can we get the gang into a circus doing bits?” and developing a justification after the fact. However, I am 100% willing to let contrivances like this slide because the payoff is wonderful. Watching Sugimoto and the gang learn tricks, try to ride bicycles, interact with carnival staff is hilarious. This episode was a real joy throughout.
Even the bookended sequences were full of comedy. There were two top shelf reaction faces in the beginning related to deer musk and Kentaro Ito's line delivery when Koroanke is being showy is too good. Similarly, Sugimoto waxing poetic about how he hopes Asirpa sees the message with her clear blue eyes, only to transition to her looking at feces steaming in the snow – that's Kino™ folks. That's Cinema™.
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