Golden Kamuy Season 3
by Grant Jones,
How would you rate episode 8 of
Golden Kamuy (TV 3) ?
Lieutenant Tsurumi discusses the nature of the code and how humans approach code-breaking. He notes that it would definitely be something that Asirpa could decode. Meanwhile, Sugimoto is being mocked by the others for not being able to decode it - but he says he noticed something important and just won't tell them thank you very much.
Meanwhile, back in town Hijikata, Ushiyama, and Shinpachi attempt to identify a small object that they have found. Hijikata got it from Abashiri prison and hopes it will lead them to Doi Shinzou. The local residents don't seem to know much, but they find an Ainu man who informs them that it is a etupirka beak. These bird beaks are given as a gift to people whom the gift-giver finds attractive. The man's name is Kirawus, and they quickly hire him to act as their guide. Hijikata also recounts Doi Shinzou's past as the manslayer who killed many important people in the waning days of the shogunate.
We cut away to an elderly man carrying a basket of fish on his back, barely able to walk and bothering others as he stumbles around town.He appears to have no home or family, and does not remember his name. A group of men across town are here to carry out a hit on the manslayer even though the warden woh hired them is dead.
The old man, feeling feeble, tries to walk out into the ocean to end his life. Before he can accomplish this, another villager saves him. He brings the old manslayer back into town where no one quite knows what to do with him - then the hit men arrive. They go to kill him but in that moment he springs back to life and fights back, cutting them down. Then Hijikata arrives and steps to the “head of the line” for his chance at killing the manslayer.
In short order a chaotic fight breaks out. The assassins, Hijikata's team, and the manslayer all begin fighting one another. Blood is spilled.
As the manslayer flees the scene he finds himself reliving past events. He finds himself relieving the trauma of those waning days of the shogunate, when he was promised that the killings he was asked to do were for the betterment of Japan. But instead he was betrayed and set up as a fall guy, labeled a traitor and asked to commit seppuku.
Eventually they end up at the coast. Hijikata approaches him, not only preparing to kill him but discussing his plan to continue fighting for Japan - by creating a multicultural nation. Blades are drawn. The manslayer falls. In those final moments, Hijikata returns the beak he had given his wife, while he discusses how he finally found peace living with his wife and the Ainu.
In the final moments of the episode, we rejoin Asirpa and crew eating on the coast. After a brief “let's headshot some whales” interlude, they share a moment together where Asirpa finishes off the last of Sugimoto's osoma and Ogata says hinna while eating - both momentous events. Kiroranke discusses their plan for when they reach the prison, which is to help all the prisoners escape by destroying the walls in multiple places using explosives.
A stellar episode of Golden Kamuy in my opinion.
One of the potential challenges of Golden Kamuy is that the main cast is both large and interesting. They are not blank slates, and it feels like we never quite get enough time with them. So any side character taking the spotlight has to be extremely engaging to make up for this. Youichirou the Manslayer is definitely up to the challenge, as this was an engaging episode from start to finish.
The visual highlight of the episode is absolutely the future/past phase-in effect. Every time we slip back into Youichirou's vision of the past the layering of the older selves or his recollections of those times across the present-tense is a treat. I think part of what makes it so effective is how obvious it is - this is very clearly a distorted view of a man in his final days. The heightened sense of his surroundings also contributes to this, with blood red skies and a supergiant moon looming over everything. It creates a lot of striking visuals and makes for a distinctive departure from the typical color palettes that the show employs.
We also get a glimpse into both Kiroranke's and Hijikata's plans for the future, which makes this a central episode ot the overarching plot to boot. Great stuff.
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