Golden Kamuy is actually the only show I was looking forward to watch during the Spring 2018 cour, according to the preview. As per usual, my expectations seem to be exceeding reality.
Japanese Title: ウェンカムイ
Immortal Sugimoto, a soldier from the Russian-Japanese War, is looking for gold in the river in order to provide for his best friend’s wife, who is losing her sight, and their baby, after he tragically died during the war. The local homeless/drunk/hippie, after consuming a generous amount of alcohol while watching him look for gold, tells him the story of a man who tattooed all his cellmates with the map of a treasure. Sugimoto doesn’t believe him at first, but when the man sobers up and tries to kill him, he starts thinking the story might be true. He later finds him killed by a bear and discovers the infamous tattoos on his skin. The bear, whose prey has been stolen, hunts him down. He kills it with the help of a young Ainu girl, who happens to have had her father killed by the man who hid the treasure. They agree to work together to find all the tattooed prisoners and get that gold. Aw yeah.
Exciting script: I find the story to be very interesting, so far. In my experience, these shows usually go like search-find-battle-kill random characters until the ultimate goal is reached, but if anything, I’m hoping the script will surprise me. Let’s see.
Bad, bad CGI: The CGI in the show is just bad. It feels like watching the cartoon sequence from Mary Poppins, just much, much worse. It’s not their quality as much as the really poor merging with the environments and overall aesthetic of the show. I MEAN COME ON YOU GUYS PRINCESS MONONOKE HAPPENED 20 YEARS AGO AND THEIR WOLVES ARE LIGHT YEARS AHEAD OF YOUR CRAPPY CGI. Even the animation, even though it’s not hard to look at, is pretty basic.
Ant eating: This has probably been my favourite scene in the whole show; a slice of reality and war horror. It even reminded me of George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia’s descriptions of war. Great stuff.
Themes and Trivia
The Russo–Japanese War: Fought between the Russian Empire and the Empire of Japan over rival imperial ambitions in Manchuria and Korea. The major theatres of operations were the Liaodong Peninsula and Mukden in Southern Manchuria and the seas around Korea, Japan and the Yellow Sea.
Meiji Era: The Japanese era which extended from 23 October 1868 to 30 July 1912. This period represents the first half of the Empire of Japan during which Japanese society moved from being an isolated feudal society to its modern form.
Hokkaido: The second largest island of Japan, and the largest and northernmost prefecture.
Ainu: Indigenous people of Japan (Hokkaido, and formerly northeastern Honshu) and Russia (Sakhalin, the Kuril Islands, and formerly the Kamchatka Peninsula). Most Ainu, nowadays having been completely assimilated into Japanese society, have no knowledge of their ancestry.
Not bad, not great
I mean, don’t get me wrong, it is fun to watch. It’s just not awesome. It’s not breathtaking. It’s not epic. Mind-blowing. Life-changing. And I may just be getting old and too demanding.
What did you think of the Golden Kamuy’s first episode? Let us know in the comment section! And don’t forget to check the rest of the Spring 2018 anime reviews on MANGA.TOKYO!