Following service during the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905), Saichi Sugimoto, known far and wide as “Immortal Sugimoto” for his ability to survive despite a tenacious fighting style and injuries suffered during battle, is seeking gold in Hokkaido to fulfill a promise to care for his best friend’s widow and son. In the midst of doing so, he stumbles upon a plan to hide away a mount of treasure stolen from the indigenous Ainu people of the region—a fortune that he plans to pursue, despite the danger, by teaming with an equally formidable Ainu girl, Asirpa, who has a personal connection to the stolen gold.
My only knowledge of this series coming in was that it would tackle the sticky issue of the Japanese treatment of the Ainu people, which contextually was enough for me to give it a gander (Crunchyroll provides a contextual narrative about the Meiji Era, if you’re interested). I didn’t expect a series as brutal as this one, though, that feels as if its Japan’s answer both to The Revenant and Game of Thrones. Unafraid to shy away from the violence of war, man, and nature, the graphic (but not exploitative) nature of the series is demonstrated in the first two minutes, which animates a charge by a Japanese unit under machine gun fire and bombardment during a battle, and continues right through the final scene. The historic nature of the series and the violence of the tale, I expect, will keep me enthralled, but I want to come back for more because of our complex protagonist and his diminutive partner, a pair that seems ready to become among anime’s best loved. I am definitely “in” for Golden Kamuy, as much as any series this season.
Golden Kamuy can be streamed on Crunchyroll.