Friday, June 23, 2017

Golden Kamuy Vol. 1: Review

Chronicling the adventures Saichi Sugimoto a veteran of The Russo-Japanese War who goes into the wilderness of Hokkaido hoping to make his fortune in the Gold Rush only to struggle along and have no success until he learns about a mysterious cache of Gold hidden in the Northern wilderness by a convict who murdered the Ainu who had collected the gold and hid the whereabouts as to its location onto the bodies of other convicts by way of tattooing the location onto their skin. Saichi soon makes the acquaintance of a young Ainu girl named Asiripa the daughter of one of the murdered men after she saves him from a bear and they then kill a man-eating bear and agree to work together to find the gold together. Leading to further exploits in Northern Japan by the two while they learn they are not the only ones after the gold. Golden Kamuy is a throwback to the old "Beer and Curry" Anime and Manga of the 80s and 90s capturing a hard-edged machismo more at home in old Gekiga than the sometimes plastic and overly shiny world of media tie-in Manga and Otaku pandering titles. In short, it is "the most Kazuo Koike thing Kazuo Koike never wrote." Yet it is more than mere swaggering machismo or self-insert fantasies for bored Salary Men like Golgo 13.Mangaka Satoru Noda is able to show subtle nuance to his protagonist be it showing how Saichi earned his nickname "The Immortal" in a chilling scene of him killing serval Russian officers with a bayonet after Saichi is shot in the throat it's not even really the battle but the build up to it Sugimoto waiting in the trenches affixing his bayonet noticing an ant on his finger eating the ant exclaiming how sour it is than marching off into no man's land and the ensuing bloodbath It's a chilling scene that is only made more so by Noda's subtle use of tension and dramatic build up. Showing an almost cinematic attention to detail in the opening scene. It does not end just with crisp visuals Noda's writing of the relationship between Asiripa and Saichi where honestly the high point of the series from Asiripa explaining the various taboos and turns of phrase in Ainu culture to even recipes for food this use of calm and quiet character moments contrasted with the often shocking brutality of both man and nature give a humanity to the series that is sorely lacking in some hard boiled Men's Manga. With its terse dialogue, hints of social commentary, and character writing that shows a real attention to detail. Golden Kamuy will be a title to watch for as it grows and the story becomes richer and the characters more developed.

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