This week ties up one plot thread that is Nihei and Tanigaki and their quest for hunting down the wise wolf and overall it does a decent job at that. Continuing from where the last episode left of, this final confrontation works for me because everyone has a moment to shine. Sugimoto proves that he does have some strategy beside his strong survival skills by using the Escape Artist to… escape. Tanigaki is wise and underhanded enough to use Asirpa as a hostage, and Asirpa also more than serves her role well when she saves Tanigaki’s live by cutting his poisoned flesh. But the main stars in this arc lie in the final showdown between Nihei and Retar – the man and the force of nature itself – with a welcome twist. Nihei has it under control until he realizes he lets his guard down, that Retar never intents to face the man down upfront, but he only serves as a distraction for his mate to attack him from behind. The wilderness again outwits the man, through the power of family bond, something that all the men in Golden Kamuy seemingly leave behind to pursuit their own goals.
What happen right aftermath this fight furthers highlights many of Golden Kamuy’s stronger moments. Tanigaki, barely walking, comes up to the death Nihei and says his chant. That’s the respect. Asirpa refuses to let anyone die in her ability by bringing Tanigaki and the Ainu dog back to her village. Golden Kamuy might not have the excellent production by their side: all the action scenes are only just functional, and their violence is somewhat extreme, but the violence never serves as glamorized action (unlike Tarantino’s films for example – except for certain skewer sequences), it’s gruesome, and it fits with the world these characters inhibit in: gruesome, bleak, macho. But the ones who survive so far, as we further see after this Retar’s arc, are the ones who have companions and it’s the desire to keep their companion safe that push them farer than those who simple have nothing to lose. Seeing it on that light, it’s a good sign for both Asirpa and Sugimoto.
This episode also gives us Lt. Tsurumi’s emotional motive for pursuing the gold and really, it’s not in the least surprises me. Feeling betrayed by the Government after literally putting their lives on the line, the 7th Hokkaido unit aims to stage a coup to basically regain “what was rightfully theirs”; and give more job opportunities for their family members by opening the weapon factory (!). What’s the catch, then? That the amount of gold is in really far bigger than the assumed amount (about 1,000 times bigger). That is to say those soldier bastards won’t leave the game anytime soon, and Sugimoto and the gang come upon another issue of whether or not to trust Tanigaki at all. With this kind of story, don’t expect anyone a friend even when they’re on your side, and the same could apply for our escape artist.
But if there’s another special skill that our escape artist inhabits, it’s his ability to run into trouble in every corner. He bumps into Ushiyama and they engage in the hilarious chase, in which Ushiyama jjust sweeps off all the barriers with inhuman skills (that involves taking a damn HORSE down Mongo-style takedown). Seems like it’s time for our group to finally meet the prisoners, although with only 1-cour confirmed I am not sure how Golden Kamuy can bring this story to a satisfy conclusion, given that all the events happened so far feel like they just finish its introduction phase and now moving on to the second arc.