Golden Kamuy Ep. 1: Dwight Schrute was right about bears

So far, this show’s alright. Wait, lemme think about it… yeaaaaah, it’s just alright. As you might have already heard, Golden Kamuy is a story about two individuals teaming up in pursuit of a hidden cache of Ainu gold. I honestly have to admit that this opening episode managed to keep my attention from start to finish. It’s also somewhat refreshing to see a protagonist who isn’t quite so wholesome. Sugimoto has his good sides, but he also has a whole lot of bad sides. For now, the action is currently just functional. There’s nothing that impresses me thus far, but we haven’t seen much either. Just an awkward computer-generated image of a bear that doesn’t blend in with the rest of the show’s aesthetics. Hopefully, the show won’t have to rely too much on CGI from here on out. I’d say give it a shot if you don’t mind a little blood. I’ll admit that Geno Studio really let me down last season, but that just means I have no real expectations for this show. It certainly won’t be easy to do any worse than Kokkoku. As a result, I think I’ll probably blog this every Monday until the series comes to an end.

Misc. notes & observations:

— Ooh, trench warfare. Right off the bat, this has the potential to be a very bloody anime.

— I find it a little hard to believe that one guy can take out so many enemy soldiers by himself. From the premise, I thought we were going for realism, but maybe I was mistaken.

— We jump forward in time, and our hero is now panning for gold. He should’ve returned a hero, but he has the blood of a superior officer on his hands. That’s kind of the problem with guys like Sugimoto. He might be fearless on the battlefield, but there’s a fine line between friend and foe.

— Basically, a guy killed a bunch of the Ainu people, stole their gold, then hid it somewhere in Hokkaido. Uh-huh, sure. These sort of legends are a dime a dozen. But here’s the crazy part: the man tattooed a code on his fellow prisoners — a code that would reveal the location of the treasure. He couldn’t escape, but they could… and escape they did. But c’mon, can you honestly believe anything that comes out of a drunkard’s mouth?

— Sugimoto then has a nightmare where he has to relive his best friend Toraji death in the war. The latter left behind a child and a poor widow that is slowly going blind. Sugimoto feels as though he has an obligation to help his best friend’s family. Toraji was also responsible for pushing our hero towards gold panning.

— When he wakes up, he turns to find the drunkard aiming a gun at him. Apparently, the drunkard feels as though he had divulged too much. I guess that’s how you know his silly story about the Ainu gold is true!

— It’s like winning the lottery, though. The chances of you coming through are so very slim, but at the same time, the massive jackpot makes it oh so tantalizing. That’s why the lottery is considered a tax for poor people. You’re just going to hurt yourself by playing. I can’t help but see this hidden stash of Ainu gold the same way. We wouldn’t have a show to watch if Sugimoto was a sensible man.

— Sugimoto isn’t your typical anime protagonist by any means. He’s determined to kill the drunkard, because he doesn’t want to risk the old man coming back to kill him. But shockingly enough, Sugimoto quickly stumbles upon the drunkard’s corpse after a short stroll through the woods. He’s not the only killer out here.

— Pull him out? Dude, that guy is D-E-A-D, dead.

Yep. Not only that, his stomach is gone.

— Oh look, it’s a bear’s paw print. I guess we have our first antagonist.

— Sugimoto then gets a hunch, so he undresses the drunkard. The victim’s back is tattooed all over. I guess legends do come true. By the way, where did our hero even meet this guy? Why were the two of them just hanging out in the middle of the wilderness?

— All of a sudden, it’s like The Revenant up in here. We’re literally going to watch Sugimoto fight a bear. Unfortunately, I’m not impressed by the CGI.

— Our hero’s gun jams, and he’s quickly about to be very mortal. But of nowhere, this relatively small arrow strikes the bear in the chest and the animal goes down. Wait, really?

— And now, we get to meet the heroine of the story. She’s an Ainu girl if you didn’t already know.

— The girl reveals that the arrow had been tipped with poison, but even so, I’m amazed that it worked its magic so quickly.

— She then asks about the dead man, and Sugimoto tells her that the bear had eaten him. She then cuts open the bear to find an empty stomach. Whoever ate the drunkard’s stomach, it wasn’t this bear. Instead, it was eaten by a “matakarip,” which is apparently a bear that didn’t hibernate. As a result, it’s incredibly aggressive. Huh. The more you know.

— In fact, the girl advises Sugimoto to leave the dead body behind, because he wouldn’t want a bear to chase after him. Obviously, our hero won’t give up his meal ticket.

— How old is this girl? She looks small, but she speaks very confidently.

— And just like that, Sugimoto decides to let her in on his little treasure hunt. I’m surprised. I thought he’d keep it a secret for a little longer. But I guess he doesn’t have a choice; he needs her help.



— Oh yeah, does his best friend’s widow even knows that he’s trying to help her? Does she want him to help her?

— According to the girl, one of the Ainu that was slain for the gold was her very own father. God, what a coincidence.

— The girl then takes a closer look at the tattoos on the victim’s body, and quickly realizes that you need to skin the man to make complete sense of it. I’m starting to wonder if the man behind the tattoos is perhaps still alive. I mean, why would he do this if he had no chance of escaping from prison?

— She insists that the bear will have a taste for human flesh and human flesh only. Wild.

— After gathering more wood for their fire, the guy returns to find the evil matakarip just chilling at their camp. Not only that, the bear instantly swipes at the campfire and puts it out. Yo, what the fuck is this bear? Not only is it sneaky, it’s apparently quite smart for its species.

— Why did he think punching a bear would work?

— This part where the girl gets knocked back by the rampaging bear doesn’t look so good in motion. Hell, it doesn’t look very good in a screenshot either. She moves as if her body has no weight.

— When it turns to charge at her, a wolf comes out of nowhere to defend her. That’s convenient. This gives Sugimoto an opening to take aim with his rifle to try and shoot the bear in the heart.

— The behemoth then charges and falls on top of Sugimoto’s bayonet:

While this causes the blade to pierce the animal right through the heart, it also ends up falling on top of him as well. Now, since this is a particularly giant bear, I would have to guess that it’s around a 1,000 lbs (if not more). I find it a little hard to believe that any man could survive that… but whatever. Considering how this is a story about a legendary cache of Ainu gold, I guess I should brace myself for some tall feats.

— Finally, the two finally introduce themselves to each other. The girl’s name is Asirpa.

— Afterwards, Sugimoto wants to team up with Asirpa, and he even generously offers her the lion’s share of the gold should they ever find it. He seems to really just want to help his best friend’s widow.

— Oh good, a gall bladder. I’ll gladly hold onto that.

— Asirpa doesn’t want to split the evil bear with Sugimoto, because it had eaten a person. But she’ll gladly take the mother bear’s corpse for herself… even though it was going to kill Sugimoto if she hadn’t intervened. I guess I don’t really see much significance in this distinction. Meanwhile, Sugimoto grins to himself at the prospect of going to hell. What a bunch of weirdos.

— Afterwards, he reasons that the man who killed the girl’s father must still be alive in prison. After all, the government won’t kill him until the gold has been found. As a result, finding the gold is a way for Asirpa to indirectly kill the man. She doesn’t want to kill anyone, but hey… look at this fancy loophole. Don’t you wanna hop into this loophole? It looks mighty comforting! Again, I don’t think the distinction is that significant. Still, the guy promises her that he’ll do all of the dirty work. She’ll just have to give him her super useful Ainu knowledge.

— In the after credits scene, a hooded figure comes across the drunkard’s empty bottle from earlier in the episode. Oooh, our first human antagonist.

3 thoughts on “Golden Kamuy Ep. 1: Dwight Schrute was right about bears

  1. Advaris

    Yup, the show is just alright so far and it has potential so it can get better later, but damn, those bears are so ugly and out of place in this anime. It would be hilarious as f*ck if the all the wildlife in this anime are horrible CGI abominations, though. In the next episode, Sugimoto will become anime Liam Neeson and fight a pack of horrible CGI wolf abominations. Lol

  2. Vampireseal--aka that Mole Person

    My initial skim of your blog post screamed to me: Revenant–the Anime.

    Also, bear gallbladder? *sigh* There have even been bears poached from Washington state by Chinese people looking to sell bear gallbladders.

    Also, is it me or does the protagonist Sugimoto (I haven’t watched the anime, just going by your review) look like a Dollar Store Jotaro or what?

    1. Sean Post author

      Also, is it me or does the protagonist Sugimoto (I haven’t watched the anime, just going by your review) look like a Dollar Store Jotaro or what?

      I dunno, Sugimoto’s not very fabulous.


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