Golden Kamuy has always been great at telling stories within the story and volume 11 is no different. In this latest installment we meet brand new characters who live, die, and add to the rich tapestry of the narrative. At the same time the bigger story of finding humans with tattoos that will lead to the secret hidden gold continues. It’s an epic ride filled with eclectic characters. Would you have it any other way with a manga?
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Sugimoto and his friends head for Kushiro in order to escape Lieutenant Tsurumi’s pursuit. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Tsurumi himself leads members of the 7th Division to Otaru following rumors of the tattooed skins. Awaiting them are two of the most desperate and dangerous outlaws of the north—the Lightning Thief and his wife, the wicked Viper Ogin—and they’re both heading straight for Lieutenant Tsurumi!
Why does this matter?
This historical drama has quite a lot of interesting characters, but it also has interesting facts to support it too. The story teaches you many things about the land, the people, and survival. This volume continues that thread with a good focus on animals that live in different environments.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
At eleven volumes it’s starting to become apparent these side quests and characters are a buffer to the eventual conclusion of finding the gold. With that said, as long as each volume progresses that bigger plot I’m happy. This volume does as the characters come closer to finding another skin. The book opens where we left off with the heroes being chased by an army in the mountains. Using their trapping skills they keep themselves fed just enough and that survival element is a big part of the series and continues to do a good job reminding us they live and die via the land and what they hunt. Quickly though we learn about killers who really did walk this Earth and that’s where the joy of this volume resides.
The killers are the Bonnie and Clyde of Japan and they seem to exist to kill, have sex, and kill some more. They’re very good at what they do and their introduction is exceptional. One is dubbed the Lightning Thief due to his quickness, and the other is the Viper Ogin because she’s a trickster who will cut your spine if you let her get close. The story checks in on them as they attempt to rob a gambling den. They’re erratic as they plan to break in with a duo and even have sex in public at one point. This is definitely a story for adult readers with Viper Ogin shown topless in one scene and there are multiple sex scenes. Their origin ties directly to the main character since their storyline takes place ten years prior to his. Keep your eyes peeled as the connection is quite interesting.
Outside of this, the main group continues to evade trouble while trying to find the next tattooed man. Their story has some funny moments like a run-in with a snake that bloats the skin if you’re bitten and an interesting explanation of a trapping technique to capture tiny rodents.
The art continues to be sharp and photorealistic with its environments. The humor is certainly over-the-top, making it feel like a cartoon in its approach. There are a lot of cutaways to well-rendered animals, seemingly at random, showing off the type of life in each environment the main characters explore.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
One such animal is a very big deer that one of the tattooed men is having sex with. Period. Full stop. Yep, there’s bestiality in this volume and while the perpetrator is considered a villain he’s also comically shown having sex with trees and attempting to have sex with other animals. It’s a weird choice as the humor doesn’t really work. Seeing a guy have sex with a deer doesn’t work for me personally in the humor department. Most of the humor in fact doesn’t really work. A guy slipping downstairs, penis first, into his comrades is more silly than funny and the bloating of the characters heads after they’re bitten by a snake is silly-looking but too childish to work with the more serious narrative surrounding it.
Is it good?
This volume made me want to learn so much more about Viper Ogin and Lightning Thief! These two steal the show with their addictions to killing and sex. Outside of this, the story’s ability to explore hunting, wildlife, and real-world elements is endearing, making this hard to put down.