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Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With a second season confirmed for October, Golden Kamuy is able to end its first season on a fun side story instead of having to rush the plot like I’d feared. Since Shiraishi accidentally detonated all of the explosives they bought before, Sugimoto’s group has to earn a little money to buy new ones. They initially start by hunting for pelts to sell, but Shiraishi decides to take the fast way and starts betting on horse racing with the help of Inkarmat, an Ainu fortuneteller. This goes about how you’d expect: he starts to make it big by going off Inkarmat’s predictions, only to lose it all after Kiroranke (through a complicated series of events) ends up riding a different horse to victory. Afterward, the crew continues onward after hearing a rumor about one of the other prisoners living in a village on the way to their destination.
This is a fairly light side story like last week’s episode, but unlike the former, it’s not weighed down by concerns over whether there’ll be enough time to properly conclude and ends up being a lot of fun. The end result of Shiraishi’s gambling is pretty predictable, but his goofy reactions and chemistry with Inkarmat are more than entertaining enough to compensate. Inkarmat manages to simultaneously be mysterious, alluring, and a shameless scammer. Shiraishi is instantly smitten by both her looks and her ability to predict the winner of each race, so she constantly convinces him to by random knickknacks that she claims will ward off bad luck and the like. She’s so blatant about her scamming that you can’t help but like her.
Of course, Inkarmat’s involvement isn’t all fun and games. She comments that Asirpa has her father’s eyes right when she leaves, and previously warns Sugimoto against continuing her journey. She’s obviously more than a one-off character, especially since she seems to know more than she’s letting on. One thing’s for certain: you never disregard the advice of a mysterious fortune teller in this type of adventure story. Whether her power is real or not, I have no doubt that Inkarmat’s warning is going to come back to bite our heroes eventually.
The best scene in the episode comes when Shiraishi is trying to convince Sugimoto to bet on horse races with him to earn the money he needs since it’s safer than risking his life for treasure, all while Inkarmat asks Asirpa if she thinks Sugimoto and Shiraishi would actually stick with her if they made the money they needed at the races. The anime cuts back and forth between the two, juxtaposing the ordinary lighting on Sugimoto’s end with a dark blue tint on Asirpa’s. In a heartwarming moment, an outraged Sugimoto rejects Shiraishi’s suggestion by asking if the latter really thinks he’d abandon Asirpa like that. Even though they haven’t had the spotlight as much for the past few weeks, Sugimoto and Asirpa’s growing bond is still one of Golden Kamuy’s best parts. This point will no doubt come up again since Asirpa seemed to initially harbor some doubts, but for now, the two are continuing on their journey.
This wasn’t Golden Kamuy’s most action-packed episode, but it was plenty of fun none the less. Now that we know there’s a second season, the anime can take its time having fun with the main cast while the villains plot in the background. Shiraishi continues to play both sides with Sugimoto and Hijikata, but he’ll no doubt be forced to make a decision soon enough. Meanwhile, Tsurumi and Nikaidou continue to be a mixture of scarily unstable and funny while they’re setting a trap for a mysterious figure. Between that and Ogata offering to team up with Hijikata, Golden Kamuy has a lot of strong hooks for next season. It wasn’t always perfect, but this season of Golden Kamuy has consistently been a fun adventure with a great cast and a lot of interesting historical details. I’m getting the impression that we’re only just now concluding the first act of a much longer story, a story that I’m excited to see more of.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll