Golden Kamuy Episodes 13-14 Review

Originally published on The Fandom Post.

What They Say:
“Edogai-kun” and “Fakes”

The Review:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After taking a season off, Golden Kamuy is back and picks up like it never left. Sugimoto’s team continues searching for the skins on their journey to reach Nopperabo, but the other forces in play are moving as well. Tsurumi and his men team up with a taxidermist named Edogai who enjoys working with human skin from corpses. Tsurumi has him make some replicas of the skins to throw off Sugimoto and Hijikata, which Edogai is able to do before he dies in a mine explosion (more on that later). Meanwhile, we get more hints that Nopperabo and possibly Kiroranke aren’t just a couple of Ainu working for their independence, and might actually be Russian partisans with their own goals. Back at the Ainu village, Inkarmat arrives and convinces Tanigaki that someone is going to betray Asirpa and that she needs help. Tanigaki sets out to find her, not knowing that Inkarmat is working with Tsurumi to some unknown end. The episode ends with a temporary team-up between Sugimoto’s group and Hijikata’s as they all try to figure out a way to combat Tsurumi’s fakes.

Though there’s a lot of promising plot threads developing across these two episodes, they’re all outshined by one person: Edogai. Golden Kamuy has always enjoyed creating delightfully twisted villains, but Edogai still takes the cake as one of the best yet. He initially comes off as a Norman Bates-esque character, living in a house full of stuffed corpses and constantly arguing with the stuffed corpse of his mother, but becomes so much more. He falls in love with Tsurumi after the latter starts praising his technique, leading to the most hilariously surreal fashion show ever, with Tsurumi and Edogai trying on various outfits made out of human skin and body parts sewn together, including a pair of overalls with an arm hanging from the crotch. It should be horrifying (these are outfits made out of dead people after all), but the two of them together are so silly that it’s just a joy to watch. In terms of how well it displays Golden Kamuy’s sense of humor (and love of dick jokes), this is one of the best episodes yet.

Of course, there’s also a lot going on beyond the jokes. Episode 14 features a clash between all three factions as Sugimoto and Shiraishi both chase after Edogai in a mine cart, with Ogata following close behind. Watching them dash through a mine with everyone trying to line up shots and dodge shots from each other makes for an exciting action scene that’s up there with the show’s best. It only gets better when they run into some dynamite set by the miners, leading to them being trapped sealed off in the mine with a pocket of natural gas leaking out. The entire sequence is a perfect blend of silliness and genuine peril that wouldn’t be out of place in an Indiana Jones movie. It’s a perfect encapsulation of what makes Golden Kamuy so much fun to watch week to week.

Their encounter with Hijikata and his men is similarly compelling, just for a different reason. Hijikata has always had the most menacing presence out of all the show’s villains, and the show takes full advantage of it as he and Sugimoto face off. The entire scene sits right on the edge of breaking into violence, only for Asirpa’s growling stomach to diffuse the tension. In typical Golden Kamuy tradition, everyone agrees to hold off on the fighting and eat together in an amusing homage to Da Vinci’s The Last Supper. The entire cast has so much chemistry that I hope we get to see more of Sugimoto and Hijikata’s groups working together. With Tsurumi now in possession of the fake skins, it looks like both factions have a common enemy to go after now, even as they all still chase after the gold.

In Summary:
Golden Kamuy’s return gives us everything we’ve come to expect of the show: insane murderers, shifting alliances, tasty food, wild adventures, and the occasional dick joke for flavoring. Last season had started to slow down near the end, so it’s good to see Golden Kamuy bouncing back towards its best kind of material. If the season continues like this, we’ll be in store for quite the treat.

Grade: B+

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