Golden Kamuy Volume 3 begins when Asirpa and Yoshitake Shiraishi, a roguish escapist, conspire to free Sugimoto from the seventh division barracks, and Sugimoto adds his own twist (sorry, not sorry) to the escape plan by using a few twists of a murdered soldier’s bowels to fake a mortal wound. As the commanding officer believes the location of the treasure might die with Sugimoto, he orders him sledded to a hospital, and Sugimoto escapes en route.
A lot of Volume Three is what I call campfire school, a trope more or less unique to Golden Kamuy, in which the characters provide necessary or edifying exposition to each other and the reader over campfires. Though you could say it’s Golden Kamuy‘s version of The Wall of Weird, campfire school has a lot of sidebars and is a more conversational delivery of information to the reader. While Sugimoto, Asirpa and Shiraishi‘s enjoy a survivalist arc with some intriguing and gross food lore, B and C arcs continue the stories of our burgeoning villain swarm, adding a few new waspish antagonists for Deathless Sugimoto to smoke in a future installment. The samurai Nagakura Shinpachi and his followers execute some bandits, and the bear hunter Tetsuzo Nihei wants to relieve the monotony of bear by hunting Retar, Asirpa’s wolf companion. Volume Three concludes with Tetsuzo attempting to kill Retar, and coming into conflict with Sugimoto and Asirpa.
Overall, Volume Three was another excellent chapter of Golden Kamuy, with the mangaka taking a risk on changing the character dynamic from a duo to a trio, with the rogue Yoshitake Shiraishi rounding out Sugimot and Asirpa into a proper troupe. Moreover, Volume Three is somewhat villain-centric, starting with the metal-browed heavy, who is so reminiscent of a Bond, Batman, or Spider-Man villain that the mangaka could credulously push Golden Kamuy from historical drama into Wild, Wild West territory. Otherwise, there are still the expected ingredients on the label, such as the copious and alternately intriguing or gross segments on animal and food lore, humorous or bizarre non sequiturs, the expansion of the tattoo map, and enough death-defying savagery to justify Deathless Sugimoto’s nom du guerre. Fans of Golden Kamuy will be pleased, and if you bought this volume first, you would not be disappointed, as you could imagine that it was beginning in media res with a unique escape.
Golden Kamuy Volume 3 arrived in stores on December 19th, 2017. You can also buy it online through Viz Media. You can find a review of Volume One through this link.
Viz Media sent the review copy.