We’ve been told time and again that not all that glitters is gold. But, in Satoru Noda’s Golden Kamuy, that’s not the case. Set in the old times after the Russo-Japan war, a Japanese veteran Saichi Sugimoto hears a rumor about a treasure hidden in the lost Ainu tribe. But, finding it is not as easy as it seems because the map that leads to it is tattoed on 24 different prisoners. Golden Kamuy is historically rich (it’s like the Wild West but Japanese and with fewer horses and no deserts). Its complex and well-written characters bind everything together and give us a deep and compelling story. It’s not only Sugimoto who’ll charm you but a whole lot of characters who fall on the grey area of morality. You'd definitely want to watch Golden Kamuy but not until you take a look at these awesome characters yourself!
Dubbed as the Wildcat, Ogata Hyakunosuke is a fan favorite amongst the Golden Kamuy characters. While he’s not slicking his hair back, this former Superior Private of the 7th Division spends his time with his riffle and prey. He may have charmed fans with his ruthless and calculating ways as he’s often seen evaluating situations from afar before making any decision.
Despite battling so many demons brought upon by his traumatic experiences during the war, Sugimoto Saichi remains one of the best Golden Kamuy characters. Driven by his selfless goal to provide for his former love and his best friend’s widow, Saichi is relentless about finding the hidden treasure hidden in the Ainu tribe. Despite bordering the dark side, Sugimoto is still generally a kind person who wants to protect those he loves.
Yoshitake Shiraishi is the funniest of the bunch, giving fans a comedic relief from all the gore and dark themes of the story. A very quirky person, the Escape King was a part of the Abashiri Convicts but chose to follow Sugimoto’s group. He’s now working with them to find the other prisoners and gather their tattoos. Every episode that he’s in is sure to make you laugh and that makes him one of the best characters in Golden Kamuy.
Similar to Sugimoto, Asirpa is also a survivalist, being able to protect herself in times of danger. However, as the story progresses, her true complex nature starts to show, capturing fans’ attention. She is kind, resourceful, bilingual, and hilarious. The true face of Golden Kamuy, her offbeat antics are funny and entertaining. The only rose among the thorns, Asirpa is one of the best Golden Kamuy characters.
As old as he may seem, consider it wise not to doubt his capabilities as a warrior. Toshizou Hijitaka is actually the vice-commander of the Shinsengumi, plus he's the leader of his own group. He might look like a frail old man but he's still pretty energetic even for his age. He wears a black suit to blend in and a green coat on top of that to protect himself from the cold. You'll never see Hijikata without his most prized sword 'Izumi-no-Kami Kanesada' along with a Winchester rifle. Despite being old, he has plans to take over Hokkaido and create his own country. That's pretty much the reason why he's desperately searching for the gold. As a former Shingensumi, he's a ruthless warrior who never hesitates to kill his opponents.
Being the villain doesn’t disqualify Lieutenant Tokushirou Tsurumi from being one of the best Golden Kamuy characters. Because of his partial brain damage, he is more vicious than the average soldier. He is evil, psychotic, and manipulative. Just like Sugimoto and his group, he’s also searching for the Ainu gold. A complex character, he makes the story more exciting.
At first glance, you might think of Ushiyama as this upstart gentleman 'cause of that suit that he usually wears. But underneath all that, he's a ferocious criminal who's renowned as Ushiyama the Undefeated. He teamed up with Toshizou Hijikata to find the gold and he lends his expert advice to the group. The thing you need to know about Ushiyama's is he only enjoys two things: women and fighting. On the one hand, he can be quite serious and deadly. On the other, he has a more caring and gentle side when it comes to Asirpa. She's very fond of Ushiyama and they're both good friends. His strength is unparalleled thanks to his background in Judo. He trained for many years before being sent to Abashiri Prison. His trademark is his incredibly thick skull and the square bump on his forehead.
He may be a man of few words but that's 'cause he has been through a lot. Still, he's a stand-up guy through and through. One of the best things about Tanigaki is that he's loyal, sometimes even to a fault. Even when he was serving in the 7th, he was extremely loyal to Tsurumi by giving him constant information. His past involves the tragic death of his sister and a search that went on until he finally realized the sad truth. Being from Akita, he speaks a distinct dialect. He blends in with three different cultures and has various skillsets honed in each one. Not to mention, his cooking skills are exceptional. As a Matagi, his survival instincts are through the roof and he uses it to his advantage.
Golden Kamuy has a lot of thematic and story connections to classic Westerns and cowboy movies. One of which is its early modern setting. The Wild West era in the US spanned from the 1860s until the 1890s. After that, the continental U.S. was largely settled. From there, the wild frontier ceased to be a land of endless adventure. Golden Kamuy is set in the early 1900s, a tad bit later than the cowboy era. Still, it's pretty close and it shows the 'old vs new' theme. There are samurai and wooden Japanese buildings and you also have locomotives and steamships.
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