Golden Kamuy Series

Anime Hajime Review: Golden Kamuy 2nd Season

More from the Golden Kamuy series:

Original Run: October 8, 2018 - December 24, 2018
Number of Episodes: 12
Genre: Adventure, Historical
Based on the Series Created By: Satoru Noda

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Golden Kamuy 2nd Season. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

The lost Ainu gold is still waiting to be found, and ex-soldier Saichi Sugimoto (voiced by Chikahiro Kobayashi) and Ainu hunter Asirpa (voiced by Haruka Shiraishi) remain determined to locate it. However, more and more parties have grown interested in the prospects of this great wealth.

In frozen Hokkaido, trust is in short supply. Therefore, if anyone wishes to make it, they must be willing to work with people who might one day stab them in the back. It isn’t easy, but that is the reality in this unforgiving land.

Despite the dangers, Sugimoto and Asirpa know they can count on one another. Such an unbreakable bond is stronger than any gun or weapon. These two will need that strength because the people they are facing plan to stop at nothing to achieve their goals.

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Series Positives

There is no reason to downplay the excitement I had towards the continuation of Golden Kamuy. The first season was a ton of fun, and therefore, this became one of my most anticipated series of the Fall 2018 season.

Having now watched the thing, I am left wondering why Golden Kamuy was split into two nonconsecutive cours (one cour is typically a three-month programming period in Japan). Why wasn’t this treated as a single twenty-four episode run? Turning this show into two separate seasons would have been better justified if only the second installment had reached some sort of conclusion, except, that wasn’t at all what happened. There is a lot more to this story. I suspect – and certainly hope – we will be seeing more from this series in the future.

As far as I’m concerned, since Golden Kamuy held my curiosity, by default that means I must acknowledge its second season as a success.

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I don’t have any issues with taking such a stance. That notwithstanding, I also don’t want there to be any misconceptions. I will be the first to admit this wasn’t the smoothest series to get through.

Golden Kamuy 2nd Season was noticeably…different than its predecessor. There were some good elements to this installment. Scratch that: There were some great elements to this installment. Be that as it may, there was something off about this chapter. To say there was a significant tonal change with this story would be a laughably massive understatement.

But we will get to that point later in this review. For the time being, though:

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At the start of season two, there were aspects of this story which were – let’s go with the word – unusual. However, some of this series’ best stuff could be found amongst these more head-scratching moments.

Golden Kamuy has a rather large cast of characters. Compared with its predecessor, season two did a better job at using the people it had at its disposal. Although there is still plenty of details we can learn about most everyone in this show, its second chapter gave us a lot more to work with.

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In particular, I want to highlight the backstories of Hyakunosuke Ogata and Genjiro Tanigaki (voiced respectively by Kenjiro Tsuda and Yoshimasa Hosoya). Seeing where these two men came from and discovering why they thought the way they did were among the most fascinating revelations of this entire story.

Along with that, Ogata and Tanigaki were clear reminders of how Golden Kamuy, even if it sometimes tries to pretend it’s not, is quite dark. We must never lose sight of the fact there are plenty of people in this tale who are struggling with horrifying demons.

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It would be wrong of me to deny how divided I felt towards this season throughout most of its run. While there may have been enjoyable bits even during its more questionable instances, for a rather long stretch, Golden Kamuy 2nd Season leaned more towards becoming a disappointment. That was until this story reached the assault on Abashiri Prison.

From the instant our main group began planning their attack to the final scene of chapter two, Golden Kamuy 2nd Season was at its strongest. There was outstanding action, tension, drama, comedy, and everything in between. If it weren’t for this segment, this entire series (assuming a season three is coming) would have paused on a tumultuously weak footing.

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As a heads up, the entire battle at Abashiri Prison was only four episodes, and those happened to be the final four episodes of the season. Up until that point, this second installment was rocky – there is no getting around that. It would not surprise me in the least if someone told me they never made it to the last four episodes.

If you give this series a shot and you are expecting Golden Kamuy 2nd Season to pick up right where season one left off, you will be in for a shocking surprise.

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Series Negatives

The first season of Golden Kamuy had some comedic elements to it. One of my biggest criticisms of the previous installment was its strange obsession with throwing in a ton of slice-of-life styled humor.

I also said I believed the second season would continue this trend.

In a sense, I was correct; Golden Kamuy 2nd Season did have some overtly WTF anime moments. In another sense, I was wrong because I did not expect this series to jump its off-putting, immersion breaking, and grossly uncalled for brand of comedy up five levels.

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There was a scene in this season where Saichi Sugimoto and some of his male companions ate sea otter meat. I don’t know if this is true, but according to Golden Kamuy, sea otter meat is apparently a highly potent aphrodisiac. As a result, this show found a way to have most of its young, healthy, muscle-toned characters play grab ass with each other for about five minutes.

Perhaps I missed something.

I was under the impression Golden Kamuy was a story about a hardened soldier who befriended a tough as nails Ainu girl to seek out a lost stockpile of gold. This great treasure was hidden by a ruthless murderer who tattooed a map to its location onto the bodies of dangerous escaped criminals. Along with our two lead characters, renegade military commanders, vindictive samurai, and psychopaths were scouring Hokkaido’s barren frontier looking and killing for this immense wealth. This tale has included blood, death, and terrifying cruelty. What about any of that indicated there would be copious amounts of high school anime BS?

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I don’t mind it when a story goes a bit strange. In fact, strange can be a virtue. However, strange only works when it doesn’t derail an otherwise grounded – not to mention, arguably serious – narrative.

Sure, for this section, I could have talked about how Sugimoto and Asirpa were almost nonfactors in this season. I could have discussed how it was a bit challenging to keep track of who was trying to do what. I could have pointed out how a few recurring characters were mostly forgettable.

I could have mentioned all of that, except every one of those points were in moderation.

No single factor weighed Golden Kamuy 2nd Season down like its attempts at being light-hearted did.

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I don’t know if the Golden Kamuy manga is closer to what was depicted in the second season of the anime. Whether it is or not is irrelevant. Although the anime’s first season might have had bouts with out-of-nowhere silliness, its successor was a whole other beast.

When telling a story, a consistent tone is as important as interesting characters and plot. Failure to maintain that consistency jeopardizes investment. If someone saw the first season of Golden Kamuy and enjoyed it because of its sterner atmosphere, the first episode of season two will make them think, “What the f@&# is going on?”

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Final Thoughts

If you were to tell me that you gave up on this season midway, I wouldn’t look down on your decision. That said, I would also urge you to power through. Yes, there was nonsense. Yes, there was a ton of nonsense. However, this wasn’t a garbage series.

There was plenty of positivity when this installment focused up.

This series does have a strong story. There are interesting characters. Speaking for myself, I do want to see what happens next. And now that I know what level this show is capable of reaching, I can adjust my excitement for the next installment – should it ever come – accordingly.

It may have taken some getting used to, but Golden Kamuy 2nd Season does have my recommendation.

But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? What would be your advice concerning Golden Kamuy 2nd Season? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

Post Edited By: Onions

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