Golden Kamuy vol. 13 – Satoru Noda

5 out of 5

Y’know, I’ve already experienced this stuff through the anime, and was wowed and blown away by it there, so I think it says something that the same material (granted, in its original form) is equally as exciting and thrilling on a second go ’round, somehow maintaining its tension, even while knowing where it’s going.

Volume 13 is primarily given over to two arcs: the battle with the blind bandits, and – finally – the initial foray into Abashiri prison. The former arc is wonderfully Noda: Sugimoto and crew are caught out bathing, and thus start the battle completely in the buff, with buttholes aglow (with Shiraishi’s face, aww) and winkies – in shadow – a’flappin’. However, though these notes of visual comedy persist throughout the whole scuffle, it’s equally intense and serious and brutal, Noda’s character designs for the bandits as inventive as ever.

The latter arc is simply brilliant. There’s a bit of Ocean’s 11 fanfare to it, giving us the step-by-step to the planning, but it’s all within the reality-adjacent realm in which Kamuy operates, with Abashiri’s layout and the organization of the guards perfectly lain out for our comprehension, and to amp things up even further once the plan gets underway. It, of course, starts to go awry right from the outset, but then Noda starts tossing in twists and complications per page, and it gets horribly (aka wonderfully) fraught, leaving us at a killer cliffhanger for volume 14.