Golden Kamuy vol. 18 – Satoru Noda

5 out of 5

Noda effortlessly jumps between Sugimoto’s, Asirpa’s, and Hijikata’s crews, as we get closer and closer together. There are two main focuses, though: Kiroranke’s plans to break an old mate (and potential love interest…?) out of prison, in part because he believes she might help Asirpa recall something important about her father, whom the prisoner knew, and former guard Kadokura hunting down another inmate – a poisoner – when Hijikata and Ushiyama go missing while hunting for the same.

The former story delves a bit further into the political background that’d brought Kiroranke and Asirpa’s father, Wit, together, along with this other woman whom they plan spring from the joint, a Russian noble named Sofia. It’s a fascinating flashback that percolates into wonderful and visceral Noda violence and then, suddenly, tragedy – and a killer cliffhanger reveal. The latter story could be said to be one of the “regular” tattooed hunts, but the way Noda explains this particular poisoner’s mindset, and what led him to his obsession, lends it more depth than the usual quirkiness of these guys – though I absolutely don’t mind the quirkiness, either.

All things Golden Kamuy in full effect, expertly paced and with that ace balance of humor and drama and excitement.