Golden Kamuy vol. 27 – Satoru Noda

3 out of 5

It has become hard for me to not see Golden Kamuy as treading water, even when Satoru is finally doling out huge payoffs. 

Half of this tankobon continues on the search for Asirpa, everyone, in Kamuy fashion, amusingly chasing each other within a congested arena of distractions and set pieces, Noda jumping from tragedy to comedy on a dime. We’ve been running this hamster wheel for a bit, but the material feels well dialed in here – the art feels confident, not as much obvious background work happening, and better detailed figurework than it felt like we’d been getting; perhaps Noda hit an upswing in the stressful churn of manga production; perhaps getting some time with classic duo Sugimoto and Shiraishi brought back some of the charm… 

…Because that latter vibe is what has dissipated for me: once Asirpa was separated from Sugimoto, Noda maintained momentum via the shift from a treasure hunt to a rescue, but then once they were reunited, I really haven’t felt much momentum or emotion from this story. And I think Noda knows / senses this too, but has already boxed himself into a corner thanks to the remaining skins and the huge cast. So we’ve whittled away the need for the skins, slowly but surely… while delaying reveals and explanations so that everyone could / can be brought into the same room. While a huge step in that direction is taken in the latter half of this collection, with Tsurumi finally explaining some deeper connections and his motivations, the story structure relegates this into a super extended exposition dump – stretched over way too many chapters – and rather clunkily includes some characters just listening from another room – i.e. a lazy way of informing them of the plot. 

So I’m dangling in the wind a bit here – entertained by the comedy, and happy to finally get some key plot points settled, but still really feeling the drag if this thing.