Golden Kamuy vol. 28 – Satoru Noda

4 out of 5

We’re… so close. I shouldn’t be surprised by now, and I’m not, really, but it nonetheless feels slightly like a runaround that we’re so close and yet, Noda has to pause for another flashback, this time exploring Sugimoto’s and Kikuta’s first interaction. This does turn out to be key, and though I’m starting on a downbeat, let me blanket all of this by saying that this is a really great volume. Bookended by steps towards the tattoos final solution (for both sides – Sugimoto’s and Tsurimi’s), while I’m bemoaning the flashback that’s the majority of this collection, it’s also really well done, especially once it gets going, featuring some classic GK naked antics that absolutely made me guffaw.

Rather, the “problem” is the legacy of the book by this point: this chase has been running for so long, and amassed so many characters, that the ‘previously’ pages could be their own chapter, and the flashback initially feels like a runaround because Noda has to spend some time reminding us how it fits into the story. To the former, of course I actually appreciate these summaries – just pointing out how complex they are – and to the latter, that’s what ends up making this such a strong tankobon, in that it ultimately satisfies both the ongoing story, as well as on background building. Things just need a few pages to warm up.

The art also feels wholly solid again. There was a bit in the early 20s chapters where it seemed like background artists were doing a lot of heavy lifting, and the foreground was pretty sketchy, but we’re back in business here, with excellent page compositions and acting. (Although, what’s up with Sugimoto’s legs?)

As much as I’m fully confident that a reread of this series will make it even stronger, I do still hope we’re truly getting to a conclusion, as it’s been earned at this point, and I feel like Noda has almost explored every nook and cranny of his characters possible… and then he’ll drop a flashback like in this set and show he can still surprise me.