4 out of 5
I had two moments during volume 9 where I legitimately had to put down the book from laughing. They caught me so offguard, and were so expertly executed, and yet, I wouldn’t consider Golden Kamuy a comedy. It’s historical fiction, with a large, dolloped element of the absurd, but then it also has ridiculously bloody and awesome action – such as when Sugimoto’s current faction of Asirpa, Ushiyama, and Ogata comes across another Ainu village, with concerning inhabitants – and fascinatingly emotional asides… Yeah, yeah, Noda can do it all. I guess I’ve gone on on that before.
After escaping from an assault on the taxidermist’s the mish-mash crew of Sugimoto’s allies and Hijikata’s band split off, planning to reconvene at a particular prison to visit a man who might be able to help them figure the tattoo fakes from the legitimate ones. The travels of our splintered parties occupy the rest of the volume, with a long pause for some background on Shiraishi. (This might’ve been when I laughed my socks off…)
While these chapters were, frankly, page-turningly great, I do think a scene in which Hijikata and Shinpachi reflect on some shared past is rather confusingly paneled, flipping back-and-forth between seeing them as old men, and as their younger selves. This makes following their dialogue – which is well written – harder than it should be.
But overall, this thing is just bursting at the seams with the usual goodness of drama, and spectacle, and educational tidbits, and artistry, and poop jokes.