First Impressions (Manga): Golden Kamuy

Gwahh, still late after all. 

I really wanted to write about this series sooner rather than later because it’s fast becoming one of my top manga… that I’ve only read 3 chapters of…

Manga: Golden Kamuy 「ゴールデンカムイ」Golden Kamui

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Golden Kamuy chp 1 cover

Golden Kamuy is a Seinen, historical, adventure, romance, drama by Noda Satoru. It started serialising in Aug 2014 and is currently ongoing in Shuukan Young Jump (Shueisha) with chapters compiled into 4 volumes as of date. Only 3 chapters have been scanlated so far so that’s all I’ve read.

In Hokkaido, the far northern lands of Japan, Sugimoto survived the Russo-Japanese war of the Meiji era. Nicknamed “Invincible Sugimoto” during the war, he now seeks the riches promised by the gold rush in hopes of saving the widowed wife of his now deceased comrade from the war. During his hunt of gold, he finds hints of a hidden stash of gold by corrupt criminals. Partnering with an Ainu girl, Asirpa, that saves his life from the harsh climates of the north, they venture into a survival adventure to race against the criminals that seek the hidden stash. [Description taken from Baka-Updates Manga]

WARNING: Intense and violent, gory and bloody. It’s not ‘crazy violent’ or ‘waterfall bloody’ like a battle series is, but because of how—in a way—’realistic’ the story is told in, I wouldn’t recommend it to the faint of heart. There’re references to war, a lot of killing, and a very prominent theme of survival that might be disturbing to many. 

It’s pretty hard to describe what you should be wary of when reading Golden Kamuy. I hope what I’ve written above are adequate and give you a faint idea on what it’s like. I thought I was pretty hardened as a reader, but even I can’t say I wasn’t a little disturbed. And this is only the third chapter!

I have a lot of respect for series with a jarring, yet memorable, starting scene that grabs your attention immediately. Of all the manga I’ve read so far, the only introduction scene I remember extremely clearly is Berserk. It was like a punch to your face. Golden Kamuy is another one of those memorable beginnings, albeit more like a light slap than a punch.

From what I’ve read of Golden Kamuy, it seems like it’s going to be a little bit dark; Chilling, but not actually bleak or depressing. It feels a little like it’s echoing the harsh realities of the wild; Realistic and ‘in your face’. I was surprised to find out it was also categorised as a ‘Romance’ while searching for its genres to write in this post. That’s awesome! I’m totally looking forward to the rest of the series.

You know one of those perks when you find out lots of new random things when reading manga? Even more so with historical ones? With how much information is poured into Golden Kamuy, I’m definitely learning new things on the Russo-Japanese War and the Ainu, an indigenous people of Japan. Of course, everything in the manga is to be taken with a pinch of salt, but I admit, I was curious and wiki-ed. I can now say I’ve learnt some (probably useless but cool) information from this XD

Although I guess one drawback of a historical manga and one that relies heavily on a ‘potential rumor’ for much of the story would be the amount of words. With the information and many explanations, there are lengthy conversations and chunks of text you have to absorb. It seems like you can get the gist of the story easily without reading everything no problem, but I’d encourage you to not be lazy; Reading everything has definitely added to the enjoyment of it so far.

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Feb 2015 Young Jump magazine issue

I love Golden Kamuy’s art; It’s a great mix of detailed realism and not. Backgrounds and animals are beautiful and the atmosphere portrayed in each individual panel is spot on. The characters that I have seen so far are distinctively unique in design as well — fairly realistic, but not such that they’re ugly in appearance. The main characters are extremely well-designed in appearance and personality; There’s no wonder how I’ve grown fond of them so fast. Golden Kamuy’s ‘treasure hunt’ story might not be the most original, but with the partnership between Sugimoto and Asirpa, there’s an extra boost to it as a whole.

If you’re familiar with my pattern in reading manga, when I start on a new one I usually read until the latest chapter and then don’t bother or forget to catch up with what comes next. (Ahahah, oops.) I feel like Golden Kamuy is different though. This is something I’ll want to keep up with.

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2 thoughts on “First Impressions (Manga): Golden Kamuy

  1. Pingback: 9th Manga Taishou Award Nominations (2016) | Manga, my life.

  2. Pingback: Manga Taisho 2016 winner: Golden Kamuy | Manga, my life.

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