ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Golden Kamuy,’ Volume 19

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Golden Kamuy Volume 19

Golden Kamuy Volume 19 reminds readers it is a brutal, violent, and sometimes bizarre series with a deadly confrontation on the ice. The multi-award-winning manga series is by Satoru Noda, with Ainu language supervision by Hiroshi Nakagawa. The series follows a young Ainu girl, Asirpa, and a former soldier from the Russo-Japanese war, Immortal Sugimoto, as they search for a hidden fortune in Ainu gold. It is published in English by VIZ MediaGolden Kamuy Volume 19 is translated by John Werry, edited by Mike Montesa, and features touch-up art and lettering from Steve Dutro.

Kiroranke’s group is in the middle of breaking Sofia out of prison when a Siberian tiger attacks. The ensuing chaos caused allows the group to run across the ice under the guise of fishermen and escape the notice of the guards. Sofia immediately recognizes Asirpa as Wilk’s daughter. What follows is Sofia giving a slightly disturbing description of the man who was Asirpa’s father. At one point in the flashback, Wilk makes an uncomfortable comment about Native Americans and fighting between tribes, so be warned. He clearly has assumptions that have been created based on his experiences fighting for Indigenous rights in Russia. As a reviewer, I won’t excuse it as it isn’t my lane, I will just say that it appeared to be an individual character’s view and not that of the entire series.

These details about her father cause Asirpa to remember something very important that might help them decipher his map. This leads Golden Kamuy Volume 19 to showcase one of the tensest confrontations in the series. This isn’t because everyone is coming to blows. There is plenty of gore when it happens, but it is the tension that makes this volume. The reader knows that Sugimoto’s group is enclosing on Kiroranke, and as soon as they do Kiroranke and Ogata’s betrayals will come to light. Both groups are on the same ice, which is cracking and splitting as they fight. The weather is a blizzard, which is reflected in the art. This makes it hard to see for both the characters and reader, as they sneak up and try to gain the upper hand on one another. The intensity is mirrored by multiple character moments across the cast that gave me chills. Noda doesn’t slack on character development in the midst of the fighting. It makes every act of violence carry weight and meaning beyond pure shock value.

The volume isn’t all doom and gloom. Noda has a knack for being able to insert the series’ unique brand of strange bawdy humor into even the tensest (or heartwarming) moments. Heads up for the squeamish: characters will have to pee on each other to prevent skin from freezing to metal. That’s all I’ll say without spoiling. You’ve been warned. It was almost more unsettling than a character having their eye gouged out…which is actually completely on-brand for this series.

All in all, Golden Kamuy Volume 19 proves why Satoru Noda and the series have received so much well-deserved acclaim. Its outlandish humor and gory violence mask a heartfelt cross-country and cross-cultural journey. A take-no-prisoners conflict filled with atmospheric tension and artwork will make this installment impossible to put down until the end.

Golden Kamuy Volume 19 goes on sale December 15th, 2020 wherever books are sold.


'Golden Kamuy' Volume 19
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TL;DR

All in all, Golden Kamuy Volume 19 proves why Satoru Noda and the series have received so much well-deserved acclaim. Its outlandish humor and gory violence mask a heartfelt cross-country and cross-cultural journey. A take-no-prisoners conflict filled with atmospheric tension and artwork will make this installment impossible to put down until the end.