REVIEW: ‘Golden Kamuy,’ Volume 20

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Golden Kamuy Volume 20Golden Kamuy Volume 20 follows up an incredibly dramatic fight with the characters trying to recover, and a flashback shows more insight into Koito. The award-winning manga is published in English by VIZ Media, as part of their VIZ Signature imprint. The series is by mangaka Satoru Noda, with Ainu language supervision by Hiroshi Nakagawa, and is about ex-solider “Immortal” Sugimoto teaming up with young Ainu girl, Asirpa to track down hidden gold. Golden Kamuy Volume 20 is translated by John Werry, edited by Mike Montesa, and has touch-up art and lettering by Steve Dutro.

Kiroranke is dead, and the party is processing a good deal of emotions around the event. Poor Asirpa has to juggle both grief and the feeling of betrayal at once, all while being elated to be reunited with Sugimoto. The other potential casualty is Ogata. Sugimoto is determined to not let him die. Multiple frightening panels give insight into his motivation: he doesn’t want Asirpa to have Ogata’s death on her shoulders. It sets up a really compelling future dynamic between Sugimoto and Ogata. As much as Sugimoto wants to save his life currently, he ultimately wants to take it in the future.

On the other side of this battle, Tsurumi’s subordinates are investigating the Noboribetsu Hot Springs. Usami meets Kikuta and Ariko. While they are all in pursuit of the tattooed skins, it is clear there is tension and distrust within the group. The groups all want to earn Tsurumi’s praise, but none want to share the credit. The scheming in Golden Kamuy Volume 20 is all in classic fashion for the manga. As said in my review of Volume 18 the only real downside of this series is trying to keep the large cast of characters straight. Especially when new characters are continuously introduced to shake things up. Kikuta and Ariko are fun characters. Noda does an excellent job of making each player in the game delightfully eccentric. However, with the reader’s attention being pulled in multiple directions, it is difficult to form any sort of attachment to them.

There is a third and final plotline in Golden Kamuy Volume 20, and this one gives a nice insight to a supporting cast member who has had some of the above-mentioned problems. Namely, there wasn’t a lot of background to get readers emotionally invested. That is Koito. A flashback to his privileged childhood gives a glimpse into his relationship with his father. It also shows how Koito met Tsurumi, and helps to explain why he is so attached to the man. This works well, because Noda doesn’t try to paint Tsurumi or Koito as “good men.” No one, with the exception of Asirpa, is a “good person” in this manga. There are definitely some that are much more antagonistic, however. Koito’s flashback doesn’t redeem him or Tsurumi, but continues to make the characters incredibly layered amidst all the absurdity.

Just like last time, Golden Kamuy Volume 20 has phenomenal pages of Noda’s signature art style. There are a lot of butts, bizarre faces, and a Bond-esque chase sequence down a street; although it is overall less brutal than last time. A page that specifically stands out is one that is a landscape of the forest. We have seen those in this manga before, but this time someone is being hunted. The manga gives an almost cinematic effect of zooming the camera out to encapsulate the entire playing field in a survival horror.

Golden Kamuy Volume 20 is clearly trying to gather things together after the grand clash last time. Three different storylines unfold in this volume. It can be a bit difficult for readers to keep track of and get invested in new characters, but overall it is still a joy to read.

Golden Kamuy Volume 20 is available now wherever books are sold.

Golden Kamuy Volume 20
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TL;DR

Golden Kamuy Volume 20 is clearly trying to gather things together after the grand clash last time. Three different storylines unfold in this volume. It can be a bit difficult for readers to keep track of and get invested in new characters, but overall it is still a joy to read.