Golden Kamuy – 18 – Kanemochi with Walnuts

This episode puts the chase on hold in favor of a deep dive into Tanigaki Genjirou’s eventful and tragic past, as told to Lt. Tsurumi several months ago. It all starts with a description of the kanemochi his people made to serve as last-resort rations, and how his had a special ingredient to set them apart from others.

Tanigaki had a need for such rations when he and another member of his hunting party got stuck in a blizzard for many days. He and this man, Kenkichi, shared the rations, the secret ingredient for which was walnuts, and they survived. Eventually, Kenkichi married Tanigaki’s sister Fumi and the couple moved into a remote place in the mountains.

Then Tanigaki got word that something happened, and rushed to Kenkichi and Fumi’s home. There he found only charred remains of the house and of Fumi, who had a stab wound in her heart; Kenkichi’s knife, “the soul of a matagi”, not far from her body.

Tanigaki abandoned his family and his village to find Kenkichi and seek revenge. That led him to the same battleground as Sugimoto, who asks for food. Tanigaki gives him some kanemochi, and Sugimoto recognizes Tanigaki’s dialect because someone he fought beside had the same one.

In one coincidence, just as the Russians started running into the Japanese trenches with lit grenades strapped to their bodies, Kenkichi leapt out to stop one of them, saving everyone in the trench, including Tanigaki.

It turns out Tanigaki was wrong: Kenkichi didn’t kill her sister in cold blood. He took her life in order to spare her a worse fate. Fumi contracted smallpox, and didn’t want her family finding out or for Kenkichi to stay and die with her.

Kenkichi didn’t want to leave her to be attacked by animals. And so the compromise was struck: put her out of her misery, then burn the house so the pox wouldn’t spread. It was pretty much the best option out of a host of terrible ones.

Kenkichi tells this to someone he can’t recognize, since his eardrums are shot and his eyes blown out. But Tanigaki knows how to get him to understand it’s his brother-in-law he’s speaking to—by giving him a piece of kanemochi with walnuts; his last meal.

Tanigaki tells a rapt Lt. Tsurumi that he admires Kenkichi for finding a role in life and carrying out that role, and that he sought a similar role, since vengeance was no longer an option. Tsurumi offered him a place with his unit, but as we know, that wasn’t the role for him either.

Now, in the present, flanked by Inkarmat and Cikapasi, Tanigaki finally reunites with Asirpa and Sugimoto. And since he’s not working for the nefarious likes of Tsurumi, he can feel a lot better about his latest role.

Leave it to Golden Kamuy to take something like a regional food and create an entire tragic drama around it. It may not have moved the main plot forward too far, but it did greatly enrich one of its characters.

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Working!!! 3 – 02

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Family, vision, and dating are the three main themes of this week’s Working!!!, starting with the Takanashis who are neither royalty nor do they possess superpowers. They’re a pretty fun and eclectic bunch, however, so the occasional episode where Souta deals with his four sisters (and in his case, his masochistic former brother-in-law).

Souta’s talks with Minegishi as the authorized representative of the family, along with the sight of the somehow-still-twelve Nazuna pushing her shut-in sister Izumi along on a cart, were both highlights of this segment.

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When back at work at Wagnaria, Popura and Takanashi collide, and Popura and Yamada remark on how strong and durable Takanashi’s glasses are to have survived not only the occasional collision, but countless punches to the fact from Inami. Unfortunately, when Yamada play-taps the glasses with her stuffed animal, it’s the straw that breaks the camel’s glasses.

Takanashi’s attempts to work despite not being able to see, resulting in a very hazardous situation in which he gets far too close to Inami without warning her first; fortunately for him, she faints on her feet rather than clobbers him into the stratosphere, a nice subversion of the usual bit.

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Finally, Satou continues his meandering, half-hearted courtship with Todoroki, who mentions she’s never had alcohol but would like to try it, if only she had someone to drink with. Souma can’t believe it when Satou adds “sometime” to his offer to take her out for a drink, rather than setting a place and a time.

Unlike Minegishi, Souma isn’t the kind of masochist who likes watching this kind of persistent futility, nor am I: we need an episode/segment in which Satou and Todoroki go on a legit date. For that matter, I hope this season allows Takanashi and Inami a date, as well, building off the first two seasons of character work rather than leaving it to gather dust on the shelf.

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