After taking Fall 2021 off, Golden Kamuy is back with its quirky blend of history, culture, gore, fellowship and gross-out comedy. Sugimoto and Asirpa travel with Tsukishima, Tanigaki and Koito across the border and back into Japan, and they soon arrive at the border village of Shisuka.
Sugimoto splits off from the others to stock up on the miso Asirpa likes so much, but while he’s gone, a sniper shoots Shiraishi in the leg. The soldiers know not to run out to him, lest they get shot too. Tsukishima assumes Ogata is the one shooting at them. Shiraishi tries to attract crows to cover his escape, but only cute sparrows come.
Sugimoto, who sneaks up on the sniper from behind and takes him down, soon learns it isn’t Ogata, but a Russian soldier from a previous encounter who is still hunting Ogata. After communicating with drawings Sugimoto confides in the Russian that he wishes to preserve Asirpa’s innocence in the midst of all this bloodshed.
Asirpa actually overhears this, but Tsukishima, Tanigaki and Koito enter first, and Tsukishima uses his proficiency in Russian to properly get their point across. Sugimoto, Asirpa, Shiraishi (who is apparently fine from his gunshot wound), the kids, and the soliders hop back into their sleds and move on, but the Russian follows them from a distance, no doubt hoping they’ll lead him to his quarry.
The remainder of the episode takes place in a town by Lake Akan, south of Abashiri involves a buddy cop scenario, with former jailor Kadokura and his Ainu comrade Kirawus head out to search for Hijikata and Ushiyama, who have been missing for two days and are starting to worry Nagakura.
The next inmate being hunted is Sekiya Waichirou, who specializes in naturally-sourced yet lethal poisons. Apparently to kill time, he’d lace only one out of three bowls with poison and ask a fellow inmate to choose one. He makes a similar proposition to Hijikata after having already successfully poisoned and buried Ushiyama alive, only with silkworm cocoons.
The gross joke of the week goes to Kadokura, who says he knows Sekiya by the wrinkles of his asshole, having had to check there for contraband on the regular. Kirawus mocks him, saying anything Sekiya stuck up there would have killed him, so he spent all that time looking at his ass for nothing!
Sekiya is still on the same frozen lakebed when Kadokura and Kirawus are investigating. He offers Kirawus some extra smelts he caught, with one of the several no doubt laced with poison, a test of these folks’ luck. Turns out Kadokura has the absolute worst luck, such that he slips head-over-heels and spills the smelt, which slide right back through nearby holes in the ice.
To Kadokura it’s just another instance of the fortune he’s been cursed with since being born “under a bad star”, but at least in this case, that bad luck is a boon. A sore back beats being dead, after all. This first episode back brought us up to speed with where most of the major players are and introduce us to a few colorful new characters; mostly quiet but functional. Also? The new OP and ED slap, hard.