Golden Kamuy – 12 (Fin) – Tricked by a Fox While Betting on the Ponies

GK’s first season decides to go out with a bit of a whimper rather than a bang, though there was a bang in last week’s far livelier episode. Shiraishi blew up all of the explosives the group bought for Abashiri. Somehow, Ienaga survived the blast, and has something to tell Ushiyama and Shiraishi.

Now they need more explosives, but are low on cash. Asirpa and Kiroranke recommend hunting for furs in the forest. There, Asirpa learns the money she lent Shiraishi was spent at the racetrack, where he promptly lost it all. Then, at her relatives’ camp, they meet a fortune teller, Inkarmat.

Inkarmat is a shrewd woman and knows how to trick those who let themselves be tricked; Shiraishi is one of those people, but Asirpa isn’t. She’s committed to being a “new kind of Ainu woman”, though when Inkarmat speaks of her father, Asirpa perks up a bit.

Inkarmat knows who the mark is among the party, and so goes to the horse races with Shiraishi, uses her fox skull to correctly predict the winner a few times in a row, and gets her cut in the form of selling various trinkets to Shiraishi. By the time Asirpa shows up, he’s acting like a big shot.

Kiroranke, who has been around horses his whole life and helped care for them with during the war, could probably predict the winners better than Inkarmat…if the races were fair. He learns the trainers are up to all manner of dirty tricks, drugging the horse they want to win and getting the one Kiroranke thinks should win to drink too much water.

Kiroranke is in luck; the jockey meant to ride the losing horse took off, so he takes his place, is determined to win, and does win. Shiraishi loses everything, but one of the tickets was for Kiroranke’s horse—a parting gift from Inkarmat—that Asirpa no doubt uses to re-procure their explosives.

With that, Shiraishi continues to make himself useful by telling Sugimoto and Asirpa what a “cutie” (really Ienaga) told him: of a fellow in Yuubari who has taxidermied human corpses bearing tattoos they’re interested. Sugimoto takes stock of their situation: they have five skins, Tsurumi at least one.

Meanwhile, he’s still unaware of the third player in this hunt for the gold, Hijikata Toushirou, to whom Ogata offers his services as bodyguard. There was way too much story left to tell before all’s said and done, so this week was a bit of a punt; taking stock, and some light comedy involving Shiraishi, Kuroranke, and the horses. A second season is coming this Fall, which should provide ample time and space to complete the story.

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Tari Tari – 08

Sawa’s injuries are minor, but cause enough of a scare that she must withdraw from the tournament for liability reasons. He also tells her to step back from her dream of beinga jockey and go to college. Back at school, the club’s practice room has been stolen by the music majors; a pissed-off Sawa chews them out. They go to Wien’s house to practice, but his piano is out of tune. Sawa tells everyone what’s biting her, but Wakana echoes Sawa’s dad, and Sawa snaps at her. When the vice principal allows the club to audition for the main stage, Sawa is home sulking, but the rest of the club convinces her to come. With her bike at school, she must ride Sabure.

First of all, kudos to Tari Tari for not going the easy route of injuring Sawa to the extent she can’t continue; falling off the horse isn’t life- or limb-threatening, though it does expose her malnutrition to her father. Instead, this episode makes Sawa wrestle with trying to keep her dream alive when the facts of her life simply aren’t favorable to that dream. Even if she starves herself to the weight limit, she may grow too tall to be a jockey – and what’s the point of being light enough if you’re too weak to stay on your horse? Her dad isn’t the best at conveying his feelings to his teenage daughter, but he once again makes sense: it was naive for Sawa to simply press on without a backup plan, belieiving everything will turn out okay.

We like how Sawa’s realization is a weight that sours her usually pleasant disposition (we were pumping our fists when she unleashed a devastating tirade against the stuck-up music majors.) Another great moment is when Sawa hears her dad arguing her case on the phone with the equestrian school. This is after Sawa’s friends sang her a song over the phone to show they care about her and want her by their side. Fittingly, Sawa rides her horse to school, in a scene that’s equal parts heroic, redemptive, and absurd. We don’t even hear the last-minute audition, but considering what a stick-in-the-mud the vice principal is, we won’t speculate on whether they got a spot on the main stage. Sawa’s struggles aren’t over, but she’s not without hope – and she’s not alone.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Car Cameos: Sawa and her father take a Toyota Comfort taxi home, and a Toyota Alphard can be seen just before the train to Wien’s house passes by. While riding her horse Sabure through town, Sawa encounters a Toyota Soarer, AKA Lexus SC430.