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Episode 42 of Golden Kamuy can be summed up in a single word: machinations.

To be quite honest, I was both elated and a bit overwhelmed by this episode. So much of what happens is quintessentially Golden Kamuy: cunning schemes, illuminating flashbacks, politics and skullduggery, emotional pleas, tearjerking separations, vomiting and farting. This series truly runs the gamut, but at the same time to say there is a lot going on would be a colossal understatement.

Most of the early parts of the episode really latch on to this duality. Ariko serves as a pawn between Tsurumi and Hijikata, their invisible battle of information and control waged across many kilometers via plays and counter-plays. The fake skins, the calling of bluffs, the “I knew he would X and he knew that I knew he would X, therefore I did Y-“ kind of plotting is all great stuff. It shows how much is at stake between these two powerhouses. Hijikata and Tsurumi are after more than gold – they’re both pursuing radically different futures for Japan, their soldiers, and the Ainu people. With so much at stake, playing 5D chess is the least they can do.

There are also tender, sweet moments that matter just as much. We get to see Ryu the sled dog get lots and lots of scritches from everyone, as befitting a certified Good Boy. We get a tearful farewell between Tanigaki and Cikapasi, one of the best side pairings in the show and a duo whose interactions I will dearly miss. Shiraishi’s overly aggressive but truthful barrage for Sugimoto is cathartic and hilarious in equal measure.

But wow, there is a lot to juggle in the old mental stack isn’t there? Golden Kamuy is a deeply character-driven show with a lot of moving parts, and even with multiple flashbacks in this episode I realized I had forgotten some key details and character arcs that have occurred. If this were the only show I was keeping up with it wouldn’t be a big deal, but if you’re like me and you’re following other works it might be a bit much to keep track of it all. Now I’m worried about just how much I might be missing out on or forgetting entirely…


Grant is the cohost on the Blade Licking Thieves podcast and Super Senpai Podcast.

Golden Kamuy Season 4 is currently streaming on

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