So, okay, I could have gone on talking about the art of war but this time I prefer to focus on…
Yeah, Toni’s heroic sacrifice (the quote is from Arthur Ashe by the way). But I’m running ahead a bit so let’s start with order.
Noda starts with living us an useful scheme showing where everyone is…
...except for Ogata and Vasily because… suspense. As much as I would love to know where they are, if there’s a point in keeping their location hidden, I agree with Noda’s plan to keep their locations hidden. Besides, chances are, they aren’t in Goryokaku so we wouldn’t probably see them on that map (that’s it unless they intruded in Goryokaku when the chaos started but, honestly, I think for them it would be smarter to find a sniping post and stay there waiting for a chance instead than secretly taking part to the charge and then intruding in Goryokaku and search for a sniping post inside it… though well, Ogata knows the place so he might even know if there’s a suitable spot inside.)
Nikaidou is at the south entrance, which is basically the place closer to the building in which Asirpa and Shiraishi are but it’s also near the spot Hijikata, Toni and Ushiyama are and right in front to the spot Sugimoto is.
Sofia is at the north entrance. I’m not sure why she’s there, in chap 290 & 292 she seemed to be at the east entrance.
Anyway the north entrance is less close to where Asirpa is, but still close enough. Although we know they’re under attack so soldiers should be in her area, Noda doesn’t list there anyone that’s relevant.
That’s because Kantarou is actually closer to the East entrance and Tsurumi, Koito and Tsukishima are supposedly there as well… only… in chap 290 they were at the south entrance. When they managed to cross the bridge instead than infiltrating inside Goryokaku Tsurumi and Co took a turn to the right… so I guess the idea is that after taking over the bastion protecting the south entrance so that the men could cross the bridge, instead than trying to reach the building inside Goryokaku, they circled it and reached the east entrance which is the farthest to the buildings, possibly aiming to help the soldiers at the east entrance to get in so as to have the numerical advantage. Smart.
Anyway we’re at the south entrance and Nikaidou’s group is trying to get in, walking under the bridge the way it was explained in the previous chapter.
Hijikata’s group comes in running, only to see the soldiers have made into the fort, which means the men on the bastion were really wiped out. Hijikata doesn’t sweat on it, as he says they’ve been expecting it and are prepared for this.
He then proceeds to explain what they wanted was to avoid engaging the full force of the enemy in close-range battle after they broke in while (he believes) they would be fine with the enemy were to charge inside little by little, so they could still have the advantage in numbers.
This is what’s happening so Hijikata is confident they’ll be the one to win and survive.
Well, as an old commercial used to say, optimism is the key to life, since I expect Hijikata not to make out of this alive, I don’t feel like sharing his own confidence. Which doesn’t mean I’ll expect Tsurumi to win, just that Hijikata won’t survive.
We switch to Sugimoto, who’s gruesomely murdering Tsurumi’s soldiers one after the other… and that’s it because…
“No one's strong as Sugimoto, No one's fights as Sugimoto, No one's murder as incredibly as Sugimoto, For there's no man in town half as manly. Perfect, a pure paragon! You can ask any Ushiyama, Toni or Kantarou, And they'll tell you whose team they prefer to be on…”
Hum, okay, I’m digressing, it’s just that Noda is showing Sugimoto’s murdering and… that’s all. We knew already he was doing as we’ve seen him doing so in the previous chapter and, as much as Noda draws well those scenes they don’t really add anything to the plot. But whatever, maybe that’s just me and there’s plenty of people who want to see Sugimoto slaughtering people. Whatever.
We move then to Asirpa and Shiraishi.
Asirpa, as usual, is worried because Sugimoto went to fight the soldiers who had broken in. Shiraishi warns her she shouldn’t think to run help him (which, I’m willing to bet, was exactly what Asirpa wanted to do) but focus on what THEY can do, preparing everything so they can escape should things take a turn for worse.
Asirpa still looks worried though so Shiraishi reminds her all she should think about is protecting that deed, for the good of the Ainu in Hokkaido… and to make sure that everything Kiro believed in doesn’t end up in vain. As he says so, he thinks back to Kiro’s children and here I pause.
What Shiraishi is asking Asirpa to do is basically choosing between prioritizing her people or Sugimoto. I fear Asirpa will talk herself into believing she can save both and therefore will go and save Sugimoto because, deep down, it’s him she prioritizes since she said she was willing to kill to protect him.
Of course on the other side this experience might bring her to realize there’s something she loves better than Sugimoto, though she may not know it yet, her people.
All considered though, it’s still a hard choice because, even if it weren’t a matter of priorities, risking the life of someone you care about is still difficult so I wouldn’t want to be in her shoes… but I think the whole thing has potential to be psychologically interesting if Noda will be willing to dig into it.
And then we’ve Shiraishi, who’s being the voice of the reason, as Asirpa is no fighter nor murderer as she has repeatedly stated she doesn’t want to kill people, she should keep a cool head and focus on WHAT SHE CAN DO, instead than go and risk everything pointlessly.
But there’s also something else meaningful that Shiraishi says and this is that Asirpa should worry about protecting the deed FOR THE GOOD OF ALL THE AINU IN HOKKAIDO (*sighs* a side of me really wish there were more Ainu involved in this battle as it regards them but it likely wasn’t possible to do so) and TO MAKE SURE EVERYTHING KIRO BELIEVED DOESN’T END UP IN VAIN.
Not Wilk, Asirpa’s father who set up this gold hunt, KIRO. Shiraishi specifically talks about Kiro. Kiro was Shiraishi’s friend, he gladly gave his life for his cause, he died believing what he did wasn’t pointless and Shiraishi mourned him dearly.
Back then Shiraishi has complained on how he was a man too serious for his own good but now he just want his death not to be in vain.
It’s meaningful he would mention him in such a moment, it’s meaningful he would remark how Kiro’s sacrifice doesn’t have to turn out in vain.
I wonder if he’s also thinking at Boutarou, who died to save him, if he doesn’t want to turn Boutarou’s sacrifice in vain either.
Anyway, as Shiraishi says so we see Kiro’s children but they’re likely there as a stand in for the future of the Ainu. Kiro dreamed of a bright future for all the minorities, the ones from Russia and the ones from Japan, he risked for it, and died happy knowing he contributed to bring on that better future. And I love how Shiraishi hadn’t forgotten of his friend and his dream and reminds Asirpa of it. I really hope Noda is planning to develop more this side of Shiraishi but we’ll see.
Meanwhile, due to Koito senior firing at Hakodate, the civilians are in panic, thinking it’s the Russians who were attacking and who were the one who sunk the destroyers. This can potentially end up in disaster for Sofia and her men. If they get out of there alive, they risk ending up lynched by the scared locals.
We switch to Nagakura’s group.
Kirawus is alive, and I’ll be honest, I’m very glad for this, albeit in poor shape. He just wake up, saluted by a Kadokura with his head and arm bandaged, who calls him “poor guy” (貧乏人 ‘Binbōnin’). Kirawus replies calling him “butthole peeking nispa” (尻の穴を覗く二スパ ‘Shiri no ana o nozoku nispa’).
The nicknames are a sort of joke among them in fact, as he hear him saying so Kadokura seems relieved saying this mean Kirawus’ head is all right, although his left leg is broken so he can’t stand up (I take it might have been Kadokura who dragged him till there... unless it was Nagakura who did all the dragging). Poor Mansur instead had his right hand blown off. I love the relationship between those two!
Nagakura seems to be a bit bruised but way more fine than the three of them put together. I guess he was the farther from where the bullet hit. He has found himself a horse and he’s telling them to leave as fast as they can and not go back to Goryokaku as they’ve already fulfilled their duty. To a worried Kirawus he replies he’s instead going to go help Hijikata as, this time, he wants to be there with him until the end.
As Tsurumi said (Chap 285), Nagakura is likely itching for one last fight...
...but there’s more in him than that. If we go back to chap 86 we can remember how Nagakura confessed spending he didn’t know how many nights asking himself if Hijikata made Nagakura furious so as he would leave and not join Hijikata and head off to his death, in an attempt to look after him.
They clearly had a deep bond, be it romantic or just a deep friendship, something unbreakable that lead them close. So it makes sense Hijikata entrusted that mission to Nagakura again, thinking again to protect him from running toward his death and Nagakura this time instead will come back to fight and die next to him.
Now… Nagakura is a swordman so the best way for him to die would be while fighting with a sword. The other swordmen in the story are Tsurumi himself and Koito, so it would be fitting if he were to have a fight with Koito. On the other side the opposite of Nagakura among Tsurumi’s men is Tsukishima, who’s also there to have a seat to hell with Tsurumi so it might be meaningful to see the two of them facing off… but as Tsukishima is no swordfighter I fear this would feel a bit like a waste of Nagakura’s sword ability.
Tsukishima, I guess, can face Ushiyama.
I do wonder what Kadokura will do, if he’s satisfied of how far he got. We still don’t know much about him, the story didn’t even report his full name yet. We’ll see but I like to hope that won’t be the end for him.
We switch back to Tsurumi’s group.
Tsukishima announces the soldier who broke in through the south entrance caught up with them. Koito, still unharmed with both his gun and his sword in his hands, looks a bit puzzled. If he’s watching back to the other soldiers tailing after him or trying to see his father’s ship whose smoke is rising high in the sky is up to speculation.
Tsurumi instead is having a blast murdering left and right, the visual encouraging this idea by depicting him using his pump rifle in a way that seems to allude at how this for him, is the equivalent of giving himself a hand job. Honestly I can see why sperm detective Usami would feel attracted by Tsurumi.
We switch to Nikaidou, who has just managed to get inside Goryokaku as well but, instead than trying to regroup with Tsurumi, he seems to plan to go back to the south entrance. On his way he finds a Russian soldier with a bunch of Russian hand grenade. It’s easy to imagine Nikaidou will serve himself a helping of them.
We then switch back to Hijikata’s group. Hijikata plans to pursue the men who managed to get inside the fort while sending Ushiyama and the other men to the bastion that Tsurumi previously took so as to stop Tsurumi’s men from entering further.
The group though is seen by Nikaidou who, as expected, took some grenades and now is throwing one at them. Toni Anji manages to warn them though, so I dare to hope the grenade didn’t do much damage. Amidst the smoke though, Nikaidou notice Hijikata, aka the man who parted him from his/Youhei’s leg (Nikaidou was always a bit confuse about to whom his body belongs).
Seeing Hijikata doesn’t drive Nikaidou as crazy as it would seeing Sugimoto, who killed his beloved brother, but Nikaidou has always been a vengeful person so, of course, he can’t miss this chance to get even with Hijikata.
Only… well, he does because, as he tries to shoot down Hijikata, Toni Anji hears him and pushes Hijikata away, getting shoot in the process. Considering where the bullet hit him, he’s in for a slow and painful death, though the chapter ends here.
So, after Koito Heiji, the next who leaves us is meant to be Toni Anji. I’m sorry for the guy, although he’d been a criminal in his past, he became a victim of Inudo who took from him his sight and believed when he was stealing, he was merely taking from the people who took from him, not from innocents. He also improved as a person, he’s now giving his life to save Hijikata after all, and his dream was so simple yet fitting, he only wanted to use his share of gold to go live away from the smell of sulfur (sulfur is what took away his sight) and near the ocean. It sounds such a simple yet relatable thing, to have a safe place to call home… I feel bad for him but sadly, the story wouldn’t feel real if it weren’t showing us part of the cast dying in this battle so I understand why Noda set him up to be the next to die. Still, it’s sad, or maybe it’s just me who get too attached to characters.
Still, this chapter is definitely about people sacrificing themselves for others, there’s the subtle reference to Heiji, there’s Kiroranke, there’s the, thankfully alive but in poor shape Kirawus, there’s Nagakura who prepares himself to die with Hijikata and, lastly, there’s Toni.
People sacrificing for others so that others can go on, but, at the same time, tasking the others with not making their sacrifice worthless. I wonder if Noda will dig more into this because it’s surely a good theme.
Anyway that’s the end for now. I’ve to say I wish Noda has characterized the Russians and Tsurumi’s men more as they’re getting killed off left and right but they feel the same as Red Shirts dying (for who’s not familiar with the trope Red Shirts are basically characters that are inserted in the story solely to be killed off)… when actually they stand in for the many that were used as cannon fodder.
So yeah, I get this battle was meant to be a slaughter fest but most of the killing scenes feel to me merely as violent scenes without emotions behind when it would probably good to have some more emotions even if the characters killed aren’t heroes but just guys who’re fathers, brothers, sons, simple people who hope in a better future.
But well, I guess I’m probably asking too much and Noda merely aimed to show the brutality of the war and how some people lived it (Tsurumi is enjoying himself, Tsukishima is just business-like, Koito is a bit nervous, Sofia is being a leader, Heiji is duty devoted, Kirawus gives his best in hope for the future, Nagakura is there for friendship, Sugimoto is back to his Kishin state, Nikaidou is out for personal revenge, Hijikata is being just a tactician, Shiraishi is doing the best he can, Toni is sacrificing himself and so on…)
See you in the next chapter!
yoshitake shiraishi from golden kamuy is pathetic!
Pure of heart, dumb of ass.
小さいトナカイがいた。 Chiisai tonakai ga ita. A little reindeer was there!
いでででッ。 Idedede. Ouch, ouch, ouch!
Dangerous characters you don’t want to meet as a reindeer in Golden Kamuy:
馴鹿（トナカイ）狩りだぜ。 Tonakai gari da ze. Let’s hunt some reindeer.
やっぱり味もユㇰと同じだな馴鹿（トナカイ）ってのは。 Yappari aji mo yuk to onaji da na, tonakai tte no wa. Just as I thought, reindeer tastes like yuk.
whatever man i just want to be happy for once
YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE THIS GUY
Or something i guess
the mysteries of the nipple hat haunt and vex me