Saichi “Immortal” Sugimoto is a veteran of the Russo-Japanese war, scrapping out a meager existence. It is the early 20th century, and there is also a postwar gold rush on the wild frontier of Japan's Hokkaido region. Sugimoto stumbles upon the first “piece” of a map leading to a fortune in hidden gold belonging to the Ainu (an indigenous people of Japan and Russia). Ruthless criminals and rogue Japanese soldiers are also hunting for the gold in the harsh northern wilderness. It will take all Sugimoto's talents and the help of an immensely-skilled Ainu girl named Asirpa to survive, let alone find the gold.
As Golden Kamuy, Vol. 14 (Chapters 131 to 140) opens, there is a pitched battle at Abashiri Prison. Somewhere inside the prison is Noppera-Bo, the mysterious man who might be Asirpa's father and who allegedly knows the secrets of the Ainu gold. Warden Inudo and his guards know that the prison has been infiltrated. Now, the gang of 13: Sugimoto, Asirpa, Yoshitake Shiraishi (the “Escape King”), Hyakunosuke Ogata, Genjiro Tanigaki, Kiroranke, Inkarmat, Shinpachi Nagakura, Ienaga, Kantaro, Ushiyama, Toshizo Hijikata, and Cikapasi (the boy who tags along) are in the battle for their lives.
Still, Sugimoto is determined that Asirpa make some kind of contact with her father, no matter how many wounds he suffers. At the same time, Lieutenant Tsurumi and his 7th Division, the other party that is also hunting gold, have arrived on a gunboat fleet and are bombing and shooting up Abashiri Prison. With all that fire power, is anyone getting out alive?
[This volume includes bonus art.]
THE LOWDOWN: The Golden Kamuy manga is one of the best comic books and graphic novels currently available on the North American market. It is also difficult to call one volume better than another; most of them are equally fantastic, especially the recent run of volumes.
Golden Kamuy Graphic Novel Volume 14 is filled with explosive action and edge-of-your seat thrills from the first page to the last, just as Vol. 13 was. Vol. 13 was an intense, blood-curdling thriller with its “hunting in the dark” themes. In Vol. 14, creator Satoru Noda pulls out all the stops in these chapters that depict an ongoing conflagration.
John Werry's translation captures the conspiracies and betrayals and also the shock of the sudden impact that is the gun boat fleet attack. Steve Dutro's lettering conveys the full fury of the battle, and this is a volume in which much of the dialogue seems to leap off the page, via Dutro's efforts. If you, dear readers, are not reading Golden Kamuy, then, you are probably lying when you say you want comics with a “great story” and “great art.”
I READS YOU RECOMMENDS: Fans of Westerns and of Japanese historical dramas will want to try the VIZ Signature title, Golden Kamuy.