If you haven’t read Golden Kamuy Vol. 1 yet, then I recommend that you read my review for it here first and then dive into that.
In Golden Kamuy Vol. 2 things start out with our main characters (Saichi and Aspira) preparing and eating a hare, this opening is relatively calm and humorous. Things don’t take long to pick up however, in fact one of the most gruesome scenes is less than a quarter of the way in. There is a lot happening in this volume, we see an increased coverage of the Hokkaido 7th Division and Toshizo Hijikata, greater coverage of the Ainu culture and way of life, new characters, more bears, animal companions and another tattooed body.
In addition to the introduction of numerous new characters, there are a few notable returns from the end of the first volume. Each of these is exciting and interesting in their own right and I look forward to seeing how these characters develop and impact upon the story as it unfolds in future volumes.
Character development was for me the core of this volume. We really get to know Asirpa, through her people, culture and personal history she moves in my mind away from merely being a companion to a lead character in her own right. I found myself more invested in both Saichi and Aspira; starting to really care about what happened to these characters. With the momentum of the story building, there seemed to be more extremes of emotion, I frequently exhaled and inhaled from my nose with humour and shock. Not to mention that the cliff hanger had me reaching for Vol. 3 as soon as I had put down Vol. 2.
I continue to really enjoyed the artwork in Golden Kamuy, the style remaining much the same. I’ve not counted but I feel like there was more use of backgrounds and scenic panels that created a greater sense of immersion. Some time is spent in the Ainu Kotan settlement, the artwork playing a big part in learning about the Ainu culture and feeling enveloped in the story. We are introduced to many more characters and each is easily distinguishable, with the exception of two soldiers at first but I’ll let you find out more about that yourselves.
In summary Golden Kamuy continues to successfully keep me engaged, the story is interesting and educational and at times shocking and gruesome. There is still the one main story arc (the search for Ainu gold), but we learn more about the different characters and groups in search of the gold and their motives. If you enjoyed Vol. 1 then I can’t see any reason why you wouldn’t like this.