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Home > ‘Golden Kamuy’ (2024): A Review

‘Golden Kamuy’ (2024): A Review

'Golden Kamuy' (2024): A Review

A Fun Live-Action Film, But Could be Better

Golden Kamuy is a live-action film based on the manga of the same name that was published back in 2014 by the Japanese company Shueisha. The manga is originally written by Satoru Noda. The film, however, is directed by Shigeaki Kubo and written by Tsutoma Kuroiwa and Satoru Noda. It was released on Netflix and has since gained some popularity from anime/manga enthusiasts around the world.

Big Plot in Two Hours of Film

Golden Kamuy has a simple plot, yet it still suffers from one of the biggest hurdles that most live-action film adaptations fall victim to, which is trying to pack a lot of content in a single two-hour movie. The manga (Japanese comic book) is 31 volumes and concluded back in 2022. That’s a lot of story to put into a single film; even if the writers were only giving one arc to the movie, there were bound to be many things that were left out due to time restrictions. Golden Kamuy follows a veteran of the early twentieth century Russo-Japanese War, named Saichi Sugimoto, and his journey to find a huge fortune of gold of the Ainu people. Of course, he meets others along the way who want the gold for themselves or are seeking power of some kind instead. Overall, the plot is very fun and exciting to watch, even if viewers get lost from time to time. Unfortunately, Golden Kamuy is one of those films that can easily throw off a viewer if they are not paying close attention. This has more so to do with the amount of characters that show up in the film rather than the actual plot, but this loss of plot can still happen. Something that saves the movie’s plot however is Sugimoto, the story’s main protagonist. The film mostly follows him, so as long as a viewer focuses on him and makes sure to see everything that he does, they shouldn’t get too lost in the big pot of characters.

Over-the-Top Characters/Great Delivery

Something that Japanese live-action adaptations always seem to deliver on is their characters and how the actors portray those characters. It’s always very clear that every actor who goes into projects like this goes deep into their characters for one reason or another. Maybe they have read the source material or not, but their likeness or realism of the character always shines bright in these types of films. Golden Kamuy has a huge list of over-the-top characters who still seem like they could be real people. For example, Kento Yamazaki plays Saichi Sugimoto, and while the character is shown as a real cool, prepared warrior, he is also very funny and down to earth. Yamazaki is no stranger to playing roles that are live-action adaptations; he also was the lead in Alice in Borderlands, another live-action adaptation series that was released by Netflix. Another interesting character is Asirpa, who is played by Anna Yamada. Asirpa is from the Ainu tribe, a group of indigenous people from the cold northern island of Hokkaido in Japan. To Asirpa and her people, God lives in all things. Kamuy is what they call spirits that reside in animals, natural phenomena, and even human inventions. The relationship between these two characters is interesting to watch because they are opposites. It creates friction but also some funny moments as well. Yet, like Yamazaki, Anna Yamada does such a fantastic job at portraying this character that there is certain mannerism that she does to make Asirpa feel more real rather than a character from a comic book.

20th Century Warfare Aesthetic 

Golden Kamuy is a film that was made for warfare junkies who love anything that has to do with wars that happened decades ago. Though the war is sort of the backdrop of the movie, it still plays a very crucial role in the overall plot. When watching the movie, it is easy to spot things that are from the twentieth century, like guns, uniforms, hairstyles, food, and even warfare tactics. Golden Kamuy has a certain aesthetic to it. This aesthetic is odd because it never really screams like an older time. If someone watched the film and had no idea that it was based in the twentieth century in the aftermath of a certain Japanese war, then they may miss that point entirely. Now, that could have something to do with the nature of the film. It can get a little crazy and fun, which is not what most westerners associate with a warfare film that is based in an earlier period of time.  

The cinematography is about what one expects when watching a live-action adaptation that was filmed, written, produced, and released mostly in Japan. There can be random camera cuts that jump from character to character to emphasize facial expressions, and sometimes it can get a little difficult to keep up with all the different angles. Of course, that is not to say this is a bad thing. Different styles are good; it keeps the viewer entertained and on their toes when watching the film. At the end of the day, that’s what a good movie does.

Must See..If You Have a Netflix Account Already

The film is a fun ride from beginning to end and is action-packed, funny, thought-provoking, and dramatic. Any fans of the original work or anime should give it a watch whenever possible, if they have a Netflix account already, that is. Though this film is good, setting up a whole Netflix account just to watch Golden Kamuy does not seem like a good route to take. However, for those who already have one or mooch off someone else’s, give it a watch! Golden Kamuy can be found on Netflix.  

Golden Kamuy (2024) Official Netflix Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Cailen Fienemann is a current student at Le Moyne College pursuing her BA in English and Communications with a film studies minor and a creative writing concentration.  Though uncertain about her career end-goals, any job that allows her to write is a cherished one indeed.