The following contains spoilers for Golden Kamuy, Season 4, Episode 1, “Rushin’ Outta Russia,” now streaming on Crunchyroll.
Golden Kamuy has returned with its Season 4 premiere, picking up right where the dramatic hunt left off. Asirpa and Sugimoto were reunited, Kiroranke was killed by Tanigaki and Ogata made his escape, creating one more thing to worry about as the group continued past the Russo-Japanese border. They’ve left the ice floes for a village, but there’s no time for them to rest and rejoice, as a sniper surprises them. Has Ogata recovered enough for a showdown with Sugimoto?
The episode opens with everyone in a small Japanese village getting ready to head to their next destination. While Tanigaki and Tsukishima send a telegraph to Tsurumi, Sugimoto is off excitedly buying a tub of miso for him and Asirpa. The relative calm is dispelled when Shiraishi, standing in plain sight, is shot in the leg by what is quickly suspected to be a distant sniper. While everyone ducks for cover and tries to plan an escape, their minds immediately go to Ogata being the culprit. With attempts to distract made by Koito proving this is no amateur, everyone is left a sitting duck — including the injured Shiraishi.
The Danger of Ogata’s Return
With groups comprised of prison escapees and military soldiers all gunning for the same hidden treasure, the threat of being caught remains ever palpable throughout Golden Kamuy. The threat of capture has also grown for Asirpa now that it’s known she holds the location of the gold in her memories. Ogata’s return means Asirpa could be ripped away from the group yet again. Season 3 ended with Asirpa accidentally shooting an arrow into Ogata’s eye, but Sugimoto quickly fought to save Ogata to keep Asirpa from experiencing the horrors of taking another person’s life. This move ends up causing more harm than good once Ogata escapes, despite his injury.
Ultimately, it’s revealed that the sniper isn’t Ogata but the Russian sniper he faced off with when Kiroranke’s group was attempting to enter Russia. The tension fades away when Sugimoto finds a drawing of Ogata in the sniper’s jacket and realizes that he’s the sniper’s intended target, and that they were attacked because the sniper thought Ogata was with them. Via a comical drawing exchange, and then Tsukishima’s expert translation, the sniper learns that Ogata is their common enemy and that no one in Sugimoto’s group is tied to the assassination plot that Kiroranke and Wilk carried out. The group sets out to continue their journey, with the sniper following close in hopes of finding Ogata. While the group managed to narrowly avoid death yet again, the same can’t be said for others searching for the gold.
The episode then shifts its focus to Hijikata and Ushiyama, neither of whom have returned to the inn where they’ve been staying. The Abashiri prison guard, Kadokura, and Kirawus — who joined the group after helping them find Yoichiro the Manslayer — head out to find them. Kirawus reveals there’s an escaped prisoner said to be hiding in the area and suspects that Hijikata and Ushiyama must’ve tried to track him down. The prisoner is a master of poison and managed to capture Ushiyama and bury him alive. Hijikata confronted the prisoner to find Ushiyama but ended up poisoned himself. With the prisoner looking to use Hijikata in exchange for the skins of other tattooed prisoners, it remains to be seen whether Kadokura and Kirawus will capture the prisoner right under their noses, or if Sugimoto and his group will somehow encounter him first.
Kadokura’s terrible luck may have saved him and Kirawus from falling victim to the poison laced in the smelt, but the longer they stay looking around for Ushiyama and Hijikata, the more they risk another attempt on their lives. Where is Hijikata being hidden, and will he manage to find Ushiyama himself should he survive? Will Sugimoto’s group pass through and, if so, will they encounter Hijikata first or the escaped prisoner? This episode may have been a fake-out for Ogata’s return, but the possibility of an ambush still exists. As always, Golden Kamuy brings the action and anticipation this anime season, leaving viewers with lots to contemplate before the next episode.