So we’re moving onto S1E3 of Golden Kamuy today.
Reminder that I am not trying to speak authoritatively on this group. I am just trying to convey what I have learned through studying firsthand and academic accounts through a century of materials.
This is also not a beat-by-beat retelling of each episode. These are just my evolving thoughts as I watch.
Okay the beginning of this episode is very, very cute and outlines the difference between cultural misunderstandings. (Episode timestamp 0:52) Ashiripa doesn’t understand what Miso is because she’s never encountered it. She’s so off-put by something she sees as gross. Then berates him from saying thankful words on what she considers poop. It’s just a nice little comedy moment. Is it a sign this episode’s gonna be a little lighter? We’ll see.
I really do like the fact they’re going into the Ainu beliefs about the bear so much. It’s the premier deity they have. It represents Kimun (or Kim-un) Kamuy, or the god of the mountains. The iyomante (or iyomande or iomande… There’s no agreed-upon Latin orthography for Ainu) or bear-sending ceremony was the most important of all Ainu festivals. It was basically where a bear cub would be raised for about two years, then sacrificed in a highly ritual way. Here is a video of it from the 1930s, taken by Dr. Neil Godorn Munro. It’s low quality but it is an interesting insight. I wouldn’t really call it graphic. Yes, the bear is killed, but compared to some of the stuff in today’s movies and such, it really isn’t much. Obviously, just viewer discretion is advised if you’re sensitive to killing animals.
Oh hello, wolf. I have a feeling that may be her father… As far as I’ve read, the Ainu didn’t have the belief in reincarnation of souls as protectors like that. Or maybe it’s an embodiment of a god? I’m not entirely sure what that wolf is supposed to be…
[Episode timestamp 7:39)
Oh dang, I wonder if Sugimoto deliberately led them to that little cave. Then again he may have just recognised the signs.
I’m not really surprised the bear came out and attacked… YA DUN SHOT AT IT.
WAIT IS THAT WOLF HERS OR SOMETHING? Or is it something to say at the wolf to make it act a certain way? At the very least he’s friendly toward her. (Episode stamp 9:54)
Oh no they have a little bear cub… That’s so cute… (Something horrible is going to happen to it, isn’t it?)
(Episode Timestamp 11:04)
Oh my GOD Ashiripa PLEASE. (12:06)
Oh going to her kotan (village)? Neat!
The opening shot of the village may seem a bit confusing to those not in the know on Ainu culture. What’s being seen here are the skulls of animals along with what are called inau (pronounced “ee-now” roughly, also written inaw, inao, and probably others).
Inau are sticks carved in certain ways for certain kamuy. There are a lot of different ones, each which serve their own unique purposes. Large clusters of them were placed in many different areas, again, for different reasons. However, one thing that was always present for a traditional Ainu home was what was called a nusa. Nusa is just the word for a gathering of inau. Each house had a sacred window that faced the east to the rising sun. There were several clusters of nusa at the sacred window in a prescribed way.
(insert image from Creed and Cult)
Another thing from a scene a couple of minutes later is related to inau.
Those are called inau-kike which are shavings from inau, put up, once again, for ritual reasons. Again, the reasonings are numerous. If any of this piques your interest, go read Ainu Creed and Cult yourself. It’s for free download on the Internet Archive.
Oh the point about naming is actually a good one. Ashiripa explains it well, but I thought I’d bring it up anyway.
Oh, there Ashiripa explains more about the bear-sending ceremony. She also goes into a good explanation of kamuy in general.
Interesting about her name. “An Ainu girl for a new era,” huh? My guess is her father was seeing the writing on the wall with the decades of forced assimilation going on at that point… He probably wanted her to be able to adapt to the change of life as the Japanese slowly took them over. Chiri Yukie could see it herself in 1912 (link to article 1). Of course, that was a little while after this particular anime is set but still.
Well that ends my commentary for the episode! I was a little bit lighter than the last two for sure. Still had bits of plot sprinkled in though.