“Golden Kamuy” is a manga serialized in Weekly Young Jump since 2014.
The story begins in Hokkaido after the end of the Russo-Japanese War(1904-5). The main character, “Saichi Sugimoto”, is nicknamed “the immortal Sugimoto” because he survived the harsh battlefield where many people lost their lives, and he has both a strong body and spirit. After being discharged from the army, he visits Hokkaido during the gold rush to get money for a certain purpose but is attacked by a huge brown bear in the forest. When he encountered a huge brown bear in the forest, the heroine of this manga, “Ashilipa”, rescues him. She is a beautiful innocent “Ainu” girl with the skills to survive in the forest, and she, too, is in search of gold. With their interests aligned, the two join forces for a mutual purpose and begin to travel together. “Golden Kamuy” is an adventure manga centered on Sugimoto and “Ashilipa”, who search for the Ainu gold nuggets hidden somewhere in Hokkaido.
“Golden Kamuy” is very interesting as a survival manga about gold nuggets, but it is also possible to talk about its interest from a cultural anthropological aspect. Cultural anthropology is the study of what it means to be human through the various human cultures, such as lifestyles, languages, and customs of various peoples around the world. In “Golden Kamuy”, one of the main themes is the “Ainu” people, with whom even the Japanese are not familiar, and the culture of the “Ainu” people is described in great detail and with great care.
In cultural anthropology, a researcher conducts fieldwork in an ethnic society and leaves behind an ethnography*1 that concretely describes what the researcher felt there and the social life of the people, and I feel that it is no exaggeration to call “Golden Kamuy” an ethnography of the author, “Satoru Noda”. The depictions of the “Ainu” people in the manga world, such as the hunting of the “Ashilipa”, the cooking of the hunted animals, the Ainu speaking in “Ainu” language, and the villages where they live, faithfully depict the real “Ainu” people in the manga world, and as a result, we can feel the vividness of the “Ainu” people’s lives in the manga world. The Ainu people can be seen in “Golden Kamuy”.
“Golden Kamuy” is not just a survival manga, but a manga that will make you learn about the “Ainu”, fall in love with them, and want to know more about them. It is said that there are more than 4,000 ethnic groups in the world, and reading “Golden Kamuy” will definitely make you want to learn more about the peoples of the world and their cultures.
Anthropology is the scientific study of humanity, concerned with human behavior, human biology, cultures, societies, and linguistics, in both the present and past, including past human species.