May Contain Spoilers
I noticed this in the library catalog and immediately put a hold on it. Only one library in our extensive library network owns a copy, and they only own the first volume. I was sort of hoping I would be underwhelmed by this, so I wouldn’t want to read more. Well, I was wrong. This was a very exciting introduction to the series, and I really liked the two main protagonists. I immediately purchased the Kindle version of V2.
During the Meiji Era, after the Russo-Japanese War, Saichi Sugimoto is in Hokkaido, desperately seeking his fortune. Called Immortal Sugimoto because he just wouldn’t die, despite suffering from grievous injuries during the war, he is hardened, cynical, and does not hesitate to kill to protect himself. In the lawless territory of rural Japan, his combat experience is a boon for his survival. Little does he know that he’s going to get caught up in a hunt for lost gold that was stolen from the Ainu and hidden by a criminal. The only clue to the location of the gold are the tattoos that mark the bodies of ex-prisoners. With the help of a fierce Ainu girl, Sugimoto is determined to find the gold so he can help the widow of his best friend seek the medical attention she needs.
I really liked Sugimoto. He is putting himself in grave danger, not for his own benefit, but to help the woman he loves. Ume is losing her vision, and her only hope of keeping it is to journey to the US for treatment. After being kicked out of the army because of his temper, Sugimoto is broke and has few prospects. When an old man tells him the tall tale of a gang of criminals with pieces of a treasure map tattooed on their bodies, he is skeptical. When the old man tries to kill him because he knows too much, Sugimoto discovers that the old guy’s torso is covered with a weird tattoo. Now a believer, he finds himself caught up in the hunt for the gold. He is up against a division of the army that is also looking for it, as well as all of the convicts with the tattoos. And to make things even more interesting, the cold-blooded murderer who stole the gold in the first place is also a potential threat.
Asirpa, an Ainu girl, gets caught up in the chase when she saves Sugimoto from a bear. I like her, too! She is more than capable of taking care of herself in the wilds of Hokkaido, and she has even more survival knowledge than Sugimoto. She agrees to help him if he agrees to not kill anyone. That’s a tough promise for Sugimoto to make, and I’m curious to see how long before he breaks his word. The people they are up against are nasty, and they don’t hesitate to kill to gain possession of a fortune in gold.
The art is stunning. Wow, what a treat. The paperback is oversized, showcasing Noda’s breathtaking art. There are big, dramatic panels scattered throughout, and I am totally sold on the art. I wonder how it will look on my 10” iPad – gorgeous, I’m sure. The illustrations are clear and crisp, and there’s not a lot of clutter to get in the way. I’d read this one just for the art.
This was a treat to discover. Golden Kumay is a survival manga wrapped up in a treasure hunt for stolen gold, with interesting protagonists and a lot of fun action.
Grade: 4.25 stars
Review copy borrowed from my local library
About the book:
A tale of high adventure and survival on the Japanese frontier!
In the early 20th century, Russo-Japanese War veteran Saichi Sugimoto searches the wilderness of the Japanese frontier of Hokkaido for a hoard of hidden gold. With only a cryptic map and a native Ainu girl to help him, Saichi must also deal with every murderous cutthroat, bandit and rogue who knows about the treasure!
Immortal Sugimoto, a survivor of the assault on 203 Meter Hill during the Russo-Japanese War, now scratches out a meager existence in the post-war gold rush in the wild frontier of Hokkaido. A chance encounter in the woods puts a map to a hidden fortune of Ainu gold in his hands, but Sugimoto is not the only interested party, and everyone who knows about the gold will kill to possess it!”