Wenkamuy (ウェンカムイ, Wen Kamui) is the first episode of the Golden Kamuy anime series.
Saichi Sugimoto, called "Immortal Sugimoto" for his incredible powers of survival, is panning for gold in the far north when he hears a story about buried treasure, hidden by a death row inmate. He decides to go after the treasure, but it will be a journey far longer and far more dangerous than he'd ever imagined.
In the year Meiji 37 (1904) at 203 Meter Hill, the Imperial Japanese Army lies in wait within the trenches, as Saichi Sugimoto eats an ant that was crawling on his finger and comments that it is sour. The commander of the army orders the men to charge, and they run uphill as cannonballs fly while being shot at by the Russian forces. Sugimoto is shot in the neck but manages to hold his footing and continues forward. He jumps into the Russian trenches and impales a soldier with his bayonet. Sugimoto continues his fierce assault and massacres the rest of the soldiers, declaring himself to be Sugimoto the Immortal.
Some years later in Hokkaido, near Otaru, Sugimoto is panning for gold. He is approached by a drunken old man, who asks him about his time in the Russo-Japanese War. The man wonders about Sugimoto's nickname—"Immortal", then asks why he has not been awarded for his heroics. Sugimoto admits that he nearly killed a superior officer he didn't like, so now he needs money. The old man laughs and begins telling Sugimoto an interesting story about gold.
Once there was a large amount of gold—20 kan (75 kg). It was stored up by the Ainu in order to fight the Japanese who were oppressing them for years by forbidding hunting and stealing their lands. However, a single man stole all the gold and killed the Ainu who gathered it. As the man was hunted by the police, he hid the gold somewhere in Hokkaido. He was arrested and thrown into Abashiri Prison before he could tell anyone of the gold's location. The man wanted to tell his comrades where the gold was but never sent any letters, as the guards would just steal them. One of the guards cut the tendon on the prisoner's leg so that he could not escape. The prisoner found another way to pass his message: he put tattoos on the bodies of his fellow death row inmates with a code that would reveal the location of the treasure. The man promised that whoever escaped from the prison and found the gold would have half of the treasure.
When Sugimoto calls it a strange story, the old man reveals that in order to crack the code, one would need all of the prisoners' tattoos. Hearing this rumor, some members of the military took the prisoners out of their cells in order to be "transported" for the gold, but the prisoners took this as an opportunity to kill their guards and escaped. Since then, no one has caught the escapees or found the gold. Before Sugimoto could ask the drunken man any more questions, he finds that the old man has fallen asleep.
As Sugimoto warms himself up by the fire, he recalls a time he spent with his friend Toraji in the trenches during the war. In the memory, Toraji is offering Sugimoto to come with him to pan for gold in Hokkaido. He says that he wants to get a doctor to look at his wife Umeko's eyes, as she is losing more of her vision everyday. Toraji then tells Sugimoto that the best eye doctors are in America and that the fee for the boat tickets and the surgery will cost around 200 yen. However, with a lucky gold panning, they will be able to cover it. Toraji laments that once the war is over relationships between Japan and the United States will worsen. He pleads Sugimoto to take care of his family as tears fall down his face. Sugimoto looks over and sees that Toraji has been fatally wounded and calls for him as he sinks into the ground.
Sugimoto wakes up from his nightmare and finds the drunken man sobered up and carrying Sugimoto's rifle; the man must have realized that he spoke too much. Sugimoto grabs his rifle, challenging the man to find out if he truly is immortal. The man hesitates for a moment which allows Sugimoto to punch him, causing him to fall and drop the rifle. Sugimoto picks up his rifle and loads it, saying that the rifle can be now shot, which makes the drunk man flee. Sugimoto begins to think that the story the drunk man told him may just be real.
Sugimoto walks into the forest, looking for the drunk man. He finds the man buried under the snow. Sugimoto digs him out from the snow and sees that the drunken man's stomach was eaten by an animal. To his horror, Sugimoto notices bear tracks nearby. He takes the drunken man's shirt off and finds out that his torso is covered in tattoos—the story about escapee prisoners is true. Sugimoto then carries the corpse away and notices a bear cub in a tree nearby before seeing a large mother bear charging at him. He tries to pull out his rifle but is unable to do so. The bear lunges at Sugimoto as he steps back, causing him to fall down. As Sugimoto braces himself, an arrow comes flying and hits the bear. Sugimoto turns around and sees a young Ainu girl. She explains that the arrow is tainted with poison and the bear will die shortly afterwards.
True to the girl's word, the bear succumbs to the poison as Sugimoto and the girl surround it. The girl then begins to carve out a portion of the bear that was hit with the arrow so that the poison does not spread to the rest of the body. She notices the corpse, asking if the man is dead, and Sugimoto explains the situation to her. However, the girl calls it strange since bears that come out of hibernation do not eat immediately. She shows the insides of the bear's stomach to Sugimoto, revealing that it is empty. Sugimoto comes to the realization that another bear must've killed the man. The girl says that the bear who ate the drunk man is a Matakarip, a particularly foul-tempered, dangerous bear that failed to go into hibernation.
The Ainu girl asks Sugimoto what he will do with the body, to which he replies that he'll take it to a nearby village. The girl warns him not to do so. Matakarip will chase anyone who steals food from it, so it's dangerous to take the body away. Sugimoto says that he cannot leave the body behind, to which the girl suggests he shoots the bear. The girl notes that it will be dark soon and that Sugimoto should prepare himself; otherwise he should leave the body behind and go. Sugimoto pulls the drunken man's shirt up, revealing the tattoo to the girl, saying that he has an interesting story to tell. Elsewhere, the Matakarip kills the bear cub as it searches for its stolen prey.
Sugimoto retells the story of the stolen Ainu gold to the girl and asks her to help him since she is accustomed to hunting bears. He then goes on to say that he initially didn't believe it, but the girl says she believes it, as one of the slain Ainu in the story was her father. She promises to elaborate later since they need to gather the wood. As night falls, Sugimoto asks if bears fear fire, but the girl says they don't and that they will use the light of the fire to shoot it while the corpse will serve as decoy to ambush it. When Sugimoto brings the corpse closer to the fire, the girl stops him as she realizes something about the tattoo. The one who imprinted the tattoo never intended to share the gold with the prisoners: their tattoos were made to resemble the lines made on deer or bears being stripped of their pelt.
Sugimoto is shocked by this revelation and asks if they could skin the corpse before the bear comes, but the Ainu girl says they do not have time, as bears always stay close to their prey. When a bear kills a human, it becomes a dangerous and evil god who fears no human, known as Wenkamuy. The girl tells Sugimoto to keep the fire going since they cannot fight in the dark and that they will have the advantage once morning comes. She asks him to find sitat, white birch bark, that they can use as torch. As Sugimoto picks up the wood, he comes across the brown bear, which destroys their campfire.
Sugimoto attempts to punch the bear, but it has no effect on the animal, and the flame dies out. The Ainu girl tells him to quickly get below the bear and cling onto its belly while she pulls out an arrow, preparing to shoot it. Sugimoto yells at her not to shoot him, but, as the moon comes out, the girl lets loose the arrow. The arrow fails to pierce the bear, as Sugimoto stabbed it with his knife, causing the bear to stand up. The bear charges at the girl, making Sugimoto lose his grip on the bear while the girl prepares to fight. Just then, a white wolf leaps out and attacks the bear, causing it to momentarily stop. As the wolf and the bear fight, the Ainu girl tells Sugimoto to aim for the heart under the armpit. Sugimoto shoots the bear, grabbing its attention towards him. When the bear is about to pounce at him, Sugimoto declares that he is Immortal Sugimoto and points his bayonet upward to the bear's body.
With the bear defeated, the Ainu girl asks Sugimoto if he is still alive. She praises him for his courage and strength and helps Sugimoto get out from under the bear. The two then introduce themselves: the girl reveals her name to be Asirpa. Sugimoto asks Asirpa about the huge white dog, but she corrects him, saying Retar is a wolf. As Asirpa carves the brown bear open, she begins to explain the origin of the Ainu gold. Sugimoto proposes that they work together to find the gold and that he is ready to give it away to her in exchange for a small split. Asirpa gives Sugimoto the bear's gall bladder, saying he can sell it for a high amount of money instead of chasing for the gold. Asirpa states that she will use the mother bear's body instead of the brown bear, because it has become an evil god that killed people. She states firmly that she does not want to kill people either.
Sugimoto skins the drunken man's corpse, insisting that Asirpa actually wants to find the gold so that she can avenge her father's death. Sugimoto says that he will be the one to dirty his hands while Asirpa lends him her wisdom, and, even though they have different goals, they share the same path. Sugimoto claims that if they join forces, together they will be unstoppable and find the lost Ainu gold. Meanwhile, a hooded man approaches the campfire site that Sugimoto and the drunken man left behind.
- Saichi Sugimoto (Debut)
- Drunken Man (Debut)
- Ainu Killer (Debut) (Flashback)
- Tattooed Prisoner (Cameo)
- Toraji (Debut) (Flashback)
- Umeko (Debut) (Flashback)
- Asirpa (Debut)
- Asirpa's Father (Mentioned)
- Retar (Debut)
- Hooded Man (Cameo)
|Sugimoto's Group||7th Division||Hijikata's Group||Skins found|
- The episode doesn't feature Opening and Ending video sequences.
- The after credits scene where Ogata is seen finding Sugimoto and Gotou's campfire spot is an anime-only addition.
- In Ainu religion, Wenkamuy, or Wen Kamuy, are violent and evil gods.
|Season 1||01 • 02 • 03 • 04 • 05 • 06 • 07 • 08 • 09 • 10 • 11 • 12|
|Season 2||13 • 14 • 15 • 16 • 17 • 18 • 19 • 20 • 21 • 22 • 23 • 24|
|Season 3||25 • 26 • 27 • 28 • 29 • 30 • 31 • 32 • 33 • 34 • 35 • 36|
|OVA||OVA 1 • OVA 2 • OVA 3 • OVA 4|
|ONA||Golden Douga Gekijou|