Cover of Golgo 13 tankōbon volume 1, featuring the title character
|Written by||Takao Saito|
|Original run||October 1968 – present|
|Original video animation|
|Directed by||Osamu Dezaki|
|Produced by||Mataichirō Yamamoto|
|Written by||Akihiro Tago|
|Music by||Fujimaru Yoshino|
|Released||May 21, 1998|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Shunji Ōga|
|Written by||Junichi Iioka|
|Music by||Daisuke Ikeda|
|Studio||The Answer Studio|
|Original network||TV Tokyo|
|Original run||April 11, 2008 – March 27, 2009|
Golgo 13 (Japanese: ゴルゴ13, Hepburn: Gorugo Sātīn) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Takao Saito, published in Shogakukan's Big Comic magazine since October 1968. The manga won the 1975 Shogakukan Manga Award for general manga and the Grand Prize at the 2002 Japan Cartoonists Association Awards. The series follows the title character, a professional assassin for hire.
Golgo 13 is the oldest manga still in publication, and its tankōbon edition has the third-highest number of volumes. It has sold 280 million copies in various formats, including compilation books, making it the second or third-best-selling manga series and the top selling Seinen manga series in history. It has been adapted into two live-action feature films, an anime film, an original video animation, an anime television series and six video games.
Golgo 13, also known by the pseudonym Duke Togo (デューク・東郷, Dyūku Tōgō), is a professional assassin. His age and birthplace are unknown and there is no consensus in the worldwide intelligence community as to his true identity. Most of his jobs are completed through the use of a customized, scoped M16 rifle. Besides Duke Togo, Golgo 13's other aliases include Tadashi Togo (東郷 隆, Tōgō Tadashi) and Togo Rodriguez (トーゴ・ロドリゲス, Tōgo Rodorigesu).
Duke Togo has a very quiet personality and will only talk when he needs to, he shows very little to no emotion when carrying out an assassination and is willing to kill anyone who will threaten to expose him. He accepts many different assassination jobs from anyone who can afford his services. From simply shooting a violin string to taking out powerful organized crime bosses and political figures, these killings have often attracted retaliations against Golgo 13, even at one stage having both the FBI, CIA, and even the United States military out to kill him, causing Togo to always have to watch his own back and pay attention to his surroundings in order to stop other assassins and contract killers employed to kill him in often creative ways. Golgo 13 also employs many different people himself to assist him in his assassination jobs, such as in providing extra information on his targets to modifying his weapons, vehicles, and gadgets.
The name "Golgo 13" is a reference to the death of Jesus Christ. Golgo is short for Golgotha, the place of Jesus' crucifixion, while the number 13 is considered an unlucky number. Also, Golgo 13's logo is a skeleton wearing a crown of thorns.
Duke Togo's past is a mystery. Although his Asian appearance suggests that he may be of Japanese origin, many of Golgo 13's stories have presented different speculations about his true identity while presenting contradictory information, leaving the audience uncertain which information is true. It is known that he may be the biological father of many different children all over the world from the many sexual encounters he has had with women throughout the series, such as a 4-year-old son named Joey from ex-Provisional Irish Republican Army terrorist Catherine McCall.
With respect to the character's age, a large number of stories are dated as they are centered around current events of the time. However, Golgo 13's age has not increased significantly to account for these events. He has also suffered multiple injuries throughout the series, leaving many different scars around his body.
Early on Takao Saito developed a system where he creates the page layout based on a script written by the editorial department. He also inks the main characters' faces, while assistants provide the backgrounds and other elements. He does extensive research to provide accuracy, especially when the plot deals with technology. Kazuo Koike was one of the writers on the series in the beginning. Author Yoichi Funado wrote approximately 30 stories for Golgo 13, three of which he later novelized.
According to Jason Thompson, several Golgo 13 stories have not been reprinted for being "offensive or libelous." Thompson lists one from 1986 because of complaints from the Iranian Embassy in Japan, another from 1988 about money laundering in the Vatican, and one from 1989 about a Hollywood actor blackmailed when someone discovers he has AIDS.
In 2013, Saito stated that because he often worried about his manga being cancelled, he had an ending planned out that even includes the panel layout. He said he had no idea when Golgo 13 would end, claiming "The manga has continued so long that it is no longer the property of the author; it belongs to the readers." Two years later, Big Comic's fourth issue of 2015 announced that the series was "heading towards its conclusion."
Due to difficulties that arose from the restrictions implemented by the government to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in Japan, Golgo 13 began its first hiatus in its 52-year history in May 2020. It returned on July 7, 2020.
Written and illustrated by Takao Saito, Golgo 13 has been serialized in the monthly manga magazine Big Comic since its January 1969 issue, published in October 1968. The chapters have been collected into tankōbon volumes by Shogakukan and Leed Publishing, a spinoff of the author's own Saito Production, since June 21, 1973. As of April 2019, 192 volumes of the tankōbon edition have been published, while the bunkoban edition has 148 volumes.
In 1989 and 1990, Leed and Vic Tokai published two further Golgo 13 comic books, "The Impossible Hit" and "The Border Hopper", as part of the promotion for two Golgo 13 video games. The comics were released to the US public via a mail-in offer with the purchase of the games and were later even found packaged with the video games. Each issue contained one complete story and had nothing to do with the storylines of the video games themselves.
In 1991, Leed Publishing and Viz Media published The Professional: Golgo 13, a three part mini-series. The Professional was a re-printing of "The Argentine Tiger", a story where Golgo is hired by the British Government to assassinate the reportedly dead ex-president of Argentina Juan Perón.
In 2006, Golgo 13 was brought back by Viz as part of their Viz Signature collection. The stories are picked from the forty-year history of the manga, and do not necessarily represent the original's order of publication. A total of thirteen volumes were published, with the thirteenth volume being published on February 19, 2008. Each volume ends with an editorial commentary on Golgo 13 as a cultural phenomenon in Japan.
Toei Company produced a live-action film simply titled Golgo 13 in 1973, directed by Junya Sato and starring Ken Takakura as Duke Togo and Pouri Banayi as Catherine Morton. It was filmed entirely in the Imperial State of Iran with an entirely Persian supporting cast. It was followed by Golgo 13: Assignment Kowloon in 1977, directed by Yukio Noda, which replaced Takakura with Sonny Chiba. In 2011, production company Davis Film obtained the American remake rights to Golgo.
Golgo 13: The Professional
Golgo 13: The Professional, known simply as Golgo 13 in Japan, is a 1983 animated featured film. Golgo 13's voice is provided by Tetsurō Sagawa in the Japanese version, and Gregory Snegoff in Streamline Pictures' English dub. It incorporates CGI animation, which was in its infancy at the time. This is most notable in the scene where army helicopters circle around Dawson Tower and attack Golgo as he climbs toward Dawson's office on the top floor.
Golgo 13: Queen Bee
Golgo 13: Queen Bee is an original video animation that was released in 1998. Tesshō Genda provides the voice of Golgo 13 in the Japanese version, while in the English version, he is voiced by John DiMaggio.
A Golgo 13 anime television series was produced by The Answer Studio and aired on TV Tokyo and other stations from April 11, 2008, to March 27, 2009, for 50 episodes. Hiroshi Tachi provides the voice of Golgo 13. The series was licensed by Sentai Filmworks, with the first DVD released on July 13, 2010. In English, Golgo is voiced by David Wald.
The first opening theme song is "Take the Wave" by Naifu for the first 25 episodes, and the second is "So Far Away" by Pinc Inc for the remaining. The first ending theme song for the first 12 episodes is "Garasu no Haiwei (Highway of Glass)" by doa, while "Yume no Hitotsu" by Garnet Crow is used for episodes 13–25. The third ending theme is "Sono Egao Yo Eien ni" by Kitahara Aiko for episodes 26 to 38, and the final ending song is "Mou Kimi wo Hitori ni Sasenai" by U-ka Saegusa in dB from 39–50.
Six video games have been released: the first one, released for SG-1000, followed by Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode on the Nintendo Entertainment System, The Mafat Conspiracy and three Japan-only Arcade games, similar to the Silent Scope series, but with a few differences. The rifle only contained a magnifying lens, not a small monitor like Silent Scope. The screen itself would close up on the target only when the sensor on the underside of the rifle base was activated by the player leaning their shoulder into it. Each mission was preceded by an 8-10 panel manga briefing. The first two releases ran on Namco System 12 hardware, with the third on Namco System 10 hardware. A Golgo 13 game, Golgo 13: File G-13 o Oe, was released for the Nintendo DS on June 18, 2009, by Marvelous Entertainment. From initial reports, the game appears to consist of a large quiz mode, featuring questions spanning the 40-year history of Golgo 13, as well as several mini-games, including the "Don't Stand Behind Me" game, in which the player, as Golgo 13, must punch people who walk up behind him. At the end of each episode of the anime, the tagline was "Do not stand behind him, if you value your life." The game is played holding the DS on its side, also known as "book style" and surprisingly seems to be rated the Japanese equivalent of General/All Ages, which suggests the game won't feature much or any graphic violence or adult/mature subject matter, some of Golgo 13's trademarks. A version of Golgo 13's signature weapon, the scoped M16, was released in the Japanese version of Alliance of Valiant Arms as a usable weapon. There was also a LCD game based on Golgo 13 released only in Japan by Popy in 1982.
Golgo 13 won the 21st Shogakukan Manga Award in the General category in 1975, the Grand Prize at the 2002 Japan Cartoonists Association Awards, and the Special Judges Award at the 50th Shogakukan Manga Awards in 2005. Golgo 13 is one of the works credited with popularizing the gekiga movement in Japanese comics, which strives for more realistic and dramatic works. Saito himself is surprised by his series' popularity overseas, because it is firmly rooted in Japanese culture and samurai. He cited the timing of when Golgo actually takes his shot as an example; "It evokes iaidō [the martial art of drawing one's sword and mimicking a deadly blow]. It is the same movement and the same shape. I love Japanese samurai stories and that is why, unconsciously, Golgo moves like a samurai. That is why I thought foreigners wouldn't understand the story."
The Anime News Network's Carl Kimlinger compared Saito's work on the series to the novels of John le Carré and Frederick Forsyth, as the stories are "dark, meticulously constructed [and] painstakingly realistic". Leo Lewis of the Financial Times wrote that "Unsmiling, misogynist and inexorable, [Golgo 13] is a literary cousin of James Bond without the scene-softeners of Moneypenny, M, Q or exploding fountain pens." The Daily Vanguard called Duke "a badass, something like a cross between Dirty Harry and Metal Gear Solid's Solid Snake."
Jc DuBois of Dragon's Anime has criticized those who say that most of Golgo 13's hits are impossible to do since there are problems that would prevent him from shooting straight such as the wind or with the coriolis effect, saying that the "whole mystique of Golgo 13 is that he's just that damn good. He CAN make those shots—and he can do it with one shot."
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