Snapshots: Golgo 13
The rest of this year’s anime can be cancelled, all you need is Golgo 13 (ゴルゴ13), 50 rock hard episodes on Fridays at 25:23, broadcast by TV Tokyo.
Golgo 13 is not like other titles. Saitou Takao‘s manga started its publication in 1968, and now, at age 71, he’s still leading the staff working on what has become a 148 volume monstrosity. In terms of volumes published, it’s probably only rivalled by Akimoto’s Kochikame at 159, also still running. Over the years there have been two live-action movies, one animated feature film and one OVA, but now the time has finally come for an animated series. Picked to direct it is Ooga Shunji, a veteran who’s worked on a number of Soreike! Anpanman movies. The script writing is coordinated by another veteran, Iioka Junichi, who’s worked on Lupin III and Detective Conan.
The entire show revolves around Duke Tougou, an assassin for hire who goes by the codename “Golgo 13″ – a top class sniper with a heavily modified M16 as favourite weapon. His origin remains unknown to the world’s intelligence agencies, but he’s commonly believed to be oriental, with MI6, CIA and KGB assuming at least partial Japanese heritage, and he’s estimated to speak at least 18 languages. The series is of episodic nature, with each week chronicling how Golgo 13 goes through preparations and execution of his mission. Hopefully this short summary of the first episode will be helpful: Golgo 13 is hired for an assassination at a joint request by the FBI and the CIA, orders a custom made sniper rifle, fucks a hooker so hard she wants another go, kills off five mafioso on a revenge strike, picks up the modified rifle, flies over to the site in a propeller plane, then pops the target between the eyes at a distance of 2 km.
The animation is done by The Answer studio, who have only really got FLAG behind them, and they’ve produced a dark and gritty show, where the coarseness is increased through the addition of what looks like a noise filter. It isn’t pretty, but it works to the show’s advantage. Character design is particularly interesting, with Golgo 13 himself frozen in a perpetual scowl that sends chills down your spine. For the role of Duke Tougou they’ve cast established actor and singer Tachi Hiroshi, who’s played in a number of TV dramas and films, here making his debut in anime. It’s a cold voice, and the character rarely speaks unless it’s really necessary, but it’s efficient when he does. The rest of the cast is made up of veterans like Arimoto Kinryuu and Tanaka Kan, who populate the various characters the protagonist meets without standing out. Bonus points if you spot the woman Fujimura Ayumi (Nene in Touka Gettan) plays.
The emperor has arrived. Few shows can manage to be this hard-boiled, with sex and violence fitting smoothly within the setting of the series, not feeling tacked on and gratuitous. It makes it clear from the get-go that Duke is the meanest bastard you’ll ever see, and someone you’d only mess with once in your lifetime. It’s dead serious without a speck of humour, and it’s refreshing to see a production like this in a time where it seems impossible to make a thriller without splicing in a bit of comic relief. Instead testosterone oozes out of every frame, leaving me with a grin from ear to ear. Golgo 13 is a series to enjoy.
Personal note: I’ve been writing these snapshots for nearly a year now, starting with the lovely Dennou Coil, hoping to introduce TV anime Omni didn’t have time to cover. However, these past couple of weeks have made it clear that my style isn’t suited for the audience of Random Curiosity, making the section’s continued existence pointless. This will be my final entry, and I wish Omni the best of luck with the blog.