Hardworking Professionals to Retire After 47 Years: Goodbye Golgo, Sayonara Saito

Golgo 13: The professional, 1983, animated film

This morning I sent a link over to Laura, our news editor, about the ending being in sight for Golgo 13. Golgo 13 is a story (loosely, loosely it’s a story) that has been in progress since 1968. And end approaching is a pretty big deal. Conceptually. This is the third-longest series, in terms of tankobon volume numbers, of awl tahm.

I meant for Laura to pass this off to somebody else, so I didn’t have to write about it quickly (sue me). But! Then I realised. Golgo 13 is by Saito Takao. Golgo 13 is a sniper. Sniper. Saito. Saito. Sniper. Ohhhh.

Saito, Section 9, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Production IG, 2002
Saito the sniper, Ghost in the Shell. Kind of my area, but did I get it? NO

How many jokes are we missing, when we dabble in cross-cultural reading?

Golgo 13 is what you might call “a problematic thing”. It is; it’s about a man who kills people for money and never has any expression but >:|. Seriously, do an image search. Unusually for a long-running manga series, the “story” portion of Golgo 13, AKA Duke Togo, AKA mystery, is only four paragraphs long and decidedly plotless. There is no Golgo 13 wikia. He’s got at least two sons, one of which is dead. He’s got a logo. He’s got scars.

Golgo 13 has no concrete identity and all of his adventures heavily feature bouncy round breasts, and rape of perfect, normative women by decrepit monsters, and other non-vaginal torture, and blood going everywhere and not a single, single character who feels good about anything, ever. As Wikipedia has it, “the name ‘Golgo 13’ is a reference to the death of Jesus Christ“. Problematic AND controversial! Oh boy, what riches. As you might expect from a legit sixties killer-for-money story, things often get politically dirty. Presidential assassination, hired by the British government, etc. Everything is rather dour. If you like “horrible and stylish, in sort of a dated way”, you’ll probably experience your equivalent of satisfaction, with Golgo 13. A lot of people are up for this, and that’s why the manga is still going, and the adaptations (including the live action film seen above, starring man of men Sonny Chiba) are regular. I won’t say that nothing about the aesthetic appeals. I will say not enough, by a long way.

I watched a Golgo 13 animated film a while back–Golgo 13: The Professional–and the standout scene was one in which he is engaging in sexual congress. He maintains his characteristic expression, and she’s like, you are the best sex-haver IN THE UNIVERSE. What’s he doing with that dick? Can he move it on its own? If you like men he’s attractive enough, but good grief. You’d die of boredom on a date. That level of inattention is just rude.

Golgo 13: The Professional

Incidentally, this scene is interrupted by an old man who comes to tell Golgo 13 some facts. They keep on fuckin’, while the sad priest (I think) relays the troubles of his town. The level of unreality in Golgo is high; this is not refined only to the ridiculous trick shots he’s regularly able to achieve in the course of his most expensive sniping.

Golgo 13 is about as influential as you’re probably suspecting. It’s a manga about a Cool Guy, the definition of stoic, who kills dudes and lays chicks (and kills chicks, but I don’t think he lays dudes). He has a long gun and a trench coat, and everybody wants to kill him BUT THEY CAN’T. Like imagine if Lupin III didn’t understand what jokes or fun were, and didn’t care.

Just at random, here’s a synopsis of an episode of 2008’s Golgo 13 anime:

28 “Love Moans on an Arctic Night”“Byakuya wa Ai no Umeki” (白夜は愛のうめき) October 18, 2008
A woman, whose husband cheated on her, feels she wants to die to escape the pain he caused. By chance she shares a taxi to the airport with Golgo 13 and also the seat next to his. When the plane is forced to perform a belly landing Golgo reveals to her that she does actually want to live and enjoy life. At their destination, having made love at night, she follows him to his job. Golgo can’t allow a witness to the job and so kills her.


Godspeed, Golgo. I’d never want to be you. You deserve a fuckin’ rest.

Claire Napier

Claire Napier

Critic, ex-Editor in Chief at WWAC, independent comics editor; the rock that drops on your head. Find me at clairenapierclairenapier@gmail.com and give me lots of money

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