Anime Review - Golgo 13 volume 1 and 2

Pop culture works based on the exploits of hired killers are nothing new, anime titles such as Madlax and to a lesser extent Gunslinger Girl spring to mind. But one franchise has been around for much longer and is probably one of the first pieces of Japanese animation that us Aussie geeks were introduced to through TV station SBS. Back in the 90's, in between the airing of Neon Genesis Evangelion, Castle of Cagliostro and Space Adventure Cobra we would get Golgo: The Professional or Golgo: Queen Bee - both heavy on the violence and sex. Golgo 13, the animated series, embraces the same ethic of the previous films and original manga series by creator Takao Saito to provide an insight into the solitary world of a hired gun, Golgo 13.

"His targets never see it coming and he's never caught. If there is a witness to the kill, that poor SOB winds up dead too.
People say he's a ghost.
A machine.
A monster.
He's Golgo 13, the most feared assassin in the world, the professional's professional, the sniper of snipers. He's back with missions that will keep you glued to the screen (and away from the windows).
Load up for high-powered, bullet-riddled action!"

Golgo 13 is nothing new. The franchise itself has been around since its first manga volume was released in 1969. There has been a long running manga series, an animated film, OVA and multiple live action films ad for this fact, I wasn't surprised by how dated the animation appeared to be. That is, until I committed to some research and found that the series is only 6 years old. The quality of animation would be perfectly acceptable is it were released in the 90's but what we get, is a reasonably recent series that has the soft line work and subdued colour palette of a VHS release. It almost reminded me of the old copy of Queen Bee that I had recorded from television. The animation was produced by the reasonably unknown "The Answer Studio" who have provided in-between animation fro Eden of the East and 2nd key animation on Tiger & Bunny. Perhaps this in itself is the best explanation for having animation that just doesn't hit the mark on a single occasion.

As far as the story goes, Duke "Golgo 13" Togo is one of the most boring and one dimensional characters you are ever likely to meet. So much so that regardless of whether he is in the middle of a firefight or an orgasm, his stoney faced expression never changes. At one point I actually found myself wondering whether Golgo had been spending all of his ill-gotten gains on Botox. Thankfully, each story generally focusses on the tale of secondary characters in either the employer or target of Golgo. This in itself is probably the most interesting part of the series, a look into the reasons behind the hiring of a hit man or, inversely, how someone has become the target. Also of interest is the planning and execution of Golgo's plans, the reasons for why he's the best and why he is in such high demand. This is the basic plot line of the entire series which in itself is becomes repetitive, partially due to the fact that Golgo is never really threatened either physically or with failure. That said, the execution of his plans are extremely entertaining in just how ludicrous they are.

Golgo 13 is what it is. It is a series about an assassin that never fails and in being such, there is only so much room for this series to spread its wings. The animation quality and uninspiring score are a huge disappointment for what should have been a feather in the cap of a prolific franchise.

Golgo 13 volume 1 and 2 are available on DVD now from Siren Visual and volume 3 is available for preorder.  


  1. I have to admit that Golgo 13 anime is not that bad though you have time digesting the unbelievability. There's a surprise at the end of the series.

  2. I hope you're right, Trish. I will definitely watch the last volume with the hope that it gets better. You do have a fair point that his wild and unbelievable jobs are fun to watch.

    Thanks for your comment!


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