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Golgo 13 Collection 1 Anime DVD Review

8 min read

Cold and full of very controlled emotions and passions, Golgo is the man that never fails to kill.

What They Say:
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 killer of killers. And now he’s back with 13 targeted missions that will keep you glued to the screen (and away from the windows).

Contains episodes 1-13.

The Review:
Golgo 13 gets a solid bilingual presentation here with the English and Japanese tracks presented in stereo encoded at 224kbps. The show has a lot going on during it but it has a fairly restrained soundtrack when taken in total as it’s not all about the huge action and explosions, though we do get some explosions here and there. Instead, it’s focused on the quiet and chilling moments along with a fair amount of dialogue. Where the soundtrack gets a decent workout is when it comes to the music as it uses the forward soundstage to very good effect to add a lot of atmosphere to the various events. The opening and closing sequences are also really good shining moments for the audio mix as it gets you moving nicely. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing from early 2008 to early 2009, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The set contains thirteen episodes spread across two discs in a six/seven format with no significant extras on either of them. The show has a very dark and gritty real world style to it and the animators chose to use a strong amount of digital grain added to it in order to increase the atmosphere of it all. While it can be distracting at times, it gives the show quite an interesting raw feeling that works well in enhancing the mood of most scenes. Colors are very dark and drab overall, owing to Golgo working in the shadows of the world, and colors generally hold up well. There are very few moments of vibrant colors to be had here and even those are fairly muted. Similar to other shows done with a strong amount of intentional grain, your mileage may vary in how much it bothers you, but I found that it works well for this show.

Golgo 13 gets a rather appropriate cover as it uses a white background that has a target symbol in the middle done in red that’s covered heavily by flowing blood. Putting Golgo on top of that, facing downward with his trademarked M16 gives it a very strong manly feel that lets you know that there are no cute schoolgirls to be had here or silly situations. This has a good serious look to it that stands out because of the contrasting colors. The logo is a bit tougher of a sell because of its style but it works well with the black font and the splash of red used with the skeleton on it. The back cover offers up a segmented piece with information and artwork all over the place with the central image of Golgo moving along with his weapon along the left. There’s a lot of decent sized shots from the show used here to that highlights the character designs and overall mood and the summary, which is necessarily brief, conveys the basics well. Episode and disc count is clearly listed as are the special features. The bottom is given over to the standard technical grid along with production credits as black text on white which makes it very easy to read and easy to find out the specs. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

The menus for Golgo 13 use a similar approach to the back cover of the release in that it’s made up of segmented areas, this time with clean straight lines, where we get a single piece of artwork in the right one and the logo in one of the left ones, at least the skeleton piece with the head exploding. The center strip has a good vertical episode breakdown while language and special features navigation is all kept to the lower left. There’s a lot of red here which is appropriate for the show and the music is the only thing that feels out of place, though they are just using the opening song so I can’t criticize it all that much. It works for the opening but I don’t think it sets up the mood for the show too well here. The discs are par for the course with Sentai in that they do read our players’ language presets which is always a big plus in my book.

The only extras included are on the second disc with the clean opening sequence and two clean closing sequences, which is a surprise as it’s only the 13th episode here that uses the second closing. I expected that to show up on the next installment but was very pleased to see it here.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga of the same name originally created by Takao Saito, Golgo 13 is a fifty episode series that looks to be all about the standalone stories. Golgo 13 is a very old property with the first manga chapter out in 1969 and it’s still ongoing (though how much Saito is involved in the day to day is unknown to me) and there have been a couple of live action films and some previous OVA adaptations as well. In 2008, this series kicked off to help celebrate the forthcoming 40th anniversary of the franchise and has given it what I think is its best adaptation yet. I’ve read some of the manga over the years as Viz Media put some out way back in the mid 80’s and repackaged a bit of it later on as well so there’s familiarity with it from there and from the previous animated adventures.

With this set featuring all standalone stories, I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about it because it just doesn’t make sense to. What Golgo 13 is about is one of the world’s best assassins. Using the name Golgo 13 or Duke Togo depending on the situation, he’s able to do things that are considered impossible by anyone else. When the series opens, he has to take out a hijacker on a plane from just over two kilometers, something that’s considered damn near impossible, but he pulls it off with relative ease by shooting over the SWAT snipers that are half that distance and laying in wait. It’s these kinds of shots that make up most of the series as we see him getting involved in impossible situations and making it possible, shooting between buildings from distances that are simply too far for the accuracy involved and even taking into account the wind and other conditions.

Golgo 13 is the man.

Golgo’s jobs are varied but it’s very intriguing that the majority of the locales here are in the United States. There are a couple of overseas missions, such as Hong Kong and England, but most of them take place in the US. El Paso, New York, Washington DC and so forth are all the main settings as he’s hired by the DOD, mafia bosses, women wanting their life back and athletes and musicians who are threatened by others. With his three million dollar fee, it takes a bit of money to get his services but what the buyer understands clearly is that Golgo 13 always accomplishes the job. The precision and planning with which he works is the stuff that you find in many movies taking an entire two hour run to accomplish. Granted, details are lost in the short form format and there’s some flavor of serious improbability among a lot of it, but the animators and creative staff here manipulates things in a way that if you give yourself over to it and believe that he can do the impossible, it’s a very rewarding experience.

The visual design of the series is really quite strong, grain noted, as it’s all about the men. The men here are by and large big men, manly men, who live in a rough and tough world where only the strong survive. There are a few meek men along the way and they pale next to those who kill for a living. Suits are the norm here, high rise buildings, money and power. Women fill out a good portion of the series and more often than not they’re just moments of pleasure in a very dark world for Togo. There are numerous sex scenes throughout where we see him engaging in it during the downtime before a mission, but he’s cold and hard throughout it just like his jobs, though everything about him seems to entice the women in very strong ways. Having this sort of bluntness about it while keeping it minimal, and keeping him distant from it all, only adds to his allure and mystique.

In Summary:
Whenever a company releases something that’s outside of the norm, it’s generally welcome. Most shows these days tend to revolve around high school students in some form or another so when we have a show about adults it’s always more engaging. Sadly, shows like this used to be the norm when I got into anime back in the early 90’s and I had tired of them quickly then because it’s all there was. So going back and getting something as well done as this, so nicely stylized but restrained and full of strong male characters is very enticing. The only thing about the show that I’d recommend is that it’s best to watch it one or two episodes at a time and to not power through it as you lose some of the impact. Not as much as some other shows, but with there being a lot of planning and tension throughout each episode and each kill, doing thirteen in a row can minimize it some. Golgo 13 is a very welcome show to the Sentai Filmworks catalog and I can’t wait to get my hands on another collection. I’m even more thrilled that this got dubbed right out of the gate and hope that dub fans support it since it’s a fun and engaging dub done by Steven Foster with David Wald doing a spot on performance for Golgo. Highly recommended.

Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: July 13th, 2010
MSRP: $59.98
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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