What They Say:
Golgo has even more action in his sights: a luxury liner with a bomb – and a sexy fellow assassin – on board; a terrorist cult of suicide bombers; an island paradise disguised as a “hospital” with murderous operations. These are just a few of the hyper-violent, ultra-sexy assignments the number one assassin in the world is taking aim at!
Contains episodes 14-26.
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 another good 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, this time as he stands tall with his weapon ready to use, gives it an ominous feeling and one that really sets the atmosphere for what the show is all about. Like the first set, 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, as the last episode on the set changes it again. Similar to the first set, it’s good to have both of them included here.
With Golgo 13’s long history, it’s a real testament to the property that the manga is still ongoing and that it’s kept to its core premise. The first set gave us thirteen episodes that showcased exactly what Golgo is all about with his minimal dialogue, cold killings and a healthy dose of carnal relations with beautiful women. Provide numerous international settings and a whole lot of style and you have a really fun show. The downside is that with it being an episodic show, you know it’s all going to be resolved in one episode and someone is going to die. But that tends to work well if you go into it with the right mindset – and that you don’t marathon it.
Golgo 13 offers up a fair bit of variety to the stories that are told and the way they have to get him to kill people. One of the things that makes Golgo so interesting is that he really is a cipher for the most part. One story has one government trying to get various terrorists to off each other by using them to target each other without knowing it. Golgo gets drawn into it as a target, though there are some that aren’t sure they want him killed since he’s so useful. When the discussion comes up about him and his lack of ideology, the way you find yourself viewing him is that he’s not really a person. He’s a tool used by those who can pay to do the jobs he agrees to, but there’s nothing behind it the majority of the time outside of the paycheck. He’s worked all sides of the fence and has no problems with any of it from what’s been show. While it keeps him from being a hugely engaging character in one sense, it does make him extremely different from just about every other show.
Thankfully, Golgo 13 does not enter Lupin III territory by having someone regularly chasing him, but he does have the past come into the present a few times. One has him returning to San Francisco for a job where he ends up having a former detective he dealt with finding out that he’s there and coming up to try and slow him down some since he’s up to something himself. It’s got a bit of a buddy cop show in a way as you have the two people who have a lot of experience in the world coming across each other and treating each other very civilly considering what’s going on, but it has a decent if obvious little twist to it as Golgo gets down to his actual mission. Similar is another story that has him going after an assassin he had come across previously, Eva, except she knows that he’s come for her and he has the right level for respect for her. She won’t take flight and he’ll allow her to finish returning him before he offs her. In fact, the two have such professional respect for each other that they’ll engage in a night of passion, or what is considered passion for Golgo, before things move into the right phase.
This set has some fun around the world exploits as well, including a couple of airplane related ones that can make you tense. One incident has him going after a secret factory underground on an island where he’s doing the same job as another professional. The two don’t work together, though they cross paths in a way and keep their professional distance while having some appreciation for how the other works. It’s interesting to see Golgo in this situation since it’s someone who does what he does but he doesn’t have a reason or a contract to kill him, yet he plans for it. You really get the impression that everyone he meets is just a contract waiting to happen and he files away numerous ways to take people out.
He does show a very slight bit of heart at one point when he goes to the Amazon and takes on a job from the last villager alive in a village. Revenge is the key here as he’s asked to take down a group of thugs who work with the police turning a blind eye to them. What makes this one really interesting is the level he goes to take them down, hijacking a plane through which a lead negotiator is someone he’s dealt with before and understands he may be doing something useful. Drawing attention to the thugs down there and causing a ton of carnage that even captures the attention of the CIA as they monitor the whole situation. Seeing him go to these kinds of extremes for a job isn’t a surprise, but this one just has a very different feeling to it.
Like the first set, Golgo 13 doesn’t stray from what it does as it does it so well. The stories are varied in a lot of ways but they follow a familiar structure. The beauty in it is watching how Golgo accomplishes it. He goes above and beyond with a lot of it, such as dealing with an armored truck in an absurdly fun way, or making a shot ricochet on a wave to strike inside a building, but at its core there is a lot of really excellent assassinations going on here that captivate and excite. There’s a lot of style to it, but it’s not flashy style. It’s a professional style that you rarely see in anime as the focus is on being flashy. Golgo 13 continues to be the man’s man and these episodes only solidify it. A must own set to be sure.
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: September 14th, 2010
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
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.