What They Say:
Golgo faces his most dangerous assignments yet. A beautiful CIA operative seeks Golgo’s help as she is hunted by a hired hit squad, but does she have a hidden agenda? How is it that a woman suddenly comes to his rescue after a car accident erases his memory? Is she to be trusted? What of the hooker being held captive by mobsters? And the little baby who bears a striking resemblance to Golgo himself? When the stakes are raised this high, is it possible a heartless killer will finally discover he actually has a soul?
Contains episodes 39-50.
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 with him in his white suit as he strikes an action pose by getting a shot off. Like the previous sets, 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 in his black suit putting his weapon together from the briefcase. 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 with the set includes the clean opening sequence and two clean closing sequences.
While we had a lengthy delay between the second and third collections, the fourth has come quickly and it wraps up the series well while still leaving you longing for more. Yet even as you say that, you have to feel at times that some of the stories here feels like they’re stretching a bit to keep it going, but with the wealth of source material to work with, it’s more that they made bad choices in stories to adapt. In the end though, the final collection of Golgo 13 provides for some strong episodes that continues to show Duke Togo being the manly man that he is, full of the quiet confidence to get the job done without being stylish or problematic.
On the somewhat less than enjoyable side, there are a few stories that hit that threshold and it unfortunately starts with one. Golog’s job is to take down a powerful man that uses a bank in a slummy part of the city. It’s filled, as his guards say, with lowlifes, druggies and prostitutes. What better place for a high end bank with lots of money for its clientele? Golgo’s mission has its personal history for the client, but that doesn’t matter much in the end as it’s all about the job. The problem is that there’s no clean line of sight to target him. Spoiling it, the idea of him destroying a slum building isn’t bad, but it just pushes the show further than I’d care for since his already mythical abilities are made even more so and it just lacks a proper graspable concept in a way.
The other story that really bothered me was different but hit me because it felt like it was too cliched. The episode kicks off early with Golgo having lost his memory and trying to figure out what it is he’s supposed to do. Bit by bit, in short form of course, he realizes that he’s familiar with weapons and bits of his mission starts to come back into play. He naturally gets wrapped up with a woman and there’s confusion about the truth of his mission, but the whole lost memory angle just rubs me the wrong way as a plot point that’s just too easy to work with. The episode doesn’t feel forced or poorly done, it just doesn’t feel like it belongs with what the series has done overall.
Thankfully, the majority of the set is pretty enjoyable as it runs through its twelve episodes of death and mayhem. Golgo gets drawn into a murder that a woman commits who is just as skilled as him while in London, which leads to some solid sex and some time on the run as the men going after her close in on them. It’s not exactly some double agent material going on here, but it’s fun to see Golgo kind of going with it since she’s using him and he knows it, but he’s not actively engaged in a mission and you get a sense that this is the kind of fun he has during his down time. We don’t see much of what he does between missions which is kind of unfortunate as I have to admit I’d like an OVA episode that’s saucy and shows Golgo getting all smutty and such.
Golgo’s skill is shown well in another episode where he has to take down a criminal that’s in prison but stuck in a private cell in an intricate layout. As the title suggests, there’s one second in 36,000 in which he can target him, but it requires exceptional skill for that alone, never mind the patience of body and physique to sit still for hours on end until that window of opportunity opens. There’s some neat stuff to how it unfolds and how he prepares, but I didn’t care for the epilogue aspect of it, even if I did understand why he went back when he should have gone elsewhere. It just felt like the one out of place element in an over the top episode that was technically a lot of fun.
The same could be said for one of the final episodes where Golgo, flying a small plane, gets shot down over an island and finds himself surrounded by a lot of other men with weapons. It’s got the whole Battle Royale aspect except that they’re all being hunted by a new prototype military armor suit. Naturally, Golgo is the one to stand out amongst all of those that are there that are being hunted and we get to see how he goes up against the most advanced of machines. The awkwardness comes in that it feels a little too science fiction for the series and the CG animation for it is kind of awkward. But I liked his ability to push the suit and its operators to new levels and seeing how the people behind it kept the whole operation going in order to really stress test it.
While I had some exposure to Golgo 13 prior to this series, both in manga and anime form, this fifty episode series really drove home just how much I enjoy the character and the style of storytelling. With so many shows focused on either overall narratives for a season or two or episodes of empty slice of life material, what we get here stands out as it’s one man, one job and often one bullet. Following Golgo’s tales is endlessly interesting as there are so many different things they can do, locales to visit and characters to engage with all while keeping him cold and efficient and distant. While it took time to get it all out, Sentai Filmworks has done wonderfully by fans of this show that doesn’t fit what much of anime is like in the last few years and has given it a solid dub as well, something that still surprises me a lot. Golgo 13 is a strong, fun and enjoyable show that harkens back to anime of old with all the style and technical mastery of the present. 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: June 19th, 2012
Running Time: 300 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.