50 targets. 50 great stories.
What They Say:
His targets never see it coming and he’s never caught. If there’s a witness to the kill, that poor SOB winds up dead too. 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 50 targeted missions that will keep you glued to the screen (and away from the windows). Load up for high-powered, bullet-riddled action with Golgo 13!
Each episode contains two audio tracks: English 2.0 and Japanese 2.0. English subtitles are also provided. For my viewing I chose the English track and it was very good. The sound was crisp and clear with no issues whatsoever.
Each episode is presented in 16:9 aspect ratio and the video quality is excellent. One of the more interesting aspects of this show, which probably has more to do with style than technical specifications, is how it preserves the feel of an anime from the Eighties and early Nineties while at the same time looking as crisp and clear as anything being produced today. It makes for a nice visual experience.
The fifty episodes are spread over two Thinpack DVD cases housed in a cardboard sleeve. The front cover of the sleeve features Golgo 13 striding towards us, framed by an explosion. The title rests at the bottom in large, thick white font and the typical series information is written in the top and bottom corners. The spine continues the explosion and a new picture of Golgo 13 rests at the top in a red window. He’s pointing a gun out at you and white splinters extend from the barrel, as if he were shooting through a pane of glass. The show’s title is placed under that and at the bottom is the Sentai Filmworks logo. The back cover is divided into harsh angles by thick black lines. Golgo 13 dominates the cover, holding his trademark customized M16. There are various screenshots around him as well as the show’s summary. The cast and crew information is given at the bottom and underneath that are the DVD specifications.
The two Thinpacks feature the same basic design scheme: Golgo 13 is featured prominently on the front cover, the spine is white with the title in black and a picture of Golgo on the bottom, and the back contains the episode list and features another picture of Golgo. The first Thinpack contains five DVDs with four of them resting in center inserts and the fifth housed on the back cover. The second Thinpack is designed the same except there are only four DVDs.
The menu screens are divided into separate red boxes surrounding by a black border. The episode titles take up the majority of the screen in nice, easy-to-read white font and a crosshair hovers beside the option you choose. A picture of Golgo holding a rifle or some other weapon occupies another, smaller box, and the languages and special features options typically occupy a box at the bottom. The show’s main theme plays on a ten second loop, making it okay to leave the menu screen up if you need to without fear of the background music becoming too repetitive too quickly. Overall, it’s a good, clean design that works well.
The extras included are the standard fare of clean opening and closing animation and trailers. They’re nice enough, but nothing to get excited about or make it worth buying or not buying this series.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Golgo 13 is the man that can make the impossible possible. He’s the assassin’s assassin, the Saint of Killers. There’s no job too dangerous, no job too impossible for him to take. You want a violin string severed during a concert performance at a specific note? No problem. You want a man in prison dead, but the only way to do so is to shoot in a one one-hundredth of a second space when three doors are open? He does that before breakfast. This is the man that makes Batman look underprepared, and these are his stories.
Golgo 13 is an old property, dating back to the 1960s, and this television series is the latest adaptation of the property. Produced by The Answer Studio in 2008, the series consists of fifty standalone episodes recounting the assassin’s exploits and even though it’s a recent series, it’s wonderfully old school in its approach. There were times when I was watching it that I forgot that this was produced just a few years ago. If not a few telltale scenes where computer animation was used, I could have easily believed that this was made in the Nineties. This is not to say that the series looks dated or faded—just that it retains the character design and overall spirit of the older titles—and that makes it a great deal of fun to watch.
What makes it even more fun to watch, though, is the meticulous plotting of each episode. Each story is like a Swiss timepiece: every part serves a function and they work together in near seamless harmony. There are no wasted characters, words, or actions, and seeing how the story comes together at the end is often a thing of beauty—even if the subject matter is anything but. One of the best examples of this is the episode “An Offering to God” where Golgo must assassinate a political advisor during a rally. The hit takes place in a stadium, and Golgo enters with a toy gun. The gun was confiscated before by the police at a checkpoint when Golgo enters the city. He gets it back after the police verify it’s made of plastic, but he obviously arouses suspicion, so two FBI agents tail him. At the rally, the agents search his car for a weapon, and to cover their tracks they make it look like a robbery, stealing a few innocuous items. Golgo files a police report and lists among the items the toy gun. Later, after he successfully assassinates the advisor, Golgo is arrested. The police detain him as long as they can, but fail to find the weapon. They believe it’s the toy gun, but Golgo’s lawyer points to the police report with the gun listed as being stolen. With no evidence to hold him on, the police let Golgo go free. It turns out that the plastic gun was specially made for one use. Golgo had snuck it into the stadium inside a balloon, and to cover up the gunpowder residue that would be left after the job, he spends time at a shooting gallery. After the assassination he ties the plastic gun to a set of balloons and lets them free, an “offering to God” so to speak. I could go on with examples, but I would end up describing the entire series.
I will say that one of the aspects that I greatly enjoyed about the show was how each episode stood alone. Recently I watched Lupin the Third: The Woman Named Fujiko Mine, and while I enjoyed it a great deal, I was disappointed when it strayed from sexy-fun stories about stealing and went into Fujiko’s supposed history. Thankfully, Golgo 13 does not do this. It delivers exactly what I wanted and expected: amazing, violent stories. What makes this even better is that the writers actively put Golgo in situations where you think that he will change or show some sort of compassion. They set up the expectation in the viewer and then skillfully—perhaps joyfully—dash it. Golgo is a cipher: a blank stare and a hard face. He has a moral code, but it’s his own particularly twisted brand of morality. For example, in the final episode, Golgo’s right arm is hurt in a car wreck and he suffers nerve damage. He hires a renowned surgeon to repair the damage, but discovers that his target is the surgeon’s father. In a different anime Golgo would either refuse to do the job or even try to protect the target out of gratitude to the son. In this case, though, he kills the target with his left hand. The lesson is, of course, that Golgo never changes. He seems like a being birthed full-formed by the cosmos for the sole purpose of killing, and the show is smart enough to leave him that way.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the violence and nudity that are the hallmarks of every episode. Obviously this is not a show meant for children, and the sex and violence fit with the subject matter. There are times when the nudity and sex scenes border on titillation, but Golgo is so unaffected during sex that it makes the whole process seem hollow and mechanical, which, for me, negates any arousing effects. It seems like a natural part of his world, and like everything else in that world, it’s rather ugly and dark.
Golgo 13 is an excellent series based off a classic character. It manages to capture the feel of older anime while still able to stand up visually to anything being put on the market today. The character Golgo is a cipher, and one of the best aspects of the show is how it continually puts him in situations where you expect him to change or experience some sort of moral quandary over his actions, but he never does. The episodes are tightly plotted and a joy to watch just from a writing aspect. This is a series that knows exactly what it is and never tries to be anything else. Highly recommended.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subbitles, Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animation
Content Grade: A+
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A
Menu Grade: A
Extras Grade: C
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: September 17, 2013
Running Time: 1250 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Panasonic Viera TH42PX50U 42” Plasma HDTV, Sony BPD-S3050 BluRay Player w/HDMI Connection