Golgo 13 Part 1 Review


Golgo 13 Part 1 

Studio: The Answer Studio
Publisher: Siren Visual
Format: DVD
Release Date: May 24, 2012
Price: $49.95 – Available Here

What is it about murderers that we find so interesting? Is it that subconscious wish-fulfilment? Do we all have a form of darkness inside of us that is attracted to murderous characters such as Duke Togo? Perhaps we do. Golgo 13 is an anime series that toys with that wish-fulfilment, placing viewers behind the scope of Duke Togo’s sniper rifle and front row and centre for his assassinations. But does it ever let us into the mind of the man known as Golgo 13?

Golgo 13 followers the titular assassin Duke ‘Golgo 13’ Togo through various different assassinations. The series plays out similar to a mystery series with each a lot of standalone style episodes focusing on a ‘kill of the week’ while others lace in some of what appears to be an overarching storyline. It has all the makings of what could be a brilliant series, but it lacks one pivotal thing – humanity.

Unfortunately I found Golgo 13 to be a very difficult show to connect with and at times watching it was rather tedious. This is due mostly to the emotionless protagonist. Togo is essentially an empty shell of a man with very little qualms with his actions. He is a monstrous killer and the show doesn’t spend much time pondering the morality of this man. Instead it spends far to much time glorifying his actions with out so much as a look into the man behind the gun.

There is no real connective tissue between Golgo 13 and the audience. It keeps viewers at a distance and only allows them to observe, not to feel involved with the world of Golgo 13. This is a major misstep as there is really a noticeable disconnect between the series and the audience watching it. You can not relate to Togo because we don’t really know anything about the man, he is simply a cold killer with little to no humanity. Perhaps this was the intention with his character but it results in a great level of difficulty on the viewers part in actually caring about the goings on in this series.

This is still the first of what appears to be several parts of Golgo 13, so there is still some hope that things will change and there will be some evolution in the plot and characters (with over 50 episodes, you’d want to hope so!). Sadly though this first part of the series was utterly droll and colourless, there is nothing to connect to and the only thing remotely interesting is the manly bravado of it all. If manly bravado is the only thing a series has going for it, what more can you get from the series other than shallow fleeting gratification? The answer is, nothing.

Visuals and Audio:
The Answer Studio don’t get a lot of work and for good reason. This series is just so unappealing both visually and aurally. It repulses even when it’s not focused on violence, due largely to it’s ugly animation and character designs which are more American than Japanese in structure. The entire experience as a whole is a repellent. It is both bland and muted, with no imagery worth batting an eyelash at and music just as substandard.

There is no creativity here, with washed out visuals lacking the slightest hint of a flare and a soundtrack that is so pedestrian it would make you want to take one of Togo’s bullets to the head. The entire production is severely lacking with an apparent lack of interest from The Answer Studio. There is truly nothing worth seeing here, unless you’re into meandering in a dank swamp for fun.

Golgo 13 Part 1 does not feature any bonus content to speak of. However in the past Siren Visual has packaged special features in the last volume of a series so that is always a possibility for Golgo 13. Unfortunately though this first part of the series really could’ve used some extras to compensate for the middling effort of the show itself.

It’s a shame that such a well respected franchise as Golgo 13 made for such a mediocre anime series. There is very little in Golgo 13 that is redeeming and it really is a perfect example of potential gone to waste. Perhaps in the hands of another studio this could’ve turned out better, but alas that was not the case.

But it’s not all bad, this is the first of what appears to be several collections of this series, so there is still hope that things will pick up with the next few collections. Well, you know what they say, first impressions matter most. It may be too little too late if it does pick up in quality for Golgo 13 and by all rights it shouldn’t have to take so many episodes to ‘get good’ any ways.

All in all, Golgo 13 Part 1 is a disappointment. It just fails on the most basic levels and doesn’t bother to be fun or meaningful, instead resolving to simply exist as some kind of ill-conceived showcase of violence and manly bravado. It may get better with the collections to come, the keyword being ‘may’. As sad as it is to say, anime fans need to watch Golgo 13 as much as they need a bullet in the head. Golgo 13 never allows viewers into Duke Togo’s world. It only allows you to watch from afar with slack-jawed disinterest, because it doesn’t care to strive for anything more. This series treats it’s audience like Togo’s victims and that is it’s greatest mistake.


Senior Editor & Anime Specialist

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