Golgo 13 (ゴルゴ13 Gorugo Sātīn?) is a manga series written and illustrated by Takao Saito, which has been published in Shogakukan's Big Comic magazine since October 1968. In 1975, the manga won the 21st Shogakukan Manga Award for general manga. The series follows the titular character, a professional assassin for hire.
Golgo 13 is the oldest manga still in publication, and its tankōbon edition has the third highest number of volumes. It has sold over 200 million copies in various formats, including compilation books, making it the fourth best-selling manga series in history. It has been adapted into two live-action feature films, an anime film, an original video animation, an anime television series and seven video games.
Written and illustrated by Takao Saito, Golgo 13 has been serialized in the monthly manga magazine Big Comic since its January 1969 issue, published in October 1968. The chapters have been collected into tankōbon volumes by Shogakukan and LEED Publishing, a spinoff of the author's own Saito Production, since June 21, 1973. As of July 2015, 177 volumes of the tankōbon edition have been published, while the bunkoban edition has 136 volumes.
Toei Company produced a Golgo 13 live-action film in 1973, directed by Junya Sato and starring Ken Takakura in the title role. It was followed by Golgo 13: Assignment Kowloon in 1977, directed by Yukio Noda, with Sonny Chiba starring as Golgo 13. In 2011, production company Davis Film obtained the American remake rights to Golgo 13.
In 1983, TMS Entertainment produced an animated Golgo 13 movie titled Golgo 13: The Professional, which was released in America on home video in 1992 by Streamline Pictures.
In 1998, BMG Victor & Tezuka Productions produced an OVA titled Golgo 13: Queen Bee, which was released in America on home video in 2000 by Urban Vision Entertainment.
The Answer Studio produced an anime series based on the manga, which broadcast on TV Tokyo from April 11, 2008-March 29, 2009 with a total run of 50 episodes.
There has been a grand total of seven video games released with the Golgo 13 license. The first was for the Sega SG-1000 and was released only in Japan. Later, two games were released for the NES: Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode, and The Mafat Conspiracy, both published by Vic Tokai. Three arcade games have been released in Japan, similar to Silent Scope. The most recent release is Golgo 13: File G-13 o Oe for the Nintendo DS.
Tokyo Marui released a limited-edition M16 airsoft gun with various accoutrements as a Golgo 13 special edition.
There was a radio drama starring Masane Tsukayama as Golgo 13.
Various companies have released Golgo 13 figures, including Max Factory.
Early on, Takao Saito developed a system where he creates the page layout based on a script written by the editorial department. He also inks the main characters' faces, while assistants provide the backgrounds and other elements. He does extensive research to provide accuracy, especially when the plot deals with technology.
Anime News Network has compared Saito's works to the novels of John le Carré and Frederick Forsyth, as the stories are "dark, meticulously constructed [and] painstakingly realistic".
The Daily Vanguard calls Duke "a badass, something like a cross between Dirty Harry and Metal Gear Solid's Solid Snake."
Jc DuBois of Dragon's Anime has criticized those who say that most of Golgo 13's hits are impossible to do since there are problems that would prevent him from shooting straight such as the wind or the coriolis effect, saying that the "whole mystique of Golgo 13 is that he's just that damn good. He CAN make those shots – and he can do it with one shot."
- According to Jason Thompson, several stories of the series have not been reprinted for being "offensive or libelous." Thompson lists one from 1986 because of complaints from the Iranian Embassy in Japan, another from 1988 about money laundering in the Vatican, and one from 1989 about a Hollywood actor blackmailed when someone discovers he has AIDS.
- In 2013, Saito stated that because he often worried about his manga being cancelled, he had an ending planned out that even includes the panel layout. He said he had no idea when Golgo 13 would end, claiming "The manga has continued so long that it is no longer the property of the author; it belongs to the readers." Two years later, Big Comic's fourth issue of 2015 announced that the series was "heading towards its conclusion."