Golgo 13 Episode 9-10
Summary: Golgo arrives as a prisoner in a prison from which no one has escaped. Golgo is there as a convicted criminal, though the charges certainly seem drummed-up. His purpose there isn't readily apparent, in any case. The warden is an easily-irritated little man who nearly shoots Golgo for making a smart remark. In the mess hall, he's approached by a man named Mouse, but their conversation is cut short when the guard shows up. Golgo punches the guy out, and gets sentenced to death for his insolence, which also means he gets transferred to the rougher death-row section of the prison. The man in the cell next to him, Blue Eyes Zalas, tells him about failed escape attempts by other prisoners, but Golgo asks him to pick up some auto parts from the in-house factory because he's going to attempt it anyway. After the pieces are in place, they plan to attempt their escape that night. Using home-made string-and-metal files they get the bars out of their windows and escape into the court yard and up a water pipe. Waiting at the top is Mouse, and behind him the warden. Mouse helps to create a distraction, and the two men escape, reach the mainland, and find Golgo's stash of clothes and his gun. He assembles the gun and kills the other man, his target from the start. His client couldn't wait for him to be executed at prison.
In the next episode, Golgo takes out a drug lord named Gabole via a quick shot to the head, along with his FBI escort. He then takes a flight to Hong Kong for his next assignment. Once he arrives he goes to meet the client, and he's a dead ringer for the man he so recently killed. It turns out that the man he shot was an imposter, and his real target is right here, trying to hire him for another job, which he refuses. Once he hears from his first client that the first hit was a setup to distract the FBI, he takes on the second job. What he guesses and then eventually confirms is that Spike Jordan, the man posing as Gabole, actually switched spots with him and was the one left alive. Golgo manages to reach the roof of the building where Spike Jordan is waiting, stealths his way in and manages to kill his target while the henchment all assume he's hiding out in an air-conditioning room.
Thoughts: This pair of episodes have started to at least take things in a more interesting direction. While they still essentially follow the same formula of Golgo taking out his target, the elaborate lengths to which Golgo goes to accomplish his mission have become more interesting, especially in episode 9. To get thrown in prison and then upgraded to death row, only to accomplish an impossible escape with the target and then shoot him after they've reached dry land is not only convoluted, it's damned dedicated if you ask me. Even if you don't really like him, you have to give the man props for never giving up (on his dreams!) and sticking with it until the bitter end. Still holding out for some more variety in the stories, but I think the show as a whole has improved quite a bit and has begun to showcase more interesting stories.
Episode 10 may not have been as successful, however, because the amount of going back and forth and trying to figure out who was the real Gambole became moot once you realize that Golgo had it figured out already. I mean, whether or not he'll kill his target is never really the question, but if there's a mystery going on I think the experience is cheapened if the main character doesn't have to figure out what's going on at all.
While I certainly wouldn't call this show the pinnacle of greatness, it's hit a rhythm that I can deal with and I don't feel any longer that I'm merely keeping up with it out of duty to its history as a long-running manga. I occasionally have to try and ignore some really insulting content (while I realize his womanizing ways are part of Golgo's character, I don't have to like or appreciate it) but overall at this point I don't feel like I've been wasting my time at all.
Golgo 13 Episode 8 - Action 4/24
Summary: A man named Bentona, being tortured to reveal his knowledge of the location of a lot of money, still laughs because he's hired a famous skilled sniper to get rid of the man torturing him. The Don of the New York family took over Bentona's hard-earned territory, leaving his group in a shambles.
In order to discover Golgo's secret, a group of New York Family thugs follows him into an alley. One of the guys following him in a car takes video of his quick draw, as three lackeys are quickly killed. Even though his boss, the Target, has installed special bullet-proof glass in his residence, he still values his video tape data. When Bentona turns up dead, his wife urges Golgo to leave New York and forget the obligations. Golgo informs her and her drivers that, once he accepts a job, he follows through.
Three assassins are hired to take out Golgo, and they review the video, realizing that it only takes him about .17 seconds to draw his gun, and then .04 seconds to aim and shoot each man. Knowing this, they tail him and realize the vantage point from which he'll shoot. Even though the 700 meter shot is nigh impossible, what's more impossible is the bulletproof glass guarding the Don. The men assume he's failed his mission, and wait to ambush Golgo as he leaves. Amazingly enough, a messenger arrives to inform the men that the Don was shot. The answer lies in Golgo's skill as a shot and his M16 that was able to penetrate the glass after shooting the same point multiple times.
Thoughts: I have to admit, at this point I'm mostly just amused at how often random thugs underestimate Golgo's godly skills and the ways in which Golgo goes beyond everyone's expectations to totally pwn his targets and everyone who tries to get in his way. He has such a fearsome reputation that if I were an assassin hired to try to kill him, you can bet I'd leave the money and run as far away from the situation as I could get.
This episode introduces another of Golgo's ground rules. He won't let you stand behind him, of course, but he also doesn't give up on a job, either. He's there whether you want him or not - or whether the hiring client is still living or not. Even a killer has principles (and they must be working, because the man's been around for quite a while).
As usual, not much constructive commenting to do here. Golgo is what he is, whether you like it or hate it.
Golgo 13 Episode 5 - 7
Summary: A man taken under the wing of a famous producer hires a talented sniper to kill the producer and take his place at an important business meeting. What he doesn't know is that his father has hired none other than Golgo 13 to kill him - at the same moment. Golgo meets his adversary, a Polish olympian turned sniper-for-hire, at a bar, then does video analysis on his shooting habits. Golgo uses this information to deflect the shot into the underling's head and take out the rival sniper before disappearing without a trace.
The next episode finds Golgo in a city during a political convention. When a "toy" gun of his is confiscated, he goes to retrieve it at the police station only to be followed by a man who seems to know who he is. They keep trying to catch Golgo doing something suspicious, but he manages to enter the convention and not be carrying any sort of firearm so there isn't much the police can do. However, he makes his kill and the investigators on his tail take him in, only after he punches one of them in the face and is arrested for assault. Try as they might, however, they can't find the evidence to convict him of the crime. The gun is long gone and there's an alternate answer for every detail the investigators try to pin on him.
Episode 7 takes place in London. Simpson, a violinist for the London Symphony orchestra, breaks a string while performing a solo and is booed off the stage. From that point on, he's unable to perform in front of others and his life begins to fall apart. He's replaced at a charity concert by Kerensky, a Russian rival, and this causes him so much anger that he fills a suitcase with cash and hires Golgo to shoot the G string from the man's violin so that he'll experience the embarrassment that Simpson felt. Golgo uses a modified rifle and is of course successful, but what no one could have suspected was Kerensky's ingenuity and talent could help him overcome the hurdle that Simpson could not.
Thoughts: While I still found episode 5 to be too formulaic, parts of 6 and 7 started to break the mold a bit which is something I think could help this show improve a lot. I actually enjoy this show more than a lot of other people I know because can sort of separate the classic aesthetic and iconic character from the, well, mysogyny and overall bland personality of the "hero". Essentially, though, the less the story focuses on Golgo and his antics, generally the more successful the episode is. I maintain that his behavior is excusable as a tool to revealing the story surrounding the supporting characters, but doesn't really make sense as the focus. I've probably mentioned this before, but I think it's helpful to compare this show to Akagi, another anime with an invincible protagonist. The difference between the two is that Akagi Shigeru was written to be an interesting, disgusting and fascinating character in addition to possessing talents that, frankly, frightened those around him with their ungodliness. Golgo is not an interesting guy, and until there's some backstory (which won't happen) or something else that'll make him more than just this unsmiling thug, I'd rather he just stay in the background. Heck, he has little to no dialogue most of the time anyway.
I think my favorite episode out of this trio was the last one, since it was the first one I can think of where the sniping hasn't been about just shooting some random dude in the forehead. The mission actually required some finesse, and the reasoning was set up beforehand through the eyes of the client, rather than as a setup being reported to Golgo after the fact. And it wasn't really about whether Golgo could accomplish the feat of severing the violin string or not, we all know he's superhuman and never fails a mission, but the best part of the episode was seeing the horror on Simpson's face as his rival rises gracefully from the ashes of the horrible situation that defeated Simpson.
Episode 6 also had its moments, including Golgo holding balloons with his normal grim-looking face. I wouldn't let my kids near him, that's for sure. It's unrealisting but terribly amusing to watch how he systematically outsmarts the police and continually evades arrest even though everyone knows full well that he just shot a guy. The plastic gun concept was interesting, though I wonder if that's actually based on any real-life item or whether it's just something made-up for the show. I'm tempted to bank on the latter, but the other firearm information presented in the show has seemed pretty believable, at least to this untrained eye, so who knows?
Conclusion so far: Golgo is a douche and your enjoyment of the show will probably ride on your ability to ignore him. It's good for some lulz and occasionally goes for something a little beyond that.
Golgo 13 Episode 4 - Pretty Woman
Summary: A prostitute-turned-mob-wife named Linda is getting tired of her husband's borderline abusive treatment. With the knowledge in hand that her age will eventually make her unappealing to him and he'll probably "get rid" of her, she hires Golgo 13 to shoot him so that she can take what she has of his money and move to Florida to live out her life in peace and luxury. Of course, things become complicated when she becomes attracted to Golgo. When her husband Marty's assistant discovers that she rented a hotel room under an assumed name, and her husband suspects one of his subordinates of having an affair with Linda, so he tosses the guy out the window. He's obviously a jealous man.
Some surveillance footage from the hotel confirms to Marty's assisstant that the man in the hotel was Golgo, and when he brings the bad news to Marty, he's enraged. Marty asks him to kill Golgo in front of Linda, but an attempted coup by some other members of the mob interferes with things and Golgo gets his chance to shoot Marty between the eyes. There's a standoff between the assistant and Golgo in a parking lot, with Golgo the victor. He begins to leave and Linda is angry that he doesn't seem to want to be part of her luxury escape, and pulls a gun on Golgo, forcing him to shoot her as well.
Thoughts: I'm not quite sure what to make of this episode. It trended towards showing less of Golgo himself which is what I had been hoping for, but that sort of removed any opportunity for much sweet gun play, so it was kind of a tradeoff. Also the main character of this episode was a little iffy in my opinion. The prostitute raised up from nothing to become a mob woman seems like a character cliche to me, but I can't think of where I might have seen anything similar before. They keep referring to the film "Pretty Woman", since Linda's ambitions are to become the young wife of a rich man, but that's a movie I've never seen so I'll leave any comparisons to someone else.
I was also kind of WTF about the fact that she was so horny for Golgo. It was suggested by Marty in one scene that even if she thought of herself as a high class woman, her body would always betray her, suggesting that sex was just part of her existence as a former sex worker. So I guess her fantasizing was a continuation of that idea, but that's something I don't think is really true. I don't think a man coming up and squeezing boobies in public would make the owner of the boobs all that aroused even if she were a former prostitute.
With kind of an obnoxious character, I can't say that this episode really tread any interesting ground. Every show has its missteps, so I'll chalk this episode as one for this show. It's no deal-breaker, but it was overall pretty bland and kind of irritating. There weren't even any cool gun facts to speak of, which was one of the things that drew me to the show in the first place. My desire still stands for some multi-part episodes in the future, as well.
Golgo 13 Episode 3 - Masterpiece Assault Rifle
Summary: The best mercenaries in France, the Savine Brothers, are testing out assault rifles with a new kind of laser sight - one which factors in distance to a target and air resistance, allowing previously impossible shots to be made. Using these new rifles, the Savines intend to get rid of Golgo 13 and become the best snipers in the world. In the meantime, Golgo is hired by a French auto maker to take out some Japanese cars in a rally race in Niger. The Japanese cars are favored to win, but if that happens the French auto industry might be in danger. Golgo invites his favorite gunsmith to Niger to help him fit his rifle with a custom barrel with the job, and they talk about Kaiser, the developer of the new assault rifles being used by the Savines.
Golgo takes out his first target, but is nearly shot by some adversaries hiding amongst the desert rocks. Adversaries who happen to be the Savine Brothers. They believe they're at the advantage because the super sights on their guns are meant to work in the dark as well, and the sun is nearly setting. Golgo gets his enemies to shoot at him, from that he learns how many adversaries he's facing, where they're located, and the capabilities of their firearms. Standing with his back to the rally course which bathes him in headlights, he takes out the first brother. The second is defeated by his gun's weakness - the fact that the super sight isn't calibrated to fire on a gradient. With Golgo having slid down a ravine, he's able to pick off the second brother.
Thoughts: I always want to finish these Golgo summaries with the phrase "another job well done", which may reveal one of the this series' weaknesses - Golgo always gets the job done, no exceptions. So, knowing this, there has to be something compelling to keep the viewer watching other than the main character always winning. I can't judge just on three episodes, but so far the stories involving the incidental characters have been hit-or-miss. While I'd love to see more of the police inspector from episode 2, maybe holding a major grudge against Golgo and gathering as much evidence as possible to finally convict him, all of the other characters in this episode, save the weapon smith, end up dead. I'm not going to bash a show for setting up the abilities of a character with a few stand-alone episodic episodes, but I can pretty much sum up Golgo already: He's a super-human shot, he likes to have relations with hot women, and he always gets the job done. Maybe it's time for the stories to revolve around him a bit less.
I make a big deal about this complaint, but for the most part I enjoy watching the show and getting to see people shoot at each-other with neat guns. While Golgo is more or less just an empty shell of masculinity, there's something nice about a man who's always on time and finishes what he starts. And who apparently has a large... gun. I've got to wonder, though... does the expression on his face ever change? It's kind of creepy. Even when he's getting it on, he's still got a scowl on his face. Maybe halfway through there'll be a chibi episode or a fanservice beach episode where he can let his hair down and possibly crack a smile. On the other hand, that might be creepy.
Not that I'm going to get on someone's case for having sex, but I was kind of relieved that this episode, as well as the last, didn't have any goofy sex scenes in it, both for the aforementioned reason involving Golgo's emotionless mug, and for the fact that, much like in James Bond (to which this series often seems to be compared), I don't usually see the point since, more often than not, the women he sleeps with aren't really characters in the "well-written-and-interesting" sense of the word. I'd like to see a woman who's his match in some sort of skill. But that might be too wishful on my part.
Golgo 13 Episode 2 - Room Number 909
Summary: Golgo is hired to murder a member of the Mafia whose actions are threatening to affect some key financial markets. Though a routine job for him, things are thrown for a loop when he accidentally allows the used bullet shell to fall to the road below, where it's found during the murder investigation. That and some other clues from the crime scene lead the investigators to the building in which Golgo was staying, in spite of the fact that it is over 500 meters away and thus a highly improbable location from which to shoot.
Though the detective finds the gun that was used in the trash chute and truly believes that he's found the culprit when he pieces together a lot of other circumstantial evidence, others refuse to believe that the killing shot could have been pulled-off with the distance and weather conditions taken into consideration. Only a monster among men could shoot with such accuracy.
Thoughts: Once again, Golgo defies all odds and demonstrates shooting skills that shouldn't exist. While he's around for most of the episode, it seems as though the focus wasn't so much on Golgo this time around and was pointed towards the investigators. The hit is committed early in the episode, and Golgo spends most of the time he's on screen the rest of the episode sitting silently while the investigation team works to try and find damning evidence of his crime. This alternative perspective livens things up a bit like I hoped it would, since Golgo in all honesty isn't really that interesting of a character. He's there to provide a catalyst - to get the story moving, but if it's depth you want you're more likely to get that from the secondary cast.
This will be a plus for some and a minus for others, but Golgo doesn't get into any sexual escapades this time around. The sexual content in the show doesn't bother me personally, but if Golgo were just doing an endless stream of women it might become a little annoying. Along those lines, if all the female characters in the show are nothing but sexual partners for our well-endowed hero, I'll get tired of the show pretty quickly as well. There hasn't really been an interesting female character so far, which isn't necessarily good or bad either since shows like Akagi do just fine without any female characters in the show whatsoever, but since we've already seen a couple of women (a prostitute in episode 1, and a secretary and an investigator in this one), it's not like I can pretend they just don't exist in this show's universe.
Don't get me wrong, though. I enjoy this show and most of my criticisms are more like minor quibbles. It's certainly not for everyone, though. I'm still holding out for some two part stories, because I think it would be way more interesting to have a situation where most of the story unfolds and then we only see Golgo long enough for him to take out whoever it is he's supposed to kill. I hear the manga's like that more often than not.