Takao Saito’s seinen manga Golgo 13 recently landed the world record for most published volumes. This deadly assassin has an impressive track record, both in the story and in real life. It’s no wonder he’s so popular, both in Japan and around the world.
But what makes Duke Togo so cool? Here’s what we know — and don’t know — about the professional assassin that keeps us coming back for more. If you’ve never read or watched his adventures, consider this our gentle nudge to give them a go.
He’s Just That Good
Sometimes we like to watch underdogs fighting their way up. Others, it’s fun to watch a character who’s just terrifyingly good at what they do. And that’s definitely Golgo 13: a top-class assassin, and the guy you call when someone absolutely, positively, has to be taken out.
With his trusty M16, he’ll handle anything from major assassinations to breaking a violin string at a distance. And over the years, he’s been embroiled in some of the world’s biggest historical and political events. Considering the manga’s run dates back to 1968 (with only one COVID-related hiatus), that’s a lot of time covered.
His Name Is Intriguing
“Golgo 13” is just one of many names our hero goes by, but it’s also his most interesting pseudonym. It carries with it a lot of Biblical symbolism.
Hidden in that name and number, you’ll hear the word “Golgotha” — also known as Calvary, the place where Jesus was crucified. That gives some explanation for his logo: a skeleton wearing a crown of thorns. Does Togo have some sort of religious background we don’t know about? Is it just a cool-sounding symbolism? Honestly, we’ll likely never know, because…
We Still Know Nothing About Him
One of the coolest things about Golgo 13 is that, even after 50+ years of story, he’s still an enigma. We don’t know his real name, his history, or anything about his life prior to his career. We’ve been told some things, but they’re all so contradictory that we’ll probably never know which of those things are true (if any).
In a series that’s been running this long, there can be a temptation to let a little something slip. Maybe it’s to keep readers on their toes, or to keep the story fresh. Saito holds firm, though — we get nothing, save for an occasional child from a romantic encounter. And even without any revelations over the years, Togo is still a fascinating character.
If you’ve never given Golgo 13 a try, consider diving in. Catching up might not be a feasible goal, but there’s plenty of story to choose from!