New champion for title of longest-running manga ever, creator explains how he’s lasted this long

By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

Golgo 13 has been killing people for over 50 years, and the series’ longevity is due in part to its artist’s rice-farmer mentality.

Golgo 13 is known as a man who never misses, and the famed manga/anime hit man has just hit one of his most impressive targets ever, as this week "Golgo 13" became the longest-running manga series of all time.

The specific yardstick for this record, officially recognized by the Guinness World Records organization, is number of collected volumes, and "Golgo 13’s" 201st volume, which went on sale on July 5, puts it past the 200 volumes of previous record holder "Kochira Katsushika-ku Kameari Koen Mae Hashutsujo," aka "Kochikame." With "Kochikame" having come to its conclusion in 2016, and no announcement of any sort of upcoming final arc for "Golgo 13" in the near future, it’s likely the assassination saga will be extending its lead in the months and years to come.

▼ Golgo 13’s latest confirmed kill


"Golgo 13’s" volume-count isn’t its only impressive statistic either, as it’s currently in its 54th year in publication, having debuted in 1968. Also amazing: the series made it all the way to 2020 without ever going on hiatus, and the streak was only broken because of coronavirus pandemic-related health precautions that kept writer/artist Takao Saito from easily meeting with his staff and editors.

When asked how he’s been able to produce so consistently, the 84-year-old Saito looked back on his career so far. “First off, it’s a matter of mindset. For me, fundamentally, ever since I became a manga artist, I’ve thought of it as my job,” he explains. “People often ask me ‘Don’t you get tired of having done the same job for decades?’, but what would you think if a farmer said he was ‘tired’ of growing rice or wheat?”

He also recognizes the competitive nature of the industry. “It’s also important to keep your word. I always meet my deadlines. Back when I was starting out, I never knew when the series might be cancelled, so I never took a vacation or missed a deadline.”

However, Saito is quick to point out that his personal work ethic alone wouldn’t have allowed "Golgo 13" to come this far. As a series where the main character is constantly traveling to new settings, getting involved in incidents inspired by complex real-world political situations, scientific developments, and cultural traditions, Saito regularly consults with experts in a variety of different fields. “Thanks to [them], I have been able to write more than 600 chapters, but if I’d had to do it all from just my knowledge, I probably would have only made it to Chapter 10,” he says.

The series’ longevity has probably also been helped by its narrative structure. Essentially, "Golgo 13" is a loose collection of individual contract killings, allowing Saito to dabble in whatever premise is interesting enough to sustain a few chapters, then switching to another once the idea has run its course and "Golgo 13’s" bullet has hit its mark. With no need to forcibly prolong conflicts or character arcs, "Golgo 13" avoids feeling like it’s overstayed its welcome, and the protagonist’s stoic, reticent personality lets the story be driven by colorful guest characters who can be shuffled off and replaced once they’re no longer interesting. It probably also helps that "Golgo 13" is carried in the bimonthly Big Comic. It’s arguably Japan’s most respectably mature manga anthology, one that older adults can read without fear of stigmatization, which prevents readers from aging out of the series like they might with manga running in shonen and shojo anthologies marketed towards younger readers.

Despite his advanced age, Saito says he plans to continue drawing "Golgo 13" for as long as he’s physically able to. “'Golgo 13' is my manga, but at the same time, it belongs to the readers too, and for them, I want to keep creating, one story at a time,” he promises, and who knows, maybe one day we’ll see its protagonist laugh again.

Source: Yahoo! Japan News/Sankei Shimbun via Jin

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- You could be living in this Osaka house that’s legally named after anime’s greatest assassin

-- Website lets you eat ramen with handsome actor – Great for fans, sort of awkward if you’re not

-- This is how Japan bids farewell to a beloved 40-year-old manga series

© SoraNews24

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

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“People often ask me ‘Don’t you get tired of having done the same job for decades?’, but what would you think if a farmer said he was ‘tired’ of growing rice or wheat?”

respect to this man

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This is what dedication and commitment truly mean.

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Love Golgo13, wish they made some more anime series or movies.

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Duke “Golgo 13” Togo, the protagonist hitman was originally a analogy for Jesus. Golgo as in Golgotha, 13 for the day Jesus was crucified. On the back of the original cover, there is drawing of a skeleton that looks out of place, but upon closer inspection, is wearing a crown of thorns and holding a wine glass.

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You have to believe that, like Gosho Aoyama and Detective Conan, Takao Saito has already scripted and drawn Duke Togo's final story. And after decades of evading police forces, army troops, mobsters and terrorists, and taking out (probably literally) hundreds of targets, the way Togo-san will leave this world is when, in a moment of distraction while at home and after a job, he crosses the road and doesn't see the truck that ends his life.

And when he wakes up, he'll find himself not in hell, or in the afterlife, but in a leafy glen. As he sits up, he is aware of a golden woman hovering beside him. He looks at her. "Oh, you're finally awake. I'm afraid that your soul was taken accidentally, so as a recompense you have been resurrected in an isekai world..."

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This is man is absolutely amazing and worth all respect.

But putting his feat aside, the fact that Japanese society as a whole depicts it as a good and admirable thing not to have taken a single vacation for 50 years is really unhealthy and damaging.

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I loved Ryotsu Kankichi too!

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