Photo/IllutrationManga artist Takao Saito speaks in a recreation of his workroom on display at a special exhibition held in Kawasaki. (Naoki Kimura)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

KAWASAKI--A special exhibition at the Kawasaki City Museum is celebrating 50 years of continuous publication of “Golgo 13,” the “gekiga” (dramatic pictures) comic series featuring a cold-blooded super sniper as the titular character.

Author Takao Saito, 81, told reporters at a preview event on Sept. 21 that the secret to the longevity of his representative work is that it breaks down distinctions between right and wrong.

“Golgo 13” started its run in Shogakukan Inc.’s Big Comic manga anthology in November 1968.

The protagonist, aka Duke Togo, is a professional assassin for hire who kills his targets with his fully customized M16 rifle. His professional code to perform his missions and witticisms have won the hearts of readers.

With the comic books and other related publications boasting more than 200 million copies in print, the series has become the longest-running manga of all time.

The displays at the exhibition include about 40 original drawings from the series. One wall of the venue features panels of 100 female characters that have appeared in the story.

One highlight of the exhibition is a section that focuses on an episode called “Umi he Mukau Eba” (Eva heading for the sea), whose story was conceived by Saito himself and which is especially popular among fans. In addition to 15 original drawings from the episode on display, visitors can read the entire episode in the venue.

The exhibition is also characterized by a showcase of many replicas of guns manufactured or remodeled by members of Saito Production for use as reference materials. Taken from a storage referred to as the “armory,” 12 replicas are on public display for the first time.

In addition, attendees can touch a replica of Golgo 13’s trusty firearm, an Armalite M16 rifle, and pose for photo shoots with the weapon.

A recreation of Saito’s workroom with a “life-size” statue of Togo with his glaring eyes is also a must-see exhibit.

The art event runs until Nov. 30. The venue is closed on Mondays.

For more information, visit the special website at (

During the interview, Saito shared his creative secrets with media representatives.

Asked why he thinks “Golgo 13” has attracted fan support for 50 years, Saito said, “I think I have been able to continue it for this long because I have presented the story without agreeing with common knowledge and what’s right or wrong in our times.”

He continued: “Things like common sense, justice and injustice can change in 10 years. … I think I am inspired by someone like Golgo who acts in a way to break down distinctions between those things.”

The artist also said he already has the final episode of the series in mind.

“Originally, I intended to finish the series with 10 episodes,” Saito said. “I created the final episode when the series began. Most of the ideas for story composition, draft storyboard and every other thing that I came up with at the time still remain in my head.”