(Golgo 13, Takao Saitō & Saitō Pro)

(Golgo 13, Takao Saitō & Saitō Pro)

Golgo 13 Ep. 37: I don’t think I’ve mentioned it yet on this site, but Saitō Pro’s Doll: The Hotel Detective wasn’t just another side project by the people who brought you Golgo 13 - it actually takes place *inside* Duke Togo’s world. Of course, the two characters eventually met, even though the Doll series was already on the outs by the time it happened in late 1980 - whether this was meant as a fond farewell or the natural culmination of a limited concept is unknown to me, though I’m aware the crossover occurred strictly in the Golgo 13 series proper, hence its absence from Crunchyroll’s digital release.

As luck would have it, however, “Christmas, 24 Hours” was one of the 50 stories selected for adaptation in the scintillatingly utilitarian 2008-09 Golgo 13 television anime - it’s the one where Duke is mistaken for a rapist on Christmas Eve by a hotel detective who gets up in his business for the duration of the episode. For some reason, Sentai’s English subtitles translate her name as “D’or” (pronounced ‘Dior’ in the English dub), but it’s pretty clear that the Japanese VAs are saying something closer to “Dollu” - it’s the same character.

All of this goes a ways toward explaining why #37 is seemingly a nothing episode: the intrigue is meant to come from watching two Takao Saitō creations sizing each other up. Stripped of that context, it’s just a threadbare reprise of 1971’s all-time classic “The Impossible Hit” (aka “ROOM No.909”, adapted into ep. 2 of the anime), with Duke checking into a hotel, wowing the authorities who totally know he just shot someone, and walking away scot-free under a cloud of ellipses. The typically unspectacular production values of the tv series don’t do much to enliven things, although (as usual) there’s also nothing to overtly impede consumption. Storyboards come courtesy of Masakatsu Iijima — one of the directors on Anime V Comic Rentaman back in the day who was not Shinya Ohira or Shinji Hashimoto — while the episode director/sakkan is Shinichi Suzuki, who was purportedly one of the animators (if not a segment director) on Kihachiro Kawamoto’s ‘03 anime-as-poetry project Winter Days; not unprofessional folks, but there’s little here will have you seeking out more.

But what fun can you expect if you *have* read Doll? Frankly, the heretofore unstoppable heroine spends much of the runtime knocking her head against the concrete wall of godly professionalism that is Duke Togo - she delivers not one, but two of the obligatory ‘Duke is awesome’ refrains, in which common mortals testify as to the excellence of the title man. Admittedly, though, it’s mostly a long build to a cute concluding twist: when Doll confronts G13 at the end, she thanks him for engaging his target off of hotel property, to spare them the trouble - it’s implied that Duke respected his fellow, less successful Saitō character enough to shoulder some extra difficulty. He can handle it! After all, Golgo 13 travels the world with an irresistible premise behind his comic and unerring, inhuman dedication - Doll, on the other hand, is a Hotel Detective, and good as she is, when her comic ends, she goes the fuck home.

Love that glowing background cityscape - nothing but dabs and speckles of white. I wonder who on the art team gets assigned the chapter title illustrations? Nice balance of cartooned body parts and *obviously* photo-referenced hardware… the essential juxtapositions of commercial manga.
(Doll: The Hotel Detective, ch. 4, Fumiyasu Ishikawa, Takashi Ito, Hiro Nishikawa, Taku Koyama, Kazuo Aoki, Kunihiko Yokomizo & Takao Saitō, from layouts by Ishikawa & Saitō, written by Saitō w’ Mitsuo Aimono, c. 1980)

Love that glowing background cityscape - nothing but dabs and speckles of white. I wonder who on the art team gets assigned the chapter title illustrations? Nice balance of cartooned body parts and *obviously* photo-referenced hardware… the essential juxtapositions of commercial manga.

(Doll: The Hotel Detective, ch. 4, Fumiyasu Ishikawa, Takashi Ito, Hiro Nishikawa, Taku Koyama, Kazuo Aoki, Kunihiko Yokomizo & Takao Saitō, from layouts by Ishikawa & Saitō, written by Saitō w’ Mitsuo Aimono, c. 1980)

Guess which special boy has an Appleseed spinoff on the stands today! It’s the creator of Sexy Voice and Robo, running the game in Kodansha’s monthly Morning 2, starting now.
(Appleseed α, Iou Kuroda)

Guess which special boy has an Appleseed spinoff on the stands today! It’s the creator of Sexy Voice and Robo, running the game in Kodansha’s monthly Morning 2, starting now.

(Appleseed α, Iou Kuroda)

One of the problems with following a house style, of course, is that the originator of said style might be old enough to have come of age close to the multiple impacts of western cartooning — and all of its tendencies toward racist caricature — upon the notion of how to ‘correctly’ draw, say, the face of an American black man, leading to pages like these dutifully rolling out of the studio near the tail end of the Shōwa period. I doubt “Takashi Ito” is the experimental filmmaker active at the same time (avowed interest in manga notwithstanding), as ANN lists an artist of the same name among Naoki Urasawa’s assistants in the ’90s - we like to tell ourselves that assistance is apprenticeship, and we’ll realize our own supervision after toil enough, but the skills you build though working in a studio can just as well be the means of fashioning your livelihood, rather than coaxing your evolution into authorship.

(Doll: The Hotel Detective, ch. 3, Fumiyasu Ishikawa, Takashi Ito, Hiro Nishikawa, Taku Koyama, Kazuo Aoki, Kunihiko Yokomizo & Takao Saitō, from layouts by Ishikawa & Saitō, written by Saitō w’ Mitsuo Aimono, c. 1980)

Immediately, we see that the Marvel bullpen has not a motherfucking thing on Saitō Pro. Takemoto was the first-ever layout man on Golgo 13, from back in the ’60s when Kazuo Koike was turning in scripts, so we might surmise from his dual art/layout credits (to say nothing of his seniority) that he’s working as a supervisor for the rest of this chapter’s team. There’s a hint of Crepax to Doll herself, particularly in the final panel on page one; no idea what kind of access Takemoto (or anyone in Japan) might have had, but he’s old enough to have seen Valentina in its prime. I love every drawing of that creepy dude, especially the first and the last.

(Doll: The Hotel Detective, ch. 2, Saburo Takemoto, Risuke Chiba, Wataru Tomobe & Rio Toshio, from layouts by Takemoto & Takao Saitō, written by Saitō w’ Mitsuo Aimono, c. 1980)

toydevilman said: Speaking of Pokemon,did you ever watch a movie by the name Time Stranger (AKA Goshogun: Time Etranger)? Its an extremely bizarre and depressing movie about death and stuff that just happpens to be a spinoff of a giant robot show for babies, directed by Kunihiko Yuyama, the man behind like a billion episodes of Pokemon!

Oh yeah, he did Windaria too… never had the pleasure of the Time Étranger, but I’ve heard it’s flagrantly mature.

Good news: Crunchyroll is rolling out some old stuff by the creator of Golgo 13, as previously seen on JManga. GREAT NEWS: full credits are provided for this heroine-driven mystery/crime/espionage series, chapter by chapter, so that monoglots can finally appreciate the oft-anonymous hands working the Saitō Pro assembly line! Ishikawa is an oooold-school gekiga dude who dates back to Saitō’s association with Yoshihiro Tatsumi in the 1950s, while Aimono seems to have scripted a smattering of late ’70s/early ’80s Lupin III anime episodes before vanishing into the industrial seinen machinery.

(Doll: The Hotel Detective, ch. 1, Fumiyasu Ishikawa & Takao Saitō, written by Saitō w’ Mitsuo Aimono, c. 1980)

mattseneca said: (asking cause it's the only anime series i've watched) What do you think of POKEMON bro? I can't tell if it's just the nostalgia or if it's actually good, but there's few to no things that I can consume over 100 installments of....

Man, I can’t think of anything more *acutely* generational than Pokémon; that stuff dropped my senior year of high school, and the whole thing entirely passed me by, although obviously I was aware of its incredible popularity… couldn’t tell you a single convincing thing about Pokémon as a work of quality, though. The only piece of trivia I even know offhand is that the animation studio behind it, OLM, threw some money into Takashi Miike’s Shield of Straw last year. I’m sure some talented people have worked on the show.

Actually, you know what kind of wound up being this big incubator/reservoir for major talent? Digimon. Maybe because that franchise is handled by Toei, which has such a long, looooong history behind it and lots of prestige and attraction - like, Toei is where Miyazaki started, they handle Sailor Moon, One Piece… deep bench. But, the very first Digimon anime marked the directorial debut of Mamoru Hosoda, who’s a huge deal in theatrical animation now. Kenji Nakamura, who’s done a lot of weird, aggressive stuff, was an assistant director on one of the early ’00s movies. Same movie: Kazuto Nakazawa, who directed the anime segment of Kill Bill, did the character designs and some of the animation direction. The guy who wrote Serial Experiments Lain, Chiaki J. Konaka - he headed up the writing for the third Digimon tv series… quite a scene for what I specifically remember being considered Pokémon for babies among the North American public, although what’s known around here doesn’t always reflect the reality of Japan.

You’ll be thrilled to learn that the passage of years never dimmed Tony Wong’s enthusiasm for depicting himself as a lovable cartoon scamp. Fittingly, this does *not* appear to be Wong’s own style - it looks like Hui King Sum.

You’ll be thrilled to learn that the passage of years never dimmed Tony Wong’s enthusiasm for depicting himself as a lovable cartoon scamp. Fittingly, this does *not* appear to be Wong’s own style - it looks like Hui King Sum.