The famous artist and creator of the iconic manga series “Golgo 13”, Takao Saito, passed away at the age of 84 on September 24, 2021. As soon as the news of his death was confirmed by Yahoo News Japan, fans of manga from all over the world have flocked in their tributes to the famous author. Although Saito is hailed as the creator of the oldest manga yet in publication, he has not identified himself as a manga artist. On the contrary, he always saw himself as a patron of gekiga art, or a series of dramatic images.
For his lifelong literary contribution, the Japanese government awarded him a Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon in 2003. Takao Saito launched the “Golgo 13” series in 1968 and it is still running after 50 years, with over 200 volumes in publication. The series was ranked as the second best-selling manga of all time, largely surpassed by Eiichiro Oda’s “One Piece”. The story revolves around the legendary assassin Duke Togo aka Golgo 13. The series revolved around the fictitious hitman’s many missions around the world, aiming to kill people for the fair price. The manga even saw not one, but two adaptations to the big screen in 1973 and 1977. The lead role of Golgo 13 was tried out in the second film by famous actor and martial artist Sonny Chiba.
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How did Takao Saito die?
Born in Wakayama and raised in Osaka, Saito was inspired by films like “King Kong” and “War of the Worlds” as a child. He began his career in manga with the series ‘Baron Air’ in 1955, at the age of 19. Four years later, he founded the Gekiga Kobo which offers support and patronage to seven other gekiga artists. In 1960 he started the Saito production, which is still in operation today.
Shortly after the publication of “Golgo 13” in 1968, the manga became a favorite with readers in Japan as well as other parts of the world. In 1976, the popularity of Golgo 13 earned him the Shogakukan Manga Award, followed by many other notable honors throughout his life. In 2018, the Saito Takao Gekiga Cultural Foundation launched the Saito Takao Prize in his honor, which will recognize renowned manga artists, screenwriters and publishers.
The unprecedented legend of gekigo was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and eventually succumbed to the disease.
Toonami co-creator and Lord of the Rings producer Jason Demarco tweeted: “Male, RIP to Takao Saito, creator of one of my favorite characters, Duke Togo aka Golgo 13. He has passed away at 84, after producing over 600 volumes of Golgo stories. What a work to be cherished. Rest in peace, Master. “
“Oh maaan, Golgo 13 recently became the oldest single manga series in Japan, so it happened. RIP Saito sensei,” one Golgo 13 reader tweeted. Another fan wrote: “The death of the mangaka Takao Saito at 84 today represents the end of an era. He is famous for creating the murderous anti-hero for hire Golgo 13, but he is also a pioneer of the “gekiga” (劇 画): a form of cutting-edge illustrated entertainment destined to dethrone the manga. “
“Tonight, watching a James Bond movie, I thought about how I would do a badass spy story, and then I thought, ‘I wish it looked more like GOLGO 13 than Bond. Of course. “Then I come home to find its creator, Takao Saito, has passed away. My next spy story is for you Takao. #RIP,” another user tweeted.
Male, RIP to Takao Saito, creator of one of my favorite characters, Duke Togo aka Golgo 13. He passed away at 84, having produced over 600 volumes of Golgo stories. What a work to cherish. Rest in peace, Master. pic.twitter.com/dfpC2qqXox
– THE DEMARCO SPIRAL CURSE (@ Clarknova1) September 29, 2021
Oh maaan, Golgo 13 recently became the oldest single-series manga in Japan, so it happened.
RIP Saito sensei https://t.co/MmiNZ1zfiB
– ryeyoona | Look at Uramichi, Bokutachi & FENA! (@SicaSquarepants) September 29, 2021
The death of mangaka Takao Saito at the age of 84 today marks the end of an era. He is famous for creating the antihero assassin for hire Golgo 13, but he’s also a pioneer of “gekiga” (劇 画): a cutting-edge form of illustrated entertainment meant to dethrone manga. (1 time pic.twitter.com/KEIEFaMWPD
– Matt Alt (@Matt_Alt) September 29, 2021
Tonight, watching a James Bond movie, I thought about how I would do a badass spy story, then I thought, “I wish it looked more like GOLGO 13 than Bond. sure.” Then I return home to find that its creator, Takao Saito, has passed away. My next spy story is for you Takao. #TEAR pic.twitter.com/y3bfhcftpa
– Vonster (@__RiseAgain__) September 29, 2021