Takao Saito

Takao Saito (Japanese: 斎藤 隆夫さいとう・たかを, Hepburn: Saitō Takao, born November 3, 1936) is a Japanese manga artist,[1] although he rejects the term and considers his work gekiga.[2] He is best known for Golgo 13, which has been serialized in Big Comic since 1968, making it the oldest manga still in publication.[3][4]

Takao Saito
Takao Saito.jpg
Portrait of Saito drawn by a fan
Born (1936-11-03) November 3, 1936 (age 84)
OccupationManga artist
Years active1955–present
Known forGolgo 13

Early life and careerEdit

Born in Nishiwasa city (now Wakayama city), Saito moved soon after and grew up in Osaka. He did not know he was born in Nishiwasa until he was 43 years old.[5] After graduating from junior high school, Saito decided to become a manga artist, influenced by movies like King Kong and War of the Worlds.

He debuted with his first manga Baron Air in 1955.[5] In 1959, Saito founded the Gekiga Kōbō (劇画工房) in Tokyo with seven other artists, including Yoshihiro Tatsumi, in order to spread gekiga.[6] Since April 1960, he has run Saito Production, a company with currently 19 employees.

Saito started Golgo 13 in Big Comic in 1968 and has serialized it continuously since. In 2013, he said "The manga has continued so long that it is no longer the property of the author; it belongs to the readers."[7] It has been adapted into two live-action films, one animated film, an OVA, an anime TV series, and several video games. In 1971 Saito also started to give courses in drawing manga.

Saito illustrates an adaptation of Shōtarō Ikenami's Onihei Hankachō novel series that has been continuously serialized in Comic Ran magazine since 1993, although a mistake by the editorial department resulted in the September 2019 issue becoming the first in 25 years to not include a chapter.[8] He initially created it based on scripts by Sentarō Kubota (volumes 1–40), then on scripts by Kusumi Ohara from volume 40 until 53, when Ohara was joined by Kaori Moriyama.

JManga released digital English versions of several of Saito's series, including Onihei Hankachō, Barom-1, Japan Sinks and Doll: The Hotel Detective.[9][10]

Saito was also a close friend of fellow manga artist Shotaro Ishinomori.

Leed PublishingEdit

Saito is a director at Leed Publishing (株式会社リイド社), a publishing company spun-off from his Saito Production.[11] It was founded in November 1974 and Saito's older brother was its president and CEO until his death in 2016. Following his brother's death, his brother's eldest son took over.[12] In addition to many other products, Leed jointly publishes the Golgo 13 tankōbon volumes with Shogakukan.

Awards and accoladesEdit

In 1976, Saito won the 21st Shogakukan Manga Award in the General category for Golgo 13.[13]

In 2002, he and Golgo 13 won the Grand Prize at the Japan Cartoonists Association Awards.[14]

In 2003, the Japanese government gave Saito the Medal with Purple Ribbon for his contributions to the arts.[15]

In 2005, Golgo 13 was one of two winners of the Special Judges Award at the 50th Shogakukan Manga Awards.[13]

In 2009, Saito was among the 158 manga artists invited to celebrate the 50th anniversary of both Shogakukan's Weekly Shōnen Sunday magazine and Kodansha's Weekly Shōnen Magazine at the Tokyo Imperial Hotel.[16][17]

In 2010, the Japanese government gave Saito the Order of the Rising Sun, 4th Class, Gold Rays with Rosette.[18]

In 2013, over 300 people attended an event at the Tokyo Imperial Hotel to celebrate 45 years of Golgo 13, including Deputy Prime Minister of Japan Tarō Asō.[19]

In 2017, Saito received the Iwate Hometown Special Manga Award at the 7th Iwate Manga Awards for having a residence in Hanamaki, Iwate and including a character from the prefecture in Golgo 13.[20]

In January 2018, he received the Wakayama Prefecture Cultural Award from his birth prefecture.[5]

In 2019, Saito was honored by the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly for his contributions to the arts as a meritorious resident of Tokyo.[21] That year he was also awarded the Special Prize from the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize committee for his contributions to manga over the decades.[22]

Saito Takao AwardEdit

The Saito Takao Gekiga Cultural Foundation established the Saito Takao Award (さいとう・たかを賞, Saitō Takao Shō) in 2017 and first awarded it in 2018. It is given in three categories: manga artist, scenario writer, and editor/editorial department. The prize given is called the "Golgo 13 Trophy," and winners in the manga artist and scenario writer categories also receive 500,000 yen (about US$4,530). Only professional manga editors can submit nominations. Nominated manga must target adult readers and be completely original works, not adaptations.[23]

Selected worksEdit

  • Baron Air (空気男爵, 1955)
  • Typhoon Goro (台風五郎, 1958)
  • Devil King (デビルキング, 1964)
  • 007 Series (1964–1967)
  • Muyonosuke (無用ノ介, 1967)
  • Golgo 13 (ゴルゴ13, 1968–present)
  • Kage Gari (影狩り, 1969)
  • Survival (サバイバル, 1976–1978)
  • Barom-1 (バロム・1, 1970)
  • Japan Sinks (1970) (manga adaptation)[24]
  • Master Thief Sugar (怪盗シュガー, Kaitō Shugā, 1972), which was adapted into the unreleased NES video game Secret Ties.[25]
  • Hawking (ホーキング, 1974)
  • Doll: The Hotel Detective (ホテル探偵DOLL, 1980)[26]
  • Kumotori Zanpei (雲盗り暫平, 1983–1988)
  • Onihei Hankachō (鬼平犯科帳, 1993–present) (manga adaptation)
  • Breakdown (ブレイクダウン, 1995)
  • Professional Swordsmen of the Edo Era (剣客商売, Kenkyaku Shōbai, 1998–1999) (manga adaptation)[27]
  • Shikake Jin Fujieda Baian (仕掛人 藤枝梅安, 2002–2016)


  1. ^ Onoda Power, Natsu. God of Comics: Osamu Tezuka and the Creation of Post–World War II Manga. University Press of Mississippi, 2009. p. 96. Great Comics Artists. ISBN 978-1-60473-221-4.
  2. ^ Lewis, Leo (October 16, 2015). "Interview: 'Golgo 13' creator Takao Saito". Financial Times. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  3. ^ "Golgo 13 Author Saito Discusses Manga's Hypothetical Ending". Anime News Network. November 16, 2013. Retrieved April 8, 2015.
  4. ^ "Artists Celebrate 45 Years of Golgo 13". Anime News Network. November 13, 2013. Retrieved April 8, 2015.
  5. ^ a b c "「故郷に認められ本当にうれしい」 さいとう・たかをさんに和歌山県文化賞授与". Sankei Shimbun. January 20, 2018. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  6. ^ "Gekiga: Alternative Manga from Japan". The Cartoon Museum. Archived from the original on March 12, 2015. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  7. ^ "Golgo 13 Author Saito Discusses Manga's Hypothetical Ending". Anime News Network. November 16, 2013. Retrieved April 8, 2015.
  8. ^ "Onihei Manga Skips Current Chapter Due to Story Issues". Anime News Network. August 7, 2019. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  9. ^ "JManga Adds Samurai Mystery Manga "Onihei, the Devilish Bureau Chief"". Crunchyroll. July 31, 2012. Retrieved October 2, 2020.
  10. ^ "JManga Debuts "Professional Swordsmen of The Edo Era" Manga". Crunchyroll. April 5, 2012. Retrieved October 2, 2020.
  11. ^ "Jason Thompson's House of 1000 Manga - Golgo 13". Anime News Network. March 1, 2012. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  12. ^ 【訃報】斉藤發司氏(さいとう・はつじ=リイド社創業者、代表取締役社長) (in Japanese). Shinbunka. June 10, 2016. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  13. ^ a b 小学館漫画賞 過去受賞作 (in Japanese). Shogakukan Manga Award. Retrieved April 4, 2020.
  14. ^ "Japanese Cartoonists' Association Awards". hahnlibrary.net. Retrieved February 7, 2018.
  15. ^ 「ゴルゴ13」さいとう・たかをさんに和歌山県文化表彰 (in Japanese). Wakayama Broadcasting System. January 19, 2018. Retrieved April 4, 2020.
  16. ^ "158 Manga Creators Mark Shonen Sunday, Mag's 50th Year". Anime News Network. March 19, 2009. Retrieved March 21, 2009.
  17. ^ 週刊少年サンデー・週刊少年マガジン50周年記念大同窓会、名だたる漫画家たちによるコメントムービー (in Japanese). gigazine.net. March 17, 2009. Retrieved March 21, 2009.
  18. ^ "Golgo 13's Saito, Sunset on 3rd St.'s Saigan Win Medals". Anime News Network. April 28, 2010. Retrieved April 8, 2015.
  19. ^ Atsushi, Ohara (December 2, 2013). "Manga 'Golgo 13' celebrates 45 years of continuous publication". Asahi Shimbun. Archived from the original on October 24, 2015. Retrieved October 19, 2016.
  20. ^ 岩手の魅力、漫画で 大賞コン入賞21作品表彰 さいとう氏に特別賞 (in Japanese). Iwate Nichinichi Shimbun. November 26, 2017. Retrieved April 4, 2020.
  21. ^ 名誉都民にさいとう・たかをさんら3人 (in Japanese). Sankei Shimbun. October 1, 2019. Retrieved April 4, 2020.
  22. ^ "Jitterbug The Forties, Golgo 13's Takao Saito Win Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prizes". Anime News Network. April 21, 2019. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  23. ^ "Golgo 13's Takao Saito Launches New Manga Award". Anime News Network. June 11, 2017. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  24. ^ "Japan Sinks". JManga. Archived from the original on May 16, 2013. Retrieved October 19, 2016.
  25. ^ Cifaldi, Frank (August 2004). "Spotlight: Secret Ties". Lostlevels.org. Lost Levels. Archived from the original on April 3, 2016. Retrieved October 19, 2016.
  26. ^ "Doll the Hotel Detective". JManga. Archived from the original on May 15, 2013. Retrieved October 19, 2016.
  27. ^ "Professional Swordsmen of the Edo Era". JManga. Archived from the original on May 15, 2013. Retrieved October 1, 2020.

External linksEdit