I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

doa -- Glass no Highway(ガラスのハイウェイ)



This morning on NHK News, I found out that the creator of manga's current longest-running series (since 1968), "Golgo 13"ゴルゴ13, Takao Saito(さいとう・たかを), had passed away from pancreatic cancer last week on September 24th. He was 84.

Compared to anime, I was never a huge manga fan although I've gone through the "Dr. Slump"(ドクタースランプ)series and a few books of "Ultraman"(ウルトラマン). A large chunk of that has been due to the language barrier; I still can't say that I can read Japanese all that well and I was even worse back on the JET Programme when I encountered my first "Golgo 13" manga. My host father in Gunma ran a chiropractic clinic so he had a ton of those books on the shelves. I gave them a go but as Saito himself described it years ago in an interview, he had always wanted to create a manga and a character for adults. As such, there was a lot of sex and violence, but there was also the international intrigue involving politics, international relations and economy, so you can imagine me trying to navigate the rich language without a dictionary. Frankly, I couldn't generate enough of an interest to read manga.

Still, Golgo 13 is one of the most recognizable pop culture figures from Japan. With that short haircut, death glare eyes and intimidating figure, the mystery man of assassinations may not even need a ballistic or bladed weapon. He can probably down his targets with a glance. I read that he got his own anime treatment in 2008 for about a year with none other than TV tough guy Hiroshi Tachi(舘ひろし)voicing him.

According to the J-Wiki article for the character, the anime had a couple of opening themes but several ending themes. The ending theme for the first twelve episodes was "Glass no Highway" (Glass Highway) by the band doa...and no, it's not pronounced D-O-A as in Dead On Arrival but simply dough-ah. The band delves in various types of rock music including country rock and hard rock. This 10th single of theirs from April 2008 seems to feel like more of the former, although parts of it had me remembering "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing", the theme song from Michael Bay's "Armageddon".

"Glass no Highway" was written and composed by doa leader and band co-vocalist Akihito Tokunaga(徳永暁人), and the lyrics could almost come across as a message by Golgo himself to a former lover (of whom he has many) about the necessities of his life and the memories of theirs. Although the recording company was GIZA studio, there is something about the delivery and the arrangement which faintly hints at a BEING tune, and interestingly enough, before the band formed in 2004, Tokunaga had provided arrangements for songs created at BEING. The song reached No. 14 in the Oricon weeklies and was also a track on doa's 4th album "Prime Garden" which was released later in November 2008 and peaked at No. 31.

The Wikipedia article for doa states that the name came about from the initials of the three members: Daiki Yoshimoto(吉本大樹), Shinichiro Ohta(大田 紳一郎), and Akihito Tokunaga. Between 2004 and 2011, they released 15 CD singles but since then, doa has decided to go for digital download for which they have put out 14 up to 2020. The band has also released 12 albums and 4 BEST compilations.

As for Saito, he stated that he would like "Golgo 13" to keep on going beyond his death and apparently the Saito Production Group will now take the baton to do exactly that.


  1. Golgo 13 is in indeed a mystery and a highly iconic character! I do not recall when I first learned about, but some how I knew his face and that he was a hitman before I left for Japan. I do know that whenever I first saw him he reminded me of Mr. Spock from Start trek well a bigger tougher version.

    "Glass no Highway" is yet another one of those high quality songs that reminds me of the wide gulf between the type of sound tracks usually used in American tv cartoons and those used in Japanese anime.

    1. Hi, Brian.

      Oh, I think the comparison between Golgo and Spock is an apt one neither show any particular emotion. Both of them probably see themselves as being apart of regular society.

      As for your point on the gulf between American and Japanese cartoons when it comes to soundtracks, I can definitely agree.


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