Alright, it’s my first review here (Yay!), so bear with me.
Since 1989, the creation, once a year, of a Lupin III TV Special has been kind of a tradition. Some of these specials were memorable, others were just average and some of them were downright terrible. In which category does this one fall? Well, I can’t provide a definite answer to that question, but at least I can give my opinion!
The plot is the usual for a Lupin III movie: a legendary treasure draws the attention of Lupin and his gang. Add to the mix the typical villain that wants to use the treasure for his own nefarious schemes, a few supporting characters that help to get the story going, and of course don’t forget about good old Inspector Zenigata and his obsession with bringing Lupin to justice. Nothing new here, as you can see. I guess the writers support the school of thought “if it ain't broke, why fix it?” And I guess it works, but I wouldn't mind if they tried something a little different.
The movie has a rather Ghibli-esque art style, reminiscent of “The Castle of Cagliostro”, which in my opinion fits this franchise really well (I may be biased though, since “Cagliostro” is my favorite Lupin III movie). The animation is very good, smooth and lively (which is pretty commendable taking into account that some of the previous TV Specials were pretty poor in this respect). In fact, other than some very specific moments (pointless CGI seagulls!), few negative things can be said regarding both the art style and the animation.
The characters: What can I say about Lupin and his gang? You know they are criminals, but you can’t help but love them anyway. Lupin is the charismatic thief that always steals what he wants. Jigen is his most loyal partner, a gunslinger with nearly-superhuman targeting skills. Goemon is the stoic samurai with a sword that can cut through pretty much anything and Fujiko is the double-crossing femme fatale. Also of importance is Inspector Zenigata that, except for a couple of moments, is portrayed in this movie as a bumbling man that, by wanting to capture Lupin, is trying to bite more that he can chew.
Now, regarding the characters introduced in this movie, Lupin unwillingly gets himself a sidekick of sorts, Maki, a girl who wants Lupin to teach her how to become a thief. Surprisingly enough, she doesn’t come across as annoying, even though young characters tagging along with the main character are usually pretty unlikeable. The next character worthy of mention, Misa, is little more than a walking MacGuffin, so not much can be said about her without spoiling half of the movie’s plot. Finally, every single bad guy in the movie is completely one-dimensional (at one point there is a pretty feeble attempt to give the main villain some sort of motivation, but it doesn’t really work in my opinion) and they only exist in order to be in the way between Lupin and the treasure.
In the sound section I have no choice but to address one of the greatest peeves that many fans had with this movie: after having the same voice actors for decades, three of the main characters (Goemon, Fujiko and Zenigata) have had their voice actors replaced. Of course, the million dollar question is "are the new voice actors good enough for such iconic characters?" In my opinion, the answer is a big “YES”. Perhaps it will take a bit of time to get used to Kouichi Yamadera as Zenigata, though, since he seems to be the only one of the three who is giving his own spin to the character instead of trying to sound similar to the actor that he is replacing. Still, the three of them manage to do a really good job. Other than that there is not much to say; Kanichi Kurita as Lupin and Kiyoshi Kobayashi as Jigen are simply fantastic, as usual, and the rest of the cast does a decent enough job. Not much innovation with regards to the soundtrack, composed almost in its entirety of jazzy tunes from previous installments of the franchise, including that wonderful opening theme, which I swear it’s one of the catchiest theme songs ever created. With music as awesome as that, who cares if it wasn’t created specifically for this TV Special?
All in all, this TV Special won’t be a milestone for the Lupin III franchise, that’s for sure. Still, despite the fact that it doesn’t bring anything new to the table, something can’t be denied: the movie is entertaining and fun to watch and, at least for me, that’s more than enough. If you are a fan of Lupin III, by all means check this movie out, you (probably) won’t be disappointed. And if you are new to Lupin III this is not a bad place to start; it’s not the best Lupin III movie ever, but it’s very far from being the worst.
One more thing: for a Lupin III movie, this TV special is pretty violent. Nothing incredibly explicit, mind you, but for a franchise in which there was barely any blood, this change can be a little jarring, so take that into account.
And I guess that’s it. Thanks for reading my review!read more