Let's get the first thing out of the way: this movie truly lives up to its title It's gory. It's bloody. It's something that Lupin III is offering for pretty much the first time. Yeah, there's been blood and some mild gore, but there's some fairly disturbing scenes thrown in.
Art direction is fantastic as usual. I really like the more mature view of Lupin III that this movie has. It's something Lupin needed to a degree, almost as if it's a homage to the original manga. It's mature enough to be appealing to older audiences, but doesn't take itself too seriously. It has the
same "air" as all the other Takeshi Koike films. It's dark and disturbing. Sexual at times. But that's something I don't mind. It's really startling how Lupin can either be fun and light, or can be the complete opposite and sometimes disturb its viewers.
It felt much more enjoyable than Takeshi Koike's first Lupin special, that being Jigen Daisuke's Gravestone. I feel like this special was more "tight" - now that they've worked with their interpretation of blue jacket Lupin once, they've now gotten it right. I'm excited to see what they might have in store next.
I watched this without subtitles and my understanding of spoken Japanese isn't the greatest, so I can't say much about the story, unfortunately. The main villain was interesting and creepy, despite not really looking like it.
As for characterization, the special mainly focuses on Goemon and his view of his honour from what I could understand. I felt like his characterization was similar to that of The Mystery of Mamo - he becomes a brooding samurai, faced with defeat, unsure of what to make of himself. He's not really a punchline at all. He's very serious in this special, almost to a terrifying degree (as Lupin puts it in the original green jacket series, he's a "scary man"). The antics between Lupin, Jigen, and Fujiko were quite entertaining. Their silliness was a lot more adult-oriented. I got the feeling from this film that Goemon wasn't very close to them at all, but I think it fit for his character. Zenigata's characterization of a more hardened detective is also starting to grow on me, and I liked his interactions with the gang.
Regardless, if you're a fan of the more violent and serious Lupin, this is a special that you need to watch. I'll definitely be rewatching it once subtitles come out so I can fully understand it. Visually, this is the most appealing thing. The animation is incredibly smooth and the characters are always so nicely drawn. The way they draw each character has really been refined in this special. It's definitely a treat, so I highly recommend you check it out.
On a whim, I put in my bluray of The Woman Called Fujiko Mine the other day. It had been a while since I first watched the show and it was a lot… stranger than I remembered. No matter what you think about its bizarre plot and gratuitous nudity, the style is undeniably fantastic (Koike's handiwork, judging by the staff credits.) The two recent offshoots of the show share the style but, as feature films, have far simpler plots. In my opinion, this works in their favor.
Goemon Ishikawa’s Spray of Blood—what a fucking title—is, first and foremost, beautiful. Not only does
it share the great style of TWCFM, but it goes even further when it comes to the action. The action scenes in this film are as if the animators studied every single great chanbara of the 20th century and, pooling their knowledge and passion for these works of art with their knowledge and passion for animation, created the film. Okay, I’m being hyperbolic, but Goemon’s sword-fighting is very reminiscent of classics like Lone Wolf and Cub. The delayed blood-sprays, the delayed dismemberment… it’s very satisfying.
The plot is not only simplistic, it’s mystifying. The antagonist is a lumberjack-looking fellow who, according to a brief moment of back-story, apparently died in a covert military operation in Bermuda; thusly called The Bermuda Ghost. Before slaughtering his enemies like a demon with limitless strength and endurance, he tells them that he’ll turn them into compost for fertilization. At first hearing this dialogue I thought he was going to end up having some monologue about radical militant environmentalism… but it goes unexplained. Does he originate elsewhere? I certainly don’t remember him from previous Lupin III chapters, but who knows how many antagonist-of-the-weeks there were in the original television show.
This film is central to Goemon’s character, and it does a perfect job examining him. It’s no origin story and there’s not even much of any character development. It simply depicts Goemon Ishikawa’s obsession with his status as the strongest warrior around. He has no real moral dilemmas outside of his austerity to bushido. After pointlessly slaughtering an entire yakuza clan, he simply prays for the dead at a shrine as a matter of honor, not of regret. The best part of the character study however is Goemon’s desperation to understand how he failed the duel the first time and how to correct the mistakes that lead to that failure. He endures extreme suffering (that should definitely kill him at many points) to achieve the skill to defeat his opponent (Lupin calls it finding a sixth sense and achieving enlightenment, but who knows what Lupin is rambling about.)
Goemon Ishikawa’s Spray of Blood is a simple action flick that is a beyond-worthy addition to the enormous Lupin III franchise. If you like any Lupin III show, manga, or film, you’ll probably enjoy this one. If you have a liking for samurai flicks, you will surely enjoy the animated katana-slaughter. Oh, and Fujiko makes obscene moaning noises in one scene.
I've never really delved into the treasure trove that is the Lupin the 3rd series - outside of watching the outstanding Castle of Cagliostro, which was more due to the talent attached to the production. After stumbling upon it by chance, I watched Goemon's Fountain of Blood, due to my fast love of the character from the aforementioned film, and excitement over the little bits of it's events I knew about. What I found is something that appealed to me so much, and makes me a little bit sad there isn't anything quite this brutal (to my knowledge) in the rest of the franchise.
Blood details Goemon, frequent collaborator to Lupin and friends, who is struggling with a hired assassin on behalf of a yakuza outfit he's working for. The premise is basic, but gives off a feeling similiar to The Terminator; Hawk is the assassin Goemon is targeting, who is in turn targeting Lupin, Jigen and Fujiko. For 85% of this film, nothing stops Hawk - he's like a bulldozer that absolutely nothing can slow down. It one of those storylines that don't have much, but it's all they need.
Easily the highlight of the film is it's art direction and phenomenal action. The action in this film rivals the best that came out in 2017, and had me on the edge of my seat at every occasion. The art direction is strong, very strong, and the animation is nothing short of wonderful, especially when it comes to any scenes involving Hawk, the animation putting a lot of care into showing how his weight and fighting style would actually play out. For the main cast, the main cast all just look like modern day versions of how they've always looked. Though, I gotta say the character designs for all the one-off characters in this look very distinctive, especially for the yakuza characters that Goemon interacts with in sections of the film.
This film is legitmently one of the more brutal things i've watched in recent times, and I don't say that lightly. Some of the fights in this film are simply borderline horrifying. Limbs are sliced off, bodies are broken up, and even worse. I was somewhat aware of the more mature nature of the film, but I still didn't exactly expect it on this level from a Lupin III property. In all honesty, it was a breath of fresh air seeing people actually take so much bodily damage from swords and axes and the like. The combat is simply amazing from start to finish - Goemon and Hawk's fights have a huge amount of weight and precision to them, and has all the consequences of two masters of their styles clashing.
I have nothing but good things to say about the antagonist of the film, Hawk, a fairly unusual design for an assassin in a show like this. The most interesting thing about him is the fact just the way he's presented in a scene changes the feeling he gives off - in one scene, he's picking up a child and looks like a lovely father - in the next, he gives off the vibe of The Terminator as he relentlessly pursues Lupin and Co. He's simply one of the more unique antagonists I've seen in a anime film recently - the inventive way he fights and his general demeanour are ujst so off-putting that you legitemently don't know what's going to come out of his mind next. Otherwise, the whole cast is pretty great to see, but outside of Goemon, I didn't feel any of them acted out of what I'd expect from a Lupin III property - though I have to say, the icy coolness in which Goemon tackles his opponents in the second half of the film was a hoot, and lended a lot credence to the incredible skill he's always said to have.
I gotta say though, the method in which Goemon learns to defeat Hawk felt pretty silly - I understand this is Lupin and silly solutions are probably pretty commonplace, but I didn't think there was any real reasoning why Goemon's 'training' actually helped him defeat his gigantic foe. Aditionally, I think it would've made more sense if Fujioko wasn't even in the film - she does very little beside just interact with Lupin and Jigen, and then leave pretty much halfway through the film without doing much. It isn't a huge deal, but it just seemed like a big underutilisation of the character.
Overall, Goemon's Fountain of Blood is a great film that's well worth watching if you're in the mood for something a little different and a little more brutal then the norm. I feel, for the most part, you don't need prior knowledge of Lupin III to watch it, but probably having a little basic backstory will help regardless. It's absolutely gotten me more interested in the Lupin series, and even on it's own, it's just a damn good time with it's darker and more mature tone.
Lupin the Third: Goemon Ishikawa's Spray of Blood lives up to its name by havings lots of blood in it, which is a good thing since it didn't meet most of my other expectations. What I wanted from this movie was a look at Goemon as a character because he has typically been sidelined in many of the other titles in the franchise. If that's what you're looking for, you'll have more luck watching The Fuma Conspiracy, Dragon of Doom, or certain episodes in any of the TV series because this says very little about Goemon.
If you've already seen the movie, then you might be
disagreeing with me on this. Goemon has a lot of screen time, he struggles with a conflict unlike we've ever seen before, and the final scenes are his time to show off. But I have two major problems with how this was executed. One, we never learn anything about how Goemon is feeling, what he's thinking, or why he does anything directly from him. He barely talks to the other regular characters or interacts with them. Every insight into him is provided by Lupin's narration, even when there's zero logical reason for him to know the things he explains. As a result, Goemon comes off as very distant, barely a character. My second problem is that Goemon having such a crisis in the movie makes no sense. The fight that breaks his spirit is nothing out of the ordinary, but if it has such an effect on him, it makes you wonder if this is the first time in his life that he loses. I don't think they wanted to make the title character come off as a spoiled brat who's never had to face disappointment before, but that's what it looked like to me. If they'd presented this as Goemon being an arrogant upstart who learns a lesson, it would have had the potential to be great, but due to the emotional distance, it just doesn't work.
The plot is fairly incoherent as well. It starts off promisingly enough, with Goemon having been hired as a bodyguard for a mob boss whose casino Lupin, Jigen and Fujiko have decided to rob. The three are being targeted by a new character called Bermuda Ghost, a terrifying giant of a man who seems inhumanly unstoppable. Meanwhile, Zenigata is searching for Bermuda Ghost as part of an investigation.
Circumstances get all these characters mixed with each other, and soon it looks like we'll be following Goemon on a path of personal revenge and reclaiming his honour. But, due to the reasons mentioned above, it's not a very engaging path. The movie fails to wrap up most of its plot threads. We never learn who hired Bermuda Triangle and why. Zenigata's investigation goes nowhere and we never find out why the chief was trying to stop him, creating the feeling that his plot line existed only so that we could have some exposition on who Bermuda Ghost is. Goemon gets over his crisis due to a deus ex machina plot point that comes out nowhere and makes so little sense that Lupin has to explain it to the viewer. The revenge angle has no proper climax for anyone involved. Fujiko just walks out of the movie.
In short, I feel that the people who made this movie had lots of really cool ideas they wanted to include, but they didn't manage to create a story where the events follow each other logically. I think it might have benefitted from being longer so that it could have given some depth to its characters and tied up the plot more neatly. One of the elements I like best about the Lupin franchise is how the regular characters play off each other, and that is almost entirely missing here. We get a few amusing scenes with Lupin, Fujiko, and Jigen, but other than that it feels like the characters only exist to make the plot move onwards.
All that said, there were also elements that I enjoyed. The animation and colour design are great and make the movie beautiful to look at, the soundtrack is smooth, and there were a bunch of cool and entertaining scenes. The first half in particular worked and raised my expectations pretty high. The fight scenes were as brutal as the title promises, so if you like that kind of thing, this is definitely worth a watch just to see Goemon get beaten that badly. Since this is a direct continuation of Jigen's Gravestone, I assume there will be more movies taking place in the same timeline. Hopefully they'll do a better job of wrapping things up.