Lupin III chronicles the adventures of Arsene Lupin III, the world's greatest thief, and his partners in crime: master marksman Daisuke Jigen, beautiful and scheming Fujiko Mine and stoic samurai Goemon Ishikawa XIII. Lupin and his gang travel around the globe in search of the world's greatest treasures and riches and always keeping one step ahead of the tireless Inspector Zenigata, who has vowed to bring Lupin to justice.
Lupin III: Part III is without question the least talked about out of all the Lupin III series. If I had to guess why that is, I assume it would be because of it's choice of style for one. It has more of a cartoony feel and makes some questionable changes to the looks of the characters. These changes vary throughout the course of the 50 episode anime. It can take some time to get use to if you're familiar with the previous series which in itself was pretty different from the original series. Part III to me resembles the art in the manga.
Monkey Punch (creator) was influenced by a few artists who worked on Mad magazine which is fairly obvious if you have read the manga. I could go into more detail about that but I'm going give you some basic knowledge and also tell you why the show is a blast.
I'm not going to sit here and tell you about the characters because this is the third series and it's only common sense to assume that the person reading this has already checked out part I and II. Just like the previous series, there is no long term narrative. Each episode is it's own story. There is nothing to really invest in except for the fun adventures the characters go on for 24 minutes. It's quite similar to part II in terms of the kinds of stories they tell. Silly, weird, humorous, and usually lighthearted just to name a few. It's always enjoyable to see what ridiculous item Lupin plans to steal that episode. The episodes themselves are much more exaggerated and abstract due to the cartoony style they're going for. Yuji Ohno returns to compose the music. Instead of it being jazzy, It feels more funky to me which I guess is to go along with the "80's" look. It still sounds incredible nevertheless if that's the kind of music you enjoy.
There's not a whole lot to say about this series that a person who's already watched Lupin already knows. If you enjoy adventure comedies or shows that are character driven, then watch this. It has the greatest group of characters in all of anime. It's the kind of show you can relax and turn your brain off for an hour or two. It's pretty fast paced and at times witty. I'd say it's pretty refreshing to watch after viewing some of the red jacket films. Give it a try.
Lupin III: Part III is an interesting case as far as Lupin goes, to say the least—of the six total Lupin III series, ("The Woman Called Fujiko Mine" included) it's the least talked about by far, and generally gets a bad rap. The exact reason for this is unknown, but is likely a combination of these three factors:
•Highly questionable subtitles produced in-house by either Crunchyroll or TMS
•Character designs that seem to change on a per-episode basis
•Specific expectations from fans coming off other Lupin works for what "Lupin III" should be
Despite these circumstances, opinions on Part III have begun to improve over the years, with some
fans even calling it their favorite outing in the Lupin franchise. In this review, I'll be breaking down Part III, in an effort to inform readers on its ups, downs, and what shows I'd recommend as companion pieces to this anime.
The first thing any Lupin fan will likely tell you about the franchise's stories is that, with the exception of recent installments, the only thing that stays the same is the basic cast of characters. Part III is no different, thrusting the Lupin gang into a new (sexy) adventure every episode. This makes this show (and Lupin III as a whole) extremely easy to pick up and watch, as no prior knowledge of the story is needed.
But how do the stories themselves fare? Part III suffers from the same problems as its predecessor in that sometimes, the stories are, like Darth Vader, more machine than man. Typically, there are four types of Lupin stories: "Heist," "One-off villain or helper," "Assassin gunning for the gang," and "Previous lover/associate."
Part III mixes it up a bit with a few outstanding episodes (one has Lupin using a dolphin for a heist, only for it to fall in love with him and force him into dolphin-marriage.) and the introduction of the "War zone" episode to the formula. Furthermore, rather than shooting towards a specific tone, Part III features a blend of the silly, outrageous stories told in Part II, and the more grounded, hard-edged stories told in Part I.
~ART AND ANIMATION~
The art and animation in Part III is BY FAR the most interesting aspect of the show. Long story short, Yuzo Aoki, an animator who had contributed greatly to Lupin since its animated 1969 pilot, was chosen to direct the show as well as its character designs. Aoki looked long and hard at his project, and came to several conclusions:
1. Every past Lupin's art has been an interpretation of Part 1's art, and not the manga's.
2. I have a gigantic animation staff.
3. It would be cool if I could create the base designs, and then let said gigantic animation staff do whatever they want with them.
This decision by Aoki paved the way for Part III to become something unlike any anime before, and quite possibly after. Early on, the designs are really clean, with slightly conservative animation. At about the halfway point, though, they start to become loose, angular, and hilariously animated in a way reminiscent of Looney Tunes. The second opening, and the final ten or so episodes in particular, are the peak of this style, and the areas in which it goes into COMPLETE overdrive.
~MUSIC AND VOICE ACTING~
There isn't really too much to say about Part III's soundtrack. Yuji Ohno is back from Part II, but with more atmosphere-oriented music. It does the job just fine, but you won't find a moment outside the opening and ending songs where you'll go "Man, that's my favorite!"
Also returning from Part II's sound division are the five main characters' most iconic voice actors:
•Yasuo Yamada - Lupin
•Kiyoshi Kobayashi - Jigen
•Makio Inoue - Goemon
•Eiko Masuyama - Fujiko
•Gorō Naya - Inspector Zenigata
Their performances in Part III are, in my opinion, their absolute best, with everyone portraying a variety of emotions. Makio Inoue's Goemon even gets to loudly sing Japanese folk music while eating noodles on one occasion—something extremely rare for the stoic samurai.
Part III's interpretation of the Lupin characters is almost top-notch, with the only straggler being Fujiko. Part III's Lupin is a nice blend of the previous ones, still a bit silly, but not constantly pining after Fujiko to the point that it's annoying. Part III's Jigen is a mix between early Part I's sarcastic Jigen and Part II's somber one. Goemon here is the same as ever—he cuts things. This time, though, they really ham up his traditional samurai thing (singing to noodles). Zenigata is a whole lot more creative with his set-ups in this series, with the Lupin gang often having to adjust or adapt their heists to his presence.
Fujiko is played just a bit too straight here, with her always going behind enemy lines for the gang or betraying the Lupin crew. She also doesn't have any real character moments like how she did in Part I.
Overall, I believe Part III is definitely a good watch, particularly for seeing its art evolve into the second half's amazing, pastel-colored madness. Here's how I rank each aspect of the show:
ART AND ANIMATION: 10
MUSIC AND VOICE ACTING: 7
~COMPANION PIECES TO LUPIN III: PART III~
•Lupin III: The Mystery of Mamo - Same crazed style as Part III, except the crazy is in the story.
•FLCL - Similar campy and at times bizarre feel.
•Monkey Punch no Sekai: Alice - An OVA adaptation of another manga by Monkey Punch, also directed by Yuzo Aoki.
•Lupin III: The Legend of the Gold of Babylon - A Lupin movie with the same visual style as the late second half of this show, but poorer execution due to Development Hell.