Lupin & co. attempt to steal two face plates from millionare Michael Sizuki, thinking that they will lead to an ancient treasure when brought together. However, it soon becomes apparent that there is more behind the plates then meets the eye.
This Lupin the 3rd movie doesn't really have much that sets it apart from the rest of the series. The only odd things about the movie is that for all but ten minutes of the movie, Goemon doesn't have his sword, and Jegan's toothache keeps him from shooting straight. One good thing this particular movie does is that you get to see into Inspector Zenagata's personal life and his motivations for doing what he does. Other than that though, it's a pretty average Lupin movie.
Of all the Lupin animated features that the saga has had in its long history, this one is my top favourite. It embodies all the elements that make up a great Lupin tale, but also stands out as being different from a normal expected Lupin tale. And it's just so much fun to see, too! Not since the Miyazaki era has there been a Lupin story that has been as entertaining as this one.
The story is the standard for a "soft-boiled" Lupin tale: Lupin and his mates carry out a caper with Zenigata in pursuit, Fujiko has her own plans in effect, and then everyone
gets sidetracked by an innocent's plight who they help out against the bad guy troubling them. While it's the basic status quo, it's told competently and well and provides a great blend of action, comedy, danger and fun that engages and entertains.
What makes this a refreshingly different story for Lupin fans, is that the focus is on the tenacious Inspector Zenigata, an underrated character in the Lupin saga. Zenigata is famously portrayed as a comical figure that Lupin loves to make a fool of, but what most fans overlook is that it takes a master cop to catch or even catch up with a master thief. This feature gives Zenigata an excellent display of serious intelligence and bravery and prove himself a real hero to Maria, this story's supporting female.
Consequently this sidelines Lupin and his gang, a little uncomfortably but not unreasonably. The master gunman Jigen is hampered by a toothache, the master swordsman Goemon loses his sword and gets utterly emasculated, and Lupin and Fujiko are seriously outmatched by the villain, businessman Michael Suzuki. It serves in making Suzuki more dangerous and unstoppable, and his campaign is made more sinister by Maria experiencing visions of a terrible future... Of course the heroes manage to save the day and pull off their caper, but it's not really a victory unless their enemy was a serious threat.
The artwork is wonderful for a 1990s anime, the voice cast is reliable (in both the original Japanese and English dub), and the music is jazzy in both an exciting and mellow manner. It's a great ride to go through, and anyone who wishes to learn of Lupin III would be well advised to start off with this story.
This is definitely one of the better Lupin specials!
Yay, Zenigata! He gets a plot and it's not ridiculous! The special delivers his traditional buffoonery early on so that he can later be a badass without it detracting from the character history. Which I think is important because with Lupin being a ridiculously amazing thief, his opponent (even if a quarter of the time they end up more friendly than enemies) needs to be top notch too. This one features a lot of Lupin and Zenigata working together, which I have to admit I am a fan of. But don't worry, the dynamics are back to
normal by the end. However, as the special focuses on Lupin and (separately) Zenigata, that doesn't leave much development time for Jigen and Goemon. Jigen...has a toothache. And Goemon...has lost his precious sword. Not much going on there. Although I have to admit, once those two things are resolved it's pretty funny.
The art? Much better than I expected, considering it came out of the 90s. Compare it to the Harimao special which came out just 3 years earlier and you'll see a drastic difference. My only complaint is that no matter what the special so long as it's out of the main series, the animators seem to have difficulty animating anything in a style similar to the main characters, which leaves a bad taste in the mouth since they look like they're from different anime than everyone else in the special.
The sound? Once again we get the off the wall English dub with completely different pronunciations of the names that were established, for example, for many many episodes in the second series (and even the video game). That really grinds my gears every time I hear names or voice acting that just seems out of place.