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.
It’s the 50th anniversary of Lupin III, and alongside the celebration of the acclaimed anime franchise we got the short film: Goemon Ishikawa’s Spray of Blood. A film focused on the titular samurai character we’ve seen slashing his way throughout the Lupin filmography. Essentially two episodes combined into one, Spray of Blood is a short film that boasts incredible visuals and the Lupin Characters you know and love, and lots of great action. Interestingly, the movie was leaked early and although it took a while to get english subs, it’s finally available in a watchable format for western audiences. It will likely be
awhile till the movie gets localized, but when it does I highly recommend the buying the high quality releases done by Discotek. Let’s start with the best part of the movie, the visuals.
Visuals are easily the best part of the movie; it’s a dark, visually beautiful film. Some of the environments in the movie are amazing, such as the casino boat in the beginning and the end temple. The characters are all visually in line with the Jigen’s Gravestone movie, and are more mature than the recent Blue Jacket. One of the coolest parts of the recent Lupin material is that the cars all all drawn, not CG. There’s a couple of chase sequences, and they all look great. When it comes down to it though, the movie is about swordfights. Luckily, the fights are visually stunning. Both Goemon and the villain have cool weapons, a Katana, and two axes, respectively. The action has a lot of weight and fluidity to it. The gore is violent and visceral as the two exchange blows, especially in the final culmination of action. Expect to see a lot of arms flying off and blood. The visuals are phenomenal overall.
Regarding sound, unfortunately, there’s really not much to talk about here. The movies theme is nice but they didn’t really use it until the end. I really can’t remember any scene where the music was very memorable. A big disappointment from the rest of Lupins great music, especially since Blue Jacket’s soundtrack is excellent.
However, the voices were all great. Everyone did a great job as always with their roles, and the new villain was threatening and sounded good and threatening as well. Serious props to Jigen’s voice actor who’s been voicing him since the beginning and is now over 84 years old. Just excellent work from everyone.
The story and characters are ultimately pretty weak. Goemon is on a job for a bunch of gangsters, and is after revenge when the villain kills his leader. The people who take over the gang are total dicks to Goemon, blaming him for the leader’s death. Anyways, Goemon’s got a new rival, and is committed to defeating him. Minor Spoilers from now, but his initial defeat was amazing. The follow up training montage was cool too… but really? A training montage? They even go with the generic waterfall scene. After that, we get the amazing scene where he attacks the gangsters and then the final showdown. There really just isn’t too much to this film. The barebones story just seems to be getting us from cool location or battle to another, and doesn’t serve much more of a purpose than that.
The villain didn’t get really too much backstory either, and the intro, which was very intriguing, was left up to our imagination as to what it was all about. Still, what backstory is given and his general scene presence makes him incredibly threatening for our samurai-sword wielding protagonist. This brooding, almost tank like presence on screen just doesn’t make up for the weak story and background though. The rest of the main cast though? If you like Lupin III, you like the characters, and you’ll like them here too. I think people will definitely find the story underwhelming though. It’s hard to score characters because it’s not like they are well fleshed out here, they assume you already know them. And to be fair, you probably will have if your watching this special. In the end, it’s mostly a character study on Goemon, and you can see his resolve and dedication to his morals.
So, do I recommend the Lupin the Third: Goemon Ishikawa’s Spray of Blood? Yeah, if you’re a Lupin fan. While I think the main series’ are much better as an entry point, tackling movies like this and Jigen’s Gravestone when you’ve grown accustomed the franchise will greatly enhance the film. Ultimately though, the visuals were the best part with the story and new character falling flat. This, bolstered by a forgettable soundtrack makes this definitely a weaker entry in the series, but still worth watching.
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.
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 the bizarre plot of the show and the gratuitous nudity, the style is undeniably fantastic. The two 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, maybe I’m being hyperbolic, but Goemon’s sword-fighting is very reminiscent of the classics. The delayed blood-sprays, the delayed dismemberment… it’s almost nostalgic.
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.