Jun 5, 2015
In 1967, manga writer Monkey Punch created a comic called Lupin III, about a charming thief who was able to commit incredible heists and get away to brag about them. The manga was a roaring success, with its thrilling adventures, sensual women, and charming (if not trustworthy) protagonists; today it has passed into anime history as a milestone, with Lupin's incredible escapades making him a counterpart to James Bond.
This was the first ever animated adaptation of Lupin III, airing only two years after the manga began. As its title notes, it was a pilot film, intended to start up a series about Lupin. It
basically introduces the main cast and then gets straight to them making a grand getaway, with OO7-like flamboyance and finesse.
Of note is that as this feature aired in 1969, just two years after the manga began. Thus, it appears to have a raw, prototypical feel about it; the animation is a little dated by today's standards. Also, no brilliant heist that occurs, only an escape from a police hunt led by Lupin's rival Inspector Zenigata; this sort of enhances the unrefined feel of this feature, since these characters are not quite their definitive versions (notably Lupin's ally Goemon is an enemy in this).
However, overall the film maintains the racy, fast-moving pace that is characteristic of Lupin: whatever scrapes he ends up in, he always finds a way out of them. And while it's shorter and sketchy in comparison to the consequent Lupin features (five TV shows, five films and about 20 animated specials as of 2015), it holds up against those well in doing what all these Lupin stories do: put him through a perilous adventure with high odds against him, from which he comes out of it in style.
It's not too bad a beginning for an anime legend. It's certainly worth a watch.
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