It looks like I'm one of the first to get a review out of the finished series, which I am very pleased about. I want people to be able to read about the wonderful experience I had with this show first.
If you're already a fan of the Lupin series, then this should be nothing new for you. Jumping back in to the fun and colourful world of Lupin and his gang, along with the new additions, is easy. For first time Lupin viewers, I would recommend you start with a couple of Lupin specials and movies before you go into this, just to get a sense of the characters. I recommend Castle of Cagliostro as a good starting point. However, if you don't want to bother, you should be fine, as its relatively easy to figure out what the main characters "deals" are within a few episodes.
The story itself is fairly typical for a Lupin show, what few episodes there is of it. I count about 8 episodes out of the 24 (if you watched in Japanese) that directly relate to the overarching story about MI6, the Dream of Italy and the main antagonist, who I won't spoil the identity of because it's fairly surprising. With the exception of the main anatagonist and finding out what his big plan was, there aren't too many moments in the story that I can say really surprised me. No big twists or turns, which is alright. What really carries the show is not the story itself, but the narrative, the way in which its told. Between the 8 episodes of story are the typical Lupin shenanigans, which I for one enjoyed just as much as the plot-centred episodes. In a show with an episodic nature such as this, the main concern is that not all episodes are going to be of the same high standard that the show opens with in its excellent first episode. This show does not have that problem. Every episode is equally enjoyable, perhaps with the lone exception of episode 22, which I found to be a little slow. Like most other Lupin material, it tries to keep its wacky story grounded in reality, and its "pseudo-scientific" explanations of... questionable events never became too annoying or obnoxios, or get in the way of my viewing experience. The story doesn't take itself too seriously, and even though some episodes are darker than others, it manages to keep a nice, consistent tone that is a great balance of the gritty, hardboiled Lupin from 'The Woman Called Fujiko Mine' (my favourite Lupin show), and the wacky Lupin from basically everything post-Miyazaki.
I will never get tired of the Monkey Punch art style. It's always so refreshing to see again after a long period of time away. I have no beef with normal, generic art styles, and I don't let it impact how much I enjoy the show, but from a technical and personal standpoint, I always prefer to see creative art styles. What I WILL let get in the way of my enjoyment is the actual qualtity of animation. Thankfully I can say that Lupin III has consistently great animation throughout, with no obvious drops in quality. There is ONE moment in some episode, I can't remember exactly which, where there is a moment of some very jarring rotoscoped animation, and it just... It messed with my head. It wasnt... Terrible, but it took me right out of the experience, and I did not like it.
The soundtrack by Yuji Ohno, who has been doing the Lupin OST for many years, is impeccable, which it damn well should be, and I would be very disappointed if it wasn't. TMS and Ohno have had almost 50 years to nail this aspect of the show, and if they hadn't got it by now I would be worried. There's always room to experiment with story and setting and new characters, but Lupin shows and films always have always had a particular style of music to them, and I was pleased that this show acknowledged that. Of particular note to me is the opening song, which I will always love. The 2015 remix is dope. The Japanese voice acting is particularly well done too, which is hardly surprising considering this crew of actors have been working on Lupin for a very long time, and it shows. Every actor perfectly captures the essence of their character in their performance. Kanichi Kurita excellently jumps back and forth from a lighthearted and goofy to a serious and mature Lupin, Kiyoshi Kobayashi nails the "American gangster" vibe of Jigen, Sawashiro Miyuki perfectly embodies the cunning nature of the seductress Fujiko Mine, Daisuke Namikawa performs the part of the stoic samurai brilliantly, and Koichi Yamadera gives a brilliant performance of Zenigata that doesn't leave behind his goofy, fun side, but also portrays him as a competent, intelligent detective.
The excellent characterisation is really what carries this show. It's not the story that kept me coming back each week, it was the great dialogue, comedy, and characters. Even if you remove the plot, I would still watch this show each week just to spend more time watching Lupin and co. just have shenanigans. Watching Lupin and his pals pull off crazy heists with "Pops" in pursuit is just fun to watch, and never ceased to entertain me. These are fun characters to ride along with. But we already know how great the main 5 are. If you're watching the show, there's a 90% chance it's because you're already familiar with how great they are. Let's talk about the new characters. Rebecca Rosselini was not a favourite of mine. To her credit, she does feel like her own unique character, but that character did not appeal to me. She was brash and immature, which I understand was done to provide a contrast to Fujiko, however, I will always be Team Fujiko, so new girl didn't really do it for me. I found her kind of annoying at times. Nyx, the MI6 agent, was not a favourite of mine either. His unique abilities do not intrinsically make him a unique character, and to be honest I found they made him even more generic. He just seemed to me like a typical "maverick spy, doesn't like to play by the rules" type character. Like an easily irritable James Bond. His abilities did make him stand out, but I didn't like what was being shown off. Finally, the main villain, whom I will not name. I liked him. His motivations were not the strongest I've seen in a villain, BUT they were clear, and they made sense. I found him to be a realistic villain character.
I don't know what more I can say. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of this show, and eagerly awaited the new episode each week. I will say, my personal favourite episode was episode 20. And that final scene of episode 24 gave me goose pimples, it was pretty cool. Long time Lupin fans are going to like this show, and newbies, this is a good place to start. From here, you can basically go anywhere in all of Lupin III. I highly recommend going back to Castle of Cagliostro if you enjoyed the goofy aspect, but if you're looking for something really fresh, and dark and gritty, go watch The Woman Called Fujiko Mine. That is still my favourite Lupin III material. Anyway, that's all I have to say. It was a great show. If you've watched it already, good on you, if you haven't, what are you waiting for? I hope you found my review helpful :)