DVD Review: Lupin The Third: The Fuma Conspiracy

 

Lupin The 3rd

The Fuma Conspiracy

Eastern Star / Discotek

 

 

Goemon, the master swordsmen of the Lupin gang is getting married to a young girl (like, still in high school young), and the whole gang is invited.  But the master thieves become the thieved when the Fuma Clan’s ninjas crash the wedding to steal a vase which will lead them to hidden treasure of the Suminawa clan (from whence the high school girl descends).

The last Lupin title I reviewed was a caper film, a relatively complex plot with mysteries to be solved  and plans to be hatched.  The Fuma Conspiracy is much simpler.  The three groups; Lupin’s gang, the Fuma Clan, and the police, all know where they are going.  The story, then, is a race to see who can get to the treasure first.

Lupin, Zenigata, and Fujiko still get the biggest roles in this film, but Goemon has a significant part as well; including some insights into his character which, given his stoic nature, are welcome.

The plot of the movie plays very well with the dynamics of the group.  While Lupin’s gang is happy to help their friend out, they are still thieves who have every intention of stealing  the family treasure for themselves.  It’s like a human version of fable about the scorpion and the frog.  Goemon has no choice but to seek the aid of people who freely admit they will betray him later.

Inspector Zenigata has a nice role in the film as well.  As the movie begins, he is retired and living as a monk, believing Lupin to have been killed.  Upon finding out that he isn’t, he jumps right back into the hunt.  There are a number of scenes which explore the nature of Zenigata and Lupin’s relationship.  Zenigata saves Lupin’s life at one point, which may seem odd, until you remember that Zenigata is driven by a devotion to the law, and killing Lupin would not be just.  While they remain enemies, there’s a mutual respect as well.

Being a chase movie, there are several car chases and a trek through a booby-trapped castle; all of which are lushy animated, creative, and well paced to keep the sense of ‘the chase’ always present.

The animation style has a slight ‘cartoony’ feel to it.  Things are a little rounder, and physics are a little looser.  It suits the story well, and is exploited to great effect in the car chase scenes.

The DVD from Discotek / Eastern Star has significantly better video than the previous Animeigo disc.  It is completely unaltered with the original Japanese credits and titles.  Audio is DD 2.0, in English and Japanese.  Subtitles are fine, but I think there are 2-3 lines that aren’t subbed in the movie, either that or the timing of the subs is off.

DVD Review: Lupin The Third Episode 0: The First Contact

 

Lupin The Third

Episode 0: The First Encounter

Eastern Star

 

 

 

Produced for the 30th annivarsary of the series, Lupin The Third Episode 0: The First Contact, tells the story of how the diverse group of sometimes allies first found each other.

Master thief Lupin is out to steal the Clam of Helmeth, a cylindrical object made of a metal that is said to be stronger than diamond.  Inside the clam is a scroll with the instructions on how to make this indestructible metal.

This being the 30th anniversary production, you are assumed to know the characters and their relationships.  If you don’t, it’s not hard to figure out as they are larger-than-life archetypes, with highly defined and straight forward characterizations.

Lupin has two primary strengths.  The first is an endless supply of new magical gadgets (the one real concession to fantasism in an otherwise real-word setting).  He’s not unlike James Bond in this way, which, given the fact that the show started in the late ’60s, is probably no coincidence.

Lupin’s second strength is his ability to make people underestimate him.  His wacky personal and flamboyant style hide a cunning strategist

Lupin has one other positive trait that helps him in this movie, and that’s a lack of arrogance.  He recognizes superior skills in others, and rather than try to beat them, he seeks to join them.  Accomplishing acts of great thievery is a pride and joy to Lupin, one he is happy to share with worthy partners.

Jigen is the mob gunman who was hired to guard the Clam.  Lupin manages to escape Jigen’s attack; which captivates Jigen because Lupin is the first real challenge he’s ever had.  Lupin is equally intrigued, though in his case it’s by the potential value of Jigen as an ally.  Jigen’s quest to face Lupin again put him at odds with the Clam’s owner, the mob boss Galvez, putting both Lupin and Jigen on the same side against a common enemy.

Fujiko is a mercenary.  Through out the series she joins Lupin and company on their capers, but invariably tries to double cross him at the end, taking the loot for herself.  She attracts Lupin’s attention both because of his appreciation for her skills, but also his love of beautiful women.  Fujiko comes to see the depth of skill possessed by Lupin, and concludes that hanging around such a successful thief will provide amble opportunities to steal in the future.

The last member of the gang is Goemon, who also has the smallest role in the film.  He’s an old-fashioned samurai, steeped in the code of Bushido, he’s interested in the metal for its use as a sword material.  Jigen has a similar reaction to Goemon as he did to Lupin, in that he is interested to find a true challenger; though in Goemon’s case, it comes with more respect, perhaps because of Goemon’s more serious tone.

The First Contact is a well plotted caper film.  The execution of the thefts are creative and unpredictable.  The overall plot is well paced, and allows all the protagonists to  have their own arcs and moments.  The one aspect of character development that’s explored in the movie is the motivations of what drew the characters together, and it’s done in a believable way, mostly driven by professional respect and self interest.

Video and audio quality are solid on this disc from Eastern Star / Discotek.  Video is in 4:3 (this being a TV special, that’s its OAR) and is uncut with the original Japanese credits.  Audio is Japanese only, with optional subtitles.