Not sure how I missed posting this back in December when I posted it to the main Encyclopedia page, but here we are... My review of last year's TV special; click through for the image gallery.
A pair of jewels hold the secret to an even greater treasure, but there are so many obstacles in Lupin's way. The smallest one is Maki, a precocious fourteen year old girl who wants Lupin to teach her to be a thief. But what is her tie to the treasure and the mysterious girl Misa, a girl who cannot die? The secrets behind the treasure reach back even into Lupin's past; will the Blood Seal be opened?!
A Japanese cultural treasure has recently been discovered in a former Nazi sanatorium. While it is quite valuable, Lupin knows its true worth lies in being part of a key to lead to an even greater treasure. With Zenigata hot on his heels, a mysterious masked man named Morgana and his band of ninjas steal it, also killing Zenigata in the process. The race to the treasure is on; will Morgana and his ninjas reach it before Lupin? And why is this mysterious female ninja and her trusty dog interested in the treasure? Avenge the Old Man, Lupin!
A wealthy woman and her son are dead from an apparent hunting accident and suicide. The daughter, Princess Mira Julietta Vesparand, pulls the old Prince and the Pauper maneuver with Detective Conan's friend Mouri Ran. It is up to the great Detective Conan to switch them back and discover the truth behind that fateful day.
Complicating the issue is the wily thief Lupin the Third, and he is after the "Queen Crown" owned by the Vesparand family. When two of legendary characters meet, who will win the day?!
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Packed in with the limited edition DVD of the recent Green VS Red OVA was a special figure sculpted by PansonWorks. Dressed in a black jacket, the preview photos for the figure had fans drooling over the possibilities it might hold for the OVA itself. Sadly, the black jacket did not play into the OVA's story; you can check out my thoughts on the OVA for more details.
Reed Nelson of LupinTheThird.net invited me to be a guest for the fourth episode of his Lupin the Show podcast (he hates that term though... don't ask). Download the fourth episode to hear us discuss the upcoming Green VS Red OVA and more. Like what your heard or want to beg Reed never to have such guests again? Let him know your thoughts in the official discussion thread for the show.
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On the ocean floor, Lupin is once again seeking a treasure hoping to get on Fujiko's good side. As Zenigata chases them on sea and land, people around the gang begin to vanish mysteriously. The fog rolls in and Mamo Kyosuke appears in a burst of light; he claims to be from the future and seeks revenge on Lupin III for what Lupin XIII has done to him. Mamo hurls Lupin, Jigen, Goemon, and Zenigata 500 years into the past; as two warring factions fight over a legendary shrine dedicated to time travel, Lupin must find a way to survive the past to ensure his future.
Much like the 30th anniversary of the anime, the TV special created for the 40th anniversary of the manga brings back a villain from the first TV series. However, they have completely rewritten the story around Mamo Kyosuke rather than make this a sequel. There are elements from the original story; Mamo is from the future and has a grudge against Lupin III because of Lupin XIII's actions. Where they differ is the treatment of Mamo's time travel.
In the first TV series, there is some doubt that Mamo is truly a time traveler. Lupin finds ways to make object appear to vanish; perhaps Mamo is simply a brilliant illusionist rather than a time traveler. This TV special leaves no doubt; Mamo is from the future and sends the gang back 500 years. While the franchise has skirted the edge of science fiction, it was refreshing to find it embracing it as a plot device. However, this was the only refreshing aspect of the special; it went through the motions and produced a tolerable but lackluster effort.
There were many missed opportunities here. Flinging the gang back into feudal Japan is an interesting concept, but this had little effect on the character's behavior. One would expect Goemon to be in his glory in the era of bushido and swordplay. His screen time is mostly walking around or sitting around doing very little; you have a chance to make Goemon feel like he should belong to the era that shaped everything he has learned. Why not have him feel conflicted about returning to the present, or play with the time travel aspect and have him end up being his own ancestor?
Zenigata is also sidelined for the bulk of the special; he is pulled back in time but might as well have been left in the present and absent from the special. He literally sits in a prison cell and only knocks a few bad guys out at the very end. They did not drag Fujiko back in time; instead, they played with the concept of her ancestor working with the gang. They could have done the same thing for Zenigata or again exploit the time travel aspect and have him influence his ancestors into becoming agents of the law.
Leaving Fujiko behind was the one good idea the writers had; this left the baggage associated with her behind and gave them room to have fun with her ancestor. Rather than using her feminine charms to get her way, Ofumi is a skilled thief and fighter, much like Fujiko was in the first TV series. Ofumi outwits Lupin using her mind and abilities rather than appealing to his lecherous ways.
This might sound like it makes for a horrible special, but this is not the case. It is paced well enough; there were few spots where I felt the story was being bogged down. The characters were in motion most of the time with only brief narrative in between. They just were not doing much that was extremely entertaining. I will give the writers credit for being clever and touching upon the more interesting aspects of time travel, like causality loops. I hope they continue to throw the gang into unfamiliar territory, but they need to fully embrace the concept and learn how to have some fun with the characters again.
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If memory serves me, I once wished I had $810; fate intervened back in March, when a friend contacted me about a consulting gig. Six weeks of nights and weekend work paid off quite well, and I decided to take a small portion and buy Lupin the Box. Every TV episode is now in my possession; ladies and gentlemen, you may all commence to be jealous.
This massive set is contained within a plain cardboard box with a plastic handle in case you feel the need to cart it around and prove your obsession with Lupin. The outer box includes a message about the 40th anniversary of the franchise. You remove the actual box from the side, and a thin piece of cardboard covers the top to prevent the handle from scratching the box. A plastic sleeve covers the box set and can be slipped on and off easily.
The main box is constructed from a very sturdy material to hold the weight of 23 discs and a thick handbook. A number of people on the Y! group loved the artwork when the first images were available. I was not blown away by it; the art is well drawn, but I find the lack of color makes it look drab. Now that it is in my hands, my opinion has not changed; the anime series is a colorful affair. Why is the box set that houses it just black and white? Is it simply to keep cost down? I can see the effect they were going for based on the trim for the box, but the lack of color just detracts from the artwork and visual appeal.
Twenty three cases and one handbook line the inside of the box; the cases are cardboard covers wrapped around a plastic shell. Other than the movies and one or two TV cases, the shell is designed to hold two discs, one on each side when you open it. Artwork wraps around the entire cover and is tailored around the content of the discs. The handbook has a summary of every episode and movie and tons of conceptual sketches from the series.
The handbook is likely to be the main extra for this set, but I did quickly pop in Cagliostro. It had two trailers for the film, the same two I believe were on the original Japanese DVD release. It is a good bet that the other films will have similar trailers. If I find any other extras, I'll blather on about them in a separate post.
I'm really excited to have every single TV episode in my hands and in the best condition they are likely every to be. Now, the only items missing from my Lupin collection are official copies of Bye Bye Liberty, Hemingway Papers, and Trailers Collection. I never thought my collection would be so complete.
However, I also now own five different copies of Cagliostro and five different copies of Mamo... five of each! For Cagliostro, I have the original Streamline VHS release, the Manga Entertainment DVD, Manga's special edition DVD, the Buena Vista Japanese DVD, and the DVD from this set. For Mamo, I have the original Streamline VHS, the Streamline DVD, the Geneon DVD, the Japanese DVD from the movie box set, and the DVD from this set. And like a true obsessive collector, I will likely never part with any of those copies.
First, the graphics, ...