Lupin the 3rd TV Vol. #01: The World’s Most Wanted (Mania.com)
Review Date: Sunday, December 01, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, January 28, 2003
What They Say
As the world's most wanted thief, Lupin travels the globe seeking exotic treasure, lovely ladies and good times. Interpol Inspector Zenigata, chases him through every country, vowing to capture Lupin and his cohorts: Jigen, the master marksman and Goemon, a samurai extraordinaire. Yet, Zenigata's traps never seem to work out in his favor... Will Lupin's sexy and mysterious rival Fujiko help Lupin in his next heist ... or lead him into Zenigata's next ambush?
Pretty much just barely missing the 25th anniversary of this particular series airing, the second big season of Lupin the 3rd has finally hit the US shores. And I can’t feel much about it other than complete fanboyism as it brings me back to the old days.
For our primary review, we listened to this disc in its primary language of Japanese. Considering its age, it’s a very well kept piece that’s done up essentially in mono, though enough of the sounds are played through both stereo speakers. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and there weren’t any noticeable dropouts. These tracks aren’t going to be real high usage for directionality compared to today’s new releases, but this is definitely prime material from its time, which is what I want.
Any time someone goes back to the catalog to acquire shows, you never know quite what you’re going to get. Sometimes just as short as five years and you can have source materials that look horrid. Going back ten or fifteen is often tempting the fates. Going back twenty five? I’m stunned by how great these have held up. The only thing that I can bring myself to complain about with the actual transfer is that some of the scenes are a bit grainy at times, but that’s normal. Colors are solid without being over saturated, though there are brightness shifts inherent in older shows. Cross coloration is non-existent and aliasing is extremely low.
I’m definitely in the camp that doesn’t care for the new logo, but I will admit at the same time that it does fit with the campy style that the show really does exude at times, especially it’s tried and true 70’s feeling. The first cover here provides a look at its best assets, from the hiply dressed Lupin with his sideburns to Fujiko with breasts that poke out farther than certain 50’s bras ever thought possible. The color twirl background, to someone of my generation, reminds me of Austin Powers, but that actually works in its favor I think. The back cover provides several animation shots from the show as well as a brief paragraph describing the premise. The episode titles are listed as well as the discs features and production credits. Due to this being a promotional copy, no insert was included.
On the downside, there’s no volume numbering listed here nor are episode numbers provided. While the show is definitely very episodic, I still think it’s a mistake to not include at least the volume numbering somewhere. With retailers not being as bad about it as they used to be, as other companies are releasing shows with volumes in the ten to twenty plus range, that argument doesn’t carry as much weight as it used to.
I was truly surprised and extremely happy to see that Nightjar got the gig for the menus here, because they’ve done them up in a very neat retro style way that fits perfectly with the show. While selections are able to be done throughout the entire piece of animation playing, the animation itself is just character names flashing across the screen while black silhouetted versions of the characters jump in and out against a red background as the music plays. It’s just very simple but also very neatly done and in tune with the show. Access times are nice and fast and with little here beyond the episodes, getting around is nice and easy.
The only extras included on this disc is a set of about twenty pieces of conceptual artwork. With this series as old as it is, I’m really not expecting much more than that throughout the releases.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Before getting into the episode commentary, I’ll tackle the gripes that I have with the disc first. One bad decision made here is the lack of a second subtitle track, which has caused a few hard subtitles to be introduced to the show. This is mainly showing up in the form of location names, such as when there’s the Japanese writing for a city or country, the English one is hardsubbed in a similar color below it. This isn’t consistent either, as things like the next episode previews will be translated via soft subtitles, but for the dub viewer they won’t know, because they just say it in the dialogue. So if you’re deaf, you’re out of luck. The title card and the original writing for the character names in the intro is removed, replaced with the new logo title card and the English writing for the character names. The ending sequence, I can’t say for sure, but it looks like the credits have been trimmed unless they just didn’t credit a lot of people “back in the day”. There’s only a handful of credits listed, though all of them Japanese. The English credits follow the final episode, something I’m rather against. I also have to admit I dislike how the English dub changes the currencies to US currency in almost every instance, regardless of what country they’re in.
Of course, the big controversy here is that episode 3 is missing. While there are six episodes here, we actually are getting the first seven, minus the third one that was removed. You can read Pioneer & TMS’ reasoning for it here. My position has been and almost always will be that the TV Broadcast run of a show should not dictate the home video release of a show. We’ve been down this road so many times in the past that in the end, it’s the fans who spent the years trying to broaden the knowledge of the show that get shot in the back. Lupin in particular has had trouble in almost every incarnation of its release from the couple of episodes that were dub only in the 80’s to the obscenity laced Cagliostro to the copyright infringement name issue and more. It’s unfortunate that this had to happen once again at a time when things like this should not be happening.
That said, I cannot bring myself to skip this series release. This show is just an amazingly fun romp that I can’t pass it up. The second season, starting in 1977, doesn’t really recap what happened in the previous run that ended back in the early 70’s, though it does hint that the gap in episodes of about five years was a time when all the characters had gone their separate ways, only to now be reunited for new capers. The group is a classic one. The leader, or the one that manages to come up with most of the capers and gets into the most trouble, is Lupin, the grandson of the famous French thief of the same name. He’s ably helped out by a pair of interesting characters, the former Chicago mobster turned Japanese named Jigen and the “classic” Japanese swordsman Goemon. Rounding them out, though not officially a part of the group, is the attractive and very independent Fujiko, the only woman of the group.
Between these four characters, they engage in a wide variety of capers, such as stealing a soccer stadium full of money to smuggling out a huge amount of gold unseen. There’s also the “fantastic” elements that get mixed in for fun, such as an episode that revolves around the Loch Ness Monster and its attraction to hearing Fujiko sing an old Japanese song. What provides foil to these capers comes in the form of Officer Zenigata, the man who InterPol has assigned to lead the charge to capture Lupin and his gang. Lupin and Zenigata are always ending up against each other in different ways, usually with a wink and a grin as the two have the buddy formula down but are working it from opposite ends of the stick. The way they play off of each other is just a great piece of synergy, providing a lot of laughs and entertaining situations.
Having seen a smattering of Lupin episodes over the years, it was great to finally sit down and take in 2 ½ hours of the show that looks this great. The animation style is going to be a challenge to a lot of people I think, though it’s been smoothed over the years and through different directorial visions, but these classic and more raw episodes have a great energy about them, a style and feel that is hard to replicate outside of its original time. I spent a great evening watching these episodes and they left me wanting more as fast as I can get them. With each episode self-contained and the feel of something like a miniature Bond caper in each one, this is a show with high rewatch value to me. I love it.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Line Art Gallery
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.
Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: A-
Extras Rating: C+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Running time: 150
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Lupin the 3rd