Lupin III Episode 0: First Contact (Mania.com)
Review Date: Saturday, January 11, 2003
Release Date: Wednesday, October 23, 2002
What They Say
Thirty years have passed since the pilot for Lupin III premiered on Japanese television. Now, see the story that has remained untold for thirty years... how did it all begin?
Since this was a special made for TV, the audio is plain stereo but is very sharp and contains some nice directional effects. The highlight of the audio presentation is the music. Music has always been one of the pleasures of watching a Lupin title, and this proves to be no exception. Continuing with what he started in Return of Pycal, Ohno Yuji imbues the film with a gentle samba rhythm. The old theme songs return but have been remade to share the samba feel of the background music. Overall, this is one of the best Lupin soundtracks I have heard.
The video was superb and colorful. From the bright lights of downtown New York City to the darkest alleyway, the colors were vibrant and did not seem to suffer from any video problems. The animation was very fluid and complemented the action. While some TV specials have tried different styles for the character designs, but this is the thirtieth anniversary special. The character designs give us the Lupin gang as we best remember them from Cagliostro and the second TV series.
The DVD comes packaged in a clear amaray case. The cover art on the front is the standard group pose against the bright lights of New York City; the back cover is the grouping of descriptive text and photos. What I was not expecting when I opened the DVD case was to find that the cover is reversible. On the reverse side, the cover is one large background of New York City with Lupin and the gang subtly overlaid on top. A band of photos from the special line the bottom. Along with the reversible cover, is a nice booklet made from heavy paper stock giving it a very sturdy and classy feel. The booklet contains a story outline along with brief bios for the characters.
The main menu is very well done. When the menu is first brought up, it plays about a minute worth of music as well as a collage of clips from the special. The clips are playing in only a portion of the menu though; it is surrounded by artwork as well as the menu options. The menu options are available during the playing of the music and clips. Once the clip show is done, the cast shot from the DVD cover fills the area. Beyond that, the menus are straightforward. You can play the movie, go to the chapters sub-menu, play the trailers, or view the production sketches.
The only extras contained on the DVD are three trailers for the special and a production sketch gallery. The extras are nice to have but are nothing to gush over.
Content: (possible spoilers)
Jigen sits in a bar; next to him is a Elana, a reporter. She starts her tape recorder and asks Jigen about the first time he met Lupin III. They walk out of the bar and into an alley. Jigen strikes a match and remembers...
New York City... a millionaire named Galbez leads a pretty women to his bedroom. The woman gases Galbez and proceeds to open his wall safe. Inside is an ancient Japanese cylinder made from some green metal. Before the woman can take it, she is stopped by a voice. Galbez has hired Jigen Daisuke as his bodyguard. Jigen takes aim at the woman and fires... but, the woman's body was just a blow-up doll. The man behind it is none
other than Lupin III!
Lupin manages to escape with the cylinder much to the displeasure of Jigen and Galbez's other bodyguard, Shade. The cylinder contains a scroll that tells how to forge an indestructible metal; unfortunately for Lupin, the cylinder is made from that same metal and is one solid piece. Meanwhile, Inspector Zenigata is flying into New York; he is hot on the trail of Mine Fujiko. Zenigata is not in New York for more than an hour before he manages to get on the bad side of the police commissioner. The commissioner has no time for Zenigata's antics and sticks him in the police library with an aging detective.
Fujiko and Goemon both come onto the scene soon after; Fujiko is the lover of Lupin's friend Brad, and Goemon has heard that the cylinder containing the scroll can be found in New York. Goemon sets sail for New York in the hopes of finding a way to forge a sword that is strong enough to match his skills. And so the pieces are all in place as Lupin races to find way to open the cylinder before Jigen, Shade, and Galbez track him down.
This is quite simply the best TV special made to date. The anniversary started out this year with the great, yet brief, OVA Return of Pycal. This special puts the exclamation mark on the end of the celebrations and proves why Lupin has endured for so long.
Everything you have always wanted to know about the gang is packed into 92 minutes of well-written and well-paced action. How did Lupin and Jigen become partners? How did Lupin and Fujiko fall into their familiar patterns? Why does Jigen distrust Fujiko so much? How did Zenigata become so obsessed with catching Lupin? Where did Goemon obtain Zantetsuken? All these questions and a few others are answered by this TV special.
While being primarily action driven, the story does produce some great comedic moments. I found myself laughing out loud several times throughout the film. Fujiko fanservice lovers will be a bit disappointed as the fanservice content is very low. The plot is solid and moves along briskly; there are no dead spots or downtime during the film. This title is a great way to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of Lupin and is a must see for Lupin fans.
Japanese language Linear PCM,Japanese subtitles,Three trailers,Production sketch art gallery
Pentium II 400MHz, Samsung SD-604 DVD-ROM, WinDVD 3.1, generic monitor
Mania Grade: A+
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A+
Menus Rating: A-
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: All
Region: 2 - Japan
Released By: Vap Video
Running time: 92
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Lupin the 3rd