Lupin the 3rd TV Vol. #04: Thieves' Paradise (Mania.com)
Review Date: Saturday, October 18, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, October 14, 2003
What They Say
Lupin is such a nice guy, but everywhere he goes, he runs into trouble! After "appropriating" a birthday present for Fujiko, helping Goemon avenge his slain mentor, and accepting a challenge from the world’s leading safe manufacturer, Lupin, Jigen and the rest end up on in a paradise filled with beautiful women - who are all out to kill Lupin!
It continues to be a great time to be Lupin fan.
For our primary review, we listened to this disc in its original 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.
The transfer for these episodes continues much like we’ve seen previously, which means that they look surprisingly good for their age and have only some minor issues. 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. This volume in particular tends to show a bit more of the animation problems itself, such as poorly painted areas and a few extra nicks and scratches, but overall looks decent.
As we again ignore the logo that has little appeal, this cover provides a good collage of images with the strong use of colors to it, from the bright purples for the background to the great looking red of Fujiko’s dress. 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. The insert has the same image as the front cover while the reverse side uses some of the opening sequence footage as a background for the chapter listings.
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 continue to be extremely happy 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 extras included in this volume are once more nine pieces of conceptual artwork that shows off character designs from the episodes included and a non-credit opening sequence.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
This past week has been a reminder of just how great a time it is for Lupin fans, regardless of the problems there are. In the past week I’ve been able to catch up on a backlog of manga, which meant taking in four volumes of Lupin manga. And at the end of the week I got to cap it off with six episodes of the anime. Add in the various movies and specials that have come out and are due out and it’s more than you can shake a stick at.
The more I get into the manga the more I come to appreciate the differences between it and the anime. Each has their similarities but they’re both playing to different audiences to a fair extent. It’s definitely possible to enjoy one but not the other as well as liking both. With the six episodes on this disc, I found pretty much all the episodes to be rather enjoyable and fun to watch.
The opening episode in particular, the Black Panther, was a lot of fun with its nods to the Pink Panther and that franchise. Lupin’s decided to steal the Black Panther jewel, a very precious one where if you shine a light just right on it you can see a black panther inside, and give it to Fujiko for her birthday. His dream is that it will push her so far over the edge in love with him that even wedding bells are in the air. His attempts to steal it work well up to a point, which is when the Inspector comes in to help out the local police as he’s intimately involved with previous thefts of the jewel. With the help of his assistant, they inadvertently send the statue where Lupin hid the gem in off to be fixed elsewhere.
This causes Lupin and his group to believe that the Inspector is really the thief and they move to follow him. As luck would have it, the statue that’s holding the gem was sent off to the Aegean Sea Club (or the “nature club” as it’s called in the dub) which is actually a nudist resort. Everyone gets close to naked in this one and it’s just too comical watching them fight it out in fig leaves and small towels. I really wonder if this episode aired uncut. You’d think this would be more disturbing to audiences than Hitler. After all, remember, this takes place in the 70’s.
Another fun episode is “Safe Bet”, where the show focuses on a master safe maker called Marukin. This safe maker is world-renowned and one of the most creative people when it comes to making safes, including ring sized ones that you can actually wear. Lupin makes short work of a few of his latest creations at a dinner party and ends up causing severe humiliation for Marukin. With his reputation now ruined and his business now being a joke, he sets the stage to recapture his station with the Mitsuboshi bank where his 10-year safe is ready to be opened. Designed only to open once every ten years, it’s impervious to just about everything and he dares Lupin to come and break into it.
When Marukin arrives on the day to see Lupin fail, he’s shocked to find that the safe has been heavily cut into and everything stolen. Marukin is a broken man and stumbles out of the building, his life nothing at this point. With the scheme in place, Lupin manages to swipe everything from the bank and move on to bigger and better things. Before that happens though, Marukin’s son comes to challenge Lupin for his family’s honor and to test his own skills, believing that the son can be better. Using the same kind of tricks Lupin did to get him to agree, the challenge is on and highly amusing.
The “Hell Toupee” episode was also quite amusing, with the gang ending up in a country whose ruler is going the whole Nazi style route with racial purity and conformity about only the beautiful people ruling. Anyone who disagrees gets executed pretty quickly, even though the ruler himself is shall we say… short? With toupee in the title you can guess where it’s going to lead when Lupin gets trapped in the country with the army after him once he tries to steal the precious gem that the leader has. There are some really good moments here between Fujiko and Lupin as the two get holed up together in a last stand castle fending off the army.
Goemon fans also get an episode for their favorite character here as he heads home to retrieve what’s essentially his graduation papers for achieving mastery over his arts from his teacher, which will also end up revealing a special attack for him. His fellow student that has gone bad ends up getting there first and killing their teacher, which sets the stage for Goemon to be accused of the crime. Though Lupin and Jigen get involved, it’s heavily Goemon focused, though it’s hard to take him seriously in that 70’s green golf cap.
The quick hit nature of the series and the random lack of real ending to the stories or after affects continues to be a great piece to this show and very much a reflection of the manga. The stories continue to be nicely varied (though not as raunchy as one may hope) and everything is nice and new to me. I’ve enjoyed what little Lupin I’ve seen over the years so getting such heavy doses of it like this only makes me more of a fan. Great stuff and a lot of fun.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Production Sketches,Textless Ending
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP 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: B-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Lupin the 3rd