Lupin the 3rd TV Vol. #08: Sweet Betrayals (of 10) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Monday, October 11, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, October 12, 2004



What They Say
Fujiko is hired by the ICPO to capture Lupin in exchange for offsetting all her criminal records. Will Fujiko?s betrayal paid off? And who tricks whom!? Lupin and the gang are in search of valuable diamonds, but they are hidden in the most unexpected of places and are transported to a stronghold of a mafia boss. The fastest and safest way to transport precious gems is via a missile, and Lupin has to come up an idea to hi-jack the missile. Who wants Yeti?s tear drops, a mermaid?s scale and a dragon?s liver!? A beautiful woman asks Lupin and the gang to get these strange items for her. And even more strangely, Lupin is asked to be a bride by a shipping tycoon! Will he shave his legs before wedding? See it for yourself.

The Review!
While not the best of the bunch, there's an amusing focus on diamonds throughout a lot of these episodes and some great Lupin in drag moments.

Audio:
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.

Video:
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.

Packaging:
While we continue to ignore the logo that has little appeal, Jigen takes the main shot this time around with a shadowed version of him against the abstract style background. The secondary image mixed into the abstract piece is a nice booty shot of Fujiko that even manages to show off her ample cleavage and love of firearms. 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.

Menu:
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. Unfortunately the players language presets were not honored and the track dumped into an English audio with no subtitles.

Extras:
The extras are similar to past volumes with the main extra being the production sketch artwork. There's a second gallery included in this release that shows off the Chrono Q cars and figures for the Lupin series that are being released. This is less of an extra and more of an advertisement though.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Even when a Lupin volume has a weak set of episodes on it, there are still some really good bits of material throughout it. This volume only felt weak due to the somewhat repetitious nature of the heists which focused on diamonds in what seemed like three out of the five episodes or at least back to back adventures with it. There's only so many ways to do a diamond heist and having them so close to each other didn't help.

But there's still some fun material here. The opening episode turns the tables a bit as the ICPO takes Zenigata off of the Lupin case due to the sheer number of failures. It's always a simple gag that has Zenigata being chastised for his inability to capture or keep hold of Lupin but it usually leads to some fun episodes. This time around it's because Fujiko wants to get her record wiped clean and has signed on to help the ICPO track down Lupin using her intimate knowledge of him to their advantage. It's a great little chase episode that has Fujiko going really over the top, taking down bridges over the riverway and using a heck of a lot of ammunition and destruction to go after him.

The diamond heist episodes are a mixed bag, where one of them has the diamonds being stuffed down the throats of some chickens which then lay them into eggs which are easily shipped anywhere they need to be without being inspected for diamond smuggling. This ends up being wrapped around a fighting tournament kind of episode where the ringleader has a number of thugs who love to fight in one on one contests and that all gets kind of silly, as if the chicken bit didn't. The other diamond episode has some weird plan to pack the diamonds inside a rocket and fire it across the water at a low altitude so that radar can't detect it. Lupin and the gang infiltrate the base and set things so that they can abscond with the rocket in mid-flight. It's fun in a number of places, particularly with Lupin getting to do plenty of mask wearing time and some of his gags with Fujiko.

In one of the strangest episodes, "Heroes and Vixens", the men of the gang get taken advantage of by a young woman who meets up with each of them individually and through some deceit and manipulations sets each of them on a mission to find something within ten days for her. Lupin has to find the tears of a snowman, Goemon searches for a dragon's liver while Jigen hunts up a mermaid's scale. Fujiko watches the way each of them gets manipulated and tracks down the woman to find out that she's some sort of princess who is concocting a potion with the help of an old crone. What really doesn't work with this episode is that there is a dragon, and Goemon runs down its throat. Jigen does find a mermaid and deals with that. And Lupin deals with a Bigfoot like creature to find the tears that he needs. It's so out of left field that it's both amusing and really out of character for the entire show.

In Summary:
The episode mix is pretty a mixed bag for this volume with some good material, some strange material and a bit too much of the diamond heist material. The show continues to be fun mostly due to the characters and the way they deal with their adventures since there isn't any real growth or anything else expected from the show. While a lot of episodic series tend to wear on me after time, Lupin continues to be fun and rather enjoyable though not as much as the manga series which is a fair bit naughtier and more violent. This series continues to be a good romp though and having wanted to see more Lupin for the past twenty years, I'm enjoying finally being able to see as much as I am.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Art Galleries

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



Mania Grade: B-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: C+
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: A-
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
MSRP: 24.98
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Lupin the 3rd