Lupin the 3rd TV Vol. #12: The Flying Sword (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, October 11, 2005
What They Say
In this volume, the always cool and sophisticated Lupin overcomes numerous perils along with his associates Fujiko, Goemon and Jigen. Lupin and his gang are robbed, beaten, jailed and entrapped by villains, officials... even seemingly benevolent billionaires! At each twist and turn they rely on Lupin's resilience and strategy to stay alive, but this time around Lupin's invincibility is constantly tested. With this kind of pressure, how long can Lupin keep his cool and stay alive?
Charging ahead with another six unrelated episodes as there aren't even any two-parters here, Lupin the 3rd continues to be good campy fun.
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.
Continuing to tweak the design overall, the logo returns to the center of the top portion of the cover and is still a bit smaller than when it first started out. The images this time go with the three leading men as a trio of split images, each of them done with a bit of style and flair with the color and shadows. The bottom of the cover has the branded volume name, this time with The Flying Sword. 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 for this release provides a breakdown of chapters for the six episodes and some colorful artwork while the reverse side has the basic credits and production information. 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.
A new menu is set for this volume and it's nicely done though I think I prefer the first one a bit more. Done in almost a shadow box like format, you get what looks like an unfolded piece of paper that has the selections and titles in various boxes while a shadow image of Goemon is across one of them while some of the action music plays along. 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.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
This continues to be a great time to be a Lupin fan overall as we're still getting more of the TV series and the episode count is still at six per disc. Add in the price per volume and it's pretty sweet at that. So even when you have bad Lupin episodes it's still good!
Bad Lupin is typically the stranger Lupin episodes, such as the first one on the disc. Lupin finds himself the target of a particularly strange Madame who wants to add him to her collection. Her collection is a wax museum of sorts of famous and interesting people of recent times and includes such noteworthy people as Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Kennedy… you get the picture. Lupin's sufficiently famous and she intends to capture the gang to add to her collection. Her collection isn't quite normal though even for a wax museum as what she does is take the actual person and coat them in a special wax. So the joke goes a bit further because of that but there's only so many times you can use these people for various gags. The Madam and those who work with her are strange and weird people and they use nothing that seems like it would even fit in this world's amusing version of science. There are definitely some good funny moments but the story is just plain awful.
Unfortunately, it gets worse before it gets better. The follow-up episode to that features Lupin and the others, already captured by Zenigata, ambushed and abducted because they know the location of a slew of diamonds. Refusing to answer, they're kept to their skivvies and held hostage until they talk. They were expected to talk quickly though because the bad guys in this desert based tale have one really amazing weapon. A suicide-beam weapon. Whenever you get hit with it you want to commit suicide and do it on the spot. The only side effect, besides being dead, is that your skin turns purple first. Naturally, such strangely willed people as Lupin and Jigen will find a way around it but the entire concept of the suicide beam just negates anything else in this episode, not that there was anything that could have possibly raised it up.
Things look up in a rather amusing episode that has Goemon and Jigen being seduced by the sound of a bell in a tiny little German style town that's not even on the map and their minds become blank slates in some big psychology experiment that's being used to draw Lupin into its trap. Under the guidance of a pawn named Sister Lavinius, Lupin goes to rescue his friends only to find that they're now very calm and peaceful folks who only want a simple life and to do good things for the sister who watches over the town. Naturally, Lupin doesn't fit in well here as he tries to discover what kind of control this woman has over his friends and the entire town which leads to some very Prisoner-like circumstances in a few places. These kinds of episodes are fun just to see Lupin working on his own to save his friends as well as getting to see Jigen without his hat or shades for so long and generally looking even stranger that way.
Another fun episode is one that takes place in the States. These episodes tend to be amusing just because of some of the things that they accentuate from the Japanese point of view though it's all skewed anyway. Lupin finds himself setup through Fujiko into stealing a millionaires money as he's the type that gives away a ton to charities but is looking to get beyond that. There's a double and triple cross of sorts that goes on here as Fujiko finds herself on the outs as well as the millionaire is working an amusing scheme to get himself and the money out of the country and it involves a lot of holograms and tricking people into doing things that they don't want to do. I just loved the visuals of the gang with a big hose emptying out a massive pile of money in an underground pool. It was like watching some weird version of Richie Rich or Uncle Scrooge.
Even when it's bad I admit to still finding Lupin funny since he himself is what makes the show so much fun, as do the other characters. So even when the stories aren't up to snuff, watching him deal with it usually more than makes up for it. The mix of episodes on this release are pretty varied with a few stinkers and some good stuff but there's even a difference of how you can enjoy them depending on the language since the English track is still a bit racier and more light-profanity ridden. But still… suicide beams? I'll give you on the 60' tall Fujiko but suicide beams? C'mon….
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: C+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: C+
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: N/A
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