Lupin the 3rd TV Vol. #05: Mission: Irresistible (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, March 16, 2004
Release Date: Wednesday, January 14, 2004
Mission Irresistible is aptly named, as it contains six great episodes. Despite the controversy, the third episode finally makes an appearance and proves to be the weakest of the lot.
I am an unabashed fan of the original Japanese voice cast, so my initial viewing session consisted of the Japanese language track. It was sharp and clear with no discernible problems. Dialogue and music blended well together with neither overshadowing each other. It will not provide a subtle or rich audio experience, but it sounds great considering it hails from the late 1970s.
The English audio track performs equally well; the cast Geneon has assembled continues to do a great job capturing the characters for an English audience, though Goemon still sounds flat and needs a bit more steel in his voice. Geneon continues to provide a solid soundtrack for both sub and dub fans.
Geneon provides another solid transfer for this volume; due to the age of the source material, there is some grain present along with nicks and scratches on the print. These defects are not overwhelming and do not distract much while you watch. The colors are sharp, clear, and bright as our gang moves from the blinding sun of desert to the pastels of a child's fantasy land.
While the transfer itself was great, Geneon continues to under-utilize DVD technology by not presenting the original Japanese title cards and ending credits. Rather than completely replace the titles and credits with English equivalents, Geneon should follow Funimation's lead and provide the originals via the alternate angle feature. If the Japanese audio track is selected, the video should automatically select the angle that will display the original Japanese title cards and credits. Barring that, pad out the "Extras" section by placing them there as was done with the original coroner's report on the Mamo release.
The front cover is irresistible as Fujiko dominates the majority of it while Lupin dashes about. The dual Geneon/Pioneer logo appears for the first time, and a volume number is once again absent. The back cover contains the requisite screenshots, synopsis, and disc details. The colors and design for the covers are mirroring the style of the opening sequences for the show marking a welcome change from the Austin Powers feel of the first and third volumes. Inside is a one-page insert featuring a list of the chapters with the front cover shot mirrored on the reverse.
As music loops in the background, each character is presented in silhouette form. The menus are straightforward, easy to navigate, and have no delays when selecting items. Simplicity is the key to having the menus capture the style of Lupin the Third perfectly.
The only official extra in the "Extras" section is a gallery of line art (production sketches) from the episodes. Geneon trailers and DVD credits are also in that section, though I am less inclined to view these as extras anymore. Though not found in the appropriate section, the commercial for the PS2 game reappears when you begin your viewing session. You are fortunately able to skip past the commercial and get right into the actual disc content. Absent are textless versions of the opening and ending sequences despite having a new opening sequence appear in the last episode on the disc.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As a die-hard Lupin fan, I leap at the opportunity to see anything that has my favorite group of thieves in it. While the leap can be disappointing at times, this volume is not one of those times. With only one mediocre episode in this batch of six episodes, this volume contains some of my favorite episodes of the second TV series to date.
Some of the episodes are pretty standard but amusing fare. The opening episode has Lupin attempting to find Rommel's gold to prove his worth to Fujiko's obese Aunt Bujiko. Another episode has Lupin trying to deal with a tenacious and precocious child who want the Cinderella Stamp Lupin just stole. Featuring an amusing fairy tale sequence, it is an amusing and touching episode that shows just how big a softie Lupin can be at times.
One of the many aspects I enjoy about the Lupin franchise is how any of the five characters can take center stage. One such episode finds Goemon being enlisted by Jirokichi of the Rat Clan. Two generations ago, a thieving competition was held in Japan; Goemon and Jirokichi's ancestors were on their way to winning until Lupin the First literally stole the victory from their hands. The prize was a secret and treasured document and is currently housed in the basement of the Sakuradamon Police station.
To regain their lost family honor, Goemon and Jirokichi challenge Lupin to a competition to steal the document within twenty-four hours. What ensues is an amusing romp as Goemon and Jirokichi pull off a scheme that even Lupin recognizes as brilliant. Zenigata adds a healthy dose of comedy, as he botches his task of safeguarding the document despite having the entire police force of the town cordoning off the station. History repeats itself when Lupin once again steals the victory at the last minute. Everyone shares the last laugh though, when they learn what the document really is.
Jigen takes center stage in my favorite episode of this and the previous volumes. While in Spain, Jigen attempts to protect a woman who is trying to escape the notorious crime boss Herbert Von Meyer. Meyer is also out to avenge losses he incurred due to Lupin's escapades. Jigen proves to be a hopeless romantic at heart and has that heart cruelly broken when he is duped into a showdown against Lupin. It is a sad and touching story, but some brilliant comedic exchanges between Lupin and Goemon help lighten up the episode.
When the series first hit the shelves and airwaves, Geneon (then Pioneer) made the decision to remove the third episode from not only the Adult Swim broadcast but also from the first DVD. As it dealt with Hitler and his Nazi regime, Geneon did not want to risk public outcry over it. This move backfired as the fans of the series were upset that the episode would be left off of the DVD and would be released at an unspecified later date. After watching the episode, I would have to conclude that Geneon made much ado about nothing.
The episode is the weakest of the lot and features material that would be no more offensive than what is seen in an Indiana Jones film. Most of the episode has Lupin extracting a former Nazi officer from East Berlin. Without some funny bits of Zenigata attempting to balance tourism with his job, this episode would be entirely forgettable. Let us hope that Geneon will learn from this tempest in a teacup and not shuffle episodes around due to fear that "someone might be offended".
On the dub side, I was pleasantly surprised to find that this volume did not bother me as much. While I still did not find much of the altered dialogue funny, there were fewer jarring anachronisms present in the script. The English cast does a top-notch job with the material they are given, but the material just does not and will likely never appeal to me.
Despite the controversial yet bland Nazi episode, the remaining five episodes on this volume provide laughs and action aplenty; one can easily see why Lupin has endured for over thirty years. It is a shining example of how a simple mix of action, comedy, and an engaging cast of characters can form a series with universal appeal. Featuring some of my favorite episodes to date, viewers of all ages will be entertained by this latest round of thievery.
Mitsubishi 27" TV, Pioneer DVL-919, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers, generic S-Video and audio cable
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