Lupin the 3rd TV Vol. #06: Lupin the Target (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, March 23, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, April 13, 2004
While being a step up in the technical department, Lupin the Target misses wide of the mark on all five episodes.
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 comes closer to hitting the technical bulls-eye with this volume. They provide another solid transfer for this volume; there is still some grain, nicks, and scratches on the print, but the picture clarity and colors are amazing considering the age of the series. Geneon continues to replace the original Japanese title cards, opening and ending with English equivalents.
However, they have taken a large step in the right direction. For the first time, they have included the original Japanese opening in the extras section. Unfortunately, they did not include the ending or title cards as well. My preference would still be to have the original Japanese material included via the alternate angle feature, but this is a most welcome step in the right direction. If they included all of the original Japanese material somewhere on the disc, there would be much rejoicing from Lupin fans including myself.
Lupin's profile dominates the front cover; the volume title is displayed at the bottom though there is still no volume number present on the packaging. It is a simple and clean front cover, but the overall look feels flat and uninspiring. The back cover contains the requisite screenshots, synopsis, and disc details. 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 "Extras" section contains a gallery of line art (production sketches) from the episodes, the original Japanese opening, a textless version of the opening, Geneon trailers and DVD credits. The commercial for the PS2 game appears when you begin your viewing session. You are fortunately able to skip past the commercial and get right into the actual disc content. Hopefully, Geneon start including on every volume not only the Japanese and textless opening but also a Japanese and textless ending.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Every long running series, particularly those that are episodic, is going to have patches of mediocre or outright boring episodes. Most of the episodes on Lupin the Target fall squarely into this category. The frustrating part is that most of the material on this volume comes directly from the manga series. Yet, watching it was not as enjoyable as it was to read it.
The volume opens up with Lupin declaring that he will steal all the money in Paris. The Parisian police department teams up Zenigata with Detective Melon, the granddaughter of Inspector Galimarle, Lupin the First's nemesis. She is eager to avenge her grandfather's lost honor and has all of the money in Paris brought to the police station.
This plays right into Lupin's hands, as he quickly outwits Melon and steals all of the cash. The rest of the episode twists and turns, as Melon and Lupin try to outwit each other. However, Fujiko has plans of her own for the cash and manages to play both sides against each other to her own advantage. The episode has a few amusing bits in it but tends to be a bit too predictable at times.
We move onto a story that has Zenigata enlisting the aid of the mafia in order to hunt down Lupin. The mafia is more than happy to oblige, as it will allow them to steal Lupin's secret levitation technique in the process. They concoct an elaborate scheme to trick the hitman X-8 into killing Lupin for them. Lupin is always one step ahead of them though and turns X-8's fury against the mafia. This was one of the weaker episodes that managed to plod along to a perfunctory ending.
The third episode is my favorite of the lot; Lupin and Zenigata find themselves forced into serving in a Moroccan rebel army. To escape, they have to do the most undesirable thing they can think of; they have to work together to escape. Zenigata reluctantly does so and manages to impede their success more than help. There are a number of funny gags including offers to buy a cross-dressing Zenigata off of Lupin's hands. What elevates this episode is the emotional tie between the pair; Lupin cannot leave Zenigata to certain death, as he would lose his favorite adversary.
The remaining two episodes revolve around a pair of twin sisters that have the map of a buried treasure tattooed on their backs and around the assassin Puma who has been hired to kill Lupin. Neither one made much of an impression as the comedy and action were bland. The material was interesting but would have been better suited for a shorter running time. The plot just could not sustain itself for twenty-five minutes or more.
On the dub side, I still did not find many of the jokes amusing; however, the same holds true for the original Japanese dialogue as well. Anachronisms are still liberally scattered throughout the dialogue, but few of them managed to be completely out of place for the content. While the dub dialogue will never suit my tastes completely, the writer seems to be finding a slightly better balance in finding new jokes that fit the source material.
While not some of the worst Lupin material, the episodes on this volume offer only a modicum of entertainment. Most of the episodes are based off of the original manga stories, but something was lost in the conversion from page to screen. The material just did not provide the laughs and action that the series usually provides. It is a decent rental title, but it is difficult to recommend this as a purchase for anyone other than die-hard Lupin fans.
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: 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