Lupin The 3rd: Island Of Assassins - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: C+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 90
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Lupin the 3rd

Lupin The 3rd: Island Of Assassins

By Chris Beveridge     April 19, 2005
Release Date: April 26, 2005


Lupin The 3rd: Island Of Assassins
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.


What They Say
Its Lupin’s greatest challenge yet as he goes toe to toe with the mysterious and deadly inhabitants of an island that doesn’t exist on any map—the Island of Assassins.

The "Tarantulas" are the most fearsome gang of assassins on the face of the planet. But, in order to solve a dark mystery from his past, Lupin must lower himself into the heart of the spider’s lair! Can Lupin fight an assassin army, steal their fabled cache of gold, find a cure for an ‘incurable’ poison, and get the girl, all at the same time? One thing is certain, with Jigen, Goemon, and Fujiko along for the ride; it’s going to be nonstop adventure as the gang tries to escape the Island of Assassins!

The Review!
It's another caper with the red jacketed Lupin as something from his past has surfaced and is luring him towards a grand prize.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The show was done with a good stereo mix to it that has a fair amount of directionality in a few areas but is mostly a center channel based experience for most of the action scenes and the bulk of the dialogue that we could tell when using headphones. Listening to it with the stereo speakers on our main setup, it's got a very wide feel to that's quite good. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing on TV back in 1997, the transfer for this show is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Unlike a number of the recent movies which have been older than this, the materials here look really good and have one of the best looking transfers I've seen for the movies yet outside of Cagliostro I think. The show is fairly murky in general but it maintains a good solid feel, colors are nicely saturated and it avoids most of the usual problems such as cross coloration or heavy aliasing. Backgrounds maintain a solid feel and with hardly any real grain to it, this just looks really sharp and a pleasure to watch.

Packaging:
Using the original artwork but cleaned up with the colors for this release, we get a really good looking cover that features three of the principles of this special with some really good colors to it and an overall eerie feeling. With the Walther P-38 as the item dead center of the cover, it really is the ideal piece if they had used the original name of the show instead of renaming it. The back cover provides a few shots from the show and a larger piece to serve as a partial background shot alongside the basic summary of the special's premise. The discs features and technical information is well grouped in the lower corner and the small technical grid conveys most of the basic information that I like being able to find quickly and easily when browsing through a store. No insert is included with this release.

Menu:

The menu layout is nicely done in that it uses the shot of Lupin from the cover and mixes in the Tarantula imagery and some hexagons with mixed animation pieces in it to provide a really neat looking and creative menu piece. It's a static piece with a good loop of music playing to it but it sets the tone nicely and looks good. Access times are nice and fast and the layout easy to navigate. The disc also correctly read our players' language presets.

Extras:
The extras are pretty weak here with just the usual array of character profiles and image gallery of various shots from the film. I don't expect much from the specials but I had been hoping for at least a trailer or set of commercials for it.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Adding another of the TV specials to their catalog, FUNimation's done a bang-up job with their release of the Island of Assassins, or as it was originally titled, In Memory of the Walther P38. This special, which originally aired back in 1997, has a part of Lupin's past from before he was working with Jigen and the others come back into his life and is something of a lure towards a much bigger prize.

Initially showing up at an expansive mansion for a bit of thievery, Lupin isn't surprised when Zenigata and half of the country's police force are already there to capture him since he knew that someone had sent a note ahead that he was coming. Wanting to find out who it was himself, he showed up to spring the trap and discover what's going on. At the same time, the mansion becomes overrun by a group of dark skin suited assassins who slice through anyone and everything as they go after their main target, the owner of the house. Lupin and the others are generally ignored but Lupin does notice the tarantula tattoo that's on everyone's right hand as they move throughout the mansion. He's about to make his own escape at last when Zenigata has him dead to rights only for a mysteriously elaborate Walther P38 to stick out of one window and shoots Zenigata directly in the chest and allows Lupin to escape.

Lupin's able to put this together easily enough based on the tattoo and he and Jigen commandeer a boat later on to go towards an island out in the ocean that's not on any map. Protected by a guidance system tied to a laser satellite in orbit, the island is the home of the Tarantula's, an officially sanctioned group of assassins that governments around the world know of and employ through their own means to ensure that things keep moving ahead in their own favor. With Zenigata's attacker there and the weapon he used being the same Walther P38 that Lupin himself used to once use, he's set to discover exactly who it is and what they want.

The island isn't quite what they expected though and after sneaking in, Lupin is eventually captured and he learns the real details of the place. The tattoo that everyone gets there is actually a poison that's kept neutralized by the special gasses that are emitted only on this island. When off-island, the assassins use special masks to be able to breathe. If they lose their masks or are captured, they'll die horribly within twenty-four hours or less depending on the situation and how much of the gas they have left. He also discovers that almost all of the assassins on the island are people from death row circumstances who were saved at the last minute and given a new lease on life provided they worked for Gordeau, the de facto ruler of the island and of the Tarantula's.

When Lupin discovers that there's a massive holding of gold bars on the island, his careful planning of inserting Goemon and Fujiko a month earlier starts to take shape as the plan to heist the goods gets underway. The only thing that starts to interfere is the revelation of a splinter group who wants to break free of the poison that has no antidote and wants to destroy the satellite that's keeping them prisoner on the island. Lupin's the crafty type and sees plenty of possibility as he starts crafting an even bigger and more elaborate plan to get as much as he can.

This is a very engaging and fast moving special that's probably one of my favorites of all the specials and movies I've seen so far. There is just such a sharpness to the storyline, far less of the grandiose things that you have to suspend your disbelief over, that it is almost the kind that you can easily see being done as a live action piece without having to really change much of anything. One area that really had me interested with this is just how different the look of the characters is, particular Lupin. Instead of the usual rounded head we get from the earlier TV series that's characteristic of him, there's more angles to his design here and a more scruffy nature to him, such as more hair on his face and on his hands as well. It's little difference like this that can change the feel of the character and here he comes across as slightly more mature and older though he does maintain his carefree attitude.

The animation for the show is nicely fluid as well with lots of action throughout it. A lot o the fights tend to go down to knifing scenes which means a lot of blades flashing and swift movements that you don't get with guns being shot at each other. The production overall just feels like it's a much better animated piece than most of the previous specials and even a couple of the movies. If there's anything to dislike about this particular special it's that it seems like Zenigata, bless his unstoppable heart, is sidelined for far too much of it. The introduction of a sidekick for him doesn't exactly catch on for this particular special but it wouldn't surprise me if it was re-used later on to give Zenigata something else to complain about in each feature.

In Summary:
Probably the best non-TV Lupin experience I've had since the Castle of Cagliostro, the Island of Assassins has everything I want from a Lupin special or movie though it could have had more naked Fujiko, but that's a given. Lupin gets to use his trademarked tricks throughout here, potentially finds a little romance once again but for the most part his eye is on the ball in acquiring more wealth. This special is just a slick piece that covers all the right bases without any hiccups or anything else that detracts from it. Very enjoyable and one that has a good deal of replay value.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Character Profiles,Image Gallery

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.

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