Lupin the 3rd The Movie : Secret of Mamo -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: C+
  • Menus Rating: A-
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Lupin the 3rd

Lupin the 3rd The Movie : Secret of Mamo

By Chris Beveridge     July 20, 2003
Release Date: July 29, 2003

Lupin the 3rd The Movie : Secret of Mamo
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.

What They Say
The world-famous thief, Lupin the Third, has faked his death to pursue the most valuable treasure of all- eternal life! However, Fujiko, lured by the promise of eternal youth and beauty, hands the stone over to the mysterious mad scientist known as Mamo. When Lupin and the rest of his cohorts pursue Fujiko, they discover an island populated by famous figures from throughout history and a dark secret that threatens every nation on the planet. Even Detective Zenigata teams up with Lupin to face the darkest of evils- the Secret of Mamo!

The Review!
Just in time for its twenty fifth anniversary later this year, the Secret of Mamo movie escapes being out of print through another publisher and serves up some classic Lupin goodness to a new generation of fans.

The previous version that was available in the US had only the English track on it so we were quite excited to be able to see this in its original language. The Japanese mono track is pretty solid but it doesn’t naturally provide much real oomph to it. But with the look and feel of the show, there’s just something so right about the mono track that it really does belong. Pioneer commissioned a new dub using their TV cast members for this and did it up in a 5.1 encoding. We spot checked a few areas of this and liked what we heard.

Originally released just before Christmas in 1978, Pioneer has done a fantastic job with this release. With a new anamorphic print, this transfer is the best this film has probably looked outside of its original showings. Colors look good, cross coloration is non-existent and I’m hard pressed to remember any really noticeable aliasing. There is a fair amount of grain throughout but that’s not surprising and probably related to the film stock considering the sheer number of films in the 70’s that suffered from some poor product that got made by Kodak and others. I’m generally more forgiving when it comes to older shows based on that and the poor storage most older shows seem to have gotten over the years, but I’m extremely pleased with this presentation.

This is the only “urg” factor to this release really with the cover art that I just can’t find appealing at all. The central image of Lupin with a partially unclothed Fujiko is a god one, but the coloring around him, the silver logo… something just feels really bad here. The back cover provides a small collage of shots from the show as well as a good summary of the premise. The discs features and extras are clearly listed as well as the basic production information. As this is in a clear keepcase, there’s some artwork on the reverse side but not a reversible cover. Opening up to a bright day-glo yellow we get a shot of Lupin’s car with the cast around it while Zenigata peeks up from behind. Also included in this release (but not our review copy) is a twelve page booklet.

The main menu is a great layout of various shots from the show and animation pieces done up in various carious while some of the catchy music plays along. It’s a little hard to describe, but once it loads up and you watch it, it’s quite neat and definitely feels perfect for the show. Naturally, it turns out to be a Nightjar menu so we’re not surprised. Access times are nice and fast throughout and menus load quickly and you’re always able to tell exactly where you are. Great stuff.f

There’s some nice extras in here much to my surprise. The big one for me is the film promotion section which has ten images I’d gamble are pretty hard to come by. The first is the theatrical poster used during the films release while the remaining nine are images from the original program book you could buy when you went to the theater to see it. The conceptual art section is the usual array of character designs for the film. The coroner’s report section provides the opening sequence in its original Japanese with soft subtitles. The fact that it was done so well here really bothers me that it couldn’t be done this way in the film proper. I know they want consistency with the TV releases, but this just seems like they made more work for themselves than they should have.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Back when this first came out in 1998 and in English only, I found it to be a hard movie to get into, both from the language and the style of the animation. While I had enjoyed a number of Lupin TV episodes and Castle of Cagliostro, my Lupin knowledge was otherwise pretty minimal.

Five years later and with a completely set of materials, the knowledge I’ve gained since has definitely helped. In addition, the presentation here really makes the difference. Now having seen many more movies/OVAs as well as TV episodes plus reading the original manga series, I’ve gained a far greater appreciation of the character and its origins. With the Secret of Mamo, the designs and look of the characters to me really harkens back more to some of the early TV episodes and the manga itself. Add in the fact that it’s a red jacketed Lupin as well.

The storyline here is somewhat oddly constructed at first. The film opens with Lupin being hung, dying right before our eyes. A short time later, we follow Zenigata as he investigates the tomb where Lupin’s body now lies. All evidence has proven that it is Lupin, but Zenigata just can’t believe that it is. When he finally gets in close enough, he’s surprised by what he finds. Not only the dead body of Lupin, but another living one as well that’s come to investigate the appearance of his demise. Pursuit occurs, but this is all just warmup as the scene shifts to Egypt.

In Egypt, Lupin and Jigen are deep inside a pyramid here they’re searching for the Philosopher’s Stone. Zenigata has a large chunk of the Egyptian police outside the pyramid trying to box him in. The two end up coming across each other as Lupin and Jigen try to get out, leading to a fun escape and chase sequence. Surprisingly, this caper was done at the behest of Fujiko who is working for someone else. Fujiko apparently promise Lupin a date for his getting the stone, but she makes her way out of it and returns it to her mystery benefactor who is promising her eternal youth.

Enter Mamo, a diminutive figure that looks like he inspired the designs for the special kids in Akira. He’s the richest man in the world, worth billions of dollars, and is working on a scheme for immortality for those he chooses. Lupin is now one he’s considering to add to his list, partially due to his intent to destroy most of the world and rule over only those he chooses. Fujiko has become nicely wrapped up in his web which gets Lupin tied up nicely as well, though Goemon and Jigen have finally had enough of her and they all part ways to some extent.

The film plays back and forth between Lupin and the others trying to get the Stone back and understanding the larger plot or trying to avoid getting killed by Mamo and his henchmen. The film actually plays out nicely for the first and second acts, but as we get the revelations in the third act about Mamo’s origins and what he’s been up to all these years, we get a movie that goes into the wild blue yonder with its plot and takes the “real world” nature of Lupin into something of a science fiction movie instead. This is unfortunate because I haven’t found a Lupin story that deals with science fiction like this that works right. The setup and middle acts play out well, with some good action sequences and some character growth, but things crumble the closer to the end it gets.

One thing I did enjoy, more so than the first time I saw it, is the lanky and leggy character designs used here as well as the more sexpot oriented Fujiko. These all feel much closer to the manga and the current TV series that’s being released which is pretty different than what we’ve seen in the lighter fair like Cagliostro. My initial impressions of this movie back in 98 was so bad that I didn’t even bother to review it. This time around though, I’ve enjoyed it much more both in terms of the show itself and especially the presentation.

While this isn’t the best Lupin movie out there, it’s one of the more interesting and different ones.

Japanese 1.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Coroner's Report,Conceptual Artwork,Promotional Pieces

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic DMR-E20 DVD Recorder, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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