A classic movie from a classic franchise is re-mastered by Manga UK with an exclusive dub, a lot of tender love and care, and the movie shows why the Lupin franchise will always be around.
What They Say
Will love defeat an eternal evil? The world's most wanted master thief, Lupin the Third is dead! Despite a coroner's report, Interpol Inspector Zenigata is skeptical and discovers that Lupin is actually alive and well and stealing! But who had set up Lupin's death and why? For now, questions are set aside, as Lupin, Jigen and Goemon immediately embark to Egypt to pilfer a stone artifact from a pyramid, with Zenigata in hot pursuit. Fujiko, lured by the promise of eternal youth and beauty by the sinister and enigmatic scientist known as Mamo, doublecrosses Lupin and steals the stone. Her betrayal causes a rift between Lupin and his cohorts, causing the trio to split up, but eventually leads Lupin to Mamo's hideaway, where he discovers the madman's dark secret and a fiendish scheme that threatens the entire planet! Now, it's up to Lupin to stop the insane Mamo-before he can complete his 10,000 year-old plans of world domination.
In a rare moment of me, I actually watched Secret of Mamo twice, both in English and in Japanese. Both are in 2.0 format so sadly we didn’t get the 5.1 treatment for the English dub. This is especially a shame as Manga UK used a completely new cast for the English dub (Secret of Mamo has been previously released twice in the UK, with two other dubs, one by Streamline and one by then Pioneer) with an entirely British cast which really plays up to the Lupin characters perfectly (Sean Barrett as Zenigata in particular was superb). However both 2.0 tracks stood extremely well and flowed smoothly – there was no distortions between the sound and the subtitles, no choppy effects and the background noises all came out almost like a 5.1 mix so it is definitely a recommended audio for either language.
The video has been classically re-mastered for the Manga UK Release and considering Secret of Mamo was originally released in 1978, the transition for the release is nothing short of remarkable. The animation is clear cut, not one instant of any choppiness and the subtitles matching perfectly with the audio. The transfer is faultless and Manga UK should be commended for their effort they put into the release – it’s a change of pace from the current market of course, but it’s still visually appealing and when the transfer is this good, then I’m not complaining.
No packaging was provided with this disc.
The menu has a shot of Lupin and Fujiko in some trademark poses whilst a cinema style screen is in the background showing clips of the movie whilst the famous Lupin III opening is played in the background. The menu selections (play/scenes/set up/trailers/conceptual art) are show clearly in blue and are easy to navigate, the scene selection has it from scenes 1-12 (though doesn’t say what they are so you have to go with instinct being a movie rather than a series). In short, simple and clean to get through.
Sadly, there isn’t too much in the way of extras for the release. We get a number of trailers for Manga’s shows, namely Origin, Buso Renkin, Death Note, Bleach, Naruto (and the movie), GITS: SSS and Stand Alone Complex. The only real extra is some conceptual art of all the characters in the movie, major and minor.
Lupin III is one of the those series that is riddled in anime history as a classic series that whilst many of us weren’t born when the series was in it’s prime, it’s history is still being felt in today’s market that most of us have heard of the character at least. The movie, Secret of Mamo, first released in 1978 has been released for the first time in the UK and for old-timers and newcomers, it’s just a wonderful showcase of what a classic franchise is.
We open off with a shocking scene of Lupin getting hanged – however, my other favourite character along with Lupin himself, Zenigata, the police officer obsessed with catching him, doesn’t believe he’s dead. Indeed, after finding his coffin, Lupin emerges which leads into a chase sequence that leads Zenigita to Egypt. Lupin is looking for something called the Philosopher’s Stone along with his partner Jigen. Zenigata tracks them down, but won’t let any of the Egyptiian officers fire at him – they manage to escape thanks to some help from their samurai friend and sometimes partner Geomon, as poor Zenigata slips at the last moment once more.
The stone turns out to be something that the 4th main character, one of the original anime femme fatales, the stunning Fujiko Mine, was after and asked Lupin to get it. Of course, Lupin being Lupin, is trying to think with his brains…which are parked somewhere other than his head…but Fujiko runs to the beat of her own drum, and manages to outfox Lupin and knock him out. However, when Fujiko returns to where her boss is, she doesn’t realise that Lupin has put a bug on her, not to mention that the stone is actually a fake.
So naturally, Lupin and co are hunted down by this mysterious boss – named Mamo - this involves the following; a helicopter chase in a sewer, finding Fujiko and stealing her car, Geomon once again cutting a worthless object (the helicopter blades!), Zenigata catching up to them and more of Mamo’s goon chasing Lupin into the mountains. It’s definitely a sequence that later series such as Cowboy Bebop have been inspired by, and it’s just plain fun to watch.
It all leads to Lupin actually having to make a choice between Fujiko and his two comrades at one point – when he seems to go with Fujiko, Jigen and Goemon in disgust abandon their long time ‘boss.’ Jigen however doesn’t go too far, and indeed, Fujiko again tricks Lupin and is captured by a man named Flinch. Lupin is taken to a Caribbean Island, where he meets the mysterious Mamo, a weird dwarf like man where under his real name, Howard Lockwood, is a major millionaire powerhouse looking for the secret of eternal life, which the philosopher stone apparently has a key to. A lot of revelations in the movie (which even links to the Lupin ‘hanging’ at the start) about the aspects of cloning, which had to be a touchy subject back when this was released, is vividly showing in the show, and it causes some moral questions that even Fujiko, who joined Mamo as his goddess to live forever, has to ask herself. Jigen and Goemon both return to try and save Lupin, and Zenigata has his moment as well, when the chief commissioner tells him to go off the case because it’s over their heads, Zenigata’s obsession for catching Lupin gets him to resign and chase him as a private citizen. It leads to a final number of scenes, revelations and a hilarious finale involving Zenigata and Lupin, which had me smiling throughout.
The reason why the Lupin franchise has always been a favourite of mine is because of the excellent mix of action, intelligence played within the characters (all of them being unique and likeable in their own ways), the comedy aspect (Zenigata and Lupin’s interactions are always highlights), and basically the way everything is put together. The movie has a very charismatic villain in Mamo, as a man who would be God but with a very distinct appearance which surprises the viewer, and the way Lupin and Mamo battle with their minds right until the end is gripping stuff. There are some touchy subjects in the movie but nothing too graphic, and there’s a small amount of fanservice as well with Fujiko and Lupin’s trademark idiotic lust for her, but everything just flows naturally throughout the movie, it was as smooth as the way Manga UK handled the video and audio. Special notice has to be made for the specific UK Dub used as well, it’s definitely a different experience, but there are some really good performances – as mentioned previously, Sean Barrett as Zenigata steals the show whenever he’s on, but William Duffries also shines as Lupin.
Lupin has been around what seems like forever, so it’s odd that the UK gets this movie now. However, it has definitely been worth the wait. A smooth transition, audio and video wise, a wise-cracking dub to match the excellent original Japanese, a roller-coaster ride of action and emotions, a very good villain, loveable rogue characters and of course the ever-suffering police officer trying to get his man, made this movie literally fly by. Whether you are a veteran or a newcomer, this is definitely a good start if you’ve never seen any of the Lupin franchise, and just see how much of it you can see in a number of current shows. Highly recommended.
Japanese/English Audio 2.0, Manga Trailers, Lupin III: Secret of Mamo Conceptual Art
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