Rupan III: The Fuma Conspiracy -

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Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: C
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: AnimEigo
  • MSRP: 24.95
  • Running time: 73
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Lupin the 3rd

Rupan III: The Fuma Conspiracy

By Chris Beveridge     May 20, 2003
Release Date: July 22, 2003

Rupan III: The Fuma Conspiracy
© AnimEigo

What They Say
The tranquility of a traditional Japanese wedding is shattered when the bride is kidnapped by evil Ninja! Their ransom demand is simple: the key to a hidden treasure!

Unfortunately for the Ninja of the Fuma Clan, the groom is a master swordsman named Goemon, and the groom’s best friend is … Rupan III: Master Thief.

Make an extra bowl of popcorn and get ready for a non-stop roller coaster adventure around, over, through and under Japan, as Rupan & Co. go after the girl and the gold, while trying to stay one step ahead of the nefarious Ninja and two steps ahead of the relentless Inspector Zenigata or Interpol!

The Review!
My earliest exposure to Rupan came from this film, so it’s definitely something that holds a real flavor of nostalgia. And it’s a really fun film too.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese, especially since we have such an affection for these actors over al these years. The track is a pretty basic stereo mix that was likely mono to start, but it sounds decent and performs nicely. Dialogue is nice and clear with no noticeable clipping or dropouts and the music comes across nicely from both channels.

Originally released in 1987, this is a really good looking print for the most part. Colors are nice and solid, cross coloration is non-existent and aliasing is very minimal. There’s a fair amount of very minor print damage, mostly visible during the first third of the film, in the form of small nicks and scratches. The only thing otherwise that bothered me is that some scenes, particularly the night time ones, feel like they’re a bit darker than they should be. For instance, when they first go to the roundhouse, there’s a separate sign-subtitle that pops up to explain a sign. But for the life of me, I can’t find the sign. This feels similar in a few other areas where things look just a bit darker than I would have expected.

Instead of the original artwork used for the laserdisc release, we get a layered image here of the various characters running from the underground mansion while being attacked. Since it’s all cel work from the show itself, it doesn’t look too good the closer you get to it and also gives a very serious impression of the show, rather than the somewhat lighthearted adventure caper that it is. The back cover provides some more shots from the show (and a look at part of the original LD cover) and a decent summary of the shows premise. The discs features are a bit awkward to figure out at first unless you’re familiar with AnimEigo releases. There’s also no insert per se, but another of the recipe cards that provides a translation of the opening song and a note on currencies.

The menu layout, though quiet with no music, is nicely done in showing part of the big chase sequence, but hazing it out. When you move the cursor over the selections, it makes that area clearer as well as setting up the cursor to look like a gun sight. Very nicely done and looks good. Access times are nice and fast and loads are good, though there are a couple of locked front-end Japanese corporate logos. The AnimEigo logo’s are fully skippable however.

Extras are a bit minimal, but I honestly wasn’t expecting any to begin with here. In addition to the nice little image gallery, there’s a separate section for both the Japanese and English voice actors and their other roles. The actual actor images aren’t used though, but rather that of the character they play in this film.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Way back when this had come out on video, I remember standing in a crowded aisle at a Boston comic book convention as the vendor whispered to a group of us kids, “Here, check this out”. Within that tape was a few simple minutes of pure raw Rupan, and one of the segments that has stuck with my ever since I saw it. The fun car chase sequence with the gang and its pretty much indestructible little vehicle. That little bit made me quite a fan of this show.

So when I was able to see it again years later on laserdisc, I was giddy. And then while watching it on DVD, I found that same giddiness rising to the surface again. Back when this came out on laser, it was during a time when I could rewatch material pretty frequently and this one got a lot of replay. I knew the plot by heart, line by line in many cases. Even after seeing it repeatedly, just about all of it continued to bring a smile to my face if not outright laughter.

The Fuma Clan Conspiracy is a great little adventure tale that starts off quite well. We’re brought into the picture as Goemon is being married to the young woman named Murasaki. Rupan and the others are there to celebrate the event and enjoy a little downtime. Of course, anytime anyone from this gang is involved in anything, quiet doesn’t last. During the ceremony, when Murasaki’s grandfather brings out the important ancient family vase, a masked group of armored thugs appear and swipe it. Though it’s quickly returned, Murasaki ends up kidnapped and Goemon swears that he’ll rescue her.

What we learn is that Murasaki’s family is quite old and sometime back in the 7th century, in an effort to avoid new taxes, they hid a huge treasure underground through their specials skills in gadgets and traps. The vase is the key to finding the location of the treasure, though it doesn’t help with the traps. The Fuma Clan, those how came to steal it this time, have been actively trying to acquire it for about four hundred years and are finally the closest they’ve been. Of course, now Rupan wants his taste of this treasure too.

Once the setup is done, the show does move to the more traditional storytelling style we’ve come to expect from the franchise, as everyone moves towards the mountains and the deep tunnels that leads far down inside towards the prize. With the Fuma Clan going after it as well as Rupan and friends, there’s also Zenigata on their tales and Murasaki’s grandfather doing things to ensure nobody gets the treasure. While things do slow down somewhat once they reach the mountain, there’s a whole lot of life before that.

This life comes in the form of the car chases. When Zenigata starts heading after Rupan once he discovered his whereabouts, the chase across the countryside is just wonderfully animated and so beautifully… well, Rupan in style. With their small cars getting into all sorts of spaces, lunging through bath houses and into other buildings, we get to see Rupan’s vehicle do the most amazing tricks and survive to tell the tale. It’s this little car that really enamored me to Rupan early on.

Fuma Clan is a fun Rupan title that fits well with everything that’s getting released at the moment. There’s a bit different energy to this release with the addition of Murasaki to the group, since she’s not quite so helpless as the women tend to be in these kinds of shows. It’s presentation here is quite good with only a few very minor issues so fans of the show will be very pleased. Those new to Rupan within the past year or so, especially those who got hooked via Cagliostro, will really enjoy this particular episode. I can see it getting quite a bit of replay value in my house. Very recommended.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Image Galleries,Actor Lists

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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