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Lupin the 3rd: Dragon of Doom Anime DVD Review

5 min read

What They Say:
A Hong Kong crime boss contracts Lupin, Fujiko and Jigen to recover a legendary dragon statue that sunk with the Titanic. Unfortunately for them, the dragon is a treasure of Goemon’s clan, said to have power exceeding that of his Zantetsuken sword; he resolves to protect the statue at all costs, even if it means killing his old friends.

The Review:
For my primary viewing, I listened to the Japanese audio track. The action is primarily concentrated in the center channel. Dialogue, sound effects, and music were all sharp and balanced very well. I passed on listening to the English dub track.

The show is presented in its original 4:3 aspect ratio. The colors were crisp and bright with no noticeable defects present in the transfer. Subtitles were white but were large enough to be easily read yet small enough to not get in the way of the film. After years of watching my VHS copy of this special, I was amazed by the brightness and depth of the colors.

Funimation caught a lucky break for this title. The Japanese DVD cover is fairly bland, and by the terms of their contract, Funimation could not use it for their release. Fortunately, that meant that they could use the original cover art that graced the Japanese VHS and LD releases.

The cover shot shows the dragon statue in the forefront separating Goemon and Lupin. A flaming background finishes off the picture. The back cover contains the obligatory shots of the film overlaid with a text summary of the film.

The insert once again is merely the front cover picture on one side while the other side contains advertisements for other Funimation titles. Perhaps one day we will see liner notes or a list of the chapter titles inserted with the disc.

Funimation simplified things for this release, and the result is good and bad. Gone are the transition animations as you move from menu to menu making menu options quicker to access. However, the actual menu design is bland and does not capture the feel of the film as the menus for Gemini and Harimao did.

There is nothing new in the way of extras for this disc. Each of the characters have their own profile as well as a link to the biography of the english dub actor that portrayed them. A batch of Funimation trailers round out the meager extras on this disc.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
It is the 400th anniversary of the death of the original Ishikawa Goemon. Attending a kabuki play about the event is his 13th descendent and our favorite samurai that bears the same name. A group of ninjas disrupt the play and set their eyes on separating Goemon from his sword Zantetsuken.

As the ninjas give chase, Lupin and Jigen get drawn into the action. After the chase and ensuing property damage that are the opening credits, Goemon warns Lupin to stay out of this affair unless he wants to feel the bite of Zantetsuken himself. A mysterious figure watches the scene from his car.

This man is Chin Chin Chu, the famous crime lord of Hong Kong. Lupin and Jigen decide to crash his costume party at Hong Kong and find out why he was following and watching them. Fujiko, however, received an invitation from Chin himself and tells Lupin that Chin is on the trail of a treasure that is connected to the Titanic. The trio begin to search Chin’s office when they are confronted by Chin himself.

Chin tells him that the treasure he is after is the one thing Lupin’s grandfather said he would steal but could not. A dragon statue was aboard the Titanic; before Lupin the First could steal it, the Titanic hit an iceberg and sank to the bottom of the ocean. The dragon statue is still somewhere in the wreckage of the Titanic, but Chin has been unable to locate it. Lupin refuses to team up with Chin to locate the dragon and decides to go after it himself. The chase is on as Lupin, Chin, and even Goemon have
their own agenda for trying to find the dragon and its secrets.

Throw in a dash of Zenigata and a large helping of Kikyo, a mysterious woman from Goemon’s past; and you have the ingredients that make up one of my all-time favorite Lupin specials.

While some Lupin fans find this title bland, it has remained near the top of my list and has been pulled off of my shelf for a watch numerous times. It has a good dose of humor and paces out the plot and action sequences well. Also, Goemon and his past are central to the plot. We get some rare insight into his past and character as the story reveals secrets that he guards as his family did before him… secrets he is willing to kill anyone, including Lupin, to keep sealed away. This is a nice touch as it leaves you wondering what other secrets Goemon might have.

While Funimation had to replace the opening Japanese logo with an English version, this is balanced out by the ending credits sequence. Originally, the credits were rolling on the screen as the closing song and animation played. However, Funimation managed to get a version of the ending that does not have the credits rolling. Turn off the subtitles, and you get a nice text-less end sequence.

The one major disappointment I have with this release is the fact that Funimation did not translate the Japanese voice actor’s credits into English. In the opening credits sequence, they do translate the primary Japanese production staff credits. These credits are repeated at the end after the English dub and production credits roll. Outside of the actual kanji credits in the beginning, you cannot find a list of the Japanese voice actors anywhere on the disc. As this was Yamada Yasuo’s last Lupin title, it would have been nice to see his name roll by in the credits one last time.

In Summary:
Despite this omission, this is a solid release from Funimation. I am glad that I can finally replace my aging VHS copy. This is a fun title from start to finish and will continue to be pulled off the shelf for repeated viewings.

Content Grade: A+
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B-
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: C+

Released By: Funimation
Release Date: February 11th, 2003
MSRP: $29.95
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Review Equipment:
Mitsubishi 27″ TV, Pioneer DVL-919, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers

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