The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo along with the English dub, both of which are encoded at 192kbps. Considering its age, it’s a very well kept piece that’s done up essentially in mono, though enough of the sounds are played through both stereo speakers. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and there weren’t any noticeable dropouts. These tracks aren’t going to be real high usage for directionality compared to today’s new releases, but this is definitely prime material from its time, which is what I want.
Originally airing in 1978, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Animated by Tokyo Movie Shinsha, the transfer for these episodes continues much like we’ve seen previously, which means that they look surprisingly good for their age and have only some minor issues. The only thing that I can bring myself to complain about with the actual transfer is that some of the scenes are a bit grainy at times, but that’s normal for the source materials and would look worse if it was likely cleaned up. Colors are solid without being over saturated, though there are brightness shifts inherent in older shows. Cross coloration is non-existent and aliasing is extremely low.
Changing the design a bit, the big ugly logo is minimized and put to the upper left corner and interestingly enough they provide a second logo on the background, though this one is just standard text it does look better. The main image is of Lupin breaking through the red glass background while sexy Fujiko watches on behind him. The bottom of the cover has the branded volume name, this time with From Moscow With Love. The back cover provides several animation shots from the show as well as a brief paragraph describing the premise. The episode titles are listed as well as the discs features and production credits. No insert was included with this release. On the downside, there’s no volume numbering listed here nor are episode numbers provided. While the show is definitely very episodic, I still think it’s a mistake to not include at least the volume numbering somewhere.
A new menu is set for this volume and it’s nicely done though I think I prefer the first one a bit more. Done in almost a shadow box like format, you get what looks like an unfolded piece of paper that has the selections and titles in various boxes while a shadow image of Lupin is across one of them while some of the action music plays along. Access times are nice and fast and with little here beyond the episodes, getting around is nice and easy. subtitles.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
This volume has a lot of fun adventures to be had and plenty of what really works for me, sexy Fujko. The more I get into Lupin, be it the movies, the TV episodes or the manga, I find myself enjoying her character more and more. One of the best parts of this set of episodes is that there’s a two-episode storyline that in the English version is called Kooky Kabuki. The storyline is pretty standard fare at first with Lupin, Jigen and Goemon having successfully stolen a series of thirty-six woodblock images that Lupin is being all silly about in saying he’s going to give them to Fujiko. Their escape is stopped in a different way though when they come across a group who does an amusing Kabuki style introduction of themselves as a group of thieves intent on taking the artwork for themselves.
Lupin and the others horde the artwork underground in a very safe room and the show begins to go back and forth between the two trying to out heist the other with regards to the artwork. Lupin takes the challenge seriously and the Kabuki guys get a couple of good moves in on him. But as it plays out, there’s more to the story than meets the eye and Goemon finds himself being swayed over to the other side and working against Lupin for this mission. With a couple of episodes to play the storyline over, they’re able to spend more time on plot and on the comedy. Watching Lupin get frustrated through all of this is good but seeing Goemon realize what Lupin’s gotten away with over the years was even better.
A favorite plot that they like to throw in once in awhile is the entire idea of Zenigata actually joining the gang. This gets taken out for a whirl again in this volume as Zenigata at first is checking out the security behind an elaborate safe place with lots of valuable items in it. To his surprise, he comes across some old coins that were actually created by an ancestor of his. To his shame though, he actually pockets one of them. This goes so much against his way of life that his only recourse is to return the coin. But to break the security without anyone noticing, he needs Lupin and the others to do it, though he avoids telling them he’s returning something instead of stealing something. Even better, as soon as Zenigata does this, he becomes the ultra-detective and unstoppable, taking down Jigen and Goemon before either realizes what’s going on. Seeing a confident and capable Zenigata is both right and wrong at the same time.
Jigen gets a good episode to himself as well as he gets involved with a Russian ballerina whose trying to sneak across the border to be free and get to America, though there is, of course, something else at stake. This was an amusing episode to watch just from the way they handled the depiction of the States since she idealizes it and Jigen’s no fan of it since he left some time ago. The dub handles it pretty much the same way and doesn’t couch it much which I was glad to hear. What I continue to not like hearing is the punching up of the scripts with the low-level cuss words. While there are some words that can be translated as such in the script and are done so in the subtitles, when it comes to the dub they’re still adding more of it in than there actually is. I fully realize that the show is rated thirteen and up so it’s my own fault for letting anyone younger watch and listen, but I really do despise the pointless addition of these phrases since they’re not necessary. Lupin was already highly sanitized from its manga origins so that it could appeal to a wide range of people. Roughing it up again for North American release just seems wrong.
The stories in this volume were all quite enjoyable and the two-part storyline did a really good job of using the additional time to flesh it out and have more fun with it. The best material for me though comes back to watching Zenigata switch sides for awhile and live it up with Lupin and the others, especially when he’s got all the confidence in the world. It’s the cast that makes this show and these characters are simply enjoyable no matter what they’re doing. If you’re a fan of Lupin, you already know to get this. Definitely recommended for likeminded people.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: Geneon Entertainment
Release Date: August 2nd, 2005
Running Time: 150 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.