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Lupin the 3rd The First Blu-ray Anime Review

8 min read
This will be in regular rotation on my Lupin playlist.

A new path forward for more Lupin material.

What They Say:
When Professor Bresson, touted to be this century’s most established archaeologist passes away, he leaves behind the Bresson Diary, rumored to hold clues to the treasures of a lost civilization. When elusive Lupin III, grandson of the famous French thief, learns of this, he decides to snatch the sought-after diary to claim the lost treasures for himself and to redeem his grandfather’s name, who allegedly was not able to solve the Bresson diary…

Befriending a young girl named Laetitia, who seems to also be after the diary, Lupin must outwit Professor Lambert and his shadowy secret society to solve the great mystery of Bresson Diary to prove to the world that he is the greatest thief in the world!

The Review:
The audio presentation for this feature is pretty solid all-around as we get the original Japanese in 5.1 using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec along with the English language dub doing the same. The film has a lot of action and energy to it overall and it moves from place to place in a solid and engaging manner that keeps things alive and full of surprises as it goes forward. The dialogue keeps up with it well as it has a strong and defined presence across the forward soundstage and both mixes do a good job of utilizing the rear channels as well. It’s a solid theatrical design that translates well here into the home as it makes for a fun and engaging adventure for fans of both languages. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally released in 2019, the transfer for this feature is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The feature clocks in at just about ninety-minutes and the transfer for this is very strong all-around with a high bit rate. The animation design for this film is very strong with a lot of detail but also a lot of really great color design to it. It’s full of vibrant colors with a lot of pop to them that really comes across beautifully here. The details are well defined and free of problems such as noise and jitter or any form of cross coloration. I’m not against this kind of animation in the slightest but there aren’t a lot of projects that get me excited for it overall. Lupin is one that is very well-adapted to it and could be a great way to bring out more of it to a different audience in addition to a lot of longtime fans. The end result of what they did here with the transfer is to really bring to life the world that they’ve created here and make it fully engaging.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard-sized Blu-ray case with the first pressings coming with an o-card that replicates the case artwork to it. The front cover does a nice job of giving us a close-up of Lupin’s face with some of the machinery in the background to give it a little more depth and weight. The logo looks good though the title itself, while it certainly makes sense, it a short and weird little mouthful to me. The back cover is laid out well with plenty of easy to read and check out areas. We got a good larger shot along the top of Lupin and a strip of smaller pieces through the middle. With a decent pull-quote between them, the bottom fleshes everything out with a summary of the premise and a good breakdown of the extras. The very bottom is given over to the logos on the o-card while the actual case is more theatrically designed with credits and copyrights. No show-related extras are included but we do get a nice visual on the reverse side with the full cast spread across the ship elements.

If there’s one area to be happy with here it’s that we get some really good extras. Coming in at over an hour total, we get some interviews with the Japanese director and cast that dig into their approach to the characters and this type of film. We also get a segment with the English voice actors who have worked with these characters for years and makes it welcome for them to have some continuity here as well. Additionally, there’s a look at the animation breakdown style and a model gallery. Finally, we get the trails and promos along with a look at the premiere footage for it.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I’ve been a fan of the Lupin property ever since I saw a segment of Castle of Cagliostro from a bootleg VHS copy being sold at a comic convention in 1985. Just seeing the car racing through the mountain, the music, the energy of the designs, it wowed me. Over the years, I’ve grown quite a nice library of DVD and Blu-ray releases and I adored the large collection of manga I had for it from TOKYOPOP until it was lost in a flood. I’ve not kept up on the films as time went on but I’ve always been drawn more to the shorter projects, the individual chapters of the 1960’s manga or the silliness of the episodic TV series from the 70s and onward. But the films offer a chance to shine and are the way I introduce the character to potential new fans as a singular piece to try.

This film fascinated me from the start as I was really curious to see if the property would adapt well to the 3DCG style. I’m really glad that it does as it almost feels ideal here. So many projects like this out of Hollywood continue to be kid-focused in designs and characters but here we get something that adheres to the animation and manga in the right ways but brings the flourishes it can with this type of animation. In particular, facial expressiveness is really dialed up nicely with smaller details that aren’t worth pursuing often in animation and impossible to do in manga. The action is great, the car chases fantastic, and the detail in general delivers. And, as bad as it may be to say, I’m thrilled they kept the saucy Fujiko designs because it is her at her core. She’s more than just that but removing it, or toning it down, would be a disservice. It’s easy to see why Monkey Punch gave this his seal of approval in seeing it before his death last year.

The premise for the film initially starts us off during World War II in Nazi-occupied France where we see Professor Bresson putting together a really intricate diary with traps on it that can lead to a great treasure. With a separate key/amulet being part of it, separating the two and taking them out of circulation keeps the secret safe. But the mystery persists in the 1960s where the film largely takes place as the diary has come into the hands of a memorial exhibition being put together in Bresson’s honor. And like any good event, Lupin sends his calling card that he’s coming for the diary with the intent to find the key after he has this piece. It’s a bit of family pride for Lupin as his grandfather had tried to unsuccessfully before as well, and that’s a nice tie even if it is one that comes up a few times over the various specials and films over the years.

The film presents a rollicking good adventure as Lupin and the gang set out to find it. Rather, Lupin sets out to find it and we get varying times with the rest of the gang. Jigen and Goemon have good roles within the film but they’re mostly coming later in the second and third acts after some brief time in the first. Fujiko has a key moment early on and she gets taken out of the picture for a bit when captured, but her return as Lupin is later captured as well is a delight. Fujiko has long been a favorite of mine in the film and she gets to deliver here, whether stealing a seaplane and rescuing everyone in some great tight pants or making all the right seductions in that killer green dress. Again, coming from the raunchy and very sexual nature of the manga with her and other women in Lupin’s life, keeping some elements of that here is important to me.

The film bounces into a lot of places and gets around the world nicely while introducing the villains, their own past, and does the usual things that brings it back to the events of World War II at times. What I like is that, even though it sacrifices group time for time with just Lupin, the familial character of Laetitia who is trying to get to the Bresson diary herself and is a kind of low-grade thief. She’s got legit reasons for going after it and is nicely employed for it to work, but once she falls in with Lupin the two have a really fun working relationship where it’s not exactly adversarial but it’s also not snuggly and romance-filled or anything. The balance that plays out make it so that you enjoy what Laetitia brings to the screen even while Lupin gets to be his playful self – restrained a good bit – and still the far more experienced player in all of it. With his luck largely helping in awkward ways as it always does.

In Summary:
While I think things get a little too overly complicated here as it progresses, it’s also something that I feel with a lot of different Lupin film properties over the decades with few exceptions. So it’s pretty much on the same path as those, which is a very good sign. The production team here didn’t try to reinvent the wheel when it comes to creating a story for Lupin and company. What we got is just a new kind of animation style for it to exist in and otherwise be just what it’s always been. And it does it very successfully I think. I love the look of it, the character designs, the music, and I was thrilled with the cast for it. Lupin continues to be one of my favorite properties of all-time and that they can smartly make it feel alive and engaging – and setting it in the 60s as well – just delights me to no end. This will be in regular rotation on my Lupin playlist.

Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1 Language, English DTS-HD MA 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Interviews with Director and Japanese Cast, CG Model Gallery, Animation Breakdown, Yellow Carpet Premiere, Theatrical Trailers and Promos

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

Released By: GKIDS via Shout! Factory
Release Date: January 12th, 2021
MSRP: $26.98
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
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.

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