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Lupin The 3rd: Missed By A Dollar Anime DVD Review

8 min read
Missed by a Dollar is a solid feature-length story that's very easy to recommend for new and old Lupin fans.

Lupin and the gang get caught up in a new caper that has quite a history to it.

What They Say
Internationally notorious super-thief, Lupin the Third, is back and this time it’s not just an adventure – it’s the fate of the world hanging in the balance! Lupin’s hot on the trail of another priceless piece of art, when an unassuming antique becomes the key to world domination.

Jigen, Fujiko, and Goemon are on Lupin’s side once again as he goes head-to-head with a ruthless vixen and her former KGB thug. A sinister plot awaits Lupin and the gang as they race against time to solve a riddle inscribed in an ancient Mayan language!

The Review:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese in stereo at 192kbps while the English dub gets a 5.1 design at 448kbps. The included stereo mix for the show is pretty decent but it’s still fairly standard for what we’ve seen with past Lupin releases that haven’t dipped into the mono area. There is a decent bit of forward directionality to it throughout the show but not too many really standout moments. We also listened to a good portion of the project in its 5.1 English language adaptation and that has a few additional sounds thrown to the rear during the big action sequences but the overall difference between the two comes down to a volume level difference. We had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback on either language track.

Originally airing on TV back in 2000, the transfer for this show is presented in its original full-frame aspect ratio. Unlike a number of the recent movies which have been older than this, the materials here look really good and have one of the best looking transfers I’ve seen for the movies yet outside of Cagliostro I think. The show is fairly murky in general but it maintains a good solid feel, colors are nicely saturated and it avoids most of the usual problems such as cross coloration or heavy aliasing. Backgrounds maintain a solid feel and with hardly any real grain to it, this just looks really sharp and a pleasure to watch.

The Japanese artwork is used again here but the colors and detail is cleaned up a fair bit to make it a much smoother looking cover that stands well against many of the slick-looking productions out there now. It’s basically a big cast shot of the good guys and bad guys of the film with a nod to the location of New York City by the World Trade Center towers in the background. The back cover provides a few shots from the show and a good summary of the specials premise alongside the various logos. The layout is nicely done with how it has Fujiko crossing over between the different pieces of artwork and the colors look really vibrant, particularly her dress. The discs features and technical information is easy to find, though a touch small on the font. As is standard with FUNimation, no insert is included with this release.

The menus are nice and simple this time around with the right half of the screen doing a portion of the front cover that zooms in even more on Lupin and Cynthia while the left half is left black and has the film name and the very simple navigation section. Access times are nice and fast and the layout very easy to navigate. Due to the way that FUNimation sets up their discs technically, our player’s language presets never work properly and we have to manually change them.

The extras are pretty minimal with a series of single paragraph profiles for the main characters of the show as well as a photo album piece that has shots from the show that play through by itself, sans music.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the release of “Missed by a Dollar”, which is a rather good name change from the original which was “$1 Money Wars”, FUNimation has hit the end of the large batch of movies and specials that they had nabbed several years ago. While we had seen several of those movies over the years through other means, the couple that we hadn’t have been real joys to watch, which is what this one was as well since it was completely new. Lupin’s a franchise that just keeps on going and has a pretty steady popularity in Japan so while it’s not as big here, it’s at least something that keeps bringing out new original material for its fans.

Missed by a Dollar almost missed its window of opportunity for release as well as a huge portion of the show takes place in New York City with a cityscape that’s no longer quite the same. As Lupin stories go, he’s usually taking on a job for one of very few reasons. There’s a huge amount of money involved that he’d like to move into more accessible means, there’s a woman he wants to please or he has a personal obligation to see it through. Money’s not really the issue this time around since he’s still in the mindset that all the banks of the world are his piggy banks, just ones that take a bit of work to open. The job initially is around his trying to acquire a ring from an auction for an up and coming jazz singer named Sandy that he wants to please, but he doesn’t quite get it and fails to please her. He is able to avoid a tenacious Zenigata however as well as a professional assassin named Nabikov who is after the ring as well.

The seemingly junk ring is actually worth quite a lot of money to the surprise of those initially auctioning it off. Some very interested parties want it and Lupin has managed to play them well enough to start so he has the ring but it sets him against a powerful foe. Bringing Jigen into things, he shows him how the president of the Bank of the World, a woman named Cynthia, is after it as well and is using Nabikov to get it. Nabikov wants the job since it’ll give him the credit as being the man who killed Lupin but he’s also parlaying it into a way to pick up more women, making him closer to Lupin than good old Lupin will admit. The assembling of the team to deal with the oncoming threat is cute as Goemon only joins up because he needs money for a cult he’s managed to fall into unknowingly while Fujiko finds herself busted for cash after flopping out in Hollywood.

Why is such a ring valuable and people going to such lengths to get it? The ring is but the key to a larger treasure of course, one that’s been around for quite some time in that it’s been seen connected with some of the most powerful and influential dictators in human history. It’s been associated with Napoleon and Hitler for example but has been lost since the cold war. The ring leads to a brooch that these past leaders have worn and it gives them something of an incredible luck that plays out in different ways. For some, it’s just luck of the moment in being harder to kill while for others it allows them to amass great power. The ring alone has plenty of attraction but for someone like Cynthia and those backing her who are interested only in money, it’s the realization of being able to control a brand new high-powered military-industrial complex that will turn their fortunes into mega fortunes.

Being as recent as this is, the animation for the show looks really good in that it keeps to the traditional Lupin style but tweaks it with some smoother designs, a few more rounded curves on Fujiko and a somewhat richer color palette that keeps the show working well with what was current in 2000. The character designs are always evolving in very small ways to accommodate the animation style of the day and here they look really good. They do have the same edge and angular quality that they’ve always had but it’s a bit more muted. Fujiko in particular has been curvaceous and she retains it here while accentuating it a touch more, especially in the face and eyes. The action elements of the animation are just as exciting as always, from the first big action sequence to the comical car chases and the outright gunfights. There’s a great sequence involving a hospital gurney that continues to push just how lucky Lupin is when it comes to avoiding getting shot.

In Summary:
Seeing this fresh for the first time, Missed by a Dollar was a lot of fun to watch. The plot is pretty basic as it’s all about finding the brooch and decoding the ring but there’s a nice layer of complexity around it in regards to what Cynthia and her backs are really after that allows it to become a bit more wide-ranging. The cast has a lot of fun with some of the differences they’re going through this time, such as Goemon being devoted to doing training, and the secondary characters while not highly memorable are spot-on for the feature itself. Lupin’s a property that’s great at being able to manage both single episode tales and feature-length stories. Missed by a Dollar is a solid feature-length story that’s very easy to recommend for new and old Lupin fans.

Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Character Profiles, Photo Album

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

Released By: Funimation
Release Date: March 14th, 2006
MSRP: $29.98
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

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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