This collection presents five episodes from Monkey Punch's (aka. Kazuhiko Kato) classic anime crime-caper, action-comedy series. For those that don't know, the adventure series is about Lupin, the worlds greatest thief and his pals recklessly going from one adventure (usually a crime of some sort) to the other while their pursuer, Detective Zenigata is close behind trying to catch them in the act. His cohorts in crime are the samurai Goemon Ishikawa, cool gunman and ex-gangster Daisuke Jigen, and the bewitching, buxom Fujiko Mine.
The episodes are:
The Return of Lupin the 3rd- The gang has a five year reunion on the worlds largest ocean liner. However, it seems that the entire ship is one big booby trap and they soon find out that their old nemesis, Mr. X, has returned and transformed himself into a superhuman man of steel.
Buns, Guns, & Fun in the Sun- Rio. The gang plans to steal the proceeds from a huge soccer match. Their plan involves having themselves get captured and managing to steal the match proceeds while everyone thinks they are still imprisoned- thus the perfect alibi. Of course, the ultra-paranoid Zenigata is keeping a close eye on them at all times.
50 Ways to Leave Your 50 ft. Lover- While in Scotland, Fujiko is captured by the twisted scientist Dr. Oz, who wants to use her voice to lure the infamous Loch Ness Monster, Nessie, a creature that took the researchers leg years before leading to his Moby Dicklike vendetta. Naturally, Lupin, Goemon, and Jigen arrive to head the rescue effort.
Gold Smuggling 101- Fujiko and a wheelchair-bound accomplice propose a heist to Lupin and crew. They want to steal the gold reserve from a Swiss bank. After pulling off the job, and getting the gold out of the country by melting it and molding it into a van, there are double crosses and more double crosses.
Shaky Pisa- Italy. In the usual mad scientist plotting, former National Earthquake Institute leader Dr. Paolo is disgruntled after being kicked out due to his unorthodox research. So, Dr. Paolo creates an earthquake machine and demands a large ransom otherwise he'll devastate Italy, starting with the Leaning Tower. Lupin and the gang have their own plans- intercepting the ransom, which leads Zenigata to believe they were behind the whole thing.
Cursed Case Scenario- Egypt. Lupin wants to steal the Golden Mask of Tutankhamen. Goemon and Jigen have a bad feeling about this and their instincts tell them to stay away. Lupin and Fujiko pull the job on their own. But, Goemon and Jigen's gut feelings turn out to be right because Lupin is possessed by the mask and convinced he is the re-incarnation of the long dead boy Pharaoh. (For me, it was unfortunate they chose to end this volume with this episode, since it was really weak, a very lame one, a bad note to end the disc/volume on.)
Lupin the 3rd really is a lot of fun. From its jazzy-funky score to its skinny, charming hero ands lighthearted action, you can see how it was one of the works that probably in some small way, at least, paved the way for the likes of Spike and Cowboy Bebop. Wow, it just hit me- a bearded, grizzled buddy, a buxom smartass babe, globe-hopping instead of galaxy- hopping, burglars instead of bounty hunters, take out the serious episodes and the technology, and Lupin and Bebop really have a lot in common. Both are sort of products of their time, action-comedies that fit their generations with adventures following a charming crew going from one zany caper to another.
The DVD: Pioneer
Picture: Full-screen , standard. Well, you know, its 70's anime, so we cannot begrudge it for being a little rough and decades behind today's standards. So, it is crude. Maybe not Neanderthal cave scrawl crude, but just a notch above Speed Racer crude. That said it looks pretty good. I guess there is only so much you can clean up cell animation tv shows, and, as it is, fans of older anime should be happy.
Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0 Japanese or English Language tracks with optional yellow English subtitles. Both tracks are full, strong, free of any problems, other than the given limitations of the shows era.
Now, we get to the great Sub Vs. Dub debate. Lupin is a potentially annoying guy (not like there's ever been a shortage of that in anime), smooth cat burglar one minute, bumbling Jerry Lewis the next, but his English dubber really makes him go over the top in the annoying area. This is also hampered by some really peculiar decisions in changing the dialogue around. Example: Lupin sees a hot babe lounging in a boat, so he leaves Goemon and Jigen, and jumps out of his boat to go hit on her. DUB- "Ahoy there! Prepare to be boarded!... Excuse me, Bikini Inspector." SUB- "I'll see you later guys... Hi, young lady." Now, see, in the Japanese language the way he says those simple lines is juvenile and goofy, but the English dub settles on loosing the subtlety of inflection and going straight for some bone-headed frat guy comment. One way is smart and the other is stupid.
Extras: Chapter/Episode Selections--- Line Art (20), very nice gallery of production sketches. --- Pioneer Previews (9:53), various trailers for Pioneer properties like Armitage, Gate Keepers and X. --- DVD Credits.
Conclusion: Well, certainly if you are a fan of the series, the DVD is free of any flaws and has okay extras (but nothing jaw-dropping). But, anime is a genre that, for most fans, is usually all about the next big thing, so being a cruder, older work, the unfamiliar may want to check it out as a rental or tune into the Cartoon Networks late weeknight airings of the dubbed version to see if the show hooks them.