a.k.a. Rupan Sansei: Arukatorazu Konekushon
Lupin and crew are at it yet again, this time trying to steal a floating casino’s bounty… massive safe and all! Lupin quickly turns their attention towards a ship that sank off the coast of San Francisco decades ago that contains the Gross Domestic Product of a small country in gold bullion. A clandestine organization with roots in the past isn’t too happy with Lupin disturbing history though, and they’ll stop at nothing to see that Lupin never finds the ship. If he somehow manages to dodge them, the ever persistent Zenigata is hot on his heels.
summary by Mugs
Highs: Animation; classic Lupin comedy and action
Lows: Story twists come out of nowhere
The first thing you’ll notice about this movie is that being a more recent production, the animation quality is very high. Everything is fluid and colorful, and while there’s no doubt this is due to the heavy hand of CG, things still come off looking comfortably Lupin. If this is where the future of the series is headed, we can rest easy because things are looking mighty fine in the art department.
The plot follows the formulaic Lupin standard, opening with an action sequence heist that inevitably leads to the real job that the story will focus on. The whole crew is in this one from the beginning; as a nice bonus, Zenigata ends up with a good amount of screen time here, as well as some actual character development. The cast is mixed well; Lupin spends as much time with Zenigata as he does with Jigen; Goemon and Jigen are paired up for a fair amount of time, too. The characters work well as they are presented with more depth than usual, although that’s not saying a lot, seeing how the Lupin series was never noted as a character study.
The action looks nice and benefits from the sleek new look; it’s fast-paced and actually has meaning. The other half of any Lupin show is the comedy, and the laughs are here, as well; only Lupin could pull off listening to jazz music on headphones while someone is trying to torture him. The story doesn’t fare quite as well. About halfway through the show, the plot just goes in a totally far-out-there direction that was never even hinted at prior to veering off course. Without giving much away, let’s just say you’ll never look at Alcatraz or the year 1963 again in the same way again after watching this movie.
Highs: Constant and breathtaking action; escalating storyline; modern look
Lows: Unnecessary side stories; sterile artwork
The target audience for Lupin III: Alcatraz Connection catches the Lupin summer television special every year without fail. So, yet again, a minuscule portion of the show is dedicated to introducing characters. Ardent fans would quickly grow weary of seeing their favorite characters introduced for the twentieth time, so this may be for the best. We do discover interesting new details about their past and personality but nothing to get too excited about.
As for the story, it keeps true to the usual treasure-hunt theme but on a much larger scale. I personally enjoyed how the plot gradually becomes part of a bigger picture to the point of a major conspiracy theory. What I did not like, however, are the little side stories. Such disappointing side stories are Goemon’s latest love interest and Jigen’s blast from the past, which are undeveloped and consequently pointless. Even if those deviations set up interesting duels, I cannot help to think that Alcatraz Connection would have been better off without them.
I have mixed feelings about Lupin’s new millennium look. The computer generated imagery makes for excellent action but shows its emptiness when the screen stops moving due to a bare minimum of details. This turns out to be an advantage in this thirteenth Lupin television special since there is plenty of action to go around. Such sequences are a bit far-fetched, as usual, but Lupin does not cross the line of reason as much in this one.
In spite of a few flaws, I consider Alcatraz Connection to be one of the good Lupin III features out there. If they can keep producing specials of that caliber, I can see the tradition taking place for many more years.
Highs: Smart conspiracy theory; tasty eye candy
Lows: Death to Kurita Kanichi!; worthless secondary characters
Here’s a Lupin movie that gets just about everything right, but the few things that it gets wrong are detracting; so detracting, in fact, that it felt like I was rewarded by eating a great meal with a nasty case of the trots. Oh well, it was tasty while it lasted.
Alcatraz Connection has one of the most ambitious and convoluted (but in a good way) stories in the entire franchise. Not all the events are connected as securely as they should be, but the effort is sure there. I very much liked how the producers incorporated real milestones and places and people in American history with Lupin and his gang’s quest for the eternally elusive (and illegal) riches. This helps out a lot of Western viewers because it makes the movie seem more like a documentary in a way, plus it has an intriguing synopsis for a conspiracy that would make Oliver Stone blush.
Those bitter details that made the whole experience less appealing? They’re still there. With the abundance of side characters that seemingly have some involvement in the plot, one would think that they are intricately woven into the cloth of the story. The problem is that the presence of these side characters is never adequately justified; they seem to float around meaninglessly. Another less obvious, yet notable, negative is seiyuu Kurita Kanichi. I mentioned this same quibble in Walther P38; he just doesn’t possess the necessary zeal and ability to embody the role of Lupin like the late Yamada Yasuo. Perhaps down the road he will grow into the part… but that is later and this is now.
Great visuals and some slick camera angles make this a pretty Lupin movie to look at. It just needs a dash of salt to make some of the side dishes more palatable.
Lupin III: Alcatraz Connection can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.