a.k.a. Rupan Sansei: Bai Bai Ribatii – Kiki Ippatsu!
Feeling that ICPO has so much data on him they will be able to predict his every move, Lupin heads into retirement with Fujiko. As soon as she drains him of his money and leaves him in debt he decides to take Jigen’s offer for a big score: the Super Egg, largest diamond in the world. After the job quickly turns sour, Lupin, Jigen and Goemon are left trying to reunite a child with his lost mother and prevent an evil organization from obtaining the ultimate computer virus… one so powerful that they could rule the world.
summary by Mugs
Highs: Extremely humorous; screen time for the whole cast; interesting story
Lows: Animation is outdated even for a TV special; parts of the story just don’t make sense
Ah, another Lupin television special, and a pretty good one at that. It starts out as most Lupin anime do, and that’s with a chase sequence. Zenigata almost catches Lupin for the 783rd time (yes, I do keep a running tally), but as always the elusive thief evades his perennial adversary. This opening scene sets the whole tone for the movie and showcases its good and bad points. Right off the bat you see the type of comedy, action and neat little gadgets that will endure throughout the show; unfortunately it also showcases the sub-par animation and extremely lanky-looking characters.
The plot is an interesting mix of science and strange, unexplained magic, complete with an old cult-type leader sitting on the throne with psychic powers very reminiscent of Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars (complete with throat-choking action and spring-loaded Kung Fu grip). This is where one of the problems with the plot comes in; this character simply does not fit in the universe that the rest of the characters inhabit. Sure, Lupin lives in a world where he can use a balloon to lift a massive statue off the ground with no problem, have jet packs in his shoes and drive vertically on a mountain, but using strange, green breath to control people’s minds and creating energy shields with your head is quite a different story. It just didn’t seem to gel right for me. The rest of the plot is quite good with Lupin, Jigen, and Goemon all getting good screen time; in particular, Goemon is allowed to shine quite a few times during this special. There was one character that seemed to flip flop back and forth between good and evil a bit too often, but this seemed to work out in the end.
All in all, the action and comedy offer redemption, and the hour and a half go by quickly. A solid action comedy only really hindered by its below average animation and a couple of clunky plot elements in the machine. Other than that this anime is a great ride in the old Lupin tradition.
Highs: Soulful music; a few jokes
Lows: Sloppy story; unnecessary scenes; unbelievable sequence of events
I can definitely see how this is a love-it-or-hate-it anime. Well, perhaps “love” and “hate” are too extreme for an anime that does everything but doesn’t do everything well. Mugs liked it, I disliked it. How about that?
First off, the characters in this anime often times acted, well, totally out of character. I suppose this was done to provide some insight into parts of their personality that rarely surface, but Lupin III‘s best was always grounded in the reliable, kind of like putting on your favorite shirt straight from the dryer. Sorry, but Goemon blubbering like a love-struck fifth grader and Jigen hugging Zenigata and crying “Yatta!” (OK, I give this scene brownie points for the Happa-tai connection) just didn’t hold water with me, mostly because their bursts of atypical expression proved of no consequence to the advancement of the story.
Other reasons for me not liking this anime abound. And while I have always granted the antics of Lupin some artistic license, there were some moments that were just totally ridiculous, like filching the Statue of Liberty with a hot air balloon (!), or people surviving gun shots and sword swipes just long enough to perform one final, fatal task. Way too over the top for my tastes.
The soft, soothing jazz soundtrack and the patented Lupin jokes work well, and on some levels Lupin III: Bye Bye Liberty Crisis is fun… but I caught myself glancing a few times at the clock waiting for it to end.
Lupin III: Bye Bye Liberty Crisis can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.