a.k.a. Rupan Sansei: Episode 0 Faasuto Kontakuto
Lupin’s a thief on the rise living in New York City, his eye currently on an intricate pair of treasures: a sword that can cut through anything and the recipe for making the metal for the sword. Unfortunately, half of it is firmly in the grips of the mob, and their hired gun, Jigen, is itching for a duel with someone of Lupin’s caliber. Goemon is looking for his clan’s fabled sword Zantetsu which puts him on an intercept path with the two. Fujiko is lurking in the background ready to swipe the treasures away from them at any chance she gets. Add one Japanese detective determined to capture Fujiko and you have the whole cast together for the first time. Sit back and witness the fabled first encounter of Lupin, Jigen, Fujiko, Goemon and Zenigata.
summary by Mugs
Highs: Action; comedy; an actual plot
Lows: Nothing really weighs this one down
The latest Lupin summer special has a similar spirit to the recent OVA Return of the Magician. Whereas that show revisited a classic villain, this movie takes us back to the very beginning to see how it all began. This brings up a minor problem in that Goemon is introduced different than he was in episode 5 of the original series. But being a Lupin show, continuity isn’t the biggest concern, and a similar battle between the two ensues, perhaps as homage to that classic episode.
The concept of the characters meeting gives a decidedly different feel to this show and is very refreshing for a change. The dichotomy between the characters is different than usual, and seeing things like Lupin and Jigen square off is a treat. In addition, we find how Goemon gets his Zantetsu, Jigen’s distrust for Fujiko and why Zenigata is utterly obsessed with catching Lupin. The characters all just work well in First Contact, with Lupin, Jigen and Zenigata getting the most time to shine. That’s not to say the others don’t get their moments; in particular, we see some rare emotions from Fujiko that help to make her more believable.
The show highlights action galore and spotlights some of the best looking animation in the franchise’s history. Thankfully, the horribly obtrusive CG is nowhere to be found. The show manages to give every character a decent amount of time, and the character’s separate paths cross quite nicely. Another nice aspect of the interweaving storylines is that it keeps the pacing tight and fast; no lulls here, and the show really is over before you know it.
I really must say, with the exception of Castle of Cagliostro, this is probably the best Lupin anime I have seen to date. I can wholeheartedly approve of this one for anyone with even a passing interest in Lupin’s antics.
Highs: Slick and stylish; excellent direction; nice use of good soundtrack; plenty of action and laughs
Lows: A small lull in the action towards the end
Now this is how you do a Lupin special! Filled to the brim, and then some, with action, comedy and suspense, First Contact takes the story of the Fab Five’s first adventure together, puts on a shiny coat of modern animation techniques, rinses and repeats. The end result is a fabulously entertaining anime that will certainly stand the test of time.
Introducing a group of characters, who we have grown to love over the last three decades, as perfect strangers is a daunting task. Good thing there is a captivating plot and spot-on directing to help ease the transition. The anime jumps from scene to scene so seamlessly and so expertly that the use of segue would have been completely unnecessary. Every detail of the action scenes (and there sure are a lot of them) was planned out better than I could have ever hoped; character movements and camera positions helped make the animation better than it probably deserved.
One aspect I really appreciated about this anime is that the spotlight isn’t focused so much on Lupin himself. Zenigata and Jigen hog the camera enough for us to understand their motivations and personalities; while Goemon doesn’t appear until late in the movie, his role carries much more significance than in previous Lupin anime. Fujiko bares all often yet again, but she uses her more innate female coerciveness rather than overt physical seduction to get what she wants, making her a deeper character than usual.
I can forgive a minor pacing issue near the finale just because the rest of this anime is just that damn good. And to top it off, the remakes of the classic Lupin tunes mixed in with soft, vocal pieces makes this a treat for the ears as well as the eyes.
Lupin III: First Contact can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.