a.k.a. Lupin III: Plot of the Fuma Clan
a.k.a. Rupan Sansei: Fuma Ichizoku no Imbo
Goemon’s Shinto wedding ceremony is cut short by ninjas from a rival clan in search of a precious vase which is related to an ancient treasure. It is now a race against time for Lupin, Jigen, Fujiko and Goemon to find the treasure before the infamous Fuma clan does. As for Inspector Zenigata, he thought for sure Lupin had recently perished in an explosion. I doubt seeing the Wolf back from the dead and in great shape will come to him as a disappointment. After all, getting Lupin behind bars is his lifelong dream.
summary by Kjeldoran
Highs: All around quality; characters interrelate tidily; Ishikawa Goemon!
Lows: Does not particularly excel in any domain; inadequate voice actors
Fuma Conspiracy is nothing short of sheer fun. This chapter includes all the typical elements (hidden riches, wacky car chases, gadgets) that brought fame to the lovable, eclectic quintet and mixes them with good artwork and great pacing. While other Monkey Punch-inspired movies are often missing one of such aspects, the first Lupin III OVA has it all.
Nothing here is truly groundbreaking set aside Goemon’s love interest; Lupin and his gang are still up to their old tricks. However, since it is the fourth movie-length Lupin anime released, accusing it of being derivative is unfounded. Subsequently, its age does show when looking at the art but it is still of fine quality, which is more than we can say about other releases, such as Gold of Babylon. This OVA is more down-to-earth, too; the staff had enough creativity to stay rational in both plot and daring escapes. Choreographies follow the same path as great swordplay and fights complement the adventure storyline agreeably.
Only a few Lupin movies manage to efficiently put all the characters in the spotlight. This is one of this anime’s main advantages; none of the usual characters appear useless and solely employed to lure fans. Everyone serves a major purpose and all are active from start to finish with a special focus on Goemon. Yet something feels out of place; a whole new voice-acting cast was temporarily hired for Fuma Conspiracy with disappointing results. All of them are now respected seiyuu artists with impressive résumés, but the shoe does not quite fit for most.
This is one of the first-class Lupin titles out there. Nice, light blend of action, comedy and drama; hardened fans to curious beginners will surely find something they like in Fuma Conspiracy.
Highs: Action, action… and moreaction; Goemon > you
Lows: Substitute seiyuu; some unnecessary moments
Most Lupin spin offs follow a set formula, one that has been the backbone for years of success: start with a quick, engaging action sequence, trail off into a quiet scene where Lupin and Jigen discuss a treasure and plot their course of action, have a female member of Lupin’s crew (either Fujiko or the H.o.t.M., hottie of the moment) kidnapped by the E.O.o.t.M. (evil organization of the moment) and finish with an overly elaborate chase sequence in a castle/tower/island/underground lair where the aforementioned treasure is held. And while Fuma Conspiracy does stay true to this formula, it throws in a few more key ingredients to create a veritable smorgasbord of sequences… for better and for worse.
One of the most often discussed aspects of this OVA is the outstanding action, choreographed and animated with expertise. The inventive car chase scene rivals its famous sibling in the beginning of Castle of Cagliostro and had me in stitches over the sheer absurdity of it all. Definitely one of the classic moments in the entire Lupin franchise.
Other than that, though, there isn’t much left to celebrate. The original seiyuu were substituted for a green cast who obviously were just going through the motions; Fujiko and Jigen, in particular, were pretty horrid. Another miscue is the numerous scenes that just didn’t add anything to the story nor served a particular purpose. For example, Goemon enters an armory and is exposed to a hallucinogenic gas. Thus, he mistakes his friends as charging samurai and attacks them unknowingly. Then it’s over. There are other similar sequences that just go unexplained or aren’t tied into the story well enough to act as adequate filler.
However, it’s hard to say “no” to plenty of Goemon kickin’ ass and taking names, so to speak.
Lupin III: Fuma Conspiracy can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.