a.k.a. Rupan Sansei: In Gedenken an die Walther P38
Lupin shows up at a party to find out why someone has been using his name. While there an assassination takes place and someone shoots Zenigata with a gun that is all too familiar for Lupin’s tastes. Eager to end a chapter of his past, Lupin, Goemon, Jigen and Fujiko race off to the island of assassins. Once there he becomes embroiled in a scheme that might leave him dead in twenty-four hours. But the real question remains: what is Lupin’s memory of that silver Walther P38?
summary by Mugs
Highs: Action sequences; great visuals; good plot twists
Lows: Not as much comedy as usual; secondary characters feel ill used
Woah, quite a different type of Lupin is what Walther P38 delivers to us. Still the wisecracking joker, Lupin also possesses much more of the total range of human characteristics, specifically showing his dark side as he seeks revenge for someone who crossed him in the past. The whole show has a slightly darker edge and is squarely focused on the action aspect of the show. This definitely the bloodiest Lupin anime I have seen yet.
The plot is a decent, if somewhat standard, Lupin plot. Despite this, there are some nice twists to it; we get a glimpse into Lupin’s past, which is always nice. However, Goemon, Fujiko, Zenigata and even Jigen are relegated into the background. Zenigata’s role in the show in particular is almost nonexistent and really only serves to provide comedy.
This anime showcases some of the best visuals this side of Castle of Cagliostro. The lanky look of some Lupin shows are not found here, and everything is well proportioned. It’s a slightly new style but works well. The action sequences are also done nicely, although I must admit I never envisioned Lupin to be as acrobatic as Goemon with all the flipping around that he does. Gunplay and hand-to-hand are equally represented, and everything has that over-the-top feel (like Goemon blocking a mini-gun’s bullets with his sword) that this franchise is famous for.
This is a different, darker version of the Lupin world, but it is also exceedingly well-done and a nice change of pace.
Highs: Dark, twisting story; animation matched by few in the Lupin franchise; comedy works every time
Lows: I miss Yamada Yasuo
Just about every Lupin fan concedes that Castle of Cagliostro is the pinnacle of the franchise. I wouldn’t be one to disagree, but I must contend that In Memory of the Walther P38 comes very, very close.
Probably what I enjoyed most about this movie is that it is not your typical Lupin. Yes, Zenigata is a bumbling, stumbling fool who fails yet again to put the famous thief behind bars. Jigen, Fujiko and Goemon are mainly along for the ride and help move the plot along. But something is different… Lupin shows a dark side of himself that will no doubt take fans off guard. Some will not like it; I found it absolutely refreshing. It’s good to see the “old man” is more than a one-dimensional womanizer for once. I will admit that trying to dig into Lupin’s psyche and unearth moments of his past could have resulted in disaster, but the execution in this anime is fantastic. Every scene, be it comedic or dramatic, melds together without interruption.
Speaking of comedy, most Lupin movies, while filled with humorous moments, have a few jokes that just don’t work as intended. Not so with Walther P38. I laughed heartily and often at the running gags, especially those involving Zenigata. I understand Mugs’ trepidation toward Zenigata’s role, but I found his scenes, brief as they were, to be key in allowing the viewer to come up for air once in a while. That animation is notches above what I expected, as well.
If there was one thing I felt uncomfortable with, it was Kurita Kanichi’s portrayal of Lupin. It seemed to me that he was trying too hard to emulate the emotional and vocal range of his predecessor, the late, great Yamada Yasuo. Without a doubt he had big shoes to fill, but Kurita should instead try to form his own style. Just my opinion.