a.k.a. Lupin III: Dragon of Doom
a.k.a.Rupan Sansei: Moeyo Zantetsu Ken
After an encounter with ninjas seeking the Isa clan’s most valuable treasure, Goemon vows to protect it from all, be they friends or foe. Lupin, of course, just can’t say “no” to treasure, and after gaining some information from the local crime lord Chin Chin-chan, it’s off to four thousand meters under the sea and the icy grave of the Titanic. What secret does the Isa clan’s dragon statue hold, and what is its deadly relationship to the Zantetsu?
summary by Mugs
Highs: Jammed with Goemon-packed swordplay
Lows: Has Goemon ever met a girl he hasn’t fallen for?; couple of reused visuals
The sixth Lupin television movie starts out like almost all of its predecessors and descendants with a nice, little action scene. Heavily involved in this intro and many of the other action sequences is one Ishikawa Goemon. The spotlight is on him as we actually get some glimpses into his past and sword skills that might make Kenshin green with envy. It then proceeds through the somewhat standard Lupin plot sequence of “find the treasure, lose it, find what it really does, the end”.
Everything about this show screams over-the-top, and that’s saying a lot when you’re talking about Lupin. From Goemon’s cut anything in half to Lupin swimming four thousand meters below sea level, don’t expect realism to ruin the show. The sheer amount of unbelievability asked a little too much of suspended belief from me, and once or twice I groaned; the stealth bomber that was built in about twenty minutes is a good example. The guest characters include Kikyo, an old student of Goemon, and Chin Chin-chan, a Hong Kong crime boss. Chin Chin is a rather funny, if standard, lecherous villain. Unfortunately, Kikyo doesn’t have much of a character build-up, and her background ends up making little sense in the end, as do her motives. Zenigata’s role in this show is really almost nil, though he provides some nice comedic moments. He shows up out of nowhere, fails and then leaves, only to return and repeat the cycle. There is no real interaction between Lupin and Zenigata, which is always a surefire way for laughs.
The visuals are very similar to the show that follows it: Hunt for Harimao’s Treasure. You get a smoothly done, if not stellar looking, show. A couple of cels were reused; a definite no-no if you’re banking your show on tons of action. The voice acting is stellar as ever; the cast has been together long enough to know how to react to each other. If Zantetsu Sword Is on Fire had added a little more character elements, it could have ended up on the same plane as Castle of Cagliostro. As it stands, this is the most action-packed and one of the most fun Lupin anime that I’ve seen.
Highs: Never ending action
Lows: Visuals quickly turn to crap; pretty predictable; wasted character scenes
Just about every Lupin movie has one part where there is an uncomfortably long lull in the action that induces me to look at the clock to see how much time is left. Thankfully, this is one of the few movies in the franchise that bucked the trend.
Then why such a mediocre grade? Well, the pace of the story was just about the only thing that wasn’t mediocre. The visuals started off well enough; the character designs consist of that lanky-limbed look that takes me back to Lupin of yesteryear. The opening action sequence involving Goemon against a group of ninja is so ludicrously delicious that I expected the eye candy to remain at that high level throughout… but, oh, was I wrong.
Watching the rest of the movie gave me flashbacks of kindergarten art class; ya know, where stick figures passed for people and a group of Vs looked like birds. Recycled cels certainly don’t help, either. Considering when this anime was produced and that older Lupin movies featured better art and animation makes this inexcusable.
With so much focus on Goemon and (of course) Lupin, there is little left over for the other Big Three: Jigen, Fujiko and Zenigata. Their scenes feel very artificial, as if to provide filler while Goemon gears up for his next close-up shot. It didn’t help any that the course of events were pretty much mapped and laid out for the viewer from the get-go; even the few moments of betrayal that were meant to serve as plot twists were of no real surprise.
Don’t get me wrong; I enjoyed this anime from beginning to near end because it flowed so smoothly, but those problems I mentioned prevented me from considering this a good movie.