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Lupin III: The First (Blu-ray Review)

REVIEW OVERVIEW

The Film
The Video
The Audio
The Supplements
Overall

SUMMARY

In the 1960s, Lupin III tries to recover a booby-trapped diary and an amulet that together can revive the Third Reich in this triumphant entry for this well-loved franchise into the world of 3DCG animation that brings along many of the well known characters, has a quick-paced story and great action.

One of the most famous characters in anime returns with Lupin III: The First, bringing the character to the world of 3DCG for the first time.  The Japanese 3DCG comedy action-adventure heist anime feature film is based on the Lupin the Third franchise created by Monkey Punch. Many anime fans will also be familiar Lupin the 3rd: Castle of Cagliostro (1979) from the great Miyazaki Hayao.

Set in the 1960s, Lupin III is trying to steal a booby-trapped diary that his grandfather had once tried to steal, but he is thwarted by a young woman disguised as a security guard, then by Fujiko. He’s sprung from police custody by his friends Jigen and Goemon and later sneaks into the home of the fake security guard, an archeology student named Laetitia. It turns out the two are connected to each other through their grandparents’ pasts and the items like the diary and another amulet they are seeking.

Lupin III: The First is going to be an excellent adventure for fans of this franchise. The animation is wonderfully done and like the director Yamazaki Takashi says, it’s not enough to watch this film once, because you’ll miss a lot of the detail. On first viewing I felt that the 3DCG was lacking some weightiness in its physics, like automobiles didn’t seem to be firm on the ground, then I rewatched some of the car chases and recalled the wild driving scenes of Miyazaki’s films and Castle of Cagliostro and it all made sense – this was a subtle nod to the master who helped to jumpstart this franchise in the animated realm on the big screen.

The film also excellently written with an easy-to-understand mystery, and great use of the classic characters from the franchise that fans will remember from the classic television series. This is great fun all around and a wonderful entry for this beloved character into the world of 3DCG.

The Video

The 3DCG animated film is offered up in a solid AVC 1080p encodement on Blu-ray framed at 2.39:1 from Shout! Factory & GKIDS. We get vibrant colors and superb details, but this is just a notch down from the best of the best in 3D animated titles as some banding can be seen particularly in the flat colors of backgrounds like the sky or on walls.

The Audio

Lupin III: The First has two lossless 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mixes included, one for the original Japanese-language track and the other for the English dub. Both mixes are great, with good dynamics, lots of solid effects in the surrounds, movement following the action and clear dialogue. There are plenty of opportunities in this film for the sound to shine, like the opening car chase or the scene where Lupin leaps out of the airplane. Both casts do a wonderful job, which isn’t always the case with dubs, but the Japanese mix get a slight edge not for performance, but because the dialogue sounds fuller. For some reason the English dialogue is a little thinner and further down in the mix.

The Supplements

Shout! includes both interviews with the English and Japanese cast & crew. The discussion with the Japanese director and cast yields the most interesting information, obviously, being there is a lot of information offered up on its original production.

  • DVD
  • English Cast Reunited (1080i; 00:52:55)
  • CG Model Gallery (1080i; 00:12:38)
  • Animation Breakdown (1080i; 00:18:11)
  • Yellow Carpet Premiere – November 11th, 2019 at Toho Cinemas Roppongi (1080i; 00:01:18)
  • Trailers and Promos (1080p; 00:10:22)
  • Interviews with Director and Japanese Cast (1080i; 00:33:44)

The Final Assessment

Monkey Punch AKA Katō Kazuhiko passed away on April 11, 2019, eight months before this film based on his manga franchise was first released to theaters in Japan. Surely, he would have been pleased with the results and the reception of this film. The Blu-ray is good, and the movie is enjoyable.


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Lupin III: The First is out on Blu-ray Combo January 12, 2021 from Shout! Factory

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