(this review of Pioneer's 2003 DVD release "Lupin The 3rd: The World's Most Wanted" originally appeared in 2003. Pioneer's no longer in business and this DVD is out of print, but I had a lot of fun writing this review and am glad to present it again.)
TO: ICPO (Interpol) HEADQUARTERS, GENEVA
SUBJECT: LUPIN THE 3RD -THE WORLD’S MOST WANTED
I am saddened to report that once again the entertainment industry has demonstrated its contempt for the rule of law with the release of yet another in a long line of animated serials dealing with the notorious criminal, Lupin the 3rd.
even has the audacity to poke fun at Lupin’s criminal status with its title
“The World’s Most Wanted”. I am shocked
at the lack of respect for law that Pioneer, once a highly-regarded
entertainment conglomerate, has demonstrated with this video. It was bad enough that these supposedly
comical cartoon “adventures” of that reprobate Lupin had been transmitted across the public airwaves during the mid 1970s, but to dredge these accounts
of larcenous and immoral behavior from whatever pit of depravity they had been
confined to is almost a crime in itself.
All of Lupin’s accomplices are fully implicated in the crimes this video depicts. The gangster Jigen, the mercenary swordsman Goemon, and that curvaceous grifter Fujiko are all explicitly shown engaged in violations of the criminal codes of dozens of nations. I am, as always, deeply embarrassed that the corrupt and malicious producers of these animated films have seen fit to include a painfully inept caricature of myself as a character in these shameful episodes. It is a known fact that Lupin
III has eluded capture so
far - but not for lack of effort on my part, I am proud to say. I only wish the same was true for some of our
“brethren in blue”, who seem to regard this brigand as a harmless and
entertaining thief rather than a menace to public safety and morals.
The six “escapades” contained in this
are fanciful recreations of some of Lupin’s most heinous offenses, as produced
for Japanese television by the Tokyo Movie Shinsha animation studio. “The Revenge Of Lupin The 3rd” features
the destruction of an entire luxury liner, prompted by a madman driven to
revenge after becoming the victim of one of Lupin’s previous schemes. In the luridly titled “Buns, Guns, And Fun In
The Sun”, Lupin and his gang demonstrate
what may be new heights of contempt for civilized society, as they not only rob
the box office of Rio’s soccer stadium and make a mockery of the Brazilian
penal system (here my opinion of the Rio police matches Lupin’s - I fear the
tropical climate and moral lassitude of the inhabitants has contributed to the
decline of this law enforcement unit) - but a priceless national landmark is
perhaps irreparably damaged by Lupin’s unthinking greed. “50 Ways To Leave Your 50-Foot Lover” is a
fanciful tale of the supposed Loch Ness Monster, reportedly tamed by Fujiko’s
singing voice. “Gold Smuggling 101” is a
primer in perfidy for anyone who wishes to embark on a life of crime. I must say it was ingenious of Lupin to
utilize a scheme straight out of the film Goldfinger, but then again, he IS a
thief. What disturbs me the most about
this episode may be the depiction of the corruption of what was once a
respected bank manager; or perhaps it may
be the depiction of myself, which literally portrays the author as a myopic
crank from whom Lupin is able to escape without effort. I assure you, my failure to permanently
apprehend Lupin is a result of the criminal’s inhuman cunning and dexterity,
not a lapse of attention from this detective.“Shaky Pisa” is remarkable not only for the earthquake-device that
nearly destroys Pisa, but also for expecting the viewer to believe that Lupin
the 3rd will retire from the scene while leaving millions of lire
un-stolen. In the “Cursed Case Scenario”,
the ancient sands of Egypt
are befouled by Lupin’s perfidious footsteps.
Not even national treasures are safe from his larcenous grasp! Luckily his ill-gotten swag seems to be more
trouble than it is worth.
The animation of these criminal adventures is of the standard seen on broadcast television in
in the mid 1970s; adequate without devolving into primitivism, though bereft of
the occasional flashes of artistry seen in other “cartoons” of the period. The depiction of Lupin and his accomplices
are realistic enough, though exaggerated for supposedly comic purposes. Other than a garish series title in English,
the opening credits are as originally presented, and the end credits are
similar to the Japanese, with a rather weak instrumental replacing the original
Japanese vocals. Rendering these
photoplays into English was obviously an attempt on Pioneer’s part to corrupt
the morals of the children of the Western world, already known to be in a
Lupin’s English voice is remarkably similar to his Japanese. This new Anglophone version, however, is closest of all to the rendition heard in the long-suppressed “Mystery of Mamo” film (though Lupin’s voice was the only point of accuracy in that otherwise scandalously erroneous production. “Ed Scott”, indeed). Both Lupin and his crew of malcontents spout dialog that positively reeks of the disrespectful, flippant attitude that would lead one to a life of crime; puns, insults, and innuendos of a leering nature abound in their speech. I am positive that the intended audience for this low-class banter will find it quite amusing, however disturbing it may be to those of more refined tastes.
Seemingly tireless in its mania to promote lawlessness and crime, Pioneer has released this
options of both English and Japanese language tracks. A detailed section of line drawings of
characters, devices, and locales acts as a veritable university education in
wrongdoing for the interested viewer.
Previews for other of Pioneer’s perhaps more law-abiding productions
fill the remainder of this digital video disc.
In conclusion, let me exhort Interpol to use every means at its disposal to prevent this latest affront to the public dignity. How much longer will law-abiding citizens be forced to endure the glorification of criminality? Is Lupin the 3rd the kind of figure we want held up to our children as a figure to be emulated? Already reports are coming in about a new Lupin comic book in
and the new year will see Lupin’s duplicitous face plastered across the
television screens of that already criminal-infested country. I urge you, sirs, to wait no longer. For my part, I have just received information
about Lupin’s latest target, and I must end this communication posthaste. Rest assured, gentlemen, that this time I
will DEFINITELY bring Lupin the 3rd to long-delayed justice.
Inspector Zenigata, ICPO
(transcription by correspondent Dave Merrill)