Lupin III: The First: An Amazing Anime Adventure – Amazon Rental Review

The grandson of the world’s greatest thief returns to thwart some Nazis.

SUMMARY

In the 1940s, French Professor Bresson was killed after discovering something that was sought by the Nazi think tank “Ahnenerbe.” His family was killed, aside from his granddaughter, Laetitia (Suzu Hirose/Laurie Hymes), who was adopted by the Nazi professor Lambert (Kōtarō Yoshida/David Brimmer). His famous research diary was lost for twenty years. Now, it’s the swinging 60s and the world’s most charming thief, Arsene Lupin III (Kanichi Kurita/Tony Oliver), is seeking to steal the Bresson Diary, which is the only treasure his grandfather failed to steal. Unfortunately, the Ahnenerbe group has survived the war and are seeking to beat Lupin to the punch. Along for the ride are Lupin’s associates: the sharpshooting Daisuke Jigen (Kiyoshi Kobayashi/Richard Epcar), the swordsman Goemon Ishikawa XIII (Daisuke Namikawa/Lex Lang), and the femme fatale Fujiko Mine (Miyuki Sawashiro/Michelle Ruff). As usual, they’re pursued by Interpol Inspector Koichi Zenigata (Kōichi Yamadera/Doug Erholtz). 

God, the characters are so well dressed.

END SUMMARY

I’m a big fan of Arsene Lupin, as I pointed out when Netflix released their show Lupin last year, but I am also a fan of Lupin III. While Arsene Lupin was the ultimate gentleman thief, Lupin III is a crass womanizer who is nonetheless the greatest thief in the world by virtue of his unmatched intelligence, gadgetry, and physical prowess. The series, created by Monkey Punch (the best pseudonym that doesn’t involve porn) was marked by its visual style, sense of humor, and frequent leaning on the fourth wall. 

Odd humor like having a random ramen break during a chase.

Having run for over 50 years and through six TV series and more than a dozen films, this film is a prime example of why the formula can still work. While Lupin is a criminal mastermind with skills to rival Batman, he always adopts the appearance of a rakish goofball who, more often than not, has a greater sense of morality than the people from whom he steals. Jigen is the more dour but ever-loyal partner whose ability with a gun borders on superhuman. Goemon can cut a building in half as long as the building has offended his honor. Fujiko, who is the focus of Lupin’s romantic efforts, will always stab them in the back if it benefits her, but will usually do the right thing in the end. Zenigata will chase them to the ends of the Earth, unless he needs their help to stop someone worse. This film gives the group a common enemy that everyone can focus on, because the bad guys are literally Nazis. 

He also inevitably steals the heart of someone during the heist.

The action and theft sequences are among the best in the series and the animation style not only matches the feel of the original but enhances some of the faster-paced scenes. The humor is classic Lupin, which is to say the right balance of irreverent jokes and brilliant slapstick. The soundtrack is an updated version of the original series. The plot is, surprisingly, actually pretty solid and contains a lot of decent twists and even the occasional sincere emotional moment.

And one genuinely epic pose moment.

Overall, just a great movie and now I want to take a month or three to rewatch the rest of the series. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Dragon’s Dogma: It’s Formulaic, But A Guilty Pleasure – Netflix Anime Review

I take a look at an adaptation of a medieval fantasy video game series.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

In the medieval land of Gransys, Ethan (Yūichi Nakamura/Greg Chun), a hunter, loses his wife Olivia (Miyuki Sawashiro/Cristina Vee) and his surrogate son Louis (Yūko Sanpei/Jeannie Tirado) to an attack by a savage Dragon (Takayuki Sugō/David Lodge). The Dragon, sensing Ethan’s hate, takes Ethan’s heart and revives him as an Arisen. He is soon joined by a magical humanoid creation called a Pawn, whom he names Hannah (Nana Mizuki/Erica Mendez). Together, the two head through Gransys to slay the Dragon, and all of the monsters they meet along the way.

It’s good Ethan was a hunter rather than a baker. It’d be hard to cook the dragon.

END SUMMARY

This show’s apparently an adaptation of a video game, and that’s kind of what it feels like. Every episode feels like the next level that slowly gets to the “boss” Dragon. While this provides some boost to the structure and pacing of the show, it does get a bit repetitive, mostly because the characterization of Ethan and Hannah is really thin until the very last episode. Even the episode that fleshes out Ethan’s backstory doesn’t really do it in a way that evokes a lot of emotion. The monster designs are pretty solid, but only a handful of them are particularly creative. The rest are just picked from a DnD Monster Manual.

The Hydra works exactly like you’d think a hydra does, until suddenly it doesn’t.

Every episode is named after a particular sin representing one of the monsters in it or the general theme, which, at times, feels a little like a PSA. This is particularly true of “Sloth,” which generally comes off as being a Reagan-esque “Winners Don’t Do Drugs” fable. This vibe conflicts with the fact that the violence and nudity give the show a distinctly adult feel. This tonal inconsistency is only matched by the character inconsistency, with several supporting characters seeming to change motives at a moment. It’s particularly noticeable with Ethan and Hannah, who both seem to fluctuate between “help the people” and “kill the dragon, screw the people” depending on what the current episode needs.

Winners don’t use drugs; they use magical arrows.

In positives, the fight scenes are pretty good. Some of them are creative or at least have nice visual elements. I will say that the last episode does make me want to see more of this show, because they open it up for a completely new direction. At seven episodes, some of which are under 20 minutes, the show isn’t a major investment if you just have some time to kill. 

The Dragon has some of the best characterization.

Overall, if you like hack and slash, give it a try, but if not, maybe wait until we find out if Season 2 is any better.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.