Lupin III: The First spoiler-free review

GKIDS synopsis:

The iconic “gentleman thief” Lupin III returns in an action-packed, continent-spanning adventure, as Lupin III and his colorful underworld companions race to uncover the secrets of the mysterious Bresson Diary, before it falls into the hands of a dark cabal that will stop at nothing to resurrect the Third Reich. The gang undertakes trap-filled tombs, aerial escapades and daring prison escapes with the trademark wit and visual finesse that have made LUPIN THE 3RD one of the most storied animation franchises in the world, in a thrilling new caper that is sure to delight fans old and new.

From 1976 to 2020

Whether you watched the anime or you been familiar with the name, Lupin III (sometimes called Lupin the 3rd) is long lasting series that has been running from the 60s in Japan to all the way to 2020 even in the West. Lupin III started off as a manga and created by Monkey Punch (pen name for Kazuhiko Katō). In 1971, Lupin III got an anime adaptation got Lupin III Part 1. In 1978 and 1979, the anime got some film adaptions such Lupin III: The Mystery of Mamo and Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro. The Castle of Cagliostro is well-known since it was directed Hayao Miyazaki who created other movies like Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle. Throughout the years, Lupin III would be given TV movies, OVA and specials. all the way 2020. Unfortunately on April 11th, 2019, Lupin III creator Monkey Punch passed away. When he heard about the movie Lupin III: The First, he was looking forward to the idea. In honor for Monkey Punch, the team of the movie worked on this movie in dedication to him and thanks to GKIDS, well-known for premiering animated movies like Weathering With You, fans from the West can experience this movie in theaters.

My experience with Lupin

I first heard about Lupin III when I was young and Adult Swim would promote the show. Back then, I had no clue that the version they were showing was Part 2. In first glance, I thought it was a cat and mouse show where Lupin and his friends would steal treasure and win and escape from the cops. Unfortunately, I never really got into the show, because I couldn’t stay up when I was young. When I did, Adult Swim would either air it really late or they removed it and I was given other red characters from anime like Inuyasha and Fullmetal Alchemist (2003). Years later, I find Lupin again in the movie The Castle of Caglistro and I really loved the animation and music on TV. Fast forward later, Toonami would come back and thanks to TMS Entertainment, we would be given a dub of Lupin III Part 4 and Part 5 and it would be aired on TV. Now that I was old enough, I saw both parts and I really love the story-telling and the main cast. When I heard Lupin III: The First was coming to theaters in October (this month), I was excited to see this movie. I took my girlfriend to see this movie for dubbed on October 18th. Now that we seen it, I am ready to tell you my opinion as a novice Lupin fan.

Story: Thieves vs Nazi

The story begins with Arsene Lupin III trying to steal a rare and ancient diary called the Bresson Diary from a museum in Paris. Unfortunately, his plans doesn’t go well when a young woman named Laetitia tries steals the diary, but only to end up having it stolen by the seductive thief Fujiko Mine. Having lost the diary, Lupin gets arrested by the head of the police Koichi Zenigata and Laetitia feeling dismayed for failing to capture the diary for her grandfather and his leader. Thankfully for Lupin, he doesn’t stay captive too long thanks to the help of Daisuke Jigen, a well-dressed sharpshooter, and Geomon Ishikawa XIII, a samurai who occasionally helps Lupin in his adventures. Unfortunately for Lupin, Jigen and Geomon decides to not help Lupin steal the Bresson Diary and this leaves Lupin only one option: try and convince the Laetitia to help him get the diary. As these two try to recover the diary, Lupin finds out that this sacred diary is in the hands of the remaining Nazi army who served Adolf Hitler in World War II. Leading the army, we have Gerard and the assistant professor Lambert who wants to uncover the secret of the locked Bresson Diary. As Lupin and Laetitia work together, these two characters will have to work together learn the secret of the diary and must stop the Nazi from rising in power yet again. The secrets within the diary contains a hidden mystery that could lead to ancient treasure in which not even Lupin’s grandfather Arsene Lupin could steal. Whatever the treasure is, the Nazi treasure hunter Gerard wants it for the army and Lupin wants to accomplish something not even his grandfather can do.

Review: A 3D fun story featuring everyone’s fun-loving thief

After seeing this movie, as someone who causally enjoys Lupin III, I want to say that this movie was generally fun to watch. I will admit, I was skeptic about the idea of transitioning from 2D to 3D, but after seeing some clips of this movie, I grew fond of the changes. The way the 3D animation was handled, it felt as if movie was trying to imitate the same energy as the 2D predecessor where movements of the characters felt lively. In an interesting way of thinking, if one was to show this movie to someone who never watched a 3DCG anime movie or even heard of Lupin, you can trick people believing this movie was either a Disney, Dreamworks or even a Sony Pictures Animation movie. The main focus on the characters is both Lupin and the new character Laetitia; the movie does show Lupin’s friends and even Zenigata, but they don’t get the same spotlight treatment like Lupin and Laetitia. Without much going into details on the plot, the title’s name “The First” plays a vital role for Lupin and having his adventure tie-in with Laetitia’s internal conflict. Laetitia’s character and role of the movie is also important and teaches some important lessons about embracing ourselves and learning to take challenges in order to achieve dreams. The only factors I could point out that turn someone’s attention off is the film’s 3DCG animation and the lack of focus on the side characters. Like mentioned, the main focus is mostly on Lupin, Laetitia and the main villains Gerard and Lambert. Jigen, Geomon, Fujiko and Zenigata does make appearances in the movie and sometimes act as comedy reliefs, but they don’t get much spotlight attention.

Conclusion: Hit or Miss Lupin film?

As someone who seen some Lupin III anime, I would strongly say that this movie was worth watching. For a movie with a time length of roughly 90 minutes and having a change of animation, Lupin III: The First is a fun movie to watch where even hardcore and new fans can enjoy Lupin’s adventure. Non-anime fans can easily enjoy this movie if they like animation and treasure-hunting adventures that resembles Indiana Jones. The movie mixes in with some hilarious anime troupes from the anime and blends it in with classic good vs evil themes. Just like the anime series, movies and specials, Lupin still retains his goofy and devilish appearance in full 3DCG animation. If you enjoyed the English Dub from recent Lupin anime such voices from Tony Oliver, Richard Epcar and others, you’re going to find yourself right at home. If you can tolerate the new animation for Lupin, this movie is not that bad. Even in 2020, Lupin still shines and will travel the world for treasure and protect it from evil organizations such as the Nazi.

I hope you enjoyed this review. If you seen this movie, what did you think about it? Once I get this movie, I want to try and do another review on this movie, but full on spoilers.

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