The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Lupin III: Stolen Lupin

Title: Lupin III: Stolen Lupin aka Rupan Sansei: Nusumareta Lupin
Genre: Action/Comedy
Company: TMS Entertainment
Format: Movie; 91 minutes.
Dates: 30 Jul 2004

Synopsis: During one of his usual heists, Lupin III is abducted by a mysterious cigarette-smoking man. By threatening to kill Fujiko, the stranger coerces Lupin into stealing the Bull’s Eye, a famous jewel that is said to bring misfortune to whoever robs it. The master thief sets out to solve the mystery of the Bull’s Eye… and that of a young woman who apparently commits copycat thefts just like him…

The Highlights
Plot: Interesting and full of twists.
Characters: Great interaction and worthy opposition.
Music: Fits the mood like a glove.
Plot: Main story is a bad stereotype, most twists predictable.
Artwork: Partially sub-par animation.

It’s another jolly ride for Lupin, Jigen, Goemon and Fujiko, and as usual, expect outrageous pursuits, unbelievable fight scenes, humor that just hits bulls-eye (and not just because the jewel they’re all after shares the same name) and just the same old style you’ve grown to love in the last decades. Stolen Lupin is easily one of the better movies of the whole franchise.

This time, all the good things are in the execution: The plot, while actually rather simple, twists and turns to give false leads and create unexpected situations. It does not necessarily do this well, but it certainly does it entertainingly. Lots of the entertainment just comes from then interaction between the characters both old and new. Lupin finally gives an explanation for why he always falls for Fujiko’s betrayals, Jigen and Goemon are able to shine in various situations, and Becky, the young thief who follows in Lupin’s footsteps, is introduced so well that you almost wish she’d become a permanent character. Good job!

The opposition Lupin and his friends have to face is also quite formidable this time: There’s a notable rival for Jigen, another rival for Goemon, and the mastermind behind them is clever enough to calculate most of Lupin’s moves and act accordingly. His capture of the master thief in the beginning of Stolen Lupin doesn’t remain the only trick he is able to pull on him, and until he meets his final demise, he remains a powerful enemy. Why don’t we see more of this in contemporary anime?

Stolen Lupin could have been even better than Episode 0: First Contact in terms of character interaction, but unfortunately, the initial setup isn’t that good. Threatening the life of the hero’s love interest to force him into committing crimes is one of the oldest clich├ęs in thrillers, and the situation is even resolved in a stereotypical way. In fact, most of the plot twists (except for one including the Bull’s Eye) are rather predictable, and in this case, that’s not a good thing – a thriller should be able to surprise the viewer. That’s where this movie fails to some extent.

While the character and background art are mostly good, the animation doesn’t always shine. In some scenes, the movements are outright sloppy, and even the characters’ faces become distorted (not for artistic value) sometimes. You should expect more from a modern production. Fortunately, the fantastic music makes more than up for the flawed animation, with one of the most incredible closing themes ever, “A Rose Tattoo”. These songs will stay in my playlist for quite some time to come.

Stolen Lupin is a worthy addition to the Lupin III universe. It makes the best of an old and well-used plot, beefs it up with great style and humor and even gives all the side characters something to do. While it has its technical flaws, the charm saves it. A good movie for an entertaining evening.

The Rating: 8

Reviewed by: Taleweaver

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