OP: 「THEME FROM LUPIN III 2015」 You & Explosion Band
“The Marriage of Lupin III”
Introduction to the Cast:
After 30 years, Lupin III returns to our screens with a new addition to the original timeline. However, if you’re unfamiliar with the franchise then you shouldn’t be turned off this new series, as it serves as a perfect introduction to the cast and their thievish ways. I can say that because I have never actually watched a Lupin series before, and this episode delivered everything I could have hoped for. We’ve got our titular character Arsene Lupin III (Kurita Kanichi), the grandson of Arsène Lupin and the world’s most wanted thief, who despite acting goofy and incompetent at times, he often proves his worth when the going get’s tough; Mine Fujiko (Sawashiro Miyuki) is often regarded as Lupin’s love/lust interest, as the pair have some history together – however, they seem more like rivals than allies in this new series; Jigen Daisuke (Kobayashi Kiyoshi) is the enigmatic marksman and Lupin’s right hand man, capable of firing a bullet in 0.3 seconds; and finally there is Ishikawa XIII Goemon (Namikawa Daisuke), the turncoat samurai with a blade that’s capable of cutting through almost anything.
Together, these four make up the Lupin III gang, but this season has a newcomer thrown into the mix: Rebecca Rossellini (Fujii Yuukiyo), a famous businesswoman, model, actress, and adrenaline junkie. And that’s not all, as we saw in the first few minutes of the episode, she’s also Lupin’s wife! I don’t know how long-time fans of the series feel about this new character entering the scene and shaking up the dynamics, but I found her to be the star of this episode. While Fujiko was reduced to the role of jealous ex incapable of pulling off her own tricks, Rebecca fooled everyone and took the Royal Crown of Liberty for herself. Lupin may have figured out her identity in the end, but she still duped him into swapping some shades for a crown, which already puts her at a level above the rest. Personally, I quite like the idea of a female equivalent to Lupin – someone who can rival his ability and push him to the limits. Hopefully that’s what we’ll get from Rebecca this season, if this premiere is anything to go by.
Zenigata Kouichi (Yamadera Kouichi) is another original cast member that was featured – an inspector whose life goal is to arrest Lupin. I imagine he hasn’t had much success in his endeavours in the past, and this episode was no different. There wasn’t much to get from his character other than him playing chase with the gang and failing to properly catch them. I expect his role won’t change much throughout this season, but if there are fans of the franchise that can prove he’s a credible threat to Lupin, then I may anticipate his involvement in the future.
Silly Story, Brilliant Style:
For now, the tone of this new season is silly and spontaneous, which goes well with the characters; I appreciate that nothing is really taken too serious. When you see characters sprinting across rooftops, defying the laws of physics with grappling hooks, and not breaking bones or dislocating their joints from some of the action sequences, you have to take the realism with a pinch of salt. As I’m new to the franchise, I wasn’t sure which direction this new Lupin III series would take, but it has already made its case clear: this is not-so-realistic fun, never-sitting-still goodness, paired with plenty of timeless gags to keep you entertained.
One thing I’d like to touch upon is that this new series is bursting with style. I knew that the production values would be high, but I was blown away with just about everything that hit my eyes (and ears). The character designs are slightly modernised, much more colourful, with their behaviour coming across wonderfully with their body language (Lupin’s especially). The Italian backdrops look lovely, which are being using to the utmost; it feels less like the characters are just walking in front of a background, instead showing them interacting with building and towers in a 3 dimensional space, and the execution is near flawless. The animation itself is spunky and exaggerated, fitting with the tone of the series, and provides plenty of eye-opening moments. I think the most striking would have to be Lupin and Rebecca’s confrontation on the rooftop, as well as them flying through the sky; both were seriously impressive moments that make the animation fan in me oh so happy.
Overview – First Impressions:
The episode itself was a brilliant re-introduction to the Lupin III franchise, and I hope more people give it a shot and find something they can enjoy in it. The characters are likeable, the animation is stylish and exaggerated, and I’m sure the story will continue to deliver the punches – whether they be through episodic adventures or a larger story arc, possibly involving Lupin’s adrenaline junkie wife, Rebecca. Not only that, but the OP and ED were both fantastic; the opening in particular may be one of the best of the year – it flows so naturally and looks incredibly polished – and I’ll definitely have that on repeat in the coming weeks.
If you didn’t already know, Lupin III (2015) has aired in Italy before the Japanese release, and is already 14 episodes in. I’ve actually heard from those who have seen the future episodes that this premiere was among the weakest of the batch. If that is the case, then we should be in for one hell of a ride, because this first episode was impressive in itself. I’ll be sticking around to see what these characters get up to – especially Rebecca. There’s just something about her, and I can’t wait to see her in action again.
Note: There are currently no plans to blog Lupin III (2015) on a weekly basis.
ED: 「Chanto Iwanakya Aisanai」 (ちゃんと言わなきゃ愛さない) by Ishikawa Sayuri