Lupin III: The First

Lupin III: The First ★★★★

Rewatch confirmed all my suspicions about how astounding this is formally; seeing it on a big screen just amplified the inherent sensation of Lupin and allowed me to bask in the detailed glory. As I previously stated in my Eva 3.0+1.0 review, the only way to successfully do hyperrealism in animation is to heighten live action cinematic norms, and I'd say this movie technically (might) surpass the former with texture and its artificial camera. If you can see this on a big screen take note of skin, hair, fabric, dust, and glass and the way light reflects off of surfaces and your brain will probably melt. The movement of the various characters can be initially stiff (animating keyframes for every shot of a 3d film definitely helped attribute to this but also allowed for complete control over how the camera moved), but what I find unequivocally successful is how well the designs of the main gang seamlessly translated to a different medium without losing their identity. Eye shapes, hair fineness, and expressivity even helps the audiences not familiar with the characters understand their personalities better (the opening credits is not only explosive visually but defines their characteristics even if Goemon and Jigen are barely in it). I will note as someone who has seen both the dubbed and subtitled version that even though both voice casts do phenomenal jobs (they've been doing these guys for years at this point, Richard Epcar did the direction for this and many Lupin dubs), the subtitled version feels a little less awkward, the lip flaps were animated before dialogue was recorded so obviously the Japanese vocals fit better.

Anyways, one final note about this is how in referencing a lot of older Lupin material (Part 2, Cagliostro, Pursuit of Harimao's Treasure), the animators had to challenge themselves further to recapture the magic of this films. Narratively, this is your typical Indiana Jones or M:I joint, but formally this throws a lot of nifty feats: rack focuses, whip pans, and insane zooms that cover vast amounts of distance. In combination with Yuji Ohno's reorchestrations of classic pieces (Lupin's theme, Salsa Temporado, Zenigata March, Goodbye theme), it's impossible for me not to get invested and swept away. The narrative is fantastic too, I get Laetitia might seem too goody-two-shows in comaprison to Lupin's lawlessness but their relationship is genuinely adorable. Not quite as good as his and Clarice's friendship from Cagliostro, but really damn close. I love how drastically this escalates from like your typical 60s spy thriller, to the third act of The Last Crusade, to fighting a infathomably absurd and complex sci-fi contraption striaght out of Mystery of Mamo as it hovers over a hidden Nazi base in Brazil. Plus, Yamazaki just understands how to use the camera to create rhythms for comedic timing, suspense, and plot reveals, so many moments of the third act are properly iconic and belong in the Lupin canon (especially Lupin's last disguise...genuinely wtf LOL).

Also also, one more way this owns in comparison to the typical family friendly fare of the States is that this movie is proudly horny! Everyone was specifically designed to have sex appeal in one way or another, and we need that in films!! Lupin can be known for being tastelessly horny or creepy when it comes to its sexual aspects but this managed to walk the fine line where it's alright for your children to see it as long as they don't have armpit fetishes or notice whatever is going with Jigen's handsome mug.

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