Lupin the Third: The Italian Game Review
Today we are looking at Lupin the Third: The Italian Game. Lupin the Third, is one of the most classic anime characters of all time. A show that most if not all adult anime fans probably grew up with, it’s a classic. The tales of thieving, romance, and general silliness was one a major reasons I got in to anime. It was only later on that I learned that Lupin has one of the most awarded pedigrees in anime. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Lupin franchise, and to celebrate an new feature is in production from studio Ghibli and Hayo Miyazki. That one is due out in September and will have a full run in theaters in the US, check out this awesome trailer for it.
Before all of that of course is what we got to see today Lupin the Third, the Italian game. Available now on Cruncyroll in subbed format, and coming soon to theaters with a full dub, Luping the 3rd is once more adventuring!
This will not be a spoiler free review, so if you just want to know if you should go see this movie or watch it on Crunchyroll, the answer is yet. Its classic Lupin the 3rd action, intrigue, and just a little dose of roguishness. There are a few new characters and all of our old favorites return. Lupin, Fujiko, jigen, and Goeom, along with a few new friends and of course inspector Zenigata. The middle of the film sadly feels like its just a bit padded out, but the ending is quite good.
The art is fantastic in the classic hand drawn Lupin style, with beautiful thick black lines for characters, and amazing colors that pop off the screen. The story is as deep as ever with plot twists and turns for Lupin and the gang, and even after it was over I was still smiling. If you liked Lupin the Third at all before, this is a fantastic modern update to the series.
Below this the review will no longer be spoiler free.
The movie is based around that oh so classic Lupin premise of stealing something, or in this case multiple things. Lupin is introduced this time as in love with a new girl. Super model, CEO, movie star, adventurer, Rebecca Rossellini. His pursuit of this woman will intertwine with one of his greatest heists ever, the quest to steal the hidden treasure of Cagliostro. The title takes place all in Italy, which is a wonderful setting, if you have ever been, its full of beautiful mountains, castles, and ancient cities. The main setting is San Marino, which is an ancient city state in northern Italy which has amazing medieval architecture.
The movie is basically laid out as three separate episodes, or acts. By basically I mean they really took three episodes and made them a movie. The first features Lupin chasing after a train on which his love Rebecca has been trapped by a mysterious figure, the masked earl. Well not the earl in person, but someone who he is manipulating. That person happens to be a fat otaku, who seems to be obsessed with her. This is not a kind image to present to anime fans, and I wish they had chosen another villan trope, but at least he is only in the first little bit of the film.
Lupin and surprisingly inspector Zenigata, team up save Lupin’s latest damsel in distress. She plays a big part in the 4th Lupin series, and this movie is partly about how Lupin and she came to know one another, and interact and indeed how Lupin fell in love with her. The only real connecting thread form all three acts is the fact that they are searching for the lost treasure of the count of Cagliostro (the title of the ghibli film) and that they are being challenged by the masked man to beat him to it, as he is a descendant of Cagliostro and Lupin is a descendent of Lupin, who stole from Cagliostro. Lupins love for Rebecca and other women in his life also plays a part, but it’s less than the thieving.
Rebecca Rosalini is a wacky a character as Lupin is, and her hair is green so I love her already. Shes in the thieving game for the thrills, and seems to be bored as CEO of the largest hotel chain in Italy. More about her later, but for now, just know shes rich, famous (as a model), and loves danger just for the fun of it.
After a fantastic train chase scene where we get as many small car gags as I can think of (including being pressed between two trains) during which both Lupin and inspector Zenigata lose their guns, while still being manacled together. Lupin and inspector Zenigata finally make it on to the train, where they find the Otaku in question is going to shoot them and blow up the train with his obsession on it, so as to be with her in death. Through what can only be called a miracle of god, the otaku (who didn’t even get a name) shoots two bullets that release the handcuffs, and destroy his phone (the bomb trigger). The greatest luck in the word being all used up, Lupin pulls the trains brakes and the day is saved! At least until the Italian police show up and he has to make a mad dash to escape leaving inspector Zenigata behind. That is essentially the whole of act 1. It’s a short but sweet bit of story letting the audience know that Lupin is still here still doing his thing, and he’s still the best at it. I appreciate this type of movie opening most times, but this time it just felt like an episode had been tacked on to the front of the main film. I know we have to set up Rebecca, but there are probably better ways to do it.
Things move very quickly after that, Lupin again meets Rebecca and they get married. This is perfect for helping us place this movie in Lupins time line, as it means that it is before the 4th season. I really liked this subtle way to place it, but those who haven’t seen the 4th part of Lupin wont get this reference at all and may be lost. At the wedding Jigen, Fujiko, and even Goeom seemingly leave Lupin who has decided to settle down in a life as husband of one of the richest women alive. Roaming the world, partying, and giving up thieving. After one of the series trademark almost got laid scenes, we get some narration for the real motivation behind this marriage and everything else, thieving of course. Lupin slips away from his bride in the middle of the night to go and steal her crown. The crown of San Marino.
After the hijinks go down, including a few classic mask gags, and a whole lot of running away, we find out that Lupin’s opponent is none other than his new wife Rosalina! Of course she’s not the only one who wants the treasure, but she is the one who ends up getting it in the end after Lupin lets her get away. I wont spoil the fine details of how this happens, but during this second act we find out Fujiko has of course been working with the masked count, and Lupin finally learns that it is indeed the masked count who is his main opposition, and not anyone else.
As act two ends we find out that Lupin saw that the crown had jewels he had never seen before, and so he concluded that Count Cagliostro was an alchemist who had the ability to make amazing new jewels, and so the real treasure is his lab where he made the jewels and so that’s what Lupin is looking for. I felt this reveal was pretty decent. It allowed the story to keep going, even though Lupin had lost the crown to Rosalina, who had then gotten away in her private plane. I wish that we maybe could have had a bit more explanation of the alchemy to make the jewels, or some more background on Lupin (the first) who was the rason the Masked Earl challenged Lupin the Third to start with, but we only have 90 minutes.
Act three began with a discussion with the current count of Cagliostro’s ancestor (who at this point 90% of the audience had figured out was the real villain) about how they could find the true treasure, but before we could get the answer, Lupin’s old squeeze Fujiko calls a favor and made him go and steal the newly uncovered piece of the necklace that the count of Cagliostro made for Marie Antoinette.The wrinkle in this heist is that MI-6 is currently in town protecting an English prince who is seeing the jewerly, so Lupin will have to be extra care full.
This segment was in my opinion, quite poorly done. There is a bit where we have to watch jigen get tourtured by MI-6, a bit that relies on super human echo location to find Lupin, and in the end it all wraps up with the scary bad guy leaving when he has both Lupin and Jigen dead to rights. Of coruse we find out he left because Lupin planned all of this, but its still feels ham fisted and added just for run time.
After the MI-6 bits are over with we can finally get to the end of the movie. By this point even the amazing visuals weren’t enough to keep me interested. I had basically tuned out, but the end brought me back. It was a classic Lupin the Third out think, no guns needed, real cat burglar thieving. No one dies, and the treasure ends up with Lupin. The ending really saved the movie for me. Because it did that I am not going to spoil it, I think its good enough that you should go and see the movie at least, and especially if you are a fan of the 4th season of Lupin the Third since this fills in a lot of the gaps.