Lupin III The First (Animated Film) Review – A Visually Stunning Treasure Hunt


There is something really intriguing with treasure hunt dramas. It keeps you hooked throughout. Some narratives of this genre have tried to introduce complex characters like Indiana Jones and The Hobbit series, while the others pursued a more comical and entertaining approach like Tin-Tin and Pirates of the Caribbean. Lupin III The First (Animated Film) falls in the latter category. It is a comically engaging ride where some really wonderful and vibrant characters grab your attention and keep your eyes glued.

Directed by Takashi Yamazaki, Lupin III The First (Animated Film) is a Japanese 3D computer-generated film that is based on the manga (graphic novel) series created by ace manga creator Monkey Punch (Kazuhiko Katō). This film is the first flick made on the series and maybe more titles will be added to such a neatly crafted animated universe of the best thief in the world, Lupin III.

The Story

The film quickly sets the premise where during World War II, a french scientist, Professor Bresson hides his most innovative invention in a heavily encoded diary. Hitler’s think tank, Ahnenerbe is after this invention called Eclipse which could become a powerful weapon in the war. However, before the Nazis could get a hold of the book, Bresson sends off his son and his family away along with the book. In a thrilling chase, the book is lost and the family passes away in a tragic accident with only one survivor left, Laetitia, Bresson’s granddaughter.

Some years later, during a memorial function, Bresson’s diary is put on exhibition. However, the ace thief, considered as one of the best in the world,  attempts to steal it. However, there are many seekers of this treasure. The book is stolen by a rival thief, Fujiko. However, during the chase, Lupin meets someone more important, a grown-up Laetitia.

Lupin along with Laetitia plans a heist to steal the book from the Ahnenerbe that is still in operation,  believing Hitler is alive, waiting for the treasure. They learn that Bresson’s book is a map to his most prized invention, the Eclipse but is hidden in the ruins of Teotihuacan and can only be unveiled by a deserving archaeologist like Bresson himself.

High-spirited Character

Japanese animes are known for their comical characters. Sometimes, it works extremely well and really hits the funny bone. In Lupin III The First (Animated Film) there is a variety of such amusing characters who provide with entertainment, every now and then. Even the drollish approach to Lupin’s character never lets the film sink down emotionally, as the most talented thief is always high spirited. Some other characters like Inspector Zenigata are on an eternal hunt to arrest Lupin but fail miserably and comically every time. The amusing cat-and-mouse chemistry between Lupin and Zenigata is sometimes incredibly adorable. The other two side-kicks of Lupin, a shady marksman Jigen and renegade samurai, Goemon are equally innovative. Monkey Punch has showered upon the series, some really intriguing characters that couldn’t be easily forgotten.

Attention to Action Details

Lupin III The First (Animated Film) packs some fascinating slow motion action sequences where the attention to details is spectacular. There are two major scenes where this specific treatment of slow-mo is used. One is during the first chase sequence when  Jigen and Goemon rescue Lupin. In an extremely close slow-mo shot, Jigen fires a bullet that swirls a nut on a roadside banner stand, that falls instantly blocking the police cars. It is a thrilling sequence, something rarely experienced in animes with such precision.

Visually Staggering

The film sports a 3DCG,  that is computer-generated graphics. To be honest, Japan, the home to some incredibly stunning games, is the boss of computer-generated graphics. However, not all anime series developed and coming from Japan matches the excellence sported by Lupin III The First (Animated Film), and thus it stands out from the lot. The use of colour palettes and some precise visual details pierce in one’s photographic memory, making those attributes memorable. Visual integration is so spellbinding that it elevates a worn-out treasure hunt adventure into something that allures you. In simple words, it is the same food delivered in a new package, but here the package itself is a treat for the cinephiles.

Lupin III The First (Animated Film) is an intriguing treasure hunt tale that establishes its protagonist Lupin III. If the producers developed further titles in the series, the character of Lupin III will lead to new adventures and some more intriguing tales filled with action and humour.

If you are a fan of anime films and looking for something substantial in the genre, do check this flick out. It is immensely entertaining. The film is available in both Japanese and English language (dubbed).

Lupin III The First (Animated Film) is available on Video on Demand.

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Shikhar Agrawal
Shikhar Agrawal
I am an Onstage Dramatist and a Screenwriter. I have been working in the Indian Film Industry for the past 12 years, writing dialogues for various films and television shows.

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