Lupin III: Blood Seal – Eternal Mermaid TV Special

ルパン三世 血の刻印 – 永遠のMermaid
Lupin III: Chi no Kokuin Eien no Mermaid
Lupin III: Blood Seal – Eternal Mermaid TV Special

SPOILER Summary/Synopsis:

Lupin III: Blood Seal - Eternal Mermaid TV SpecialLupin is forced into a meeting with the older, female crime lord TOUDOU Masae and her young, timid, female assistant Misa.  Toudou wants Lupin to steal the Mermaid’s Scale jewel that’s coming up for auction, and to force the matter, Toudou reveals her ace in the hole — a captured Fujiko. Lupin agrees to the job, but Fujiko was faking being captured.  On the day of the auction, Toudou and company arrive at the gala event, where Inspector Zenigata and police are also waiting. Lupin has disguised himself as Zenigata’s aide and as promised, steals the jewel and makes his escape, assisted by Jigen and Goemon, where they steal a special ultralight from the museum, passing a young, female popcorn vendor on the way.

Lupin III: Blood Seal - Eternal Mermaid TV SpecialLupin and company make a valiant attempt at escape but get shot down.  While this is happening, back at the museum, the owner of the jewel, Himuro, and his assassin bodyguard, Kageura, pay Toudou a visit. Toudou realizes the jewel being auctioned was a trap, so she tries to use Misa as a shield, but Kageura’s sword stabs both anyway. Meanwhile, Lupin, Goemon, and Jigen split up, leaving Zenigata and police to follow Lupin. He happens on the young, popcorn vendor again and asks to borrow her cart, promising to pay later. As he’s fending off Zenigata, a massive explosion happens at the museum, taking everyone by surprise.

Lupin III: Blood Seal - Eternal Mermaid TV SpecialLupin realizes the jewel he stole was a fake and that there’s more to this than first expected. The following day, he gives the girl, named Maki, a packet full of money for her popcorn stand. She knows who he is and starts addressing him as “Lupin-sensei,” wanting him to teach her to be a thief. He rejects her, but she is determined to get a yes out of him. Lupin eludes her and back at their hideout, discusses with Goemon and Jigen the case and Himuro’s role. Fujiko shows up, having a story of how she escaped Toudou, and reveals that Himuro wants the treasure of Yaobikuni, the immortal 800-year old Buddhist nun.

Lupin III: Blood Seal - Eternal Mermaid TV SpecialFujiko has an old scroll about the legend and where Yaobikuni’s treasures are supposedly sealed away at, complete with traps. The Mermaid’s Scale was one of two gems needed to find the treasure, the other being the Dragon Scale gem. To force Lupin on the path, Fujiko has already sent word to Zenigata that Lupin plans to steal Dragon Scale.  So, Lupin complies and steals the gem in the middle of the day, under Zenigata’s nose. He returns to the hideout with Goemon and Jigen when Maki shows up, still wanting to be Lupin’s apprentice and offering her services to help Lupin steal the real Mermaid’s Scale from Himuro. He rejects her offer.

Lupin III: Blood Seal - Eternal Mermaid TV SpecialZenigata meets with Himuro regarding the museum incident while Lupin infiltrates Himuro’s large office tower. Maki, not put off, disguises herself as a janitor and also infiltrates the building, unbeknownst to Lupin. However, he soon learns the truth when he meets Maki in Himuro’s office. Reluctantly, Lupin allows Maki to help him search, and though Lupin discovered the right wall the jewel was hidden behind, Maki discovered the switch to allow them to gain access. She’s so pleased with herself that she immediately takes the jewel, setting off an alarm and notifying both Zenigata and Himuro. Lupin and Maki make a fantastic escape with only a few scrapes.

Lupin III: Blood Seal - Eternal Mermaid TV SpecialMeanwhile, Goemon and Jigen investigate an island owned by Himuro in the middle of the city (Tokyo?), but upon infiltrating the Japanese mansion, they discover Misa there, who warns them that the gem they seek isn’t there. Himuro’s men arrive and a battle begins. Kageura brandishes two swords and fights Goemon while Jigen tries to hold off the rest. However, Goemon accidentally deflects a thrown dagger at Jigen, causing Misa to leap forward and take a fatal slash across the throat. Jigen is forced to retreat, but looking back, sees Misa standing and much better. Goemon takes an injury, but Jigen comes in with the car and rescues him.

Lupin III: Blood Seal - Eternal Mermaid TV SpecialLupin and Maki race to safety on a motorcycle where Lupin reflects on the situation some more. After eluding the police, Lupin stops and he tells Maki to give up on wanting to be a thief. She explains her reasons for wanting to be a thief, so she can steal Misa from the bad people.  Maki tells how “Misa-neechan” and she were both orphans.  Lupin brings Maki back to the hideout, where Maki reveals that Misa had a unique, healing ability.  Goemon now understands how Misa survived the throat slash. However, Lupin still rejects Maki’s wish to be a thief, instead, offering to steal Misa for Maki since he’s Lupin III, the greatest thief.

Lupin III: Blood Seal - Eternal Mermaid TV SpecialMeanwhile, Himuro’s research scientist are attempting to see if human test subjects gain Misa’s ability when injected with her blood, but the experiments fail. While this is happening, Maki asks Lupin why he became a thief, something he doesn’t have an answer to. He promises to answer later after he gets back from the Japanese island he’s determined the treasure to be at.  Lupin doesn’t realize that he’s been spied on, thus Himuro now knows Lupin’s plans.  However, Goemon has no plans to go with them since he must atone for what he did to Misa.  That night, Lupin pays a seductive visit to Lupin to discover where the two jewels are hidden. He tells her, and she puts him to sleep.

Lupin III: Blood Seal - Eternal Mermaid TV SpecialFujiko gives the jewels to Himuro at his “island” residence, whom she has been working with, but Himuro already knows they are fakes and destroys them, having no further use for Fujiko, decides to have her imprisoned since Misa has escaped. Misa is found, but Fujiko seduced her way out of captivity and has blown up the mansion. As such, Fujiko rescues Misa while Jigen wakes up Lupin to report that Maki has gone missing. The two groups meet up as Himuro arrives above in a helicopter, revealing he has Maki and demanding Lupin meet him at the treasure island offshore.

Lupin III: Blood Seal - Eternal Mermaid TV SpecialZenigata becomes aware of things and has his forces deployed while Lupin and company set up camp near the shore where they can see the island.  Lupin chats with Misa a bit, assuring her that Maki will be OK since Himuro won’t harm her to make sure Lupin does his thing. Lupin then has a long chat with Jigen about this caper and his grandfather’s connection to the Yaobikuni treasure. Lupin hopes to discover why his grandfather didn’t steal anything, thus finding some answers as to why Lupin does what he does, leading the life he leads.

Lupin III: Blood Seal - Eternal Mermaid TV SpecialThe next morning, Himuro, Kageura, Maki, and others walk down to the base of deep pit, where the entrance to the treasure is. Zenigata has his men all over the island and accidentally falls into a small hole that ends up going deep underground. Lupin and company follow Himuro, where Lupin attempts to disguise himself as one of Himuro’s men, warning Himuro about the police everywhere. Himuro sees through the disguise and after having sacrificed one of his own men to get passed the first trap, forces Misa to come out to save Maki from being sacrificed. However, Lupin goes in her stead, managing to disarm the trap before being killed.

Lupin III: Blood Seal - Eternal Mermaid TV SpecialGoemon arrives and thus battles Kageura while Jigen battles the rest, as Lupin, Misa, Maki, and Himuro walk underground. Himuro forces Misa to use her hand in a contraption that takes her blood, then opens a new passage. There, they find Yaobikuni, which is what Himuro wanted all along since she’s “asleep” and her cells can be used to create super-soldiers. Lupin asks how Himuro knew Yaobikuni was here, so Himuro reveals that like Misa, he too is a descendant of Yaobikuni, with his clan charged with protecting the legend of Yaobikuni.  Himuro needed the pieces from the other two clans so that he could take possession of Yaobikuni’s body.

Lupin III: Blood Seal - Eternal Mermaid TV SpecialZenigata’s arrival from sliding down the narrow tunnel above them, along with a monocle that Lupin recognizes as his grandfather’s, allows Lupin to get the drop on Himuro, whereby Lupin shoots him. However, while no one is paying attention, the wounded Himuro takes a syringe and extracts some of Yaobikuni’s blood, injecting it into himself.  His wound heals and he immediately bulks out in muscles, becoming stronger and faster. Goemon and Jigen arrive, having settled things above, but despite the extra firepower, Himuro can’t be stopped and continues to mutate, “refueling” by draining Yaobikuni of her blood like a vampire.

Lupin III: Blood Seal - Eternal Mermaid TV SpecialAs the fight continues, Himuro goes after Misa, biting her and begins consuming her blood. Maki grabs a gun on the ground as Himuro throws Misa aside. Misa becomes possessed by Yaobikuni, who condemns Himuro as he continues to mutate into a mindless monster. However, his actions have already started the self-destruction of the island.  A combination of attacks allows Goemon to behead Himuro while lava destroys both head and body. The possessed Misa stumbles away, so Lupin gives chase, ordering Jigen and Goemon to take care of Maki.  As the floor gives way in one spot, Lupin goes down, but that allows him to discover his grandfather’s notebook with a single note inside.

Lupin III: Blood Seal - Eternal Mermaid TV SpecialLupin goes after Misa again, where he’s met by the spirit of Yaobikuni, who sees Lupin III as Lupin I, and is happy to see him, recalling how Lupin I’s arrival saw him write his note, give it to Yaobikuni, and then kiss her on the hand before leaving. Thus for Yaobikuni, Lupin I kept his promise to return when she awoke again.  With that, she dissipates, leaving Lupin to get Misa before they find themselves in the sea. However, Lupin can’t make it to the surface, but before he passes out, he sees a mermaid.

Lupin III: Blood Seal - Eternal Mermaid TV SpecialHe wakes on a large rowboat with his gang, Maki, and Misa. Lupin shows the notebook and has his answer on why Lupin I did not steal anything on his own Yaobikuni caper. They speculate on the legend of Yaobikuni and some scientific possibilities behind Misa’s abilities (genetics, mutation, evolution, etc.) when Zenigata arrives. Fujiko also arrives in a large speedboat, thus Lupin, Goemon, and Jigen make their escape, bidding Misa and Maki goodbye, with Zenigata in hot pursuit.  At the same time, Misa discovers that she no longer has the special healing ability, thus making her a normal girl again.  Meanwhile, Fujiko temps Lupin with another caper.

Thoughts/Review: 

Well, its time for another Lupin III special, this time, a new chapter is being marked in the history of the franchise with the seiyuu for Zenigata, Fujiko, and Goemon changing for the first time since the Fuma Conspiracy OVA in 1987, where TBS replaced the entire, original seiyuu cast for budgetary reasons.  This time, the seiyuu changes were needed as the original seiyuu are all elderly and sound it.

Lupin III: Blood Seal - Eternal Mermaid TV Special

YAMADERA Kouichi replaces NAYA Goro as Inspector Zenigata.  Yamadera-san does his best to emulate Naya-san’s voice acting style, even down to the gravely tone that Zenigata has.  However, it is clear that this is NOT Naya-san, partially because the old man aspect is gone, but also, the voice is enough different that one just knows.  However, it isn’t a negative. Yamadera-san did a fine job and will continue to be a good replacement for Naya-san.

Lupin III: Blood Seal - Eternal Mermaid TV Special

NAMIKAWA Daisuke replaces INOUE Makio as Goemon. Here too, Namikawa-san effectively captures the spirit of the Goemon character and similar mannerisms vocally without purely sounding like Inoue-san did.

Lupin III: Blood Seal - Eternal Mermaid TV Special

Finally, SAWASHIRO Miyuki replaces MASUYAMA Eiko as Fujiko.  Sawashiro-san sounds a great deal like Masuyama-san in her vocalizations, thus for me, most of the time I could have been fooled into thinking Masuyama-san had returned. It is almost as good as when KURITA Kanichi replaced YAMADA Yasuo as Lupin after Yamada-san’s death (though Kurita-san’s perfect emulation of Yamada-san’s Lupin voice is always going to be very difficult to beat).

Lupin III: Blood Seal - Eternal Mermaid TV Special

It’s weird, but while KOBAYASHI Kiyoshi returns as Jigen, one would have thought that he too had been replaced as the normal Jigen voice only comes through on occasion.  Indeed, when I watched this special, I did think Jigen had a new seiyuu until I remembered that there were only three replacements, not four.  If I had to guess, I’d say that Kobayashi-san took advantage of the other new seiyuu coming in to do Jigen’s voice in a manner less stressful to his vocal cords. Just speculation on my part though.

Lupin III: Blood Seal - Eternal Mermaid TV Special

As to the story, the first two-thirds of the special are pretty good. There’s the standard elements of Lupin stealing something, Zenigata giving chase, and Lupin discovering a deeper mystery.  What gives this part of the story lift is the 14-year old Maki, who desperately wants to be Lupin’s apprentice. She raises questions which are interesting and cause Lupin to question his motivations for being a thief.  Though she’ll never return, I would enjoy it if she came back, still trying to be a thief and despite Lupin’s best efforts, Maki becomes better and better by learning from Lupin.

Lupin III: Blood Seal - Eternal Mermaid TV Special

I liked the inclusion of Lupin I in the context of the story.  I’m not sure if this has been the case before since I’ve not watched every Lupin III episode created. That being said, going back to the French inspiration for the Lupin III character is a plus for me.

Lupin III: Blood Seal - Eternal Mermaid TV Special

While Fujiko was still the triple-crossing femme fatale she’s always been, I liked how the special actually had Fujiko embracing Lupin and being very affectionate.  Many of the specials, movies, and the like have Fujiko attempting to seduce Lupin for information, but never allowing him into her personal space.  As such, Fujiko’s seduction attempts on Lupin feel more real and thus it is understandable that Lupin could get snared. Whereas in other Lupin III titles, Lupin looks stupid for being seduced by Fujiko when she won’t even touch him much beyond keeping him at arm’s length.

Lupin III: Blood Seal - Eternal Mermaid TV Special

I also loved how Lupin plays Fujiko, thus completing their strange relationship.  Since Fujiko and Lupin have been lovers in the past, I would like implied moments to show that on occasion, Fujiko and Lupin actually hook up to keep the seduction of Lupin feeling real, even if he’s onto her game.

Lupin III: Blood Seal - Eternal Mermaid TV Special

The last third of the anime gets horribly predictable, starting with Misa being baited into revealing herself to save Maki. I actually wanted to scream when that happened. I knew what the “treasure” would be when that came up.  I knew Himuro wasn’t dead and would inject himself.  Once he mutated, I knew that he’d die by continuing to mutate until his body was burned, troll-style.  I knew that Lupin would get that piece to explain his grandfather.  I knew why Lupin I didn’t steal anything before that was revealed, though this wouldn’t have been a problem had it been the only predictable thing.  I knew that Lupin would go after Misa and I was pretty sure that the supernatural would save them both.  Plus, the battle with Himuro, trying to play the Incredible Hulk, was as cliched as it gets. *_*

Lupin III: Blood Seal - Eternal Mermaid TV Special

The character designs are a toss back to the late 70’s/early 80’s, which almost clashes with the modern animation process. It just seemed weird seeing characters that could have stepped out of either the first or second Lupin III TV series and into the modern, animation world in Japan.

Lupin III: Blood Seal - Eternal Mermaid TV Special

So, as tends to often be the case here, I’ve written a lot regarding this latest Lupin III special. However, despite the less than stellar final third of the special, the rest of the anime is good and the new seiyuu get into their roles quickly. As such, it is certainly well worth a look-see for Lupin III fans.

Lupin III: Blood Seal - Eternal Mermaid TV Special
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