Lupin the IIIrd: Daisuke Jigen’s Gravestone Movie Review (This isn’t your father’s Lupin III.)

Lupin the IIIrd: Daisuke Jigen’s Gravestone
LUPIN the IIIrd~次元大介の墓標~
Lupin the IIIrd: Jigen Daisuke no Bohyō

SPOILER Summary/Synopsis:

Lupin the IIIrd: Daisuke Jigen's GravestoneLupin and Jigen pose as cops to intercept the Ambassador of Maranda and pose as them to gain entrance to the country of East Dora, to steal the Little Comet gem. With East Dora being a target of West Dora, after the singer Queen Malta, whom Jigen was hired to protect, was assassinated, security is high. Their cover gets blown, so they improvise to make of with Little Comet, not realizing that the assassin Yael Okuzaki has orders to kill Jigen. Yael doesn’t get a kill shot on Jigen, but does injure him. He also nails Lupin when Lupin attempts to assist. The two get to a car and steal it, making their way to their hideout, where Lupin is angry about them having been shot. At the hideout, as the two discuss things, they discover cops canvasing the area.

Lupin the IIIrd: Daisuke Jigen's GravestoneJigen takes Lupin to a graveyard, where a gravestone with Jigen’s name is on it. That lets Jigen know that Yael is after them. Elsewhere, Fujiko is working at an underground cabaret club, but as soon as she’s left alone, she heads for the safe to steal a notebook. However, she’s immediately caught and captured. Meanwhile, Jigen and Lupin continue their investigation, where they find Yael’s hideout. While he’s not there, a monitor with a live feed to the imprisoned, naked Fujiko is, complete with an old microphone. Fujiko explains that she was working at a club and tells them not to come after her, however Lupin is determined to do just that.

Lupin the IIIrd: Daisuke Jigen's GravestoneYael returns and pulls the plug on the TV. Jigen challenges Yael to a gun draw, where Jigen not only loses, but has his .357 Magnum blown out of his hand. Yael promises his next (special) bullet will be the last one. Lupin forces Jigen to flee as the naked Fujiko, in a large glass cage with slime on the bottom, is assaulted by a robot with a red, rubber suit on as club members watch and eat luxuriously. Meanwhile, Lupin finds he’s unable to shake the one-eyed Yael as he and Jigen eventually end up in a waterfront warehouse location. They discover that even here, Yael is waiting for them, but Lupin has a plan. He and Jigen race out from cover to get to a wareh0use, but Yael gets a head shot on Jigen. Yael tells Lupin he should be glad that Yael was only ordered to kill Jigen.

Lupin the IIIrd: Daisuke Jigen's GravestoneAs Yael goes to enjoy a meal for completing his task, Fujiko is about to be slaughtered by the giant rubber robot when it shuts down, thanks to Lupin.  During the ensuing battle, the elevated giant glass cage Fujiko is in takes several hits, causing the floor to crack and shatter, allowing Fujiko to escape with the notebook. Lupin takes a beating, but manages to get away and snag a ride with Fujiko, who doesn’t want to passenger. Lupin snags the notebook from her, which Fujiko says is the Calamity File, which details the assassinations carried out by East Doria. Thumbing through the book, Lupin understands why Jigen was targeted and takes Fujiko to the graveyard where Jigen’s gravestone is. There, he explains Jigen’s job as Queen Marta’s bodyguard.

Lupin the IIIrd: Daisuke Jigen's GravestoneFujiko is not pleased with Lupin’s plan to lure Yael out with the Calamity File. Lupin sends word to the underground club owner that he has the file, causing the owner to hire Jael for another job — assassinate Fujiko and Lupin. Yael puts up two more gravestones for Fujiko and Lupin next to Jigen’s gravestone. The next day, Lupin is having coffee in an outdoor cafe, wearing an eye patch as Yael rolls his dice and determines to kill Lupin on the first shot. As Lupin sits unconcerned, Yael stakes a sniper shot, but misses. He finds he’s been hit as a very much alive Jigen hits him from another sniper position. Jigen takes a second shot, disabling Yael from doing anything else.

Lupin the IIIrd: Daisuke Jigen's GravestoneAs the injured Yael listens, Lupin explains from his cafe position that he determined that that Yael, the developer of the robot that assaulted Fujiko, was tied into the city’s surveillance camera system through his supposed blind eye. Since Lupin and Jigen had such a touch time losing Yael, Lupin realized that Yael must be getting a feed from the cameras to see everything. As such, Lupin caused there to be a delay in what his camera saw, causing Yael to shoot but miss Jigen, who faked getting hit in the head and dying, complete with fake blood. Lupin figures that East Dora is who wanted Queen Marta dead to start a war. Lupin joins Jigen, who has another fast draw showdown with Yael, this time, Jigen wins, though he takes a hit in the cheek.

Lupin the IIIrd: Daisuke Jigen's GravestoneWith a huge hole blown in Yael’s gun arm, Jigen says his days as an assassin (with a gun) is over. Lupin and Jigen drive out of town and are joined by Fujiko on her motocycle. She reveals she has the Calamity File notebook and takes off. Jigen chastises Lupin for his careless behavior with Fujiko, but Lupin reveals he has the real Calamity File notebook. Fujiko stops to look at her prize, but discovers the notebook only has information about Lupin, Goemon, and Jigen. However, Fujiko also took the Little Comet gem from Lupin, wondering if he meant this as a present for her. Lupin and Jigen take a break by trhe road as the sun sets, where Lupin sets fire to the Calamity File notebook, using said fire to light his and Jigen’s cigarettes. As they smoke, they are unaware they are being observed by an old foe, Mamo.

Thoughts/Review:

As I’ve said numerous times before, there is a checklist of things that are part of a Lupin III anime title, be it a theatrical movie, a TV special, an OVA, or a TV series. As such, we can expect Goemon to cut up things and be used in some comedic way, Jigen will shoot things, Lupin will steal things, Fujiko will probably betray Lupin, and Zenigata will be in pursuit. Besides this, there are a number of other elements (the so-called “Lupin physics” being one such element) that are often on the list. However, for this movie, Telecom Animation Film said, “Screw the checklist! We are doing are own thing!” And that works pretty well.

Lupin the IIIrd: Daisuke Jigen's Gravestone

The first item gone is Goemon. Except for an appearance as part of the opening credits, and a cameo picture at the end of the movie, he is not in this film. Long time Lupin III fans will probably miss him, but new viewers to the franchise via this movie won’t. As much as I like Goemon, he had no place in this movie. Indeed, his absence reminded me of how many Lupin III titles Goemon has little or nothing to do because he’s mainly a dues ex machina character or comic relief. So Telecom said, “Yeah, not putting him in, but we’ll at least acknowledge him.”

Lupin the IIIrd: Daisuke Jigen's Gravestone

Also gone for the most part is Zenigata. He gets a cameo for the post end credit scene (so make sure you stick around for that), which appears to be setting up the new Lupin III TV series, coming out this fall. Again, Zenigata had no place in this film, so I’m glad he wasn’t just rammed in there, but his appearance at the end was meaningful. More on that in a bit.

Lupin the IIIrd: Daisuke Jigen's Gravestone

There’s no humor to speak of in this movie, making another item on the Lupin III checklist to be removed. As such, things have a darker, more dramatic feel to them when it comes to the story. For example, the first half of the movie is mostly dedicated to Lupin and Jigen desperately attempting to elude both the authorities in East Dora and the assassin Yael. Without Goemon’s comedic, deus ex machina moves to deflect bullets or to slice up pursuit vehicles, I actually wondered how Jigen and Lupin were going to get out of their predicament.

Lupin the IIIrd: Daisuke Jigen's Gravestone

Telecom tries to deal seriously with Jigen and Lupin getting shot. Initially when Jigen and Lupin get shot, that plays out in a believable means.  Later, Telcom shows them bandaged up in their hideout after initially eluding Yael. There are subsequent scenes where you can see Jigen’s bloodied bandage on his chest, under his shirt, and he confronts Yael initially by using his left hand to shoot. That makes sense seeing how he was shot on the right side, which would make him using his right hand difficult to impossible.

Lupin the IIIrd: Daisuke Jigen's Gravestone

Lupin, on the other hand, despite having been shot in the leg, doesn’t show a whole lot of signs that he was shot there. He does wince in pain in the graveyard, but otherwise, he moves pretty spryly for someone who’s been shot. But, I do give Telecom credit for not going down the gag injury route, as evidenced by everyone who got injured in this movie.

Lupin the IIIrd: Daisuke Jigen's Gravestone

When Jigen was assassinated, I never truly believed that he was shot, and I figured the solution would be something where they used the city’s camera system against Yael. Lupin’s impromptu solution at causing a glitch in the camera system to delay it for a bit is what goes for Lupin physics. It is also far fetched to think that Jigen would have some sort of implosion thing to smash on his head to simulate being hit by a bullet in the head. However, in a Lupin title, that’s what one sort of expects.

Lupin the IIIrd: Daisuke Jigen's Gravestone

Fujiko’s role in this movie is mostly limited to fanservice. When she’s not in her leather motorcycle gear, showing off her cleavage, she’s naked in the glass cage, or in the S&M costume when she first shows up. However, I like how Lupin is playing her and she him. I suspect Lupin has the advantage, which is why I think he let her have the Little Comet gem at the end of the episode (as opposed to her stealing it without him knowing).

Lupin the IIIrd: Daisuke Jigen's Gravestone

The unexpected moment was having Mamo show up at the end. Mamo was the villain in movie Lupin III: The Secret of Mamo (sometimes called The Mystery of Mamo). I watched this movie when Pioneer first put it on DVD in 2003, but I wasn’t that fond of it. Nevertheless, I do like the idea of bringing back an old foe. I’m guessing the new TV series will have Mamo has the main villain. I don’t know if all of this will tie into the original 1978 movie.

Lupin the IIIrd: Daisuke Jigen's Gravestone

While on that topic, Zenigata showing up after the credits was a nice nod. The fact that he was at the gravestones for Lupin, Fujiko, and Jigen, all which had flowers at the tiny gravestone that Yael used, and that Zenigata took this as some sort of indication of the work he and his men had to do was of interest to me. I do hope this plays out in the new TV series.

Lupin the IIIrd: Daisuke Jigen's Gravestone

For this movie, Telecom borrowed some of the character design and style from their parent company’s (TMS) series, Lupin III: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna, but didn’t go quite as far as TMS did.  As such, the surreal feeling in the Fujiko series is gone, and that’s a good thing. (They did keep the surreal in the credit sequences.) This film is set in 1973, and my understanding is that it is tied to the Fujiko series, so it looks like the new “Blue Jack” TV series will be part of this new continuity.

Lupin the IIIrd: Daisuke Jigen's Gravestone

Finally, I have to say that I REALLY miss the classic Lupin III tune. During the OP, we get some music I didn’t like, and the ED music wasn’t anything to write home about. The incidental music was alright, for what it was. Still, there’s just something special about that classic Lupin III OP music, and I missed it here. I suppose its absence is another one of those, “this isn’t your dad’s Lupin III title, so we are doing what we want!”

Lupin the IIIrd: Daisuke Jigen's Gravestone

Outside of the farfetched explanations of Lupin at the end, and the fact that Telecom felt the need to have Fujiko naked or serviced most of the movie, this was a surprisingly good and dramatic movie for the Lupin III franchise (not liking the “Lupin the IIIrd” thing though). It seems to be paving the way for the new TV series, which I’m now rather excited to see.

Lupin the IIIrd: Daisuke Jigen's Gravestone

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