Lupin the 3rd: Part 1 Review (#LupinIII)

Lupin the 3rd: Part 1 Review
Lupin III Series Review

Ever since I watched Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro so many years ago, I’ve been a big fan of the Lupin III franchise. Twenty or so years ago (where does time go?), I did try to watch this, but what I scored was a trash bootleg (stupid me) with trash subtitles. Fast forward to more modern times, where I saw the Lupin the 3rd: Part 1 series up on Amazon Prime. Armed with official (but not always the best) subtitles, I dove into this first anime adaptation of Monkey Punch’s manga series.

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S P O I L E R S !

The Story, in Brief

The grandson of the famous thief Arsène Lupin sets out to make his mark. Lupin III is already a notorious thief in his own right, initially setting up shop in his abandoned family mansion in Japan. His partner is the infamous gunman, JIGEN Daisuke. Another member of his crew is MINE Fujiko, a fellow female thief who sometimes works with Lupin and sometimes against him. Pursuing Lupin is veteran police officer ZENIGATA Koichi, who’s purpose in life is to bring Lupin to justice. Zenigata even manages to arrest Lupin, but Lupin manages to escape after a considerable amount of time passes.

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One day, Lupin and Jigen go in disguise to pay ISHIKAWA Goemon XIII a visit. There, they find Fujiko in disguise and in a relationship with Goemon. Lupin learns that Goemon’s mission is to kill Lupin. Eventually, Goemon comes to respect Lupin and joins his gang. From there, Lupin and company, sometimes pitted against Fujiko, engage in a variety of activities from rescuing a kidnapped girl, pulling off a massive treasure heist, engaging in a battle of wits against a super computer, dealing with the possible supernatural, and even pointing Zenigata in the direction of a massive crime organization.

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Hit or Miss Stories

As is typical for this franchise, the stories in Lupin the 3rd: Part 1 are a mixed lot. There are fun stories and boring stories. There are intriguing stories and stories that make no sense. One of the highlights of the series is episode 4, where Zenigata manages to arrest Lupin. This story was also done in Lupin the Third PART4 episode 13, though with some modifications. Because of this, the original story didn’t have the impact on me that it should have. Also, Lupin’s method of escape requires the viewer to leave their brain at the door as what Lupin did shouldn’t be possible. But the story does prove that Fujiko does love Lupin, which I liked.

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On the opposite end is episode 20. Even by the silly bar that the Lupin III franchise holds (driving a car that’s split in half; driving a car on the side of a cliff; Goemon slicing impossible things; etc.), this episode took the cake. This is the episode where Lupin uncovers an island of thieves who worship his grandfather and commit crimes in the name of Lupin. Some of the impossible and dumb things that happen to make this story work will make even those without a brain go, “What the smeg is this rubbish?” 😅

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One of the biggest flaws in Lupin the 3rd: Part 1  are stories that aren’t constructed properly. Many times, things happen without explanation, leaving the viewer wondering if they missed something. Other times, stories are just boring as all get out.

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And yet there’s a charm to Lupin and company. Personally, I think Miyazaki-sensei’s influences on the first series is what gave the franchise the legs it has. I’m not saying all of his episodes were perfect. But I found that his episodes were usually on the better side.

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Finally, I do like that the series wasn’t afraid to dabble in the supernatural, or even into science fiction elements like time travel. In one story, the magician turned out to be non-supernatural. But in another story, the woman they attempted to save was supernatural. And somehow, it all works.

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Final Thoughts and Conclusion

As is always the case, I’m busy as all get out with work. But I do have a few more things I want to say about the series in close.

  • It’s hard to believe that the classic Lupin III theme was NOT part of this first TV series. The song used in this series is kinda corny to me.
  • The foundation for the Fujiko x Lupin relationship is set in this first series. It would have been nice to explore this more. But as I mentioned earlier, we do learn that Fujiko does love Lupin.
  • I liked the episodes when Zenigata is sharp and knows how to stop Lupin, only other factors get in the way. I really enjoyed the moment when Lupin puts Zenigata onto another massive crime element so that Zenigata gets the credit for the arrest.
  • Goemon’s introduction to the franchise is another element I liked. It is a shame that he and Jigen didn’t get more meaningful stuff to do. But they work well enough in the roles they were given.

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In the end, Lupin the 3rd: Part 1 can be rough with the dated animation and music, as well as the inconsistent story telling. However, there are some gems in the series. And if you are a fan of Lupin III, then this series is a must-watch for your education as a fan. Likewise, I’d rate it the same for anime fans looking to expand their knowledge of classic anime series. For casual folks, I’d probably give this a low-priority “watch” ranking.

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5 Responses to “Lupin the 3rd: Part 1 Review (#LupinIII)”

  1. The French Lupin III Fan says:

    Great summary, I loved your work on Part 1 and can’t wait to see the rest of your work on the rest of the Lupin the Third franchise. By the way, I noticed that when you did the episode summaries for Part 4, you forgot to summarize the TV movie “Lupin The Third-Italian Game”.

    So I wonder if you could do it one of these days?

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