Lupin the 3rd: Prison of the Past Review

Lupin the 3rd: Prison of the Past Review
Lupin III: Prison of the Past
ルパン三世 プリズン・オブ・ザ・パスト

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SPOILER Summary/Synopsis:

Lupin, Jigen, and Goemon head to Kingdom of Dorrente to break death row inmate Hector Corbett Finnegan out of prison. Lupin’s intel comes from Fujiko, who has also provided it to a number of other folks interested in Finnegan’s hidden treasure. Zenigata and his aide Yata make their way to the El Guille Prison, suspecting Lupin will eventually show up. In the command center, Zenigata, Yata, and Warden Lorensa observe the automated prison defenses take out all of Lupin’s competitors.

Lupin the 3rd: Prison of the Past

Lupin and company disguise themselves as Zenigata, Yata, and a prison guard. They cause enough doubt as to who’s real to sneak in. Lupin easily overcomes the prison’s defenses. Once they reach Finnegan, Jigen is able to acknowledge how Finnegan saved him years ago. However, as they make their way out of the prison, Finnegan steals Jigen’s Magnum and turns on Lupin. It turns out that Finnegan is actually running the prison, using it as cover for an arms and slave market.

Lupin the 3rd: Prison of the Past

Jigen is captured along with Zenigata and Yata. Goemon makes his way to an island, where he encounters the masked man from the prison. Lupin makes it back into the prison complex, where he’s met by Fujiko, dressed as a nurse. The two find an old man in a cell with a device in his neck. Goemon returns, and eventually, Lupin busts up the weapons and slave auction. Finnegan forces Lorensa to activate the prison seal.

Lupin the 3rd: Prison of the Past

After rescuing the old man, who was the king of Dorrente, Zenigata and Yata provide a distraction with a hover craft. Lorensa reveals the king’s son, who’s supposed to be dead, is the masked man Goemon encountered. Finnegan and companion, Skarlatos, attempt to deal with the prince. Eventually, they are thwarted by Lupin’s gang, Zenigata, and Lorensa. Zenigata lets Lupin escape to arrest Finnegan. The prince takes over as king with Lorensa by his side.

Lupin the 3rd: Prison of the Past


I had a request to review Lupin the 3rd: Prison of the Past, so I thought I’d take a moment to give it a watch and review. This one was…interesting to say the least.

Lupin the 3rd: Prison of the Past

Cartoon Buffoonery!

There are many unrealistic things we fans of the Lupin III franchise give a pass to. One is that Goemon is going to use Zantetsuken to cut through any obstacle. Another is that Jigen is an impossibly good marksman. Yet another is that Lupin (and his crew) can disguises themselves as anyone and get away with it. And of course, there are the “Lupin physics” moments, where Lupin can drive a car in impossible ways.

Lupin the 3rd: Prison of the Past

That aside, I found that Lupin the 3rd: Prison of the Past often would go past this to “cartoon buffoonery.” For example, in the final act of the special, Warden Lorensa has an airborn battle with Skarlatos. Neither have any special abilities, but they leap off of the ocean monorail car, then they are literally flying around each other as they attack, only to land back on the car. At one point, they are up in the air for what seems like minutes.

Lupin the 3rd: Prison of the Past

Then there was the insanely ridiculous ways Lupin defeated the prison’s advanced security system. After witnessing the system defeat admittedly stupid people, I wanted to see Lupin defeat the system using clever means. Instead, we get Scooby Doo-type rubbish. Lupin defeats a security droid by removing its D-cell batteries. Yeah, you read that correctly. The robot dog was actually a friendly dog in disguise, so a bone did the trick. And the ice trap? Well, with enough bubble gum, you can blow a bubble big enough for walk in. Never mind it getting in your shoes.

Lupin the 3rd: Prison of the Past

And that doesn’t even touch the weirdo with the literal, infinite number of masks on his face. I don’t mind some level of silly. But it needs to be done right, and not like some cartoon buffoonery!

Lupin the 3rd: Prison of the Past

Fujiko Takes the Back Seat

I found it interesting that Fujiko had the smallest part in Lupin the 3rd: Prison of the Past. She had already infiltrated the prison in order to send the intel to Lupin and the various clown competition. So other than a “wink” to see her in prison guard garb, she doesn’t have anything to do until the plot has her encounter Lupin half-way into the series. I don’t have a problem with that. However, I felt the writers didn’t do enough meaningful stuff with Fujiko.

Lupin the 3rd: Prison of the Past

Still, I did like some of the stuff with Jigen and Goemon. For Jigen, I liked that he was captured and put into the slave auction. It made Jigen feel more human. With Goemon, I liked that Lupin acknowledged how they use him as a “get out of jail free” card. But more than that, I liked how Goemon came to appreciate something simple as a subway sandwich!

Lupin the 3rd: Prison of the Past

Finally, Zenigata received some nice character stuff too. Yeah, the writers couldn’t help but make him dumb when the plot demanded it. But I did appreciate that they made Zenigata smart enough to know that capturing and arresting Finnegan trumped any personal quest he had to nail Lupin.

Lupin the 3rd: Prison of the Past

Final Thoughts and Conclusion

Let me wrap up my review with some final thoughts.

  • I saw the whole “dead prince is alive” twist the moment the prince appeared as a swordsman wearing a mask. The character always came across as rather pathetic. How him wearing a mask fooled Finnegan is beyond me.
  • Zenigata’s aide Yata is in the episode. I know he was introduced in the later TV series. But his character is too cringe in this episode, and he served no actual purpose in the story, other than to say, “Senpai” on demand. 😅
  • The whole prison sealing system “to never be used except when all is lost” made no sense to me. But the writers needed some sort of stupid peril, so having massive, stone pillars pushed down stone corridors was the rubbish they came up with.
  • I don’t know what the writers were playing at with the teased romance between the prince and Lorensa. Well, I suppose it was just an unrequited love on her part. Either way, it wasn’t handled well.

Lupin the 3rd: Prison of the Past

In the end, while I have had many complaints about Lupin the 3rd: Prison of the Past, I cannot say that I disliked this TV special. In fact, despite its many eye-rolling, stupid moments, I did mostly enjoy this Lupin III outing. But I can say that it isn’t a title I’d ever watch again.

Lupin the 3rd: Prison of the Past


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4 Responses to “Lupin the 3rd: Prison of the Past Review”

  1. The French Lupin III Fan says:

    That’s a good summary of this TV special from Lupin The Third. I can’t wait to see the rest, and by the way, will you be doing a summary on “Lupin the 3rd VS Cat’s Eye”?

  2. Q Leo Rahman says:

    I found it fun enough, and different enough from the traditional “Lupin saves a kingdom” tale that has been done since Cagliostro.

    Some stuff could have been employed better, like the various thieves in the prison working together to handle the situation, but most of the focus was on the major cast so I guess that was a fair trade.

    • AstroNerdBoy says:

      I don’t disagree here. The fact that Lupin and Zenigata worked together was enough for me, but having the other prisoners help would have been interesting.

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