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Lupin The Third: The Secret Of Mamo (DVD Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000105284
Added by: Jitendar Canth
Added on: 13/7/2008 16:58
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    Lupin The Third: The Secret Of Mamo (DVD)

    6 / 10


    Damn our Anglo-Centric ways! When we think of long running onscreen characters, our memories only go back forty or fifty years. We think of James Bond, or Captain Kirk, who is getting the reboot treatment in 2009. Older characters that are still getting new stories are fewer indeed. But none hold a candle to Arsène Lupin, gentleman thief. The character was created by Maurice Leblanc in 1905, the first film came out in 1908, and French speaking audiences have been entertained by Lupin novels (including The Countess Of Cagliostro in 1924), movies and television series ever since.

    Then in 1967, a Japanese manga author with the pseudonym Monkey Punch, without a by your leave, introduced Arsène Lupin III, the lecherous grandson of the original character, also a master thief, who would go on to have countless entertaining adventures in manga, film, and anime (including the Miyazaki classic The Castle of Cagliostro in 1979). Japanese fans have been entertained by the adventures of Lupin the 3rd for over 40 years now, and as long as the two have remained in their respective territories there has been little problem. But it turned out that we in the West like a bit of anime too, and when it came to releasing Lupin the 3rd, copyright reared its head. Lupin was often given his Japanese pronunciation or Rupan as a spelling, or translated into Wolf. Then in the nineties, the original Lupin character fell into the public domain, meaning the anime character was finally legal. It also means that this film, the first Lupin the 3rd animated feature from 1978, is now on its fourth English dub, something that has prompted the BBFC to up the rating a tad to a 15.

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    We begin with Lupin's execution, or so it seems. There is only one person who doesn't believe that the master thief is dead, and that's Inspector Zenigata, who through all these years has dogged Lupin's footsteps in a crusade to put him behind bars. He has good reason to believe so, as Lupin is indeed alive and well, and stealing the Philosopher's Stone from a pyramid in Egypt for his on-and-off girlfriend Fujiko, much to the disgust of his partners, sharpshooter Jigen and samurai Goemon, who believe she is just using him again. Fujiko has got a new sponsor, someone who wants the Stone for his own dreams of global domination, and is willing to fulfil Fujiko's ultimate dreams to do it. Fujiko has a place in her ultimate dreams for Lupin, a small place, but it's something that her sponsor finds unacceptable, so he tries to take the stone and the chase begins.

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    A 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer which is clear and sharp for the most part, showing off the animation with a degree of clarity and consistency that indicates the effort in getting a decent print. Unfortunately it's a transfer that is prone to compression artefacts during scenes with busy motion, immediately apparent in the opening storm sequence, where the image almost looks as if it is pixellating. The animation is simple, as are the character designs, and it all jars with the theatrical scope. What a difference a year will make!

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    You have a choice between DD 2.0 Japanese and English, with an optional translated subtitle track. The dialogue is clear enough, although the music is unmemorable. I listened mostly to the Japanese track, but switched to the English for the last half hour, and found the dub to be easy on the ears, and the English Stereo surprisingly more effective than the original language track when pro-logicked up to take advantage of a surround soundstage.


    You get 27 small images in a concept art gallery, as well as trailers for the usual Manga suspects. New to the trailer reel is Origin, Buso Renkin and Death Note.


    Welcome Lupin fans, welcome one and all to the Secret of Mamo, I'm sure you're all familiar with the characters, have read the manga, seen the various TV series, and you'll be ready to… Yes? What was that? You haven't seen any Lupin? Well, sit down in the back and try not to bother anyone, maybe you'll pick it up as you go along… Yes? Oh, all you've seen is the Castle of Cagliostro… Security, we've got another one here.

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    Seriously, if you've seen The Castle of Cagliostro (and if you haven't, why not?), then you're best advised to approach the Secret of Mamo with a whole lot of wariness. Hayao Miyazaki is revered as a god of anime, and what he did with the Lupin character in 1979 resulted in a classic movie, a thrilling adventure story, and animation and character that was ten years ahead of the first film in terms of quality and execution. The Secret of Mamo is like a poorly realised rough cut in comparison. The Castle of Cagliostro was also a story that stood well on its own. You got the characters, you got the world and you were entertained, regardless of your familiarity with the franchise. Not so with the Secret of Mamo, which begins by assuming that you know something of these characters and how they relate to each other. I didn't know how Fujiko fits in with Lupin or the others, so her actions in the first half of the film were incomprehensible to me. Indeed my notes for the character amount to, Fujiko = naked bird.

    The Secret of Mamo isn't without its entertaining qualities, some of the chase sequences are well worth watching, but it's poorly paced and rather haphazardly put together. It's got delusions of being James Bond, with a villain with world domination on mind, and the visage of a demented Smurf. It's got the secret underground lairs, and ridiculous schemes, but it flies off on a tangent towards ridiculousness that doesn't cease until the film's utterly bizarre climax. There are a couple of false endings too, and it would have been better if one of them had turned out to be a real one. The film may have been half an hour shorter or so, but at least I wouldn't have fallen asleep, which is why I re-watched the last half hour in English in the hope that the dub would keep me awake.

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    The Secret of Mamo is a mish-mash of ideas that don't hang together particularly well, but if you've got some familiarity with the Lupin characters, and haven't been given false expectations by watching the Miyazaki film, then the first Lupin film is for you. Everyone else should think twice.

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