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This review is from: Lupin the Third: The Secret of Mamo [DVD] (DVD)
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This classic anime, based on the 60s manga and itself released in 1978, has been available on DVD for about ten years, but this is its first UK release.
It's a brilliant sci-fi adventure story, centering around the theft of the Philosopher's Stone. I won't give the plot away, but suffice it to say that it has plenty of twists and turns, as well as action sequences involving a helicopter chase in a sewer, the mother of all monster trucks, and a lot of martial arts action. There's the obligatory well-endowed heroine, though she's a lot more interesting than the average. I was a bit bemused when Hitler appeared, but it all made sense in the end. There's a real taste of The Avengers and similar vaguely surreal 60s/70s TV series here.
Comparisons will of course be made with Hayao Miyazaki, who in fact directed the next Lupin III film in the series. Compared to the recent, very polished Studio Ghibli productions such as Spirited Away, this is raw around the edges. But it has energy and charm, and the animation is done with great flair. If you've seen manga before, you'll know that this isn't going to be Disney-style slick - it has a lot more character than your average cartoon offering. It's probably not one for kids, though.
The only odd thing about this DVD version is that the English audio track is radically different from the subtitles. For a while, I thought that there was a glitch with the subtitles, but I realised that they were just a very different take on the same action. I wish I could speak Japanese to tell you which is more accurate. At least if you use both you have the advantage of two different sets of dialogue, so you're not likely to miss any nuances or find anything unclear.
All in all, this is great fun. A must-have for anime fans, and probably pretty enjoyable for everyone else, too.