Monday, May 6, 2013

Lupin the Third: The Secret of Mamo (Soji Yoshikawa, 1978) Review

For the record, this is the Manga UK dub that I'm reviewing.

I think accuracy is something that is important to a film adaptation of a franchise. If it's not accurate, then it would seem like a disappointment to the fans (see Super Mario Bros. The Movie) but when a film steers in a direction that I feel actually improves the source material, when they make another film that is more accurate it seems to be a bit underwhelming. What am I talking about? Let's find out.

Lupin the Third (Bill Dufris) is dead (good start). Inspector Zenigata (Sean Barrett) refuses to believe this and goes to find Lupin's corpse. It turns out that Zenigata is right but Lupin is as confused by the situation as he is. After a run in with the sexy femme fatale, Fujiko (Toni Barry), Lupin finds out that a man named Mamo (Allan Wenger) may have something to do with this false death. Lupin, Jigen (Eric Meyers) and Goemon (Garrick Hagon) set off to find Mamo and learn (ahem) the secret of Mamo. 

This was the first Lupin III film which would explain its accuracy to the franchise but there was just one problem, it was followed by The Castle of Cagliostro (a film I considered a masterpiece). Cagliostro update the animation and gave the characters slightly different personalities and guess was much better. Now, I can respect the accuracy to the original manga and anime but Cagliostro made Lupin a very likeable character by making him a jerk with a heart of gold. Mamo, however, kept him as a perverted moron which kind of makes Cagliostro the black sheep. Even the animation, while amazing in some places, makes the characters less likeable which may be down to the character design. It takes away what characterisation was set up in Cagliostro (well, the other way round considering that it came first)

You probably think I didn't enjoy this film then. Of course I did! They may be slightly different characters but, hell, they're the same characters I grew to love from Cagliostro. The action is what you would expect from the Lupin III series....awesome. I love this franchise despite basing it on these two films and a few episodes but its because of the characters, settings, situations and action (especially the action). The voices (in the version I watched at least) were very different from last time but I think they suit the more comedic tone that they were going for very well and, as always with this series, the highlight is how Zenigata and Lupin  work off each other. Their relationship is one of my favourites in any film/series/comic/whatever due to the overblown and subtle (yes, both at the same time) things about them.

The Secret of Mamo is still an enjoyable film but the thing constantly on my mind is "not as good as Cagliostro". Is this film for you? Well, I gues the best way to sum up the war between Mamo and Cagliostro is Avengers Assemble vs The Dark Knight Rises. The former films are more comedic and focuses more on laughs rather than depth while the latter films are darker yet give off better satisfaction (you know, that's why I gave Avengers and TDKR the same score...God I'm stupid). Mamo is an excellent film in its own right with some good animation (for the most part), great voice acting, awesome action and twist after twist to keep you guessing.

There's some good animation, great voice acting and awesome action but I would recommend The Castle of Cagliostro if you want a more fulfilling film.

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