Lupin, the legendary gentleman thief who jumped from the pages of the original Monkey Punch manga to numerous animated features and TV series, not to mention music CDs and video games, returns to the screen in the first iteration of the character in CG animation. This is a family-friendly interpretation from writer/director Takashi Yamazaki, sidestepping the raunchiness of some other adaptations, though retaining a heroic, cheeky and charming flair.
This time around, the adventure of the daredevil thief is a little thin in terms of plot, yet dazzling in its execution. A decade after the end of the second world war, Lupin attempts to steal a diary containing secret inventions that caused its owner, the famous archeologist Bresson, to be shot dead by Nazis. During his quest, Lupin crosses path with Laetitia, an archeology student who is after the treasured item on behalf of her adopted grandfather; she is unaware that the latter is a Nazi sympathiser. When her eyes are opened to the old man’s nefarious intentions, she joins forces with Lupin and his sidekicks Jigen and Goemon, to stop the evil Nazis from securing Bresson’s all-powerful machine.
As the film leaps across numerous continents, the gorgeous animation is on full display, capturing the striking hues of dusk hitting the Parisian rooftops as brilliantly as the sandy highlands in Mexico. Lupin III: The First stays true to the spirit of earlier anime renditions while showcasing the distinctive 3D look of CG animation; the spectacular sequence where Lupin zips through deadly laser rays while Yuji Ohno’s classic theme jazzily swells will impress even the most ardent of fans. Forgettable story aside, the film is a visual treat, full of joy and zaniness.