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Lupin III: Napoleons Dictionary


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Title Info

  • type: movie
  • grade: flawed
  • form: sub
  • source: fansub
  • dur: 75
  • made: unknown
  • Review created: Sat Mar 24 11:48:24 EST 2001
  • mod: none

Another movie, made for TV by the looks of it, seeking to extend the legacy of the Lupin saga. This setting, and the much loved characters, have seen wide variation at the hands of many different authors...sadly not all the resulting material manages to live up to expectations.

Series Information

But first some general information for those unfamiliar with Lupin. This series actually derives from some french novels (and an animation) about a devious gentleman thief. This idea was `borrowed' for anime, albeit not with complete copyright approval, leading to some variation in western titles. Although the anime version is actually the descendant of the original Lupin and is a bit more wild, and physical in his manner. Yet he still has a good heart, and ends up helping people more often than not. Along with his trusted (cough) companions he travels the globe searching for legendary treasures to `borrow'.

The gang are good fun in their own right. There's the suit wearing, laid back Jigen who's a master with every firearm. He seems to be with Lupin as much for the excitement as the financials, and is probably the most loyal (and balanced) companion. Especially when you consider that Goemon, the neo-samurai master swordsman has promised to kill Lupin one day. While the femme-fatale, but also a talented thief in her own right, Fujiko often has strange idea's about the distribution of the spoils. Mind you, Lupins most faithful companion is probably inspector Zenigata of Interpol (or other police organization) who has devoted his life and talents to catching Lupin. Which Lupin seems to regard as an entertaining and friendly rivalry. This could be because Zenigata has a strong sense of justice, and can often be convinced to look aside when Lupin is obviously working for what is `right'.


This movie largely begins with a, somewhat amusing, view behind the doors of the G7 group comprising the economic super-powers. Apparently once the doors close everyone relaxes, makes fun of the Japanese (while charging everything to them) and works out how to get more money for their countries. What they'd really like is an economic quick fix, and they can't really be bothered trying to understand what the (lab coated!) economists are saying. Until one crackpot says that the solution is to locate a buried treasure estimated to now be worth some 200 billion dollars. While he's dragged from the chamber each minister rushes for a phone and starts making plans to seize this fortune...the so called Lupin family treasure.

Meanwhile Lupin himself is doing a trivial theft at a museum. It's basically on a whim, and perhaps to keep himself and zenigata amused. With the G7 in session, and the low priority placed on capturing Lupin, zenigata has only a handful of trigger happy reject cops to help him. Although, once the worlds secret forces are aligned on Lupin the situation changes rather dramatically. Lupin, along with the rest of the cast, find themselves racing not only to keep ahead of the forces out to get them but also to find the secret of the treasure itself. It seems that the key is a Lupin heirloom, napoleon's dictionary, which is currently being offered as the prize in a classic car race. Lupin must win this prize, and find the treasure, to escape.


But there's one little's really, really badly done. Almost every aspect of this title is well below average. Not quite burnable, but definitely singed around the edges. I can almost see what they wanted to acheive. Excitement as the massed forces of the world close in on lupin. Derring-do amongst a classic car race as Lupins clever moves and impressive gadgets allow him to keep his freedom. And also a bit of action as Goemon and Jigen show their skills. A bit of a plot twist and then a suprise ending. There's even a bit of romance mixed in there.

But it doesn't even come close. Theres simply so many weaknesses that it's probably best to just call the writing bad and leave it at that. The characters are generally quite poorly represented, especially Fujiko's terrible role, and the dialogue lacks any kind of spark. The events don't make any sense, they're poorly linked together and the wider story is just such a terrible mess. The action sequences are extreme and illogical and the `technical' elements wouldn't fool a 3 year old. And when it tries to be most clever or impressive is when it looks the most stupid and unbelievable. The people making this surely must have known that it just wasn't working. The conclusion is mind-numbingly silly. There's even a bit of american bashing just to add class to it all.

And then we get to the animation...ugh. It's very, very, average. The design work is simplistic and ugly, the coloring is quite basic and the motion is stilted. It's really basic and ordinary animation and way beneath the level expected from even an average Lupin movie. And the action scenes make so little visual sense. I mean perhaps seeing Goemon facing off (and winning) against the entire American naval fleet seemed like a good idea on paper...but it looks so silly in practice. While it's not quite bad enough to get a burnable rating, it would be better for everyone involved if this lame and charmless production was allowed to slip out of sight and be forgotten. The voices are alright (given the poor dialogue) and the music is pure stock stuff.

Other Reviews

  • Lord Carnage review Well, Lord Carnage is more positive than I, although he identifies that the `low quality animation' and `really absurd' plot are strong negatives (2.5/5).


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:21 WST 2009