Anime Meta-Review


Lupin III: Secret of Mamo, The


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Title Info

  • type: movie
  • grade: flawed
  • Other elements of this title:
    • This title has been commercially released in Australia.
  • made: unknown
  • Review created: A while ago, i'll revise it eventually.
  • mod: none

This is a pretty venerable ('78) tape, although I imagine the fact that it is a Lupin III title has allowed it to retain saleability. For the newcomer, Lupin is a modern day thief, with a noble heart but a strong streak of mischief. He is ingenious, physically competent and talented with gadgets, indeed he could easily be considered the antithesis of James Bond. The Lupin series of movies are produced independantly (With varied success) but share a standard cast of characters. This movie begins with the `death' of Lupin, which suprises Lupin himself, and his eternal hunter (and frequent source of humor) inspector Zenigata. From there wolf (the copyright safe western translation of Lupin) and his companions are drawn into the insane but epic plans of a shadowy madman. Is wolf, or his companions, going to be defeated by this awesome power? a better question is whether he is even going to take it seriously.

In between this unfolding story there is a lot of time for character drama, humor and impressive action scenes which are actually pretty good by and large. Indeed there is a lot of time in general, as this movie runs for 1:40 and some flaws may make it seem even longer. There are many quite good scenes, but the uneven pacing and writing do lead to some `dead' stretches in the film. Still, those who like the characters will find some good moments here with all the characters getting a chance to shine.

However before you can appreciate this you must adapt to the obvious fact that the animation is old and has the simple linework and coloring expected of this period (and a weird fascination for drawing hair on the back of peoples hands) as well as some dodgy proportions. Although it is likely that fujiko's (the resident femme fatale) strange proportions are intentional. Also whenever the action gets intense the animation tends to falter.

In addition there are other trademarks of the period, a relatively fragile science plot base that gets extended on the basis of `impressiveness' rather than logic. This combines with relatively simple writing to allow moments of disbelief or tedium to develop. Indeed the showdown(s) with mamo are dragged out far too long. Of course it is interesting seeing all the other stylistic fashions of the period, including talking to the audience, use of live footage and using fine art as backgrounds. Not offensively bad, and an okay watch (especially for Lupin fans), but unlikely to be something you'll want to go back to. The dated animation and fairly weak story limiting the experience. I suspect that its Australian release is largely due to the success of the far superior lupin film, "The Castle of Cagliostro". Minus points for the villain in general (corny) and his failure to use his power on something attractive a long time ago.


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