Using some of the extra funds I got for Christmas, I decided to catch up with my ol’ buddy Lupin. I ordered seven of the Lupin films; two being theatrical features (Mamo and Dead or Alive) and five of the TV Specials (in one of Funi’s nifty little thinpaks.) The first one that came in was Mystery of Mamo, which I had seen about two years ago, dubbed. I didn’t especially like the movie when I first saw it. I thought the first hour or so was pretty good, but after that I felt the story didn’t really go anywhere too interesting. I went into this second viewing with adjusted expectations, and while the story still came off as weak, I had far more fun watching it. Perhaps it’s because I opted to watch the movie in its original Japanese with the voice work I’ve come to know and love, or maybe I just appreciate movies like these more now. Probably both. The movie pretty much plays out like any given spy movie from the 1960s, but on a grander scale. If you’ve seen any of the older James Bond movies or something like Our Man Flint, you should know what kinds of antics to expect.
Technically, the film is just how I remember it. The character animation is decent. It shines at certain points, but for the most part it’s somewhere in between 1980s TV qualtiy and 1980s movie quality. Not bad, but not stunning. The animation on the mechanical things, like cars and airplanes wasn’t very good at all. The opening car chases resorted to a lot of cheap tricks. They worked, but they certainly weren’t on the level of the opening chase in Cagliostro, produced a year later. The film has great background art, though. Each background painting was extremely detailed and beautiful. This more or less made up for shortcomings with the animation. There are a lot of scenes and shots which are done very well, too, but these are few and far between. But, overall the film was a good way in which to start the string of Lupin animated features that followed after this one. A simple story, but brought to life with the characters we’ve come to know and love realized to their full potential, and a general tone of silliness that makes it fun to watch.