In the dark ages of this blog, there were entries that extolled the virtues of Lupin III. This makes perfect since, since it was roughly four or five years ago when I was taking in most of the Lupin I’ve ever seen in my life. These days, I haven’t really had time to go back and re-watch my fansubs of the first season, or my DVDs of the second, despite how great they are. But every now and again one of them Lupin TV specials pops up on the torrents, and naturally I pick it up without so much as a thought.
Now, there’s a lot of bad Lupin out there, and I’m just talking anime here. Not manga, light novels, video games, keitai novels, or comics printed on toilet paper. Over the past 20 years, Japan has been pumping out one new Lupin special each year. With this really mechanical and factory-like production of content, it’s no surprise that some of these–if not a good number of these–are complete duds. While a good handful of these TV specials that are very good, I think it’s safe to say the ratio of good Lupin anime to bad Lupin anime is reaching equilibrium with each passing year.
But good or bad, Lupin has two things going for it–age, and the tradition that comes with age. You know these characters. You know their kinks. You know the rules. It’s just plain comforting–and satisfying–to see them do their thing: Jigen plays it cool, and shoots up a bunch of guys like it’s no problem; Goemon cuts down something completely impossible to cut down, and utters his famous lines; Lupin yells “FUJIKO-CHAN~!”, and FUJIKO-CHAN~! launches a spring-propelled fist into Lupin’s face; and good ol’ Zenigata* is always ready to bust in with the handcuffs at a moment’s notice. Of course, we mustn’t forget the Ohno Yuuji soundtrack running underneath it all.
If they get that stuff right–which usually happens–even a bad Lupin special can keep my interest for at least 20 minutes before I realize it’s total shit. I mean, it’s basics. You see this kind of thing with any long running franchise, like Gundam or Macross. But since Lupin has retained the exact same characters–and more or less the same voice cast–for 30 odd years, they’re basically your good buddies at this point. And there’s nothing more fun that just chillin’ with your buddies, right?
*Sadly, the writers have found a way to simply push Zenigata out of each feature for most of its runtime these days. His seiyuu is more or less dying witch each breath he takes.