Netflix hasn’t been doing well, has it? With them dropping all my favorite DC shows, losing nearly 15 seasons of Top Gear, picking up schlock like Gotham and God’s Not Dead, and, worst of all, committing the worst crime in the world of filming and cinema: they gave Adam Sandler money to make a movie. And it turned out as well as you’d expect. Still, it’s not a huge loss, given how well Hulu and Crunchroll are doing nowadays. Both of them have simulcasts, both stream shows that are both brand new and classics from decades ago, and both (unlike Funimation, for who knows what reason) accept American Express. This time however, it’s Hulu that’s gotten its hands on an anime feature that I’ve been forward to for a few months now: Lupin the Third: Daisuke Jigen’s Gravestone.
Sitting in the grey area of a sequel/spin-off to Lupin the 3rd: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, Jigen’s Gravestone presents itself as the first time professional criminal Lupin the 3rd and master gunman Daisuke Jigen team up, with Lupin looking to steal an attractive meteorite, and Jigen fresh off a contract gone bad, where he failed to protect a woman from being assassinated. Their heist (as you’d expect) goes wrong however as Jigen, for some reason, is targeted by an assassin so confident in his skills that he leaves gravestones of the people he’s been assigned before he does them in. From there on, it’s a race to survive as Lupin, Jigen, and Fujiko try to unravel why they’ve been targeted, the secret of a country, and how exactly an assassin can take shots that Jigen himself says are impossible.
The first thing you’ll notice about this feature is how gorgeous it looks, since it’s going for the same art style of The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, and for the most part the two look identical. It’s only when you put them back to back that you notice the difference between them, such as how Fujiko Mine has a more stylized look to how it does shadowing, while Jigen’s Gravestone has a smoother animation style overall. I personally like the artsy look Fujiko Mine originally had, but Gravestone isn’t ugly in any sense of the word. It also helps (and this is a small detail, but it’s one I quite like) that all the cars in Gravestone are actually hand drawn, and not CGI as most cars are in today’s anime. Considering that the cars used are European classics (Maserati Bora, Mark 2 Jaguar, Alfa Romeo Giulia; it’s as if some guys from Opposite Lock were asked to work on this), it would hurt a gearhead’s soul if they were recreated as low texture renders.
[That’s one way to turn a car into a convertible. A horrible, terrible way...]
The story, while quite entertaining, sadly doesn’t go for the borderline disturbing that characterized Fujiko Mine. Instead, there’s a reason I haven’t called this a movie: it’s really a two part episode of Lupin. It’s even presented as two 28 minute long segments back to back. This puts it in a weird situation: if it were a full-on anime movie (70-90 minutes long, no interruptions for credits in the middle of the run time), I’d understand it for taking a safer tone than the series it’s just come off from. But being an two episode epilogue of sorts, I was actually hoping for a darker tone. It still has nudity and swearing, but it feels overall more in line with something for casual viewers. It doesn’t have any of the mind-fuckery that Fujike Mine had, and the story itself has a few tropes that you see in saturday morning cartoons; there’s even a scene where Lupin confronts the assassin, and tells him how he has solved solved everything. For a movie that looks this good and being the continuation of one of the best anime I’ve seen in years (if not ever), I was hoping for a bit more.
All that said, this is also supposed to serve as a turning point into the new Lupin series we’re supposed to get either this or next year, so I can’t completely blame it for going for a lighter tone. Lupin now has for the first time ever a blue jacket, and there’s a couple of scenes (both pre and post credits) that hint at what’s to come in the future series. My last couple of complaints are how Goemon and Zenigata are only given cameo roles, and that the dub doesn’t have any returning actors from Fujiko Mine. The sub and the English versions are still great either way; I just miss Sonny Strait’s version of Lupin. In a way, this strikes me as similar to how some critics are taking Age of Ultron right now (you know you’ve seen it): it’s not a bad movie at all, but they’re disappointed that it isn’t different enough from the first Avengers. In Gravestone, there’s a bit more and a bit less than what was in Fujiko Mine, but both are still damn fine anime to watch, which are my exact thoughts towards the two Marvel movies. And if Gravestone is a sign of things to come in the new Lupin series (similar to how Ultron is setting the groundwork for the next series of MCU movies), then I won’t complain too much. Bring on the adventures of Blue Lupin... and no, I won’t call him “Blupin.”
TGRIP is a film student studying in Portland, OR. TAY’s resident Xbox and racing game fan, he also (part time) reviews and does opinion pieces on games, movies, television, comics, and anime. He also runs his kinja sub blog Work(ing Title) In Progress. You can follow this third person narrating weirdo on Twitter @Dennis_wglasses, and his Gamertag on Xbox Live is “Aventador SV”.