Available in manga, anime and 2D film, Lupine III offers itself, for the first time since its birth in 1967, a CGI film. Thanks to distributor Eurozoom, the film will be released in French theaters on October 7, 2020 (first cinema release in Japan in December 2019). Will the character seduce in his ancestral homeland? Answer in this review.
Described by author Kazuhiko Kat, aka “The Monkey Blow”, Lupine III in a manner similar to the Japanese declaration of love for the French hero Maurice Leblanc created in 1905. However, the fictional hero Lui who is supposed to be the grandson of Arsène Lupine is known only in France by the name Edgar, at least until 2012. This was indeed the date on which Maurice Leblanc’s economic rights ended and allowed the Japanese occupation to continue the Lupine III name in France. His character also shines thanks to Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki: we find Lupine III in “The Castle of Cagliostro” (released in 1979 in Japan, this was actually the first feature film La Fracture directed by one of the founders of Studio Ghibli), which was released in select theaters. in France in 2019 after previously being available on VHS and DVD. It remains to be seen whether this new CGI adaptation co-written and directed by Takashi Yamazaki and titled “Lupine III: The First”, will be able to woo French audiences, whether familiar with the original anime or not.
An adaptation that meets your eyes and ears
At least, Lupine III didn’t miss his transition to CGI. The animation is beautiful, the facial expressions are very detailed and fluid, the interior and exterior Barbaque environments and objects are very neat. Special mention for the representation of Paris in the 1960s and the hero’s iconic yellow Fiat 500. In short, Lupine III: The First has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of by the biggest Pixar or Dreamworks productions. The music is impeccable: we clearly found the classic Lupine III theme and the heavily jazz-focused soundtrack give the film a real identity while The French Dispatch respecting the original material. Native voice listeners may prefer Japanese, but we can say that it makes more sense to hear Arsène Lupine’s descendants speak the Molière language.
Arsène Lupine was originally a thief, an expert in disguises and all kinds of tactics that allow him to pull off the best heists. In this film, his grandson adds a few lines to his CV. He did embark on an adventure Last Night in Soho related to a mysterious journal that was supposed to lead to an object called “The Eclipse”. Very quickly, Lupine III: The First takes on true adventure film proportions rather than elaborate heist. Lupine III will face the Nazis in a quest very similar to the adventures of Indiana Jones… But we’ll get to that.
Obviously, Lupine III isn’t alone: he’s accompanied Même les souris vont au paradis by his usual acolytes (Fujiko Sulfur Mine, samurai Goemon Ishikawa XIII, or trigger ace Daisuke Jigen) but also a new character, Lætitia. Important for the plot, it also brings considerable freshness. Inspector Koichi Zenigata, caricature of Inspector Javert des Misérables with his sick desire to stop Lupine III, is always there to create extraordinary and funny situations. However, these characters, taken from manga and anime, are underdeveloped in the film, and may confuse beginners. Instead, fans will be able to see references to anime or manga. Dialogue can also be done without some heavy lines, but nothing too bad.
Therefore, the film seems to honor the original work, but is also inspired by references to Western cinema. Between the James Bond-like credits, the Nazi caricature almost Paranormal Activity reminiscent of OSS 117, and especially the scenario that multiplies similarities to Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, Lupine III is cut to woo the general public. far beyond the Japanese archipelago. This is a quality but also a drawback: the cartoon emerges as a concentrate of multiple universes and genres in just an hour and a half. Loaded cocktails that may not appeal to everyone.
As stated earlier, Lupine III is one of the best evidences of Japan’s attachment to French history, culture and literature. By offering his own vision of the thief man, Monkey Punch has undoubtedly popularized it with the Japanese public, but what about the French who wanted to find a unique perspective on this hero? Well, we can say frankly that watching this movie is the best way to find out. Even those unfamiliar with the very particular style of Japanese anime will find their account there: the film is an excellent marriage of Japanese style and Western inspiration. A quality that also makes this film aan exemplary work for those who want to discover manga, anime or even the adventures of Arsène Lupine by Maurice Leblanc.