Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Lupin the Third: Lupin Becomes a Vampire – review

Directed by: Kyosuke Mikuriya

First aired: 1978

Contains spoilers

This was a suggestion for review by Alexander, over at Freaks and Fiends. Indeed this wasn’t the first review suggestion by Alexander (and the other is queued in the ‘to watch’ pile) and I’d like to offer sincere thanks for the suggestions.

Lupin the Third was a manga that became anime and was the brainchild of Monkey Punch. It concentrated on Arsène Lupin the third, genius thief and grandson of Maurice Leblanc’s gentleman thief Arsène Lupin (copyright, at the time the series first aired, be damned). In the anime Lupin is aided by the marksman Daisuke Jigen and the swordsman Goemon Ishikawa XIII and sometimes the femme fatale character Fujiko Mine, who also serves as a love interest. He is hunted by the policeman Inspector Koichi Zenigata.

archaeological find
This episode begins with an archaeological dig. A coffin has been dug up and it contains a woman clutching a gold statue of the virgin Mary. The surrounding earth has been carbon-dated and they have ascertained that the coffin has been buried for 2000 years. The woman has a thin heartbeat and it seems that she is in suspended animation. The woman and the statue are to be separated and studied. Zenigata appears concerned that Lupin will try to steal the statue and declares himself head of security.

Lupin and his gang
Jigen is playing with cards and pulls an ace of spades. He has a bad feeling about the proposed job and asks Goemon to tell their future. His reading suggests disaster. Lupin isn’t impressed with the superstitious nonsense and heads out to do the job. Over at the hospital, the woman vanishes from her bed and bats head towards the archaeology centre where Zenigata has electrified the safe and set up a camera watching it. This is of no concern to Lupin who is using a remote system to get in the safe.

wolf and carriage
Jigen and Goemon have followed Lupin and see a wolf running with a driverless carriage, which transports a casket. Once Lupin has the statue the wolf steals it. He chases after the carriage and crashes into it. The casket is marked Camilla – clearly a reference to Carmilla – and she is resident within. He takes her to an underworld hospital, where a drunken doctor announces her anaemic. Again she vanishes but Lupin finds her in a graveyard and they embrace. His men come to the rescue but it is too late, he has been bitten and Lupin and Camilla escape together.

Fujiko is to be scarificed
Jigen and Goemon head to Hiraki village, where they meet Fujiko (at first disguised as a rock and roll tour guide who tells them that this is the village in which Jesus died – Golgotha being a myth). However, despite protections of garlic and crosses (and Goemon being unsure of the cross as his family belongs to the Shinto religion), the vampire Lupin kidnaps Fujiko and takes her to Camilla, who will use her as a sacrifice. Can Jigen and Goemon save the day and turn Lupin back to human?

Mary's twin children
There is a very interesting aspect of lore that comes up as the episode goes on, as well as two references that are worth mentioning. Camilla explains that there was a shooting star over Bethlehem 2000 years before and Mary gave birth to twins – Jesus and herself. She was born as a vampire and Joseph abandoned her in fear, leaving her to be brought up by a wolf and bats. Years later she stole the statue of Mary from a church as Jesus loved it and ran away to Japan – hiding by inducing suspended animation. Jesus followed her but didn’t find her, eventually dying in the village. I was fascinated by this twisting of Christian mythos.

Lupin the vampire
The two references worth noting are to, firstly, the Fearless Vampire Killers and the heroes becoming unstuck because of a mirror in a vampire ball and also that the ending owes a debt to the ending of Scars of Dracula. The animation is dated, but actually that serves to give the entire thing a retro-look and whilst the episode might serve to raise at least one logical question (with regard the things that Lupin does in episode) it was great fun. 7 out of 10.

The episode's imdb page is here.


Unknown said...

Lupin also poses as a vampire in the film The Secret of Mamo - don't know if you've caught that flick yet, but it's in the opening minutes and doesn't really come back again.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

I haven't caught that one yet Ryne, but I'll keep my eye out for it. Cheers :)

Alex. G said...

I think this was a pretty good episode. The plot twist or whatever you wanna call it with the vampire being the sister of Jesus was pretty creative and interesting.

On another horror-related note, there's also a episode where Lupin meets Frankenstein if that's of any interest. Haven't seen that one myself but it sounds like a pretty interesting crossover.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Alex, it was a great episode and thanks for the recommend.

Re the Frankenstein episode I will look out for it - though it won't appear on the blog, due to the narrow focus of the blog - but thanks for mentioning as i will look out for

Kuudere-Kun said...

In the origonal Arsene Lupin's mythos. The villain of 813 is refereed to as a Vampire, so might be worthy of an Honorable mention.

That novel has a few translations, I've gottne to read none yet, but my instinct is the Wildside press translation would be the best to recommend. It'd be awesome if someday Blackcoatpress did it

Thing is, it may not be the best to be the first Lupin novel one reads.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

do you have a title for that volume Jared?

Kuudere-Kun said...

Called Arsene Lupin in 813. The date of Publication given is September 14 2003. The cover also says "A classic tale of the World's greatest Theif".

Taliesin_ttlg said...

cheers Jared :)

Kuudere-Kun said...

Aria the Scarlet Ammo saga feature both Dracula and descendents of both Lupin and Sherlock Holmes

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Is that in the manga or the anime Jared?

Kuudere-Kun said...

It's also a Light Novel, I don't know I assume their all the same story, I haven't checked em out yet.

Kuudere-Kun said...

The Anime has an Episode titled Vlad, so he's definitely in it.

It's also a Harem anime, so can get kind of weird.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

I'll check out the anime ;)