Lupin the Third: Jigen's Gravestone
by Paul Jensen,
So many new seasons have been starting up in the last week or so. New anime season! New baseball season! OK, those are the only two I can think of off the top of my head, but it still feels like everything is full of fresh possibilities. Some new series could work its way onto my list of all-time favorites, and the Mets could toy with my emotions yet again by taking another shot at the World Series. Until I'm presented with convincing evidence to the contrary, anything is possible. Welcome to Shelf Life.
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Lupin the Third: Jigen's Gravestone
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Shelf Life Reviews
Lupin the Third: Jigen's Gravestone
Nothing this week.
Nothing this week.
2016 seems to be turning into the year of big anime franchises for me, at least when it comes to Shelf Life reviews. After having some good experiences with One Piece and Fairy Tail back in January, I decided to take a sample from another vast ficitonal universe in the form of Lupin the Third: Jigen's Gravestone.
The movie follows Lupin and Jigen as they steal a valuable gemstone from a foreign embassy in the country of East Doroa. As they try to make their escape, they're attacked by an assassin whose sharpshooting skills rival Jigen's. Expert sniper Yael Okuzaki makes a point of preparing his targets' graves in advance, and his intentions become all too clear when the guys find a tombstone with Jigen's name on it. An unexpected encounter with Fujiko gives Lupin a clue as to why only Jigen has been targeted. What started as a duel between two marksmen quickly becomes something much bigger as everyone gets caught up in a web of international intrigue.
This movie is billed as a “continuation spinoff” of the TV series Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, and there is some crossover between the two works' creative staff. That helps explain the similarities in tone; like the TV series, Jigen's Gravestone offers a darker take on the Lupin the Third universe. The violence is visually explicit, the characters are quick to gamble on matters of life and death, and the film's sexual elements veer into some pretty unsettling territory. If you like the idea of a more serious Lupin, there's a good chance that this movie will work for you. If you prefer the franchise's more lighthearted entries, then it may have a tougher time winning you over.
Whether you like the darker tone or not, Jigen's Gravestone is worth watching once for the visuals alone. Redline director Takeshi Koike takes the helm for this movie, and the results are impressive. It's a slightly less artistic look than The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, but the new style fits the story well. The animation really shines during the film's gunfights and car chases, and the background art makes the Cold War-ish European setting come alive. The character designs have “cool” written all over them, and the shot composition and use of color are both on point. This is a good-looking movie from top to bottom.
My one big complaint about Jigen's Gravestone is that its abundance of style isn't necessarily backed up by a similar amount of substance. The story boils down to a cat-and-mouse game between the heroes and the villains, and that's about all there is to it. Some questions of morality pop up here and there, but the script doesn't take the time to give its themes more than a brief examination. Given that this is an action/heist movie at heart, however, I don't think it loses all that much by choosing to focus on the story's twists and turns instead of looking for some deeper meaning. The moment-to-moment action of Lupin and Jigen trying to outwit Okuzaki is enough to carry the story, and the political intrigue that surrounds them serves mainly as a useful tool for finding Okuzaki's weakness. I'll take simple and focused over sloppy and complicated any day.
That “keep it simple” style is also applied to the characters. Nobody grows or changes much over the course of the movie, but everyone is compelling and charismatic enough that they don't really need to. Lupin has some strong chemistry with both Jigen and Fujiko, and Okuzaki is a pretty strong villain. It helps that the Japanese voice actors for Lupin, Jigen, and Fujiko have all played their respective parts before. They all sound comfortable in their roles, which is vital for maintaining the film's naturally cool vibe. The English dub is pretty solid, but it struggles to replicate that effortless fit with actors who don't have a long history with the recurring characters. The strongest performance comes from Jamieson K Price as Okuzaki, which makes a certain amount of sense given that the character's confinement to this movie levels the playing field a bit.
Taken on its own, Jigen's Gravestone is a stylish and entertaining movie that should easily hold the average viewer's attention over its relatively short runtime. As an entry in the Lupin universe, I suspect that its value will depend largely on whether or not you like its take on the characters. It certainly deserves credit for its accessibility to franchise newcomers, as it doesn't ask for much beyond a passing familiarity with the protagonists. This release is nicely packaged with some attractive cover art, and I can easily see myself watching it again somewhere down the road.
That's it from me for this week. Thanks for reading!
This week's shelves are from Dallas:
Love and really appreciate the column! I've picked up and enjoyed a lot of the series covered in it!
Thought I'd finally send a few pics of some of my collection. Sadly do not have enough shelf space right now to display complete collection of figures and manga. I got into anime and manga over 20 years ago and started with Vampire Hunter D and some Gundam figures and continue to collect and grow the collection. I have a wide variety from every genre. On the shelves is 354 series/movies and I have more in storage along with the majority of figures, statues, and other merch. The latest additions is the 1/2 SuperSonico statue. Hopefully I can get a bigger place with extra shelving to display the full collection in the future!
Any Gundam fans out there that haven't checked out The Origin manga… I highly recommend it!"
Wow, that Sonico statue is huge. That's a mightily impressive collection, thanks for sharing!
If you've got a collection of your own that you'd like to show off, send me your photos at [email protected]!
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