Where we differ is in what this means to us. The Lupin, or “Wolf”, if you like, is not the lecherous, aggressive, ruthless Lupin of Monkey Punch’s manga. He’s goofy, almost what I’d call gormless (mostly because modern life doesn’t afford me many opportunities to use gormless in a conversation, and it’s a great word) at times, and noble, nearly chivalrous. I’d go so far to call them two different characters, rather than two different interpretations of a character. But I consider that a feature, not a bug. There have been many versions of the characters, and this is the one who doesn’t fit with the rest, yet this is the definitive Lupin for Western audiences.
The stuff I love:
I love that there is a website devoted the gifs of scenes from Miyaki movies, and I’m going to use as many as I can in this post!
Lupin, by way of Miyazaki: As above.
Fujiko: More than anyone else in the movie, Fujiko strikes me as the kind of character a tabletop gamer would create. Her checklist for going undercover in a castle?
- One dress, red
- Clark Kent glasses
- Remember to put hair in a bun
- Camouflage leotard
- Half a dozen grenades
- Hang glider.
Like Lupin, this interpretation of the character has next to nothing in common with Monkey Punch’s omnisexual backstabbing sexpot, but she’s a lot of fun.
Goeman and Jigen: Until I saw it in print, I assumed it was spelled Goyaman.
His presence is odd if you don’t know his backstory. Why did Wolf just send for this Edo-era wandering samurai? It’s never really explained within the movie. He's just there, with bugger all any kind of explanation.
Jigen is great too, and the Superman villain the Hat looks just like him, for some reason.
Inspector Zenigata: For the longest time, tvtropes’ entry for what they now blandly call the Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist was known as “The Zenigata”.
Zenigata is a great sounding word. I like the character, and he gets one of my favorite moments in the movie, where he "accidentally" finds the counterfeit money, and looks directly into the camera and says that he was only looking for Wolf when he stumbled across this, completely by accident "Can you believe it?!"
This is the kind of adversary I really enjoy. He's sincere, and he's good at his job, (Lupin is just so much better.)and he's the perfect foil for Lupin.
Interestingly, he’s apparently the decedent of another fictional detective, Zenigata Heiji, who defeated his enemies by throwing coins, the zeni of his name. Two things here.
- I love this Phillip Joe Farmer idea of drawing connections between different fictional worlds.
- I immediately thought of the old video games Black Tiger, and forgotten world, where you could collect “Zenny” to buy powerups. I assumed Capcom had made up a fictional currency and carried it across its games as an inside joke. However, in light of this, I assume it’s drawn from an old Japanese word. How cool is that?
Justice, like lightning: We watched the movie on BluRay, with the Streamline dub and the song and signs option for subtitles. There’s a scene where Zenigata has been pulled off the investigation into the Count, and Fujiko calls him in his apartment to tip him off that Lupin is still active in the country, and his orders to capture Lupin still stand. There is a poster or a framed print in the background with a Japanese character on it, and the subtitle informed me that it was the kanji for “justice”.
Clarice: My daughter loved this movie. I asked her which character she liked best and she said she couldn't decide, because “Clarice is a princess, and even though she's not used to fighting, she attacks the Count to protect Lupin, but Fujiko is ‘purely, insanely awesome’, and she's a ‘secret agent’.”
That observation makes me like Clarice more, and I’m happy that Lily has the empathy to understand that something that’s easy for one person may not be easy for another.
Miyazaki is generally pretty great about writing female characters (q.v. anything he’s ever written) but I don’t know if he hadn’t quite gotten there yet, or if, more likely, the movie was mostly about Lupin, and there wasn’t room to make Clarice more awesome than she already was.
Also, I think every adult in the room said “Hello, Clarice” in a Hannibal Lecter voice at least once over the course of the movie, but we shouldn't hold that against her.
And finally, how awesome is it that an anime from the 1970s passes the Bechdel test?
The Count: Fetch me my most FEARSOME ascot. If there were ever to be a live action movie, he would be played by Donald Trump. His hair is enormous!
The Car Chase: It’s long been reported that Steven Spielberg called the car chase at the beginning of the movie the best car chase he had ever seen, and while it now appears this quote is apocryphal, it’s still a pretty darn great scene.
Score and soundtrack: I love the soundtrack, I love the score. Both are extremely good at accenting the mood of the piece.
So many set pieces that work so well: I was hoping there would be a gif of this. One of my favorite shots from any movie.
|"...as if the way one fell down mattered" |
""When the fall is all there is, it matters."