Lupin III: Voyage to Danger Anime Review
Rupan San-sei: Rupan Ansatsu Shirei
Lupin III: Order to Assassinate Lupin
US Release By
What's In It
- Violence: 2 (moderate)
- Nudity: 0 (none)
- Sex: 1 (mild)
- Language: 2 (moderate)
It seems like the ICPO has finally had enough of Inspector Zenigata's failure to capture the infamous international thief Lupin the 3rd. After 20 years on the job, Zenigata has been taken off the case and re-assigned to investigate the Shot Shell Corporation, an international arms dealing syndicate suspected of illegal activities. Depressed and desperate, Zenigata seeks the aid of his only friend in the world, the one man he could never catch--none other then Lupin himself.
Upon discovering Zenigata's new assignment, Lupin sees a golden opportunity to help an old friend and at the same time help himself to the Shot Shell syndicate's fortune. Teaming up with his companions Fujiko, Jigen, and Goemon, along with Zenigata, Lupin hatches a plan to infiltrate Shot Shell by stealing a Russian submarine and selling it to them. Not knowing much about Russian subs, he also abducts a beautiful Russian scientist named Karen so he can use her expertise to aid in the theft. However, it turns out that Karen and Jigen have met in the past, and have an old score to settle....
Meanwhile, stealing a Russian sub and infiltrating Shot Shell are not the only problems Lupin has to deal with. He is also being pursued by Keith Hayden, the new leader of the ICPO case against Lupin. A violent and sadistic ex-mercenary, Hayden has little interest in apprehending Lupin or bringing him to justice. His only goal is to hunt down Lupin's crew and kill them all, no matter what it takes.
Voyage to Danger is another film in the long-running and popular Lupin III franchise. The story here is pretty much the same as almost every other film, i.e. Lupin going off to get rich through theft while also performing a great deed (in this case taking down the evil Shot Shell corporation) to remind us all that deep down, he's really a nice guy. However, it has one key feature to separate it from the pack: Instead of endlessly trying to arrest Lupin, Zenigata is actually on Lupin's side for the entire duration of the movie. Unfortunately, this new concept is almost completely wasted; Zenigata is woefully neglected and has almost no role in the operation against Shot Shell at all.
Fortunately, this by itself is not enough to ruin the film. This movie still has everything that makes the Lupin franchise great: fast-paced action, tons of vehicle chases, cool gadgets (such as explosive chewing gum), good environments, and interesting characters. While Zenigata is neglected, the rest of Lupin's supporting cast all have pretty important roles in the film, and Jigen's sub-plot with Karen works out very well. The end result of all this is a fairly good Lupin movie that could (and definitely should) have been a lot better.
After the theft of the submarine at the beginning of the film (which is absurdly easy) most of the rest of it takes place on a private island owned Shot Shell CEO John Krause. The island is loaded with weapons, vehicles, ships, bunkers, security stations, and tons of armed guards. The whole setting makes for a lot of interesting action scenes--especially chases--because the characters can usually find a vehicle to drive, weapon to use, or bunker to hide in whenever they need one.
Like most Lupin films, this movie has two main villains, a head honcho and his warrior subordinate (though in this case, the warrior isn't actually working for the head boss). The head honcho, CEO John Krause, is pretty lame. He's basically a nerdy Bill Gates rip-off with no interesting qualities. And he's dumb enough to let himself get tricked by Fujiko's seduction not just once, but again after she betrays him the first time and holds him up at gunpoint! Even the incredibly stupid Chin Chin Chou from Dragon of Doom was smarter than that. The warrior, Keith Hayden, is much better. He's not a particularly original character, but he is very good at what he does. He displays a lot of combat prowess, and helps give the film some excellent action scenes.
Another problem with the film is it requires a lot of suspension of disbelief (even for anime). According to this movie, stealing navy submarines and nuclear weapons is as easy as shoplifting from a 7-Eleven, and a private island full of weapons owned by an arms dealer would be defenseless against air attack by a single cargo plane. It also has one of those stupid "James Bond moments" when the hero is captured by the main villain and given a chance to escape instead of being executed right then and there. The whole thing really made me wonder why on earth so many adventure films have them. It's not like they contribute anything useful to the story.
Rounding out the picture, the voice acting is pretty good and the animation quality is above average (especially for a film that came out in 1993). The only odd part is that for some reason Fujiko looks a lot different in this movie than in the others I've seen.
Even with all its flaws, Voyage to Danger is still a good, solid action-adventure movie. It has all the necessary elements, and the island full of weapons makes for a good setting. If you are a fan of action-adventure films and/or the Lupin franchise, this movie should appeal to you. It's still a bit of a disappointment that they took a very good idea (Lupin and Zenigata working together) and did absolutely nothing with it--the movie should have been a lot better.
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Notes and Trivia
The fifth in an ongoing series of TV specials, Voyage to Danger is a made-for-TV movie that originally aired on Japan Television.
For those unfamiliar with Lupin's backstory, the character is based loosely on Arsène Lupin, the gentleman thief who appears in a series of French novels by Maurice Leblanc. Published between 1907 and 1939, these novels were tremendously popular (and remain so), producing many spin-offs, film adaptations, and parodies. Among these is Lupin III, ostensibly "the third" because he is the grandson of the original. Copyright issues over the name with the Leblanc estate are among the reasons Lupin III was slow to make it to the US, and (apparently) why in the original Streamline release of Castle of Cagliostro he was renamed "Wolf," and was referred to as "Rupan" in the two films translated by AnimEigo.
The character of Lupin III was originated in a serialized comic series in 1967 by Kazuhiko Katou (better known by his pen name "Monkey Punch"). It was wildly popular and quickly spiraled into a massive franchise that continues today.
US DVD Review
FUNimation's DVD features stereo audio in English and Japanese, and a literally-translated English subtitle track as well as a caption track based on the dub script. The disc will play in regions 1, 2, and 4.
A few words of profanity and some death. About a 13-up.
Violence: 2 - Some violence and death, but nothing very graphic.
Nudity: 0 - Nothing.
Sex/Mature Themes: 1 - Fujiko seduces Krause a few times, but it doesn't amount to anything but kissing and touching.
Language: 2 - One or two words of profanity in the entire film.