Lupin III: The Columbus Files Anime Review
『ルパン三世 愛のダ・カーポ〜Fujiko's Unlucky Days〜
Rupan Sansei: Ai no Da Capo - Fujiko's Unlucky Days
Lupin III: Da Capo of Love
US Release By
Famed international thief Lupin and his longtime partner in crime Fujiko have just pulled off another successful heist. But while celebrating their most recent plundering, Lupin notices that for once, Fujiko isn't particularly interested in the stolen money itself. Instead she seems fixated on a stack of paperwork known as "The Columbus files," detailing a legendary treasure supposedly found by Christopher Columbus during his final voyage. But that's as much as Lupin gets the chance to find out, since they get promptly attacked by a criminal organization seeking the treasure for themselves. Fujiko destroys the files in order to keep them out of their hands, but during their escape she is severely injured and stricken with amnesia, losing all memory of Lupin, his crew, and the content of the Columbus files. But with the files now destroyed, she is the only source left with the clues needed to find the treasure. Once again Lupin must gather up his companions and set out to get the treasure before a rival criminal enterprise gets to it first, but this time he finds himself searching for clues not on an ancient map or text, but lost deep in Fujiko's mind.
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The Columbus Files looks temptingly like a film focused heavily on the complex, passionate, chaotic, and occasionally violent relationship between Lupin and Fujiko. Sadly, on account of amnesia, it ends up being mostly a wasted opportunity. Still, it's got everything that makes the series so fun to watch: Great action scenes, wild chases, and an impressive array of environments. The plot is cheesy and doesn't do anything with the historical tie-in, but at least there's a wide variety of vehicles and an uncommon attention to detail. The one-shot characters are also good--the action-oriented add-on girl Rosaria has a real role in the plot, and the generic villain has a subordinate who's a sort of anti-Lupin, and a worthy adversary.
Overall, The Columbus Files is about the most average Lupin movie I've seen so far. Most of the positive aspects of the Lupin franchise are present, but there really isn't anything to distinguish it from other films in the series, and the one opportunity to do so was totally wasted. Still, it's worth a look if you're an established fan.
Full ReviewSwitch to Quick Review
Appearances certainly can be deceiving. When I first picked up a copy of this film, I thought it would provide me with what I've been hoping to see in the Lupin franchise for a while, a film focusing very heavily on the complex, passionate, chaotic, and occasionally violent relationship between Lupin and Fujiko. But while it technically does that, it doesn't really feel like it, since Fujiko spends nearly the entire duration of the movie without her memories. She gets an occasional Jason Bourne moment where she reflexively pulls off an amazing action move without realizing how she did it, but for the most part she's stuck in the role of a helpless victim. So really, this felt more like a wasted opportunity than anything else. Still, it really isn't a bad movie overall. It's got everything that makes the series so fun to watch: Great action scenes, wild chases, and an impressive array of environments. So really, it's... well, more Lupin. That's the best description I can come up with.
One thing I did like was some of the extra characters. In charge of the villains is a typical mad scientist named Burton. Not much to say about him, but I liked his warrior subordinate named Nazaroff, especially since he shared so many traits with Lupin. He's a master of disguise, uses many high tech gadgets, is good with a gun, and is a total womanizer, though in a much more dark and sinister manner than Lupin. It was almost as though Lupin was up against his own doppelganger, which made for an interesting match.
Another one I liked is Rosaria, an action-oriented girl who joins Lupin's crew after a wounded Fujiko stumbles into her home. At first it seemed she was just a convenient plot device, essentially a competent female warrior to fill in for Fujiko until she gets her memory back, but there is actually a lot more too her. She's got her own unique abilities and skills, and, most importantly, a key role in the main plot. Rather than a Fujiko substitute, it really felt like there was a legitimate reason for her to be in the film, even if Fujiko had been okay.
Sadly, the same cannot be said of Lupin's rival, Zenigata. If there ever was an example of the running problem in the franchise of the insistence on him being in every movie combined with the common refusal to give him any significant role in the story, this is it. There simply is no reason for him to be in this movie. He does nothing significant, adds nothing to the plot, and really serves no purpose whatsoever. Fortunately, Jigen and Goemon get much better treatment. They are along for the adventure with Lupin the whole way through and play a major role in all the film's biggest events.
Another thing I especially enjoyed was the wide variety of vehicles--on land, air and water. This film features classic cars, jet fighters, prop planes, helicopters, speedboats, and submarines, which help give the film some superb action and chase scenes. As usual, the weapons used by the main characters are well animated, with some excellent attention to detail both in look and utilization, such as showing the process of manually reloading Jigen's revolver one round at a time (though you would think an expert like him would use a faster method, like speedloaders or moon clips) and showing how Lupin's Walther P-38 needs the thumb safety lever disengaged before it can be fired. I do have an issue with Goemon's sword, however, in that it's way over the top and used as a solution for almost anything, including toppling buildings. I know Goemon routinely pulls off superhuman feats with that thing, but this film takes it way too far and almost reaches the same level of absurdity seen in Dragon of Doom. The variety of environments is also one of the high points of the show. It has a nice mix of Indian Jones-style ancient cave exploration and Mission Impossible-style operations in high-tech facilities, both of which are well presented and effectively used.
However, this movie does have one glaring weakness: The plot. It's way too cheesy, with a lot of aspects added in seemingly for the sake of convenience or a weak attempt to give the story some historical significance. The best example is the Christopher Columbus theme. While the movie has his name in the title and uses it throughout the show, the story really doesn't have anything to do with him. It's just about some treasure he supposedly found. Really they could have replaced him with any other famous explorer from that timeframe--or any other timeframe, for that matter--and not changed the plot one bit. The treasure has some special powers, but no further explanation of where it came from, who made it, or how it grants the powers in the first place. Another example is an ancient temple where the treasure is supposedly hidden. What does that have to do with Christopher Columbus and his voyage? Absolutely nothing, but ancient temples look cool and are fun to explore for treasure, so who cares, right? It's hard to get really immersed in a story like this when important historical figures are used solely for their celebrity status, locations are used solely for their visual appeal, and special powers of treasure are added in solely for the purpose of making it desirable to have.
Overall, this is about the most average Lupin movie I've seen so far. Most of the positive aspects of the Lupin franchise are present, but there really isn't anything to distinguish it from other films in the series, and their one opportunity to do so was totally wasted. Still, it's worth a look if you're an established fan.
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Has a lot in common with most Lupin films, but probably the most similar one is Lupin III: The Pursuit of Harimao's Treasure.
Notes and Trivia
This is the 11th in an ongoing series of annual Lupin III TV movies, first broadcast in 1999.
This is the first (and only) Lupin production directed by Shinichi Watanabe, best known as the director of a number of particularly crazy parodies, Excel Saga topping the list.
Watanabe is also known by his afro'd onscreen alter-ego, Nabeshin, who appears at least briefly in most of the projects he directs. Those familiar with Nabeshin know that he almost always appears in a Lupin III-inspired red jacket and yellow tie. This of course isn't a coincidence, although according to his Japanese Wikipedia entry, Watanabe originally had actor Yuusaku Matsuda in mind when he came up with the look, but it turned out that Matsuda had in turn been working off the Lupin III image, so Nabeshin ended up, in practice, dressing like Lupin, and has stuck with the look.
US DVD Review
Like most of the Funimation Lupin III DVDs, this one has Japanese stereo and English stereo or 5.1 audio tracks, plus character bios and trailers. It also has some information on the real-life voyages of Christopher Columbus.
The disc was sold both individually and as part of the "Final Haul" five-movie box set.
Like most Lupin adventures, there's a modest amount of violence and a bit of skin pushing it into the 13-up range.
Violence: 2 - Some violence, nothing particularly bloody.
Nudity: 2 - Fujiko is scantily clothed for most of the film, but no technical nudity.
Sex/Mature Themes: 1 - One near-miss event between Lupin and Fujiko at the beginning.
Language: 0 - No off-color language of note.