Lupin III: Pursuit of Harimao's Treasure Anime Review
Rupan San-sei: Harimao no Zaihou wo Oe!
Lupin III: Chase Harimao's Treasure!
US Release By
International thief Lupin and his companions are off on yet another adventure. This time around, Lupin has his sights set on the lost treasure of Harimao, an infamous bandit who amassed a fortune in stolen valuables from the British and Japanese armies in the Pacific region during World War II. Teaming up with an ex-British intelligence officer and his beautiful granddaughter along the way, Lupin and his companions embark on a grand quest across the world in search of the treasure. But ancient traps and puzzles are not their only obstacles. They also must fight off the forces of the Neo-Himmel, a fanatical (but extremely well armed and supplied) Neo-Nazi organization equally determined to take the treasure for themselves.
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Yet another film in the popular Lupin III franchise, The Pursuit of Harimao's Treasure has a stock plot: Long ago some treasure was lost and Lupin has to find it before an evil army does. But, while the story is simplistic, this epic adventure is still one of the better films in the franchise. Like a good Indiana Jones-style adventure, it has plenty of action, suspense, over-the-top vehicle chases (on land, air, and sea--this movie has about every type of vehicle chase you could imagine), and quite a few historic castles, tombs, and caves to explore. The one-off characters--an aging James Bond-style professional and competent action girl archeologist--are interesting, and the art, animation, and dub acting get the job done.
Overall, The Pursuit of Harimao's Treasure manages to overcome its limitations--a weak plot and shallow villains--with great action, an epic journey, and a great cast of good guys. Both as a Lupin film and an overall adventure film, The Pursuit of Harimao's Treasure is exceptionally good, and fans of either will find plenty to enjoy.
Full ReviewSwitch to Quick Review
Yet another film in the popular Lupin III franchise, The Pursuit of Harimao's Treasure has a plot about as simple as it gets: Long ago some treasure was lost and Lupin has to find it before an evil army does. That's really all there is to it. But, while the story is simplistic, this is still a very good epic adventure film. In fact, it's one of the better films in the Lupin franchise.
Like a good Indiana Jones-style adventure, this movie has plenty of action, suspense, over-the-top vehicle chases (on land, air, and sea--this movie has about every type of vehicle chase you could imagine), and quite a few historic castles, tombs, and caves to explore. Again, not particularly original, but still extremely well done.
As always, Lupin is also pursued by his arch-rival, Inspector Zenigata, but this doesn't amount to anything at all. Zenigata's role in this film is pathetically insignificant, as he does nothing but randomly show up, make a few feeble attempts to arrest Lupin, and fail miserably almost every time, with one exception in which he does catch him and then loses him in a matter of minutes.
Lupin's strong supporting cast, on the other hand, is one of the better aspects of this movie. In some Lupin films, his companions are relegated to simply randomly showing up and bailing Lupin out of trouble when he needs them. In this movie, they all have central roles in the story, particularly the sharpshooter Jigen and Lupin's sort-of-love-interest Fujiko, who are with Lupin through almost the entire journey. Samurai Goemon has a bit of a smaller role, but he still makes a good contribution every now and then. For some reason he is depicted as a mercenary in this film (in the other movies, he generally aids the team without charging a fee).
As in most films, Lupin also has some temporary companions who are unique to that particular adventure. This one has Archer, an aging former intelligence officer, and his archeologist granddaughter Diana. Both of them contribute very nicely to Lupin's crew. Archer, with his James Bond-style demeanor and calm professionalism, is a nice contrast to Lupin's typical bumbling and womanizing. His granddaughter is a pretty typical "action girl," but plays her role very well and is never reduced to a mere damsel in distress. Even the one time she does get captured, she manages to save Lupin's life while he is attempting to rescue her. The only thing this film is really missing is a good villain. The two main villains in this movie--a typical brutish thug and a deranged cross-dressing general--are hardly worthy of a grand adventure film.
The animation in the film is much like the plot: not spectacular but it gets the job done. The ancient castles and caves are fairly well drawn, and the action scenes are well executed. The backgrounds are also fairly well detailed. The English dubbed voice acting and music are solid; not the best I've ever heard in an anime, but they didn't really leave me with anything to complain about, either.
Overall, this film manages to overcome its limitations--a weak plot and shallow villains--with great action, an epic journey, and a great cast of good guys. Both as a Lupin film and an overall adventure film, The Pursuit of Harimao's Treasure is exceptionally good. Fans of adventure films and the Lupin franchise will certainly find plenty to enjoy.
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Has a lot in common with most Lupin films; The Columbus Files is one of the more similar ones, albeit not as good.
Notes and Trivia
The seventh in an ongoing series of annual TV specials, Pursuit of Harimao's Treasure is a made-for-TV movie that originally aired on Japan Television in 1995.
This is the second appearance of Kanichi Kurita as Lupin's voice (preceded by the "Die! Nostradamus" OAV). Yasuo Yamada, the actor who had given Lupin his distinctive voice since the beginning (24 years in total), died suddenly of a brain aneurism in early 1995 at the age of 62, just before starting the voicing on the "Die! Nostradamus" OAV. Fortunately for Lupin fans, Kanichi Kurita had made a career as a skilled impersonator, and one of his best impressions was of Lupin. As such, he was the perfect choice for the role when Yamada died, and immediately took over, at first as an emergency stand-in, but he has voiced Lupin in all subsequent performances.
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 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." It's also why he 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 is basic but solid; a bright, crisp video track (though there did seem to be some odd artifacts in a few spots), 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 only extra is a set of character bios for the entire cast of the movie, although in a nice touch, the disc will play in regions 1, 2, and 4.
One of the most family-friendly Lupin films ever made.
Violence: 2 - Most of the violence in this film is pretty cartoonish, but there is one realistic shooting death.
Nudity: 0 - Nothing.
Sex/Mature Themes: 1 - Some womanizing from Lupin, but no sex or nudity.
Language: 0 - Nothing objectionable here.