Lupin III: The Secret of Twilight Gemini Anime Review
Rupan San-sei - Twilight Gemini no Himitsu
US Release By
What's In It
- Gentleman Thieves
- Gruff Gunmen
- Ultra-Cool Samurai
- Bumbling INTERPOL Agents
- The Middle East
- Freedom Fighters
- Fujiko Fanservice
- Cross-dressing Villains
- Violence: 2 (moderate)
- Nudity: 3 (significant)
- Sex: 2 (moderate)
- Language: 2 (moderate)
As with all Lupin III movies, this one revolves around a caper of the master thief himself, backed up by the gunman Jigen and samurai Goemon, and of course followed along the line somewhere by Fujiko. In this particular outing, Lupin is given half of a huge diamond--the Twilight--by an old man who took a liking to him. The diamond is supposed to be the key to a treasure left to a small group of native people fighting for their homeland in Morocco, but only if Lupin can find the other half. And, of course, Interpol Inspector Zenigata is hot on their trail. When the chase gets joined by a bunch of very well armed bad guys with the same goal as Lupin, and then Lupin runs across a beautiful young freedom fighter working for the very people whose treasure he's after, things get plenty interesting. Throw in a cross-dressing, whip-toting villain, and lots of action, of course, ensues.
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Twilight Gemini is more classic Lupin III fun. This particular entry is on the light, action-oriented end of the spectrum--plenty of fun (and at least reasonably exciting) action, plenty of Lupin shenanigans, and a solid (if straightforward) globe-spanning adventure plot. It's also a little more sexually charged (and Fujiko fanservice-heavy) than average, but nothing drastic. The only downside is that the character designs on the main cast are sub-par for the series. The movie also has a rather classic look--stylistically it looks about a decade older than it is--but that mostly adds to the old school flavor of this classic series.
In all, an enjoyable romp in the light, action-oriented end of the Lupin III continuum. Not a particular standout in the series, but plenty of fun for fans.
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The made-for-TV movie Twilight Gemini isn't a particularly outstanding venture in the Lupin series, but it's got everything necessary for some good criminal fun.
The plot is reasonably good, if about as classic as they come (which is to be expected in Lupin III movies). It tends toward the lighter end of the Lupin III spectrum; more violent, but about the same mood as Castle of Cagliostro. The characters, as always, are likable, including the newcomers. And, true to form, there is plenty of action, all of which is fun and at least reasonably exciting.
Probably the most distinctive feature of Twilight Gemini relative to a "standard" Lupin III movie (if such a beast even exists) is that while it's very lighthearted throughout, it's also rather sexually charged. We actually get to see some of the physical end of Lupin and Fujiko's rather tumultuous relationship, and it's a little heavy on the gratuitous nudity. Of course, it's far from the only entry in the series to go that route (heck, the original comics had more flesh and hanky-panky on display than any of the films to date).
The other thing of note is that the character designs of the main folks are sub-par for the series; Lupin in particular looks unusually young. Actually, that almost seemed to make sense, since the movie looks quite old--I would have guessed mid to late '80s based on the coloring and art style, even though it's a good decade newer than that. The rest of the character designs are fine, and the "old school" feel should evoke plenty of anime nostalgia in those prone to it, so no real complaints.
It hardly even bears noting with a Lupin III movie, but the voice cast is great--all the same voices, as distinctive and lovable as always. Being that this is a newer movie, Lupin is voiced by Kanichi Kurita rather than the late Yasuo Yamada, but even though this is one of Kurita's earlier performances he does an admirable job as the voice that just can't be replaced. He, Jigen, and Zennigata are the main reason I feel that if it's dubbed, it's just not Lupin III.
In all, an enjoyable romp in the light, action-oriented (and Fujiko-fanservice-heavy) end of the Lupin III continuum. Not a particular standout in the series, but plenty of fun for fans.
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It's Lupin III, so there are dozens of other films with the same characters. A couple of the most similar would be Castle of Cagliostro (for the light action, though it's much cleaner), The Fuma Conspiracy, and probably the TV series.
Notes and Trivia
The eighth in an ongoing series of TV specials, Twilight Gemini is a made for TV movie. This is the fourth appearance (relatively early; preceded by two OAVs and the previous TV movie) of Kanichi Kurita as Lupin's voice.
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 an emergency stand-in, he has voiced Lupin in all subsequent performances.
In a bit of trivia, this film is one of the few in which Lupin appears in a white coat in addition to his trademark red jacket.
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 is a solid production. It includes all the basics: Decent if unimpressive video, Japanese and English audio tracks, and subtitle tracks that cover both a transcript of the dub and an actual subtitle track (the dialogue is quite a bit different, so this is nice). On the "nice touch" department, if you play the feature in Japanese, you get the credits and title screen as they were originally--in Japanese; if you're playing it in English, you get an alternate video track with an English title screen and credits. Nice. Extras consist of brief character bios and quick bios for the English dub cast. In a final nice touch, the disc is region 1, 2, and 4 (the Americas and Europe/Japan). Why, I'm not sure, but it's nice to see a less restrictive release whatever the reason.
Note that there's also an edited version available on DVD, but I haven't seen it to compare what's different.
Funimation calls the uncut version 15+, which is about right on account of the nudity and sexual themes. One assumes the edited version is acceptable for most viewers.
Violence: 2 - Relatively violent, but not graphic at all.
Nudity: 3 - Several scenes.
Sex/Mature Themes: 2 - Not directly visible, but there is some hanky panky.
Language: 2 - Some strong language.