Lupin III: The Secret of Twilight Gemini Anime Review
This movie is Lupin the 3rd at its best. Great animation, a brilliant story, and fast-paced action make this one of the best Lupin films ever made, rivaling even the Hayao Miyazaki film Castle of Cagliostro. For those of you who are not familiar with the Lupin franchise, Lupin the 3rd is a series of films about Lupin, a bumbling, chivalrous, good natured international thief who usually sets out to steal a valuable item at the beginning and generally ends up performing some great deed (like saving the planet or destroying a massing criminal enterprise) by the time the movie ends.
This film is different. While Lupin does end up performing some good deeds along the way, he stays focused on discovering the Geltic treasure and never deviates from this goal. Throughout the film, this remains the main focus of the story. However, there are many other factors involved in reaching this goal, including the history and motivations of the rival factions and rebel groups fighting in the streets of Morocco. The result is a brilliant and epic journey for Lupin and his companions that has plenty to interesting plot twists and investigative work, keeping the viewers well-focused on the complex story 'till the end of the film.
As usual, Lupin's womanizing and bumbling behavior are his own worst enemy throughout the show, often getting him into bad situations that could have been otherwise avoided. This could be somewhat annoying at times, as his supposed chivalry often led to actions that can be described as excessively stupid, even by his standards. For example, after failing in an attempt to save a woman sinking in quick sand, Lupin dives in with her because he "can't bear to see her die alone." Fortunately, this is not enough to ruin the entire movie, and in most cases, Lupin's behavioral traits actually contributed to the film.
Accompanying Lupin on his quest are his typical supporters, the sharpshooter Jigen, Samurai Goemon, and his sort-of-love-interest Fujiko. Unfortunately, they don't have major roles here. Their primary function is mainly showing up when Lupin is desperately in need of assistance and bailing him out of trouble. They aren't completely neglected, but it would have been nice to see them have larger roles. Fujiko really could have been better, as she seems to be here mainly to provide the fan service (i.e. pointless nudity) aspect of the movie.
As always, Lupin's arch-nemesis Inspector Zenigata is hot on Lupin's trail during his journey through Morocco. While Zenigata's role in the franchise generally is regulated to pursuing Lupin, attempting to catch him, and failing miserably, his role in the film is far greater. In addition to trying to arrest Lupin, he also finds himself caught up in the tense political situation in Morocco, fighting with local police for assistance in apprehending Lupin and suspecting that his supervisor Jean-Pierre has a lot more on his agenda then catching a single thief.
Visually, Secret of the Twilight Gemini is above average. This certainly is not the best animation I've ever seen, but it's pretty good and in a way, benefits from having a classic "old school" feel to it (although the movie was released in 1996). The film also uses some distinctive styles to explain the story. One of my favorite ways is history explained by the use of flashbacks, which are depicted in the style of a 1920s silent movie (a reason for this could be because the events told in the flashbacks take place around that time frame), complete with breaks between the characters talking and words appearing on the screen. This was a very unique style, and greatly contributed to the atmosphere of the film.
The music of the movie is one of its greatest strong points. The ending theme is outstanding, and the music played during the film itself is far better then one might expect. One scene that really stands out is a when Lupin and a female companion embark on a long camel ride through the desert. It's certainly not the most original idea, but it's brilliantly performed, with superb music and scenery to make it stand out as excellent.
But above all else, the story is really what makes this movie great. It has everything needed for a great adventure film: lost treasure, ancient civilizations, rival factions, brilliant character driven sub-plots, and political intrigue. Combined with interesting characters, great music, and good animation, this movie is truly one of the best Lupin films ever made. It is superb by any standard, and a good pick for newcomers interested in checking out the Lupin franchise.