Lupin III: The First – Blu-ray Review
Amazon Commissions Earned
Film Title: Lupin III: The First (2019)
Release Date: 2021
Rating: Not Rated
Runtime: 93 minutes
Region Coding: Region A
Distributor: GKIDS / Shout! Factory
Audio Format: Japanese & English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Aspect Ratio(s): 2.39:1
Version Reviewed: Blu-ray
– Amazon Commissions Earned –
Blu-ray Release Date: 1/12/21
Director: Takashi Yamazaki
Japanese Voice Cast: Kan’ichi Kurita, Suzu Hirose, Kôtarô Yoshida, Tatsuya Fujiwara, Kiyoshi Kobayashi, Daisuke Namikawa, Miyuki Sawashiro, Kôichi Yamadera
English Voice Cast: Tony Oliver, Laurie Hymes, J. David Brimmer, Paul Guyet, Richard Epcar, Lex Lang, Michelle Ruff, Doug Erholtz
Jump to Sections:
Movie | Video | Audio | Bonus | Closing | Screenshots
Full Blu-ray Tech Specs at bottom
“Lupin III: The First” was a 2019 Japanese Anime film, made with CG (computer-generated) animation, directed by Takashi Yamazaki. The character “Lupin III” [sometimes also written as “Lupin the Third” or “Lupin the 3rd”] first originated in the 1967 Japanese manga created by the late Monkey Punch that ran until 1969 in its first series. The character of Lupin III (“Arsene Lupin III“), over the years since 1967, has been featured in a few other manga series, numerous feature-length animated films such as “Lupin the 3rd: Castle of Cagliostro” (1979), a few live-action feature-length films, a few animated TV shows (namely from 1971 and 1977).
The fictional character, Lupin III, is a worldwide most wanted gentleman thief that, aside from his misdeeds, is best known as being the grandson of another well-known fictional gentleman thief “Arsene Lupin” who first appeared in a series of serialized short stories back in 1905. That series of published written works were created and written by Maurice Leblanc. This character obviously served as an inspiration for Monkey Punch’s character and as a result, Lupin III is a descendant of that character. Now, moving on.
The character of Lupin III, over the past five decades and going, while mostly a nonviolent (gentleman) thief has always been known for his irreverent sense of humor, prank messages that he leaves at the scene of a crime as a calling card, been one to possess incredible skills at disguise, always drove or rode in a compact car, occasionally uses gadget such as a grappling hook, is able to pick safes easily, is able to pull off heists out plain sight as well as able to plan elaborate getaways and whatnot. Here in this film, he will do a bit of all of that or at least attempt to. He also will be joined by a lot of familiar faces to the series, which I’ll get to in a short bit.
The plot here revolves around a former Nazi archeologist named “Lambert” and his superior officer, “Gerard“, who are on their continuing hunt for something dating back to France during World War II up to the present day. In the present day is where we meet Lupin III and a girl that he crosses paths with early on, named “Laetitia.”
They’re all four looking for the very same treasure, the Bresson diary, a golden book that unlocks some secret to the mystery of the eclipse. We find that Lupin III and Letitia both also have two objects that could be keys that are related to said book, which Lupin III inherited from his grandfather. They decide to work together and that’s where things start. Along the way, they’ll cross paths and we’ll see Lupin get some help from his sidekick sharpshooter “Jigen” as well as friends samurai “Goeman” and lady thief “Fujiko.” All throughout, Lupin will be chased by the Interpol “Inspector Zenigata” — a familiar name and face that fans of the series have grown accustomed to over the decades. That’s the whole premise for the story here and I won’t get too much further into detail about it to avoid dishing out any spoilers.
This is a really fun film and I rather enjoyed it. It’s not yet “Certified Fresh” but it should be, theoretically, as it’s currently (at the time of writing this) carrying a 94% rating over at Rotten Tomatoes. Lastly, I’d like to add that both the original Japanese and English dubbed voice casts do amazing jobs here in each version of the film. Most notably, the current series of regular voice actors for the lead character, Kan’ichi Kurita and Tony Oliver are both great here.
Movie Rating: 5 (out of 5)
click to view a 1080p Blu-ray Screenshot
“Lupin III: The First” on its North American Blu-ray Disc debut is presented in the 2.39:1 aspect ratio.
Next, let me get even more technical here, for a bit, in regards to the Blu-ray Disc itself. This release is using a BD-50 (50 gigabytes) disc, 44.75 gigabytes total, and 26.1 gigabytes for the film itself. One last tech spec, the film here on this Blu-ray seems to run a somewhat steady 30Mbps here in terms of the video bitrate.
This Lupin III film is CG animated unlike most all of the previous animated films which were mostly hand-drawn. The characters keep all of their memorable looks, wardrobe (slightly modified), and whatnot. Be it the different suit jacket and tie for Lupin III or his sidekick Jigen’s compact car, or the traditional hat and a trench coat that the Interpol Inspector wears. It’s all here and it’s so cool to see how it’s translated over to CG animation. Some of the shapes and textures feel a bit more cartoony than most CG animated films to keep that original style of the character’s manga origins. However, the backgrounds and some of the vehicles and such really have some near-photorealistic level of art with its textures and shading techniques. This all translates over beautifully in 1080p HD with very little problems.
The one problem that I did see in the opening title scene can be found in a close-up shot of Lupin III here. The background shading and texture seem to cause some sort of compression or visual imperfection with these bands of color not blending together correctly. Perhaps it could be the limitations of colors that standard Blu-ray can do, in comparison to what’s available on 4K UHD Blu-ray with HDR (high dynamic range)? A limited color spectrum would explain for these types of visual bands in the colors of that background but I’ve seen this format [Blu-ray] be capable of handling things like this for now over 14 years and I don’t think that’s why. It, to me, seems to have been perhaps a limitation in the actual CG animation itself and the colors they used. That’s my own personal opinion and let’s face it, this scene only lasts a few seconds. There are a few other scenes, also very short, that did have some issue with backgrounds getting this type of visual imperfection. Still, it’s nothing really to knock this down on its rating for video quality, by any means, it is just something I felt was certainly worth noting and that viewers will perhaps notice.
With all of that being said, this delivers on a very impressive high definition video presentation and really does this CG animation justice. There’s a sharp amount of detail here and a black level that is perfectly solid. It’s one extremely impressive animated presentation in high definition. “Lupin III: The First” in its North American Blu-ray debut from GKIDS / Shout! Factory earns itself a perfect 5 rating for video quality. This is one of the most impressive Anime films that I’ve seen in a while. Having said all of that, I really would like to see this film someday get a 4K UHD Blu-ray release if it is capable of being rendered at 4K resolution.
Video Quality Rating: 5 (out of 5)
click to view a 1080p Blu-ray Screenshot
Audio on the Blu-ray Disc release of “Lupin III: The First” comes in both the original Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (with optional English, Spanish, and French subtitles) and the English voice dubbed version in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound.
I first listened to the English dub and found that 5.1 lossless mix to be excellent. I then watched the film a second time in the Japanese 5.1 mix and felt that it was equally as impressive. There’s a lot of use of the rear channels for the music and sound effects to give you an immersive experience. The dialogue is delivered primarily from the center channel speaker and no volume adjustment will be needed. The front left and right channels are where the majority of the music and sound effects are driven. There’s a very nice amount of bass here to be heard in the mix itself but most definitely via the LFE, you’ll hear coming from the subwoofer. There are some pretty intense moments here in the 5.1 lossless surround sound mixes during the action scenes, for both languages.
The film starts up with a nice amount of rear channel use for primarily sound effects during a flashback. This sequence has a decent amount of bass you’ll feel via the subwoofer as well. It’s a very impressive short (roughly 4 minutes) sequence that manages to give you an idea of what to expect, early in each language’s 5.1 surround mixes. Then you’ll be treated to the film’s beautiful opening title sequence that feels like something out of a “James Bond” film. The music of the theme song here is amazing and fills the room with its presence in a very cool way. There’s a very nice amount of bass in that opening title sequence with the theme and the subwoofer really gets a remarkably generous amount of action here.
Once the film finally starts up, in present-day Paris, you’ll notice the rear channels being able to make it feel like you’re in a large room and hear the echoes of applause and the chatter of the audience. This is an effect you’ll hear many other times throughout the film, setting you with realistic environments for the sound field. Once a little bit of action comes along you’ll start to really hear what this has to offer all throughout the film in terms of its surround sound mixes. One of my favorite things it does is use the rear channels for pans of cars passing by around 10 minutes in.
Then, you have all of the boats and aircraft such as planes and helicopters which make for some pretty impressive use of the rear channels and for the occasional pans as well as offer up some intense action at times. Plus, the car chases and such really prove to be intense here and make the 5.1 surround mixes really fun. In the big climactic action sequences, the music will intensify in the rear channels and you’ll feel this nice amount of oomph as the sound fills the room and the subwoofer will make you feel every bit. It’s pretty intense sound for an animated film and that’s not at all a bad thing, in my opinion. As I said, the dialogue is primarily driven from the center channel, however, a little over 15 minutes in you’ll get to hear a voice (via dialogue) come from the left rear channel which will certainly grab your attention, as it’s intended to do. Things like this really make this 5.1 lossless experience in either language a really fun experience for most all ages.
This is very impressive in both the original Japanese language and in the English dubbed language mix. All and all, for an anime film such as this, “Lupin III: The First” earns itself a perfect 5 rating for audio quality on this Blu-ray release from GKIDS / Shout! Factory.
Audio Quality Rating: 5 (out of 5)
A DVD of the film in standard definition (SD) video quality in the 2.39:1 aspect ratio with Japanese and English Dolby Digital 5.1 sound mixes is included with this “combo pack” release.
Bonus materials, on this release, are all presented in HD video quality with a variety of both English and Japanese (with English subtitles) Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. I’ll be noting which audio type each featurette below includes, accordingly.
The bonus materials that are on the Blu-ray Disc include:
- “English Cast Reunited” (52 minutes, 57 seconds – HD) includes Michelle Ruff (Fujiko), Richard Epcar (“Jigen”), Lex Lang (“Goeman”), Doug Erholtz (“Inspector Zenigata”), Laurie Hymes (“Laetitia”), Paul (“Gerard”), and of course Tony Oliver (“Lupin III”). This consists of an audio chat and is not live-action. It’s obvious that this was done post-COVID-19 and as a result, it was likely done via Zoom call. This proves to be enjoyable enough and is almost an hour in length.
- “CG Model Gallery” (12 minutes, 39 seconds – HD) includes Props like Bresson Diary, Medallions, The Eclipse, The Seaplane After, Lupin III’s Car, Fujiko Mine’s Seaplane, Police Vehicles, INTERPOL’s Helicopter, Seaplane, Lupin III’s Gun, Daisuke Jigen’s Gun, Gerard’s Gun, Zantetsuken, Arsene Lupin’s Hat, Lambert’s Cane, as well as Background Art like Laetitia’s Apartment, Lambert’s Room, The Seaplane’s Cockpit, The Seaplane’s Corridors, The Seaplane’s Cargo Hold, Entrance to the Eclipse Site, The Eclipse Site, and The Ahnenerbe – Brazil Chapter.
- “Animation Breakdown” (18 minutes, 11 seconds – HD) features Japanese audio with English subtitles. You’ll get to see animated storyboards, then animatics, here for scenes from the film. CG animation in early 3D stages, then with textures and effects are shown for each scene with essentially the final product at the bottom, while two earlier CG 3D animations are shown above before a video of the entire finished scene. Then, a few scenes here specifically show the transition from early storyboard to CG animation in 3D, and the reference live-action video used for the addition of facial and body expression (respectively for each scene). Eventually, you see the final adjustments made, get to see a rough CG animated animatic, and then the final finished scenes as they appear in the film. Lastly, there is Creating the Lighting and Compositing.
- “Yellow Carpet Premiere” (1 minute, 19 seconds – HD) took place on November 11th, 2019 at TOHO Cinemas Roppongi. This is in Japanese audio with English subtitles. In attendance for the premiere were Kanichi Kurita (Japanese voice of “Lupin III”), Daisuke Namikawa (Japanese voice of “Gorman Ishikawa”), Takashi Yamazaki (director, screenplay), Suzy Hirose (Japanese voice of “Laetitia”), and Tatsuya Fujiwara (Japanese voice of “Gerard”). Kurita, the voice actor who does the Japanese version of “Lupin III” gives a short speech after their introductions.
- Trailers (10 minutes, 23 seconds – HD) features English and then Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 audio with English subtitles. This consists of English Dub Trailer, U.S. Subtitled Trailer, English Dub Teaser #1, English Dub Teaser #2, Character Spots, International Trailer #1, International Trailer #2, and International Teaser. Promos (39 seconds – HD) in Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 sound include two International Spots.
- Interviews with Director and Japanese Cast (33 minutes, 45 seconds – HD) is in Japanese 2.0 Stereo sound with English subtitles. This starts out with the director discussing approaching a character so already well-known via the previous films and TV shows. Then you’ll get interviews with the members of the Japanese voice cast for the film.
Overall the bonus materials here are good for a film that was released in 2019 original in Japan and then late 2020 stateside, during a pandemic. As a result of the current situation, the English voice cast reunion for this is basically a voice chat but it still proves to be very worthwhile. There are really informative and entertaining interviews here also with the Japanese cast and the film’s director, as well as the trailers, a short glimpse at the film’s Japanese theatrical premiere, and two featurettes focusing on the film’s CG animation. All and all these extras total up to roughly 130 minutes, just over 2 hours, in length. That’s not bad at all and will leave fans a nice solid set of extras to enjoy after they’ve watched the film. It also features a physical DVD of the film for those who still are down with the whole SD (standard definition) thing.
Bonus Materials Rating: 4 (out of 5)
“Lupin III: The First” is a stand-alone or “reboot” style film and does not really require you to have previously seen the other literary iterations nor the animated and live-action shows or films to get the story as it’s not a direct continuation to those. However, it doesn’t hurt to have seen some (or all) of the previous iterations of Lupin III, as there are some homages to the character thrown in for fans. It’s certainly worth taking the time to note that this CG animated movie was released in 2019 originally in Japan and that is the very same year that its creator, Monkey Punch [aka Kazuhiko Katō], passed away. As a result of his death before the film released, it is dedicated to his memory by the filmmakers.
This is one of the best of the feature-length film animated iterations of Lupin III since “Lupin the 3rd: Castle of Cagliostro” from 1979 — an Anime classic. This is a fun film that I’m going to admit to having watched now three times before finishing my review. I’ve learned to enjoy the film more after each viewing as I was doing research watching other Lupin III animated films and TV shows, in between each viewing.
In terms of video quality, this film’s beautiful CG animation looks great in 1080p HD. The amount of detail to be found here is pretty astounding, with the style of the near photo-realistic textures and backgrounds. It manages to be visually stunning here on Blu-ray, running at a pretty solid 30Mbps roughly average bitrate. This is one of the most impressive Anime films that I’ve seen on the format in some time.
In terms of audio quality, this film on Blu-ray comes in two great choices of either the original Japanese language track in a lossless 5.1 mix (via DTS-HD Master Audio) and the English dub language track in a lossless 5.1 mix. I’ve watched the film now with both language tracks, using English subtitles for the original, and I have to say they are equally as impressive. Purists who like to experience only the original language track will be happy as well, so it’s a win/win situation. The amount of rear channel usage here and bass LFE via the subwoofer is impressive, especially during the action sequences.
The Blu-ray gets one very solid set of extras that total up to a little over an hour and a half. Plus, there’s a DVD of the film included in SD (standard definition), and since this film is somewhat family-friendly (in my opinion) that makes sense to have. Still, I think a digital copy would be a nice touch for the GKIDS titles to perhaps start to include if that’s a possibility? Sorry, I’m just thinking out loud as to what felt was missing here in terms of bonus materials.
All and all, “Lupin III: The First” is a great deal of fun as a film and it both looks and sounds excellent here on the Blu-ray Disc debut for North America. The extras are enough to really keep you entertained afterward as well. This is what I consider to be a very highly recommended Anime film on Blu-ray.
In terms of Blu-ray release, this gets:
5 (out of 5) for video quality
5 (out of 5) for audio quality
4 (out of 5) for bonus materials
Very Highly Recommended
– Amazon Commissions Earned –