Lupin III: The Fuma Conspiracy

Genre: Action/Comedy
Format: 1 Movie
Allegiance: TOHO
Director: Ozeki Masayuki
Vintage: 1987
Intelligence Agency Report by: Djudge
Master swordsman Goemon has finally decided to settle down and take time away from his adventures with the ace gunman Jigen and the legendary master thief, Arsene Lupin III. However, before the wedding ceremony can be completed, ninjas crash the party and steal Goemon’s bride. The cabal’s aim is to use her as a hostage in exchange for her family’s priceless heirloom: an artifact said to be the key to the legendary treasures of the Suminawa clan. With a friend in need, a damsel in distress, an urge to snag the loot, and Interpol Inspector Zenigata back on his tail, Lupin’s about to set off on yet another grand adventure.

Field Agent Report by: Djudge
Overall 7.75
(not an average)

The Fuma Conspiracy was my first real experience with the celebrated Lupin III franchise, and suffice it to say, this particular entry got me hooked enough to plan future forays into other installments of the master thief’s adventures. While the movie did have a few obvious faults that any novice viewer can pick up on, the overall experience –as dictated by the great action sequences and subtle humor– was immediately engaging and made for a great piece of animation to view time and again. At the very least however, let it be known that it’s safe to say that The Fuma Conspiracy, is one of the higher qualityLupin capers ever produced.

For starters, Fuma Conspiracy contains higher tier animation that I considered quite fluid for a production nearly two decades old. Like its much beloved cousin, Castle of CagliostroFuma is infused with a healthy helping of action. This time however, much of Lupin’s time in the spotlight is taken by his co-star: master samurai Goemon. Fight scenes between the fan-favorite samurai and legions of the mysterious Fuma ninja reach a fevered pitch on a few occasions and the choreography rings with a slight Zatoichi feel to them (of course, Zatoichi never really fought flying ninjas to my knowledge). Also, like Cagliostro, this movie contains an extended car chase scene that is highly entertaining, well executed, and plays up the movie’s humorous side by a few degrees. Sadly, the voice acting in this piece is clearly not up to par with other entries into the franchise. The cast of Fuma was virtually a full overhaul, and for the most part, the selections to voice the characters were at times quite inadequate. Lupin’s voice in particular, seemed a bit too “zingy” and sometimes missed some emphasis on delivering lines.

As for Fuma’s plot, I found it to be quite a bit formulaic this time and was able to quickly deduce who was who (something noteworthy since I’m usually oblivious to such plot devices). The most beef that I can come up with Fuma’s story has to be Goemon’s part in the drama. Falling for a girl is great and all, but the movie’s flashbacks don’t really do a great job in getting me to buy into the romance between the swordsman and his fianceé. For all that it was worth, Goemon comes off as quite fickle (probably not as much as the master thief Lupin III, but you get the picture). Also, as with some other adventure titles,Fuma suffers from the “generic villain disorder.” The film’s main villain, a fashion-deficient bulked-up madman, plays his role in the strong, silent, and deadly manner making his demise easily predictable. His lieutenant, a goofy police detective that has infiltrated the local police in order to further his clan’s plot, parades around in a sidekick-ish slapstick manner. When all the bills are summed up against the Fuma clan, it really does make me wonder how they managed to survive into the present day. But alas, this movie isn’t about realism; it’s about Lupin nabbing the loot, Jigen blowing folks away, Fujiko charming her way around, and last, but not least, Goemon saving his girl.

All in all, I’d recommend Fuma to anyone new to the Lupin universe. While it won’t be quite the complete Lupin experience, thanks to the shortcomings of the both the seiyuu and the Fuma villains, there is something to cherish here. It made quite the impression on me my first time around, and it proved to be just the ticket when it came to getting me to watch more and more of the master thief’s adventures. That aspect of the production alone is enough for me to warrant this piece as one of Lupin’s best adventures. As a side note, yes, this movie makes it official: the green jacket is so much cooler than the red jacket.