Lupin & Jigen have their sights set on a treasure worth stealing called the Little Comet which is located in the country of East Doroa. The country has fortified its border after a singer named Queen Malta got assassinated in the neighboring country of West Doroa upon visit. Despite the two countries being enemies, Lupin & Jigen still plan to steal the treasure. During the heist, Jigen almost got killed by a skilled sniper named Yael Okuzaki. His specialty is preparing tombstones for his targets before executing his kills. Its said that no one has survived after Yael makes a grave for that target.
Stylish, slick and and with the guys from Redline and A Woman Names Fujiko Mine, behind the helm, you know it is going to be gloriously striking (more on that later). Outside of almost all Lupin series/movies OVA/specials, this one stands with very few as a rather Mature, gritty tale in the Lupin topology, with gunfights, car chases, and sexual sequences. It does sometimes feel like a show in the middle of a larger series. This is not a major problem, but will leave some people hoping for a continuation of the ongoing story. Mind you this is two separate episodes that are needing each other to complete the story. When delving into the world of Lupin, it is nice to know some basics. This way you can watch it in any order. This one, however, does need a little exposition because a first time viewer might not understand how static the world of Lupin can be. Lupin himself is carefree, and confident to the point of a World Wide Wrestler. His crafty thieving abilities, artful dodging of trouble, and savvy talented partners make him a force to be reckoned with. Jigen, is hired help that is highly skilled in fire arms and knows his way around a weapon. And Fujiko, is Lupin in female form, with less of the bravado and the added ability of using her sex as a weapon. In the world of Lupin (especially the later T specials and movies, normally there is a Cop Zentigata who hopelessly chases Lupin and another hired helper swordsman named Goemon. These two members of the normal quintet are mostly missing save for a brief shot of Zendigata, but this is more due to not being needed in this shorter story and time constraints rather than a devious omission. The title itself does some great foreshadowing of the weightiness of the episode. You know from the start, that Jigen is dancing with the devil and that devil, is an antagonist that has qualities that many Lupin villains are ill equipped to accomplish; actually pose a challenge to Lupin and his crew. Sure many Lupin baddies have threatening qualms about them, but something about the lumbering, quiet sniper in this show makes you shiver slightly for our "heroes" every time he is on the screen. A recap of how the story goes, a McGuffin is what Lupin is after, all while a hired killer is paid to kill Jigen. His MO? He uses a dice roll to figure how many bullets it will take to kill his target, and also creates a preemptive tombstone of the victim before the assassination happens. He has a long line of success and his new job is Jigen and Co. Fujiko enters the fray in the form of a separate job plan she is doing, passing vital info to Lupin in her over the top scene. What sets this apart, is we see our main protagonist bleed. Not to throw spoilers out there, but there is genuine doom with how dangerous this sniper if with his long distance weapon. In this set of events, Lupin must find out more about our killer all the while keeping Jigen from ending up dead. Animation in this title is flowing with an old school cop drama vibe. The detailed high contrast darks and lights mixed in for a truly organic look. It is fresh looking and a lot of eye candy to take in at times. It was both a visceral stunner and a technically proficient anime title.. The frame rates are a smooth as silk, with interesting camera angles, and perfect story boards for the action. I t also has one of the best car chases in Lupin, ever. Our characters are drawn in that certain long tall groovy look that calls back to the 70's, with a splash of mad Magazine's Spy vs Spy. The color pallet looks vibrant when it wants and washed out when the hot sun bakes down. The closest titles I can think of are done by the same creators, including The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, and Reline. The characters are not many in the title, but there is moments where Lupin comes out of his shell, Jigen actually seems dejected in his pride, especially in an encounter with his new nemesis. But I had to deduct a bit for Fujiko falling into a damsel in distress sequence, which was over the top exploitation of her body. She is basically nude in a cage with a phallic steam looking robot. They only slightly rectify some of this later with a reveal by her, but it still felt like a step back from how capable she was in Fujiko Mine. I am probably reading a bit much into this, but the whole scene just seemed to last too long. In conclusion, this was such an exhilaration to watch, especially that car chases, that I watched sequences over again taking time to enjoy the vision. The overall story was tight and left me wanting more. I could not ask for a better Lupin title. Blue jacket Lupin, welcome to the franchise. Please make sure to get Sayo Yamamoto back to direct more of this.
What I Liked: The character animations and backgrounds were stunning, if not a little less detailed than in The Woman Called Fujiko Mine. The soundtrack really suits the mood that the movie is going for. The character designs. The plot had all the interest and intrigue of your standard Lupin adventure. The villian was interesting and was a great calculated killer-type antagonist (without making him overly pantomime-like). The car chase. Some interesting cameos towards the end. Pacing's good. What I Didn't: This movie's Fujiko feels like a watered-down (perhaps inexperienced?) version. Almost the same goes for Jigen, who fell a little flat. The plot doesn't really focus much on Jigen and sort of wobbles from sub-plot to sub-plot. The scenes in the Gentlemen's Club felt like a weak excuse to get Fujiko naked, and felt jarring next to the car-and-guns scenes. Pacing also suffered during these sections. Final Verdict: This 50min saga split over two halves is a strange little beast. While there's gorgeous animation, plenty of action and a nice soundtrack, Daisuke Jigen's Gravestone unfortunately fails its deuteragonists by making them almost shadows of their former selves and combining them with a plot that's a little unfocused and somewhat uneven.
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