It's Lupin. It's an OVA. It's a pretty decent watch for both the diehard Lupin followers and those with only a passing appreciation for the franchise.
Goemon is getting married with Lupin, Jigen and Fujiko in attendance. The wedding ceremony is broken up by the intrusion of the brides family's rivals the Fuma clan, who make off with the bride. Where do Lupin and the gang fit in? did I mention that the kidnapping is an attempt to get hold of a magnificent treasure - yep, you can guess the rest. The story follows their attempts to get the girl and beat the Fuma to the treasure haul. Throw in some Zenigata for good measure to round off the setting for what is an engaging Lupin caper.
The story is typical Lupin fair along the same lines of whimsy mischief found in the Miyazaki directed Castle Of Cagliostro - so don't expect the harder edge of the manga or the sexual charge of the current Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna. While a touch more violent than Cagliostro, it is fair to say this is a pretty light offering in the franchise. Whether a newcomer or long time fan of the franchise, if you enjoyed the Castle of Cagliostro you will find this to be a 'sequel' of sorts both thematically as well as in its general presentation.
The animation is on par with what you would expect from an OVA made in 1987 although it's action sequences help it stand out.
One of my favourite scenes in anime history is the car chase sequence found in Cagliostro, but the one found in this OVA (again featuring the iconic Fiat 500) probably out does it. The sequence where the chase finds it's way into a bathing resort is particularly memorable both for the destruction caused and the reactions of bystanders all while maintaining a comical innocence to it all. The fighting sequences with Goemon are also quiet engaging and do well to show off the swords skills one would expect from a character who still dresses as a samurai despite the 20th century setting.
The character designs remain consistent with those found in Cagliostro (although is it me, or does Fujiko seem to change a bit every time I see her? :s) and despite the franchises age the designs are still fresh while remaining instantly recognisable.
Overall the presentation is excellent fitting the general tone set by the franchise's previous iterations.
Like the animation, the sound quality is consistent with the precedent set by earlier entries into the franchise. The voice acting (note: I have not seen the English dub) is on par with what one finds in the early movies and series, the talent showing once again how best to switch from drama to comedy at the slightest moment. The music also serves its purpose deftly but it must be said it does not match the score used in some of the other franchise entries.
As stated over and over again this OVA has a lot in common with the Castle of Cagliostro feature film and the tone that Miyazaki set for the franchise in its animated form. The characters are no exception. If that film is your only exposure to the franchise than you will be safe in the knowledge that nothing really changes in the Fuma Conspiracy.
Lupin has always benefited from its episodic nature allowing both the casual and hardcore fan to watch episodes , movies and OVAs seemingly at random without inhibiting their experience. In this regard the Fuma Conspiracy conforms to this nature - you will not have had to have seen any of Lupin before it, and nothing revolutionary happens in the OVA that carries forward to the rest of the franchise. Some may find this a weakness of long running franchises, but where Lupin succeeds (particularly in this OVA) is that the characters are able to establish their personalities within a few seconds of screen time that even those new to the franchise can instantly engage in the story at hand.
The Fuma Conspiracy is an excellent addition to the franchise in almost all aspects. While not groundbreaking for the series it does prove to be entertaining for both the new and old fans. For those new to the franchise the best entry into Lupin's world is still the classic Castle of Cagliostro, but this provides a strong follow up for those wanting more of what they found in that piece. If you are a returning fan to the series and haven't seen this it is definitely one of the series better outputs.
A Lupin The Third series special. Goemon is getting initiated into a clan of a woman he's fallen in love with, and the clan has an ancient vase that they have to protect from their enemeies. The Lupin Gang getting involved with all of this, and the hidden treasure that the vase is needed to find.
Story: This is definitely a weak link. Its interesting to see Goemon get a bit of focus, but the woman he's involved with isn't very interesting, the hidden treasure thing was predictable right from the beginning, and there really isn't anything special in the story to keep your attention. It feels like an overly long, middle of the road episode of a TV series writing wise.
Animation: The one saving grace of this special. The animation is great. Not quite Castle of cagliostro, but it definitely didn't have the same budget as a full theatrical film. Still, it looks great, with very fluid animation and some great car chases and action scenes. Honestly the action kind of takes up too much of the time, to the detriment to the story and characters. Still, this special looks great.
Sound: I watched the English Dub, and its terrible. I'm pretty sure the people from this Dub never did anything else with Lupin, which I'm glad for. No ones voices really work well, and Lupin (or Rupan, as the Dub had to call him at the time) has an especially annoying voice. Apparently the Japanese Dub didn't use the regular Japanese voice actors, which lead to some controversy at the time in japan, but I can't rate the Japanese Dub since I didn't listen to it. The music/sound effects were ok, but not memorable.
Characters: You don't get much from the characters. Lupin and the gang are ok, but the writing doesn't give them much to do or let their personalities come out as much as you'd want. The new love interest for Goemon is just kind of bland and forgettable, and the villain even moreso. I've seen a decent amount of Lupin III stuff at this point, and this is probably the first time I've been bored with the characters, which I blame on the mediocre writing.
Overall: This special was very nice to look at, but that doesn't stop it from being kind of a dull experience. I wouldn't really recommend it, unless someone wants to be a Lupin the 3rd Completionist.