May 27, 2012

Pink Jacket Lupin 1

I've finally gotten the chance to watch the third Lupin III series. Between Ben Ettinger's amazingly thorough post on it and my own post on the accompanying 1985 feature film, most of what I want to say about the series has already been said. I mainly wanted to share some of the crazy animation from it. I'll be doing multiple posts on it, because there are just so many amazing things I want to share. I went in knowing that the art wasn't quite as wacky in the first few episodes because I'd already seen them a long time ago, but even there I found a few gems.

The individual drawings themselves are great, but the way they relate to each other spatially is what really makes them so amazing to me. I haven't posted every frame, but I tried to get what I felt were the key poses.

It's immediately obvious that this series has a higher budget than the second series. There's much more movement and the designs are more detailed (but still not overly so).

Episode 2 has a fun story, with Zenigata going through a wide range of extreme emotions. While the animation is competent, it still lacks the vitality that the later episodes have, except for a few scenes, particularly Zenigata in the airport (shown below). I also love that the next shot after he runs off is a smash cut to dozens of handcuffs flying through the air (not shown in the post). Check out these brilliantly stupid drawings:

It's interesting how the first few episodes start off more polished and naturalistic, with very little of the loose, wacky drawing style that shows up later. It doesn't seem to be a budgetary thing, because the later episodes are just as fully animated, it's more that the entire visual style goes crazy. Normally, at least in Western cartoons, the opposite is true. The character designs are completely different in the beginning, with Lupin having a weird afro and smaller eyes, and Goemon barely looking like himself. Throughout the first dozen or so episodes, it gradually gets crazier and crazier until we start to arrive at the style the series is known for.

I love the way Zenigata's mouth is drawn here (above). He looks like a frog or something. Visually, this series may have the closest Zenigata to the manga.

The rest of this post is from episode 11, featuring animation direction by Tatsuo Ryuno and Hidetoshi Owashi. It definitely has the most consistently wild animation up to this point. There's a great chase scene full of funky posing, and even the cars are animated in a really kinetic way. I also like how one of the villains has a pacifier in his mouth throughout the episode.

Here's the thing that made me laugh the hardest in this episode-- Fujiko is at the door exiting a room after she's handcuffed Lupin to the bed. Then she turns around and gasps, and it abruptly cuts to Lupin screaming at her as he runs across the room towards her, dragging the bed with him. Really jarring cuts that seem like a mistake always crack me up. The animation and the situation are both funny, but I think what really gets me is the way Lupin starts wailing just as it cuts. Yasuo Yamada, and Goro Naya, are amazing in this series (voicing Lupin and Zenigata respectively). All the weird stories and slapstick allows them to really cut loose, giving some of their most high-energy performances anywhere in the franchise.

This (above) is my favourite individual drawing so far.

I'm going to cover the series in chronological order, even though I've watched a few of the later episodes already. There will be more coming soon!

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