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Lupin III: The Pursuit of Harimao's Treasure

Rupan Sansei: Harimao no Zaiho Wo Ee!!
1995 / 90m - Japan
Comedy, Adventure - Animation
Lupin III: The Pursuit of Harimao's Treasure poster

A Lupin III film by Osamu Dezaki, not a director I'd immediately consider for the Lupin franchise. Then again, this series has always attracted odd and atypical directors (remember Miyazaki, Suzuki, Koike), so it's not that big of a surprise. Don't expect a typical Dezaki film though, this is just another Lupin episode.

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The Lupin films all follow a very similar setup. Lupin is chasing yet another high-profile treasure, working with and against the usual crew of familiars, plus a couple of random bad guys. It's a weird and animated bunch who all get entangled in a complicated quest to find the treasure.

The film holds a perfect balance between adventure, action and oddball comedy. It's a shame that once again the animation is quite poor. Monkey Punch's style doesn't really demand complex detail, but it would benefit from more intricate animation (as Miyazaki and Koike proved). Still, good fun, much like most other films in the series.

Space Adventure Cobra

1982 / 99m - Japan
Sci-fi - Animation
Space Adventure Cobra poster

Black Jack

Burakku Jakku
1996 / 90m - Japan
Drama, Thriller - Animation
Black Jack poster

Sword for Truth

Shuranosuke Zanmaken: Shikamamon no Otoko
1990 / 51m - Japan
Action, Adventure - Animation
Sword for Truth poster

Ronin/ninja anime that feels a lot like a blueprint for Ninja Scroll. The quality is incomparable and the film felt incredibly rushed, but the core elements are there. A mysterious ronin, ninjas with unique powers, and a princess that needs rescuing. In the hands of Dezaki, it becomes a fun little filler anime, marred by its limited budget.

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When a tiger escapes from a local circus, the police have their hands full trying to kill the creature. While they are chasing the beast around, a band of ninjas is kidnapping the Princess behind their backs. The shogunate calls in the help of Sasaki, a skilled ronin who killed the tiger for them with one single swoop of his blade.

50 minutes clearly wasn't enough to do justice to the story. Some parts could've been cut, but as Ninja Scroll proved, a feature-length runtime would've been the saner option. At least Sword for Trust is never dull. The animation is basic and the art style is OK, the action is decent and the creatures/ninjas are an interesting bunch. Cheap fun.

Golgo 13: Queen Bee

1998 / 57m - Japan
Thriller, Crime - Animation
Golgo 13: Queen Bee poster

Slightly better than the original, but only by a small margin. The animation is a step up from the first one, then again there are 15 years between the two films, so it would've been really bad if that hadn't been the case. Apart from that, these films are pretty much on the same level.

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The plot is extremely basic and hardly worth bothering with. Golgo isn't a very interesting character, neither is Queen Bee. They're just simple stereotypes who lack personality. You'd expect the action to make up for that in a film like this, but even the action scenes are very static and lifeless.

It just comes off as very cheap and derivative, with little to no redeeming qualities. At least the film is short and while it's clear corners were cut wherever possible, the animation shows at least a small glimpse of the talent hiding behind this film. That's not enough to make it an enjoyable experience though.

The Professional: Golgo 13

Golgo 13
1983 / 91m - Japan
Action, Crime - Animation
The Professional: Golgo 13 poster