I have just finished viewing the Takeshi Koike directed film and I would like to take a moment to provide some spoiler-free impressions!
Daisuke Jigen's Gravestone is a slick, stylish interpretation of the Lupin franchise that fits nicely onto the end of the Fujiko Mine spin-off. It is similar not only in terms of the character art, but also in tone, storytelling and direction.
The film makes the most of its fifty minute slot and tells a well paced, interesting story. Takeshi Koike and Yuuya Takahashi have done a fantastic job avoiding the usual Lupin trope of introducing a flurry of pointless, uninteresting one-shot characters. Instead, the narrative focuses on Lupin, Jigen and Fujiko as they go up against the mysterious gunman, Jael Okuzaki - a worthy adversary for our partners in crime.
Okuzaki is a cool villain and one that fits comfortably alongside the other characters. Often, when Lupin TV specials turn the spotlight towards individuals other than the main five, it feels disappointing. That is certainly not the case here. Everybody in the film gets just the right amount of screen time and I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Okuzaki setting up his gun. The attention to detail is great.
The presentation is solid, though there are still a couple of off-model shots here and there. It's nice to see the Fujiko Mine character art return and it's obvious that production was much tighter here, in comparison to the animation of the TV show. The car chase looked particularly great, but I couldn't help but notice that it was mostly all featured inside of a tunnel with no other cars on the road. This seems like an incredibly easy route to take, from an animation perspective.
Yuji Ohno's absence is of no concern here (but don't worry, we still love you, Mr. Ohno!) James Shimoji has done an impeccable job of scoring the flick and his smooth, low-key tracks fit the tone perfectly. I just could not imagine hearing Ohno's trademark music here, as with Fujiko Mine. As cheesy as the lyrics are, Revolver Fires is a great ending theme and it helps play upon the episodic nature of the film.
There is one incredibly strange scene in the film, which concerns Fujiko. To me, it felt like a desperate attempt to be surreal and it isn't one I could appreciate (I was more freaked out, than anything.) The lack of Goemon and Zenigata was also a disappointment, but given the reduced running time, it's something I can forgive.
Daisuke Jigen's Gravestone is not your usual Lupin film. It's dark and different - just as was Fujiko Mine. It's certainly not everyone's cup of tea, as it isn't mine. I would highly suggest giving it a watch if you enjoyed the spin-off series, or if you are quite happy accepting a gorier, more adult Lupin.
- Lee [@bolt7]Back