Lupin III: Seven Days Rhapsody
Can one review take down a website? It's bizarre to say so, but writing this review has taken far too much of my life. You see, rarely do I sit down after a showing and just bleed onto the electronic paper. I think about my reviews. I work through what I'm going to say in my mind, usually over the course of a couple of days. This is a fine process with programming that I love or hate -- it's not going to leave me. But for shows that are in that grab bag of mediocrity? It can become a challenge, even a chore. And writing this review was what led me to say, "Wait a minute. Reviewing mediocre anime is not my life's work -- nor should it be."
The surprising thing about all this is that I liked Seven Days Rhapsody, yet another chapter in the fifty-year saga that is Lupin III. It wasn't awful. The action was pretty exciting (save for the draggy middle). The concept was good. The humor wasn't wonderful, but there was still some wit. There were even some moments that played against the standard, such as Lupin and Jigen being pitted against one another. It's going to get my lowest recommendation just because it's not bad Lupin by any stretch. But so many of the Lupin conventions showed up -- including a high concept that the script just couldn't support -- that writing about it, even in the feeble recesses in my brain, became a non-starter. It's damning with faint praise to say I'd watch it again, in large part because I didn't remember it well even a few days after watching it.
In this adventure, Lupin is under a time crunch. He's in the midst of a horse-racing scheme to gain loot, but there are also two (three?) other gigs that demand his attention. He's got to get them all done within one week...which wouldn't be a problem except that they are all in different parts of the globe. He trots off to various locales, but in a classic Lupin scenario, he finds himself protecting a beautiful, young, naïve yet street-smart girl from her daddy who's the head of a crime syndicate. (Naïve yet street-smart? I know, I know.) There are explosions, guns, and plans to kill Lupin. Oh, and Zenigata. And Jigen. And Fujiko. You know the drill.
Anybody who's seen a Lupin film pretty much knows what to expect from this one...more hi-jinks, double-crosses, etc. I like this sort of thing. And yet the malaise I had about it bothers me. Perhaps the key issue is that the seven-day concept from the title is such a waste. It's not until the credits that we even see the last caper come to fruition. Had the movie stuck to its guns and given the audience what it promised, I would have been happier. But quite frankly, the main plot has been done to death in Lupin territory. Ever since The Castle of Cagliostro (if not before), Lupin has been dealing with damsels in distress, and yet none of the following features hold up to that seminal film. Why must we go back to the same well each time? If you're a Lupin fan, this may not bother you. I've always considered myself one. But are the yearly TV specials wearing me out? Oh yeah.
Strangely enough, shortly after viewing Seven Days, I found myself watching the first episode of the original Lupin III series -- the 1971 one that's barely animated with character designs much more like those of creator Monkey Punch, meaning they are far more cartoonish. While the plot was simple and the art laughable, it was a lot of fun. There's also hope with the wave of positivity surrounding The Woman Called Fujiko Mine. I think from here on out, I may go back into the far past for my Lupin escapades or enjoy what is to some extent a reboot of the franchise through fresh eyes...but I think I'm done with the yearly specials.
Lupin III: Seven Days Rhapsody -- violence, mild profanity -- B-