Immortality is such a common subject matter in Japanese fiction, they sure must want to live forever. Lupin The Third: The Secret Of Mamo has an evil guy claiming to have found the secret of eternal youth, but thief Lupin suspects foul play. An adventure packed full of car chases, thieving, mystery, love, sex and explosions await. A different beast to Castle of Cagliostro for sure.
Lupin and his two buddies, the badass hat wearing, goatee bearded Jigen and calm samurai Goemon, are off on a hunt for items linked with immortality. They’ve teamed up with the sexy Fujiko who is working with someone else, the mysterious Mamo. He wants the secrets to immortality and isn’t pleased when Lupin fobs Fujiko off with a fake philosophers stone, causing Mamo to send his henchmen after Lupin. Throw in Zenigata, the police inspector put in charge of catching Lupin, and we have a movie of epic proportions. It mixes between comic, western and sci-fi making for a film of unpredictable sights, though predictable actions.
Being an animated film from the 70’s, The Secret Of Mamo is rather static with only a few decent animated moments, but the character designs have their charms. When you get a detailed drawing of one of the cast about to do something badass, it manages to pack a style rarely seen in anime today. Sketch lines are used sparsely now, whereas Lupin uses them for any moment which wants to express something important is happening. If the film came out a few years later the whole thing may have been packed with smooth animation and stylish shots, but we have to make do with the latter. It is almost a shame that Castle of Cagliostro came after, as that had the fluid animation The Secret Of Mamo could have done with, but lacks the core heart of what Lupin is about. From a seedy sex maniac to a gentleman, despite Cagliostro being a decent film, it changed a lot to make it more family friendly, losing some of the wham the iconic thief has.
The Secret Of Mamo despite carrying the adult desires from the comics, is still a weaker film to Cagliostro though. The story is a little flaky at times, the characters a bit too quick to change as the plot demands it. It packs style to make up for shortcomings, but it also has a boring villain and the inspector’s chase not really fitting into proceedings without seeming there just because it is a tick box on the Lupin requirements. Come for the fun, not for the eternal youth.