First of all for a more detailed look at the series overall, you can read Sarah’s review of the first Blu-ray release by clicking HERE.
I don’t have a lot of memories of Lupin the 3rd. I do remember watching it on the Sci-Fi channel back in the late 90s, it sticking out like a sore thumb due to its more comedic tone and older fashioned character designs instead of the more modern (and often more sweary and violent!) content on that late night anime block. I did enjoy it, mind you. Now two odd decades later the Lupin the 3rd: Part IV lands on my metaphorical in-tray, and English-dubbed no less, adding to that late night TV feeling…
Lupin The 3rd: Part IV takes place entirely in Italy, and has our core cast of mismatched thieves and outlaws get into several crazy, funny and/or exciting adventures across 26 episodes. What I think the series should get particular praise for is how in Episode 1 the main cast is expertly established for those not familiar with the show going in (like myself!) which makes it easily accessible despite having “Part IV” in the title. Covering everything from major jewel heists, drug use and corruption in football, zombies, haunted houses, love, marriage, assassins, and a rather crazy plot surrounding the MI6 and a clone of Leonardo Da Vinci, the series won’t give you any time to get bored, that’s for sure!
The main reason we’re here in this review, however, is the English dub. After all, it’s the only option here on this release, and thankfully it’s of very high quality. Charismatic thief Lupin is brought brilliantly to life by his 90s voice actor Tony Oliver, Lupin’s right hand man and sharpshooter Daisuke Jigen is played cool and collected by Richard Epcar (also returning to the role he first voiced in the 90s), Lex Lang returns to the role of stoic and stupid sword-wielding assassin Goemon Ishikawa XIII after first taking the role in 2003 and Michelle Ruff likewise returns to her role of femme fatal and fellow thief Fumiko Mine after her first performance of the role in 2003. Rounding off the cast is Doug Erholtz as the tireless stickler for the rules Inspector Zenigata, and Cassandra Lee Morris as Rebecca Rossellini, the woman Lupin marries at the start of the show, but the relationship is soon a turbulent one, to say the least.
The rest of the cast are good too, only one or two cases of poor voice work (someone trying to do a comedic English accent for a thug in Episode 2 comes to mind…) and only a few average ones. The overall feel, vocally, is that of an old Warner Bros. or Hanna-Barbera cartoon (though certainly not in content!), which adds a nice touch to the old-fashioned art style, Zenigata and Lupin having a great “I’ll catch you next time! waves fist in the air” relationship that’s brilliantly brought to life by their respective voice actors.
This all works well with the great soundtrack and often stunning visuals, and from what I can tell (as there was no Japanese subtitled version to compare, obviously!) the script keeps close to the originals, though with a few gags for English audiences, as well as a few voices parodying actual famous actors and actresses here and there. On disc extras including an interview with the English version directors Richard Epcar and Ellyn Stern, TV edits of the openings, and a couple of versions of the cast Roll Call.
Overall, then, Lupin the 3rd: Part IV is a very fun experience. Pretty much all the episodes are self-contained (there are two two-parters, but that’s it) so it was fun to just stick an episode on here and there to relax. The English language version featured here is of high quality, the script adapter (is that a job title?), directors and the voice actors themselves knew what tone to aim for and pull it off. It’s both silly and immature and at the same time squarely aimed at an older audience with some of the jokes, occasional blood and adult themes. It’s a very pleasing combination that makes it a joy to watch, even if dubbed isn’t normally your thing.