Lupin the Third: Pilot Film is the first animated media based on the Lupin III manga by Monkey Punch. It was produced by TMS Entertainment (then Tokyo Movie during the time of its production) in an attempt to secure funding for a Lupin III series. It was directed by Masaaki Osumi, who would later be the director of the first few Part 1 episodes.
The Pilot film was mainly an introduction to each of the five major characters as well as a retired detective named Kogorō Akechi, who never really appeared in anything after the pilot film, however was a character in the original manga's first chapter. Goemon Ishikawa XIII is also in the film as an enemy of Lupin like he was in the first few episodes of the first series. Overall, the animation style and most of the voice acting is unique to this pilot film.
The film mostly deals with introducing Koichi Zenigata, Lupin III, Daisuke Jigen, Goemon Ishikawa XIII, Fujiko Mine, and Kogoro Akechi, in that order. These introductions are usually paired with random and usually unrelated clips (with the exception of Zenigata and Akechi's), such as Fujiko shooting down Lupin's Mercedes-Benz SSK down a cliff, Lupin and Jigen running from an explosion in an underground sewer, and Goemon sitting on a rock formation with multiple crows gathering around him.
In the start of the film, Zenigata plays a game of shogi with Lupin over a phone, with the intent of having the police department trace the call's source. They manage to trace it to a telephone booth outside the police station, which causes Zenigata and the other cops quickly rush out to the booth. Unbeknownst to them, Lupin was calling from a mansion the whole time and had rerouted the call's source to the booth and rigged it to explode as soon as Zenigata furiously throws his shogi piece inside the booth. As it explodes, Lupin ends the call laughing hysterically.
Lupin grabs a glass of beer on a table after he stops laughing, but before he could take a sip, Jigen fires his gun at the glass. Lupin asks him what's going on and Jigen explains the beer has been poisoned. He thanks Jigen for saving him, but then he claims that he knew who intended to kill him and throws a knife at the curtain, revealing a concealed Fujiko. Fujiko catches the knife and tells Lupin it's a nice guess, but then admits that it wasn't her who tried to poison him.
Jigen still wonders who tried to poison Lupin, who only repeats that many people try to kill him. Lupin takes a peek in his telescope and states that Goemon (who was then an enemy of Lupin in the original manga and in this film) wasn't the one who tried to kill him, as he observes him from far away. Goemon, as if sensing he was being observed, turns around and suddenly slices a tree in half, and notices policemen gathering outside Lupin's mansion,
Zenigata yells out to Lupin to give up now as they've already surrounded the mansion, and then orders cops to barge into the mansion, a scene which only amuses Kogoro Akechi. The policemen attempt to enter Lupin's room but only get overpowered by Jigen and Fujiko. After a while, a policeman bandaged from head to toe (possibly Lupin) comes out the mansion and admits defeat, causing Goemon to step up and volunteer to kill Lupin himself. He goes in the mansion confidently and spots what appears to be Lupin himself, and begins cutting "Lupin" up, only to realize that it was merely yet another policeman wearing a Lupin body suit.
Akechi comes forward to volunteer on catching Lupin himself. He grabs a rope with a hook on its one end and throws it on one of the mansion's windows, saying it is the first step in his plan. The second step is to tie the rope on the bumper of a police car, which intrigues Zenigata even more. The third step of his plan is to start the engine, and the fourth step is revealing he was Lupin all along, disguised as Akechi, surprising Zenigata greatly. The rope Lupin threw on the window was actually tied to a kite, which flew out of the building with Jigen and Fujiko holding on to it as Lupin drove the police car. Everyone watching the whole plan unfold reacted with great disappointment (especially Goemon, who could only gather enough strength to say "regret"), with the exception of the actual Kogoro Akechi, who was even more amused Lupin disguised himself as him of all people.
Lupin, along with Jigen and Fujiko on the kite, drive off into the distance. In the final seconds of the film, Lupin takes a sharp turn, causing the rope to snap. The film then ends on a freeze frame with "...というわけです" ("... that is all") typed out, as it closes out like a folder.
|Cinemascope / Theatrical Version||TV Version|
|Lupin III||Taichirō Hirokawa||Nachi Nozawa|
|Daisuke Jigen||Kiyoshi Kobayashi||Kiyoshi Kobayashi|
|Gorō Naya||Osamu Kobayashi|
|Fujiko Mine||Eiko Masuyama||Eiko Masuyama|
|Inspector Heiji Zenigata VII||Shinsuke Chikaishi||Chikao Ōtsuka|
|Kogorō Akechi||Hitoshi Takagi||Kōichi Kitamura|
Following the success of the Lupin III manga, animator Gisaburō Sugii suggested to Tokyo Movie (TMS) founder Yutaka Fujioka that the manga be adapted to animation. Tokyo Movie instead created this 12 minute CinemaScope animated film to gather interest in the project, and also because they lacked resources to make it by themselves. Originally Monkey Punch was going to assist in production however the project became too much for him and had to back out. It was also when animator Yasuo Otsuka left Toei Animation for Tokyo Movie, believing that his knowledge and lifelong interest of guns and automobiles would be put to great use.
When it was finished in 1969, it never saw a release in theaters due to various reasons, including a lack of financial backers due to its adult content. With the pilot film still unsold, Tokyo Movie then tweaked it for TV, converting the 2.31:1 film into a 4:3 television pilot featuring different voice actors. Eventually, Yomiuri Television agreed to greenlight the series in 1971, resulting in Lupin the 3rd Part 1, however most of the staff involved has already left Tokyo Movie by then with only Otsuka and director Masaaki Osumi remaining.
The film was eventually aired on August 17, 1988 on TV, then released as part of the "Lupin III Secret File" collection on March 1, 1989. It was then re-released in 1993 with a border around the picture and some cropping; all releases afterwards are based off this version. Home releases of Part 1 outside Japan include the pilot film as a bonus feature. Discotek included the film as a bonus feature in their American release of the 1st series, however a re-release dropped one of the versions due to cutting down from 4 DVDs to 3.
Differences between Cinemascope and TV Versions
- The script has changes between the two versions and has different voice actors.
- The animation while mostly having the same frames, the backgrounds during selected scenes are more detailed in the Cinemascope versions while they are simpler on the TV version.
- There is a richer but darker color palette in the Cinemascope version; the TV version is more brighter and shows a visible slanted border at the bottom of the screen.
- The title card is at the beginning in the Cinemascope version while it is 0:49 in the TV version after Lupin announces himself over the phone to Zenigata.
- During the shogi game between Lupin and Zenigata, the Cinemascope version is five seconds longer. In the TV version, Lupin phones up Zenigata while the Cinemascope version, they are already playing with both Lupin and Zenigata mentioning their moves.
- When Fujiko is firing while reading Playgirl, there is a table in the TV version.
- When Fujiko is dancing, the Cinemascope version only has one background with a color change filter put on top; the TV version rapidly shows pictures that feature nude women with visible nipples or women covering their breasts, as well as pictures of album covers, Formula One cars, flowers and Japanese art.
- VHS March 1, 1989 Lupin the 3rd Secret File (Toho)
- Laserdisc March 1, 1989 Lupin the 3rd Secret File (Toho, TLW-2135)
- Laserdisc 1993 Lupin the Third Theater BOX (Toho)
- Laserdisc 1996 Lupin the 3rd Secret File (Toho, TLW-2475) [bordered and cropped version]
- VHS 2001 Lupin III - La Prima Serie: File 6 (Yamato Video, YS-2506) [need confirming]
- DVD Lupin III - La Prima Serie: File 5 (Yamato Video, YD-0006) [contains both pilots]
- DVD Lupin the 3rd Special DVD Collection: Serie I - File 8 (DeAGOSTINI/Yamato Video)
- DVD Lupin III: La Prima Serie - Box Verde (Yamato Video/CG)
- DVD Lupin III: La Prima Serie - Box Verde (Yamato Video/Dolmen)
- DVD September 20, 2018 (Yamato Video/Anime Factory)
- Blu-ray September 20, 2018 (Yamato Video/Anime Factory)
- DVD June 26, 2012 Lupin the Third The Complete First TV Series (Discotek Media) [contains both pilots]
- DVD May 27, 2014 Lupin the Third The Complete First Series (Discotek Media) [contains one version]
- DVD/Blu-ray 6 December 2019 Lupin III (Edgar de la Cambriole) - Saison 1 - Edition Collector Limitée (Black Box)
- When Fujiko drives on her motorbike, the badge says "RUPIN III" rather than Lupin III. In the next scene however the badge was changed to Triumph. The "RUPIN III" badge typo on her bike was carried over to the first opening despite being reanimated.
Opening Typewriter Text
The whole film is styled like a file/secret document, opening and closing like someone opening/closing a folder. As such, it also includes the very first time in animated Lupin media that an opening featuring text being typed out was shown. However, it doesn't type out the name of the film itself.
|ルパン三世に関する報告書||Rupan Sansei nikansuru hōkokusho||The report on Lupin the Third...|
- The film has the same script as Lupin III Chapter 61 and 63, with the character Akechi from the first chapter. As the production timeline of the film has not been publicly disclosed as of yet, it is unclear whether the film is based on the manga or if the manga adapted the script.
- When talking about Lupin driving the Mercedes-Benz SSK, the narration incorrectly attributes it as Hitler's favorite car. In reality, his favorite car was a Mercedes-Benz 770.
- The first anime series heavily recycles footage from the TV version of the pilot for the first two opening intros.
- While the first intro was modified so it uses Part 1's character designs (most notably replacing Lupin's red jacket with a green one), the second intro was mostly lifted from the pilot without changes, with the addition of a short scene from Part 1 Episode 1 when Lupin gets into a racecar.
- Regarding the shot of Fujiko dancing with flashing photos in the background, the second intro uses the tweaked version from the first intro rather than the pilot version, along with the shot of escaping from a car hanging of a cliff.
- The third intro also reuses a short scene where Lupin runs from the spotlight.
- The scenario from later on in the film was re-used in Part 1 Episode 8. The ending of both moments use the same method of escape, the scenario being also used in chapter 59 of the manga.
- The only two voice actors who were the same in both versions were Kiyoshi Kobayashi who voiced Daisuke Jigen (and was kept as his voice for most Lupin the 3rd projects afterwards until 2021's Part 6 Episode 0), and Eiko Masuyama who voiced Fujiko Mine, however she was not selected for Part 1 due to that she was unable to do a scene where Lupin made love to Fujiko and Masaaki Osumi replaced her with Yukiko Nikaido. She did however return for Lupin the 3rd Part 2 and was the voice for most projects bar The Fuma Conspiracy until her retirement in 2010.
- Gorō Naya, who voiced Goemon in the Cinemascope version, later voiced Inspector Zenigata for Part 1 and kept the same role for most Lupin the Third projects until his death.
- While Nachi Nozawa did not get to voice Lupin after the pilot, he was the voice of Cobra from the Space Adventure Cobra TV series and some OVAs until his death. Both were inspired by James Bond.
- He also voiced Pycal in Return of the Magician taking over from Hideaki Ezumi.
- The description of Lupin says that "there is no impossible in his vocabulary". This was referenced in later series and also a reference to Napoleon where he claimed the word impossible is not in his dictionary, again also referenced in the series.
- In one scene of the pilot, Lupin is shown to have henchmen around him and Jigen. Only the manga and Part 1 Episode 6 is known for Lupin to recruit outside of the main cast.
- The pilot film is the first appearance of the famous shot of Lupin running against a wall with the spotlights focused on him. This scene was not only referenced in later series, openings and films but also parodied in other Japanese media.
- The pilot film was also the first appearance of the shot where Lupin jumps into bed with Fujiko and gets rejected, which reappears in Part 2's first OP. The difference between both shots was that in the pilot, Lupin slips off his entire clothes, pulls the sheet and gets kicked on the face to the wall. The later one used in Part 2 just have Lupin in his boxers and he gets punched by a glove coming out of Fujiko.
- In the pilot film, Goemon has a darker skin tone, compared to his appearance in the manga and in other animated releases. Fujiko also has shorter hair in the pilot film.
- Lupin wears his red jacket with the pink tie in the pilot. While this was changed to a green jacket for Part 1 due to Yasuo Otsuka being the character designer, his pilot film jacket design was reused in Part 2, however his shirt was changed from black to blue.
- Later appearances of the red jacket (mostly in specials) reuse the black shirt, but the pink tie is replaced with a yellow one.
- When Fujiko is dancing, it shows covers of albums and singles such as Louis Armstrong Plays Fats, The Roland Kirk Quartet Meets The Benny Golson Orchestra, and Masters of War.
- All releases after the 1993 Secret File Laserdisc release use the same masters with its cropped picture. These releases also show its source due to its lower resolution, blurred picture and interlacing. This would mean that either the Pilot Film has not been remastered or that the film masters are lost and TMS only has the 1993 Laserdisc masters available in their archives.
- Reed Nelson. Lupin The 3rd The Complete First Tv Series (Disc 1) (DVD)