Lupin The Third: Blood Seal Of The Eternal Mermaid (Japan 2011)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 2/22/23

A priceless jewel called "The Mermaid's Scale" shows up at an underground auction and master thief Lupin is coerced into stealing it for a nasty old woman who's holding Fujiko hostage. Or is she? This sets off a sequence of bizarre events that may lead to the secret of immortality, and Lupin also finds himself strapped with a young girl named Maki who insists on becoming his apprentice. Jigen, Goemon, and Inspector Zenigata get tangled up in the mess as well, leading to a crazy supernatural climax on a remote Japanese island.

The movie starts out strong and has a classic "Lupin" feel. The action scenes are vibrant and exciting, and the character animation has a definite Studio Ghibli look. The caper is full of interesting and predictable twists, but the ending really goes off the rails and breaks all suspension of disbelief. The story is essentially a blend of Rumiko Takahashi's "Mermaid Saga" and "Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade" (1989), along with some classic Lupin action, mystery, and intrigue. Unfortunately, despite the high production values, superb animation, excellent voice work, and catchy soundtrack, the increasingly outrageous story eventually causes the film to collapse under its own weight. It also doesn't help that the villain is just another megalomaniacal madman who wants to get rich by destroying the world. These guys always fail to realize that their money will become worthless if they succeed. Overall, it's a solid and entertaining Lupin adventure that plays it safe with the established formula, but suffers when it tries to increase the stakes.