For American anime fans, it’s been a long wait for the first CGI Lupin III movie, Lupin III: The First, which came out in Japan in 2019, and has been announced as coming to the States “soon” since early 2020. Culture junkies aren’t exactly patient or reasonable these days about waiting for new releases to fill their frustrating quarantine days, especially as so many promised films have been delayed by months or moved off the calendar entirely, and so many studios are hedging their bets due to the dire warnings about the safety of going to movies during a pandemic. So the arrival of a release date for Lupin III: The First is welcome — except that it’s only coming to theaters for now, and only for two nights in October.
GKids announced via news release on Monday that the film — the latest in a long series of animated and printed adventures about cocky gentleman thief Lupin III, who was first introduced in 1967 — will screen as a Fathom theatrical event. The English-language dubbed version of the film will play on Sunday, Oct. 18, and the subtitled version screens on Wednesday, Oct. 21. (Theater details and tickets are available via GKids’ site.)
GKids says the film will be available for “digital download to own” in December, though a specific date hasn’t been announced. A new trailer accompanied the announcement, laying out the plot in more detail: This time around, Lupin III and his friends are chasing an elaborate mechanical diary that supposedly holds the key to a secret World War II treasure. Unfortunately, a group of Nazis is also chasing the same treasure.
The English dubbed version of the same trailer is here.
It’s clear from previous Lupin III trailers and the recent teasers below that the film was made for the big screen: It’s full of big, energetic action and vivid color. Like the decades of previous movies and shows centering on Lupin III, the new movie aims at being thrilling and funny, as Lupin, his sidekick Jigen, their samurai ally Goemon, their rival Fujiko, and their archenemy Zenigata all chase the diary and each other. There’s a mild culture-shock element to seeing these familiar characters rendered at this level of detail — they’ve evolved considerably since 1967, but they’ve never been this detailed before. But the characterizations and humor are as familiar and engaging as ever.
Update (Sept. 28): Updated throughout to reflect the new trailer and added release date.