Anime/ Lupin III Dead Or Alive
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(permanent link) added: 2014-01-09 20:34:25 sponsor: crazysamaritan (last reply: 2014-01-19 15:23:07)

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Characters on top, from left to right: Jigen, Fujiko, Lupin, Olčander, Goemon.
Characters on bottom: Zenigata, and the entire Zufu army.

The fifth theatrical movie, released the 20th of April, 1996. It has the proud distinction of having the original creator, Monkey Punch, as Supervising Director. Funimation licensed this film for US release in 2002, along with Farewell to Nostradamus and eight annual TV specials.

Lupin and gang are attempting to recover the treasure on "Drifting Island",note  an island inside another island, and part of the fictional country of Zufu. Zufu has recently undergone a bit of political upheaval: The king and his son, Prince Pannish, have been killed in a military coup d'etat. General Headhunter has been in charge for two years, now. And he wants the treasure that the king left on Drifting Island, too. He's willing to put out a bounty on the foreign thief to keep him away, one million dollars to the bounty hunter who brings in Lupin the Third, Dead or Alive!

While Fujiko works her way into General Headhunter's service, Inspector Zenigata arrives by plane. Is Pannish really alive? What is the treasure guarded by the Nanomachines? Will the bounty hunters capture Lupin and his gang? Is anyone who they say they are?

Complete spoilers below — don't read further if you don't want to know how this caper turns out!

This theatrical movie features examples of:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade:
    • Goemon cuts boats in half without any of the guards at the river outpost realizing it.
    • General Headhunter's knives are sharp enough to slice apart Lupin's gun.
  • The Alcatraz: The jail for Zufu boasts that are only two ways out. Death by natural causes, and death by execution. To prove that, they annually select prisoners and giving them a Win Your Freedom challenge, playing the prey while the guards try to kill them.
  • Banana Republic: The fictional country of Zufu gets a subtle Lampshade Hanging by being placed in the Banana Republic. The corrupt government is a military dictatorship, which has actually sent the previously prosperous nation into a sharp decline. At the end, the dictatorship is overthrown, but no government is set up to replace it, yet. Other indicators suggest that the nation is Latin American.
  • Big Bad: A rare work where the "villain behind everything" isn't even a character. The Nanomachines are the ultimate conflict, providing an initial challenge, and defeating the Protagonists several times early on. The main plot for Lupin's gang is to discover the secrets of Drifting Island, which is protected by the nanomachines. Even General Headhunter is subordinate to the nanomachines, because he is a robot constructed by them.
  • Bit Character: Lupin rescues four people from the prison in the opening scene. One turns out to be important to the plot later, as a Chekhov's Gunman. One shows up again as a bit character, helping Emerah to escape. The other two are just there to be saved, and don't contribute anything else.
  • Bland-Name Product: The portable television that Inspector Zenigata has is a "Somy".
  • Blasting It out of Their Hands:
    • Olčander does this to Jigen and Lupin before revealing her identity to them.
    • When three cops tried to arrest Inspector Zenigata, he defeated the last one by shooting the gun out of his hand.
    • Pannish does a variation on this against Crisis during the climax, shooting down the barrel of Crisis's golden gun, making it explode.
  • Booby Trap: The Zufu national treasury is protected against thieves by programmed Nanomachines. It beats Lupin twice before the gang is finally able to fool the traps.
  • Bounty Hunter: When Crisis puts out the Dead or Alive bounty on Lupin, at least three bounty hunters enter Zufu to attempt to capture/kill him. Lupin is so busy trying to escape from them that Zenigata manages to arrest him.
  • Calling Card: Lupin uses two calling cards in this film. One is in the form of a video where he uses a Parody Name of 21st Century Fox, announcing that he would steal the treasure of Drifting Island. In the other, he uses an advertising balloon to announce his theft of Headhunter's Daughter.
  • Cool Copter: Lupin and gang first visit "Drifting Island" via gyrocopter. It's only built for one person, so they're actually overburdening it by having Lupin, Jigen and Goemon on it. The mechanic they borrowed it from also builds them two other flying devices.
  • Darker and Edgier: This is the darkest of the Lupin Theatrical Releases, and has the honor of Monkey Punch (who is responsible for the dark tones of the original Manga) working on it.
  • Delayed Causality: After Goemon slices apart boats and telephones, they continue to hold together for several seconds afterwards. As does General Headhunter, before turning into a pile of gold dust.
  • Do Not Adjust Your Set: General Headhunter first sees Pannish when he takes over the national broadcast to announce to the country that he has returned, and that Headhunter had falsely taken control of the kingdom.
  • Environmental Symbolism: The general decay that we see in establishing shots of Zufu hint to the suffering of the people under General Headhunter's rule.
  • Explosive Cigar: Two examples in the opening:
    • The stogie the Warden is smoking while collecting prisoners turns into a smoke bomb that sends the guards into a coughing fit while the Warden takes the prisoners out of the jail in a jeep.
    • While being chased, the Warden lights up several, and throws them behind to act as grenades against the guards.
  • The Fellowship Has Ended: The movie ends with the gang splitting up; Goemon says that the wind calls him east. Jigen wishes to go west. Fujiko says she must go "down south". To make everything neat, Lupin heads north.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: While Lupin is researching the "sand" he found at Drifting Island, his computer screen gives out the atomic weight and number. The computer Engrish calls it Atomic Quantity, but the numbers are for the weight and number of Gold.
  • Gun Stripping: After kidnapping "Headhunter's Daughter", the crew are back at one of their hideouts, and Lupin can be seen cleaning his Walther, making sure it's ready for action.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: The prison for Zufu holds an annual event, selecting a few prisoners to attempt to escape. So far, the guards boast that noone has succeeded, and call it "target practice".
  • Montage: We are treated to an information gathering montage as Olčander tries to find out if Pannish is really alive or not. The audience hears a nice walking song, while Olčander spends all day searching the city. She starts from the market, but by the end of the day, she's walking around in the shady parts of the city.
  • Mugged for Disguise: Lupin escapes from Zenigata by switching places with the bartender Zenigata has been hanging out with (along with a dash of Latex Perfection to prevent Zenigata from figuring out the switch until too late).
  • Nanomachines: The previous regime had been very technologically advanced, in both construction and computer programming. Nanomachines were left to guard the island against thieves, and it has proven very effective, defeating Lupin's attempts to gain access twice before General Headhunter brought Olčander to blackmail Pannish.
  • No One Could Survive That: When Crisis, the national chief of police, says that Lupin and his gang couldn't have survived a high fall from a cliff onto rocky waters, Inspector Zenigata laughs at his foolishness. He points out that Lupin has survived the same situation many times before, and he'll stay in Zufu until Lupin is gone.
  • Off with His Head!: To show Olč how serious he is, General Headhunter casually decapitates one of his subordinates.
  • Omniscient Database: Lupin's computer is capable of analyzing "sand", and determining the atomic composition of Nanomachines.
  • Outrun the Fireball: Amazingly averted in the opening, when the Warden of the prison drives the car into a cave where the missile explodes in front of him. He keeps driving through the explosion, which destroys the latex disguise, revealing that the Warden is really Lupin!
  • Parody Names: The opening for Lupin's Calling Card, announcing his theft, is a modification of the 21st Century Fox Vanity Plate.
  • The Roddenberry Line: The film does its best to straddle the line of this trope. Nanomachines are first introduced as a Booby Trap protecting the national treasury of the Zufu nation. Explanation occurs at a mostly gradual pace, as the gang learns more and more about how to bypass the Nanomachines to get to the treasure.
  • Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: In some of the promotional works for Dead or Alive, it depicts Lupin aiming his Walther at the audience against a gold-to-black gradient background.
  • Shoot the Messenger: In General Headhunter's opinion, the trope is "cut the head off of the messenger". Not even for bringing him unexpected news: just bringing the news that he might already expect is dangerous if he's already in a bad mood.
  • Sleeping Dummy: Fujiko sets one up of Emerah, along with a voice recorder, to fool General Headhunter and allow Emerah to escape.
  • Street Urchin: One of the scenes used to establish the current tone/mood of the Zufu nation is an open-stall market, where people are arguing over the price of apples. When two boys hiding in a Totem Pole Trench are caught stealing apples, they run away from the proprietor, bringing the apples they stole back to their gang of a half-dozen group of similarly poorly clothed kids.
  • Totem Pole Trench: Two children are in the market, hidden inside an adult's cloak and mustache. Street Urchins, stealing apples from a stall.
  • Translation Style Choices: While most of the film is dubbed in a Formal Equivalence, Jigen's lines regarding Fujiko are all changed to comment more favourably on her.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: One of Monkey Punch's only rules while producing Dead or Alive was that Lupin and the gang had to escape with the treasure.
  • Wig, Dress, Accent: How Olčander fools Lupin & gang. Obviously, Inspector Zenigata is taking lessons from Lupin, now. Zenigata had disguised her as Emerah when Lupin announced that he would steal General Headhunter's daughter.
  • Win Your Freedom: The Warden, of the Zufu prison in the opening, tells the prisoners they have a chance to escape the jail. They have five minutes to run before the guards start Hunting the Most Dangerous Game.


Characters/ Lupin III Dead Or Alive

For general tropes associated with the regular cast, you can find their page here: Lupin III.

    open/close all folders 
     Lupin III 
Japanese: Kanichi Kurita
Sonny Strait (English), Bruno Magne (as Lupan, in French), Roberto Del Giudice (Italian)
The titular protagonist, Lupin is in Zufu to steal the treasure of Drifting Island.
  • Clothing Damage: During the final conflict against the Nanomachines and General Headhunter, Lupin's shirt/tie are ripped, leaving his chest exposed.
  • Cover Identity Anomaly: Olčander is able to see through Lupin's disguise because of how it felt to kiss Pannish. In the Dub, Lupin jokes he needs more practice. In the Sub, it is because Pannish never smoked. She doesn't seem upset about the disguise, and continues to work with him afterwards.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Lupin is hiding his identity during much of his time in Zufu. Disguised as the dead Prince Pannish.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Lupin demonstrates this skill by using a knife to hit the primer, which fired the bullet at General Headhunter's head.
  • Latex Perfection: Lupin's disguises in this movie are as skillful as ever! Even fooling a computer security program.
  • Mr. Exposition: For the first half of the movie, Lupin has to explain what's going on to Jigen so that the audience is aware of what's going on with the plot and what treasure the gang is after.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: How Lupin escapes from Zenigata every time.
  • Playful Hacker: Lupin is able to hack into computer servers without leaving any trace, and due to his criminal tendencies, should be called a Cracker, but his hacking skills are never used to steal electronic money, or ruin people's identity. His hacking is for information only, and he steals with his offline skills, not his online talents.
     Jigen 
Christopher Sabat (English), Herve Caradec (French), Sandro Pellegrini (Italian)
Lupin's ally, and gunman partner.
  • Latex Perfection: Lupin dresses him up as the dead Pannish so that Lupin can appear to be in two places at once.
  • Out of Focus: Like Goemon, Jigen does very little in this film, serving mostly as The Watson for Lupin.
  • The Watson: Jigen is asking Lupin questions about details that the laid-back ex-gangster is finally concerned with, now that he's actually on the mission.
     Goemon 
Japanese: Makio Inoue
Mike McFarland (English), Constantin Pappas (French), Antonio Palumbo (Italian)
The enigmatic samurai is following Lupin very silently in this film. It must be for training.
  • Catchphrase: Possibly the only movie where Goemon never utters his traditional phrase, "Once more, I have cut a worthless object". Instead, Goemon is silent.
  • Fundoshi: Goemon snuck up to the guard's river outpost by swimming. When the last guard turns around, he sees Goemon in nothing but a loincloth and strips of cloth around his abs.
  • Implausible Fencing Powers: When Goemon sliced the phone in half, it was either before the cop picked up the handset (in which case, the handset is miraculously uncut), or he waited until after the cop was between him and the handset (in which case, the cop was miraculously uncut).
  • Out of Focus: As usual, Goemon is used for very little of the plot.
     Fujiko 
Japanese: Eiko Masuyama
Meredith Mc Coy (English), Nathalie Homs (French), Alessandra Korompay (Italian)
The classy gal is as forthright and dedicated as ever. She offers Lupin a 70-30 split (she gets 70) for the rest of the information she got from Headhunter's computer.
  • Clothing Damage: Our introduction to Fujiko in this film is an interesting mix of tropes, primarily expressed through this one. She walks into an arena in a cloak covering herself, hiding her face in shadow. General Headhunter removes it by throwing boomerang-knives that circle her and destroy her cloak before her fight, as in The Coats Are Off.
  • She-Fu: Fujiko demonstrates a lot of gymnastic ability in the arena. It isn't gratuitous, either, her actions allow her to put her entire body into her attacks, a necessary move to defeat her opponent, who is twice her size!
     Inspector Zenigata 
Japanese: Gorō Naya
Phillip Wilburn (English), Constantin Pappas (French), Rodolfo Bianchi (Italian)
The dedicated Inspector is plodding along after Lupin as usual. If the phone had reached the basement, Lupin might have actually been jailed.
  • Victory Is Boring: Averted Trope, Zenigata actually captures Lupin, and instead of bemoaning a lack of goals after his success, he starts telling Lupin about what his retirement goals are, including his memoirs!

     General Headhunter - Spoilers Warning! 
Japanese: Banjou Ginga
Bill Townsley (English), Gilbert Levy (as Général Kubikari, in French)
The current ruler of Zufu, General Headhunter took over after the deaths of the royal family.
  • Bad Boss: Demonstrates this by typically putting out "Wanted: Dead or Alive" bounties on anyone he dislikes, and choosing to Shoot the Messenger who brings him bad news. Even not working directly for him doesn't seem to help, because he rules a small country, and the citizens get excessively taxed.
  • Fisher King: Not magical in nature, but the complaints of taxism, the bank of television monitors, and the nation's history of being state-of-the art in nanotechnology, all point to the country suffering severely under General Headhunter's leadership.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: A Discussed Trope in General Headhunter's case, and not as a stright example. Lupin mentions it after Headhunter has been revealed to be made of nanomachines, and since the nanomachines are made of gold, Headhunter's heart is literally gold. But his isn't nice. The entire movie can be viewed as a way to set up a terrible pun.
  • Knife Nut: Headhunter doesn't specialize in any specific type of knife. He has a broad collection of blades, including a few swords and spears. It almost seems like he is pulling them out of his body.
  • Names To Run Away From: A Mix and Match example, he holds the highest military personell title, and goes only by the name Head-hunter.note  Demonstrations of General Headhunter's threat come from his ability to personally decapitate a man with one swipe of his knife. And he likes to carry around knives.
  • Not Quite Dead: At the end, when Lupin's gang leave to go their separate ways, General Headhunter burst into Lupin's hideout to make one final attempt on his life... and finds Lupin ready for him with the nanomachine controller and the deactivation program active. Because the General isn't really human, so shooting him in the head isn't fatal. It doesn't end well for the General.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: When the General is facing Lupin in the climax, Lupin shoots him in the head. Afterwards, the General reappears, and Lupin tricks him into being connected to the nanomachine deactivation program. Then he's shot by Lupin, Jigen, and Fujiko. As he's slowly rearing back for an attack, Goemon attacks him, and the General dissolves into gold.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Headhunter isn't the cold-hearted iron dictator he appears to be. He is actually a robot generated by the nanomachines he was attempting to take control of.
     Crisis 
Japanese: Nachi Nozawa
Chris Patton (English), Thierry Kazazian (French)
Crisis is in charge of the National Police for Zufu, and acts as General Headhunter's second-in-command.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Crisis is cut in half by Drifting Island's defenses. It's... not a survivable encounter.
  • The Heavy: Crisis is head of the national police, he leads the army in trying to kill Lupin, and he uses informants and undercover officers to find criminals in Zufu. His role as Olčander's superior makes it natural for him to interact with her on a regular basis. If not for Crisis, General Headhunter wouldn't have gone to Drifting Island when the revolutionaries attacked.
     Olčander 
Japanese: Minami Takayama
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Implied to be a childhood friend to Pannish, she wears a locket around her neck with a picture of the two of them together. He died two years ago, and it's left Olčander romantically devastated.
  • Girl of the Week: Female lead that Lupin becomes romantically interested in. She decides to remain in Zufu instead of leaving with Lupin's gang.
  • Meaningful Name: Olčander's name is a Discussed Trope. Lupin suggests that she is beautiful and honest. Olčander suggests that she is dangerous and deadly. note 
     Prince Pannish - Spoilers Warning! 
Japanese: Tohru Furuya
Sonny Strait (English), Adrien Solis (French)
Prince Pannish is the son of the previous King of Zufu. During the coup d'etat, the King supposedly killed Pannish, which is why General Headhunter killed the king, and took command of the country. Two years later, Pannish appears on television, announcing his intent to lead a revolution against Headhunter and avenge his father's death!
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Implied to be a childhood friend to Olčander, she wears a locket around her neck with a picture of the two of them. After "coming back from the dead", Pannish seems to have forgotten their relationship.
  • Dead All Along: The entire time that Pannish is on-screen, it is either Lupin, or Jigen. General Headhunter truly succeeded in having Pannish killed before the movie ever begins.
  • Rebel Leader: Pannish has organized the rebels to overthrow the military dictatorship.
  • Reluctant Ruler: Doesn't have a problem with helping the rebellion, but isn't interested in being leader after the revolt. No one even seems to try convincing him to stay in Zufu. Also a Justified Trope, because it isn't really the prince. Lupin the Third is merely putting on an act to fool people, and won't be staying after the adventure.
  • Warrior Prince: Pannish has organized the rebellion and leads by example. General Headhunter sees him firing RPGs at the palace.
  • The Wise Prince: A warrior instead of Martial Pacifist, Pannish is fighting not to reclaim his throne, but to free the people of Zufu from the oppressive military dictatorship of General Headhunter.
     Emerah 
Japanese: Chisa Yokoyama
Colleen Clinkenbeard (English), Sasha Supera (French)
Introduced as the daughter of General Headhunter, her father is actually the scientist behind the creation of the nanomachines. She's kept alive because her father told Headhunter that she knew the secret to Drifting Island.
  • Rebellious Princess: The mechanic tells Lupin that Emerah is Headhunter's daughter, and she's trying to escape her father. The trope is then subverted in multiple ways.
    • Lupin, the protagonist, rescues her from the castle tower... except that was actually Oleander, and Lupin never meets her.
    • Fujiko learns that Emerah isn't actually his daughter; her desire to escape is because Headhunter would probably kill her when he learns that she doesn't know the secret to Drifting Island.
    • While she does escape, she doesn't become a Love Interest or Action Girl, or even "learn how the other classes live". Her escape is the end of her story.
     "Spanky" 
Japanese: Shigeru Chiba
Chris Rager (English)
Imprisoned because he served the previous king of Zufu as an advisor, "Spanky" is never given a name within the movie. The only thing he has left, after getting broken out of jail by Lupin, is drinking.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The blonde man that is rescued in the opening prison scene? It turns out he was the dead King's advisor. Lupin busted him out of prison to pump him for information on Drifting Island.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Directly named "Spanky" several times, but only by the overly-familiar Lupin, who might just be keeping his name a secret, since Spanky is an escaped criminal.
     The Mechanic 
Japanese: (filed under additional voices)
Chris Rager (English)
  • Accent Adaptation: The mechanic's accent in the dub is a mix of Asian accent stereotypes. He still speaks correct English, so there isn't any implication that the mechanic is incapable of speaking English, just that he has an accent.

YMMV/ Lupin III Dead or Alive
  • Genius Bonus: Crossed with Freeze-Frame Bonus, if the viewer knows their periodic table, when Lupin is analyzing the Nanomachines, they'll know the nanomachines are made out of mostly gold before the movie actually reveals it.
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