Anime: The Mystery of Mamo

aka: Mystery Of Mamo
Box art of the Discotek Media release.

The Secret of Mamo, or The Mystery of Mamo, is the most common English name for the first animated feature film in the Lupin III franchise, made in 1978 and originally released in Japan as simply Lupin III (Rupan Sansei).note  The animation style is based heavily on the original manga, rather than the cleaner appearances from the first Lupin TV series.

The movie has been licensed and released in the English-speaking world several times: First by Streamline Pictures in the early '90s, then Manga Entertainment did a UK release in the mid-'90s, then Pioneer/Geneon released it again in North America in 2003. The current license holder is Discotek Media, who put out their version of the film in 2013. The film is notable for being dubbed into English four times (all collected on Discotek's release).

Lupin III has finally been hanged for his crimes, but eternal foe Inspector Zenigata isn't so sure. His instincts are rewarded when the corpse is booby-trapped by another, and very alive, Lupin III, expressing similar confusion at his own death. Deciding to take manners into his own hands, Lupin goes after the Philosopher's Stone, and sure enough draws the attention of perpetual Femme Fatale Fujiko and her mysterious benefactor. But when she steals the stone and it is revealed as a fake, things fall apart. Lupin and his gang barely survive a massive assassination attempt, and the eternally loyal Jigen and Goemon finally have enough and leave Lupin behind when he rescues Fujiko over their concerns.

Throw in American secret agents, a mysterious island with historical figures walking around, an ancient conspiracy, and several feats of what seem to be magic — all revolving around Fujiko's contractor, a shriveled old man named Mamo. Can Lupin and his companions discover where the dead Lupin came from or what Mamo's plan is, or will they fall apart from the strain?

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

Lupin III: The Mystery of Mamo provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Ambiguous Clone Ending: Averted at the last minute — Mamo eventually admits that the Lupin that died at the start of the film was a clone, and the protagonist was the real Lupin the Third. Lupin tries to invoke this at the end when Zenigata captures him, but the Inspector doesn't care.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In the Streamline dub, as Lupin and Fujiko are making out in front of him, Detective Zenigata threatens, "I'll nail you for lewd and obscene conduct, indecent exposure, disturbing the peace!" Considering "disturbing the peace" isn't quite what a couple having sex would likely be doing...
  • Berserk Button: Do not question Gordon's intelligence.
    Gordon: [Geneon subtitles] Don't talk rubbish! There are many ways to torture you!
    Gordon: [Toho dub] Stop kidding me! There are many ways that we can torture you!
    Gordon: [Streamline dub] Dammit...! Listen! We have ways of getting you to talk!
    Gordon: [Manga UK dub] Don't mess me around! Listen! We got ways of making you talk!
    Gordon: [Geneon dub] Mess with me, and you're messing with America!
  • Big Damn Movie: Mamo is playing above the Lupin gang's usual weight class. ICBMs get involved. No, Goemon doesn't cut them.
  • Brain in a Jar: Mamo eventually reveals that his real self is a gigantic disembodied brain, that controlled his clone bodies by implanted microchips.
  • Breaking the Fellowship: For a change, Fujiko's antics get Lupin to swear off her — until she's found abandoned in the wilderness and The Dulcinea Effect kicks in. This is the last straw for both Goemon and Jigen, and the trio only barely avoids coming to blows before turning their backs on each other. (And, naturally, Fujiko's running the Wounded Gazelle Gambit for Mamo.) The gang regathers at Mamo's Caribbean island, but after Fujiko getting kidnapped and Goemon suffering a Heroic BSOD, Lupin is eventually forced to Storm the Castle alone, despite Jigen's attempts to talk him out of it (with bullets).
  • Canis Latinicus: The Streamline dub manages to get its Latin wrong by having Mamo refer to the extinct butterflies as "tacitus taecus annus".
  • Captain Obvious: "Ladies and gentlemen: The End."
  • Cassandra Truth: The Egyptian police initially don't believe Zenigata when he claims Lupin's broken into the pyramid to lift the Philosopher's Stone.
  • Chained Heat: At the end, Zenigata handcuffs himself to Lupin — just in time for the duo to outrun a Macross Missile Massacre over the credits.
  • Chased Off into the Sunset: The ending to this film provides a twist, by having Zenigata handcuff Lupin, then having them both run off together, being chased by missiles launched by the US and Russia.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The tip of Goemon's Zantetsuken, which breaks off about halfway through the film.
  • Clone Degeneration: Mamo admits that he's suffering from this.
  • Cloning Blues: The question about whether the dead Lupin in the opening scene was a clone or not. Also, Mamo is a giant brain using a series of clones of himself to interact with the world. The clones are beginning to decay more quickly because of the original materials decaying; he wanted the Stone and the other items Lupin stole as ways to counteract the decay.
  • Continuity Nod: Lupin mentions a levitation trick from the TV series.
  • Depending on the Writer:
    • Whether Zenigata wants Lupin dead or alive in this movie is up to who's translating. The Toho dub's Zenigata could very well be the most extremist portrayal by an English dubbing company for the film.
    • Whether or not Jigen actually is American also depends on the translator. The Streamline dub explicitly makes him American.
      Gordon: [overturns table] Dammit...! Listen! We have ways of getting you to talk!
      Jigen: Is this the way the U.S. Government treats folks? Well, I've got news for you, Charlie!
      Gordon: Yeah? What's that?
      Jigen: I've always believed in my patriotic duty to buy U.S. savings bonds, but I never will again!
  • Disney Death: Lupin in the opening scene.
  • The Dragon: Frenchy
  • Dub Name Change
    • The Toho dub changes some of the character's names (surprisingly, since this dub is otherwise the most faithful one to the original script). Lupin and Mamo's names are untouched, but Jigen is renamed "Dan Dunn", Fujiko is "Margo", Goemon is simply called "Samurai", and Inspector Zenigata is renamed "Detective Ed Scott".
    • The Manga UK dub is one of those english dubs that changes Lupin's name for copyright reasons, referring him as "Wolf III" instead. It also follow's the Toho dub in calling Goemon "Samurai", though the other characters' names remain unchanged.
  • Eagleland: The villainous variation, with CIA agent Gordon kidnapping Jigen and Goemon so a Kissinger Expy can use them to find Lupin and Mamo. The pair has a habit of carpet-bombing Mamo's hideouts regardless of who's in the area.
  • Earthquake Machine: Mamo is able to set off earthquakes at will. Lupin figures out that Mamo used a nuclear powerplant to do this, and decides to imitate the trick with nuclear warheads.
  • Fanservice: The first time we see Fujiko in this movie, she's taking a shower... and absolutely averting Barbie Doll Anatomy.
  • Flat Earth Atheist: Lupin. Justified, as he's able to accurately predict Mamo's constant parlor tricks the minute he sets foot on transparent glass.
  • Franchise-Driven Retitling: In Japan, The Mystery of Mamo was originally titled Rupan Sansei, but with two television series, a live-action film, and another movie on the way, they had to retitle it to distinguish what the movie was. It is now officially known as Lupin III: Lupin vs. the Clone.
  • A God Am I: Mamo thinks of himself this way, and he goes to a lot of trouble to convince Lupin and his friends.
  • God Test: After Lupin Does in the Wizard of the psychedelic vision Mamo showed him in Colombia, he rhetorically challenges Mamo to prove that he's a god by doing something like causing earthquakes instead of "parlor tricks". The response is enough explosives set off to measure on the Richter scale.
  • Gotta Get Your Head Together: Flinch, after Goemon slices him. Unlike most cases, his head is literally coming apart.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: It is hinted that Mamo is jealous of Lupin, particularly after he sees Fujiko's affection for Lupin and then finds out that Lupin's mind is a void.
    Mamo: [after gazing into Lupin's subconscious and seeing he does not dream] It's the mental characteristic of either a complete idiot...or a God!
  • Hypocritical Humor: Fujiko in some versions when Lupin steals her car.
    Fujiko: [Geneon subtitles] You thief!
    Margo: [Toho dub] Stop, thief!
    Fujiko: [Streamline dub] Damn! Stop, you lousy thief!
  • I Take Offense to That Last One: In the Geneon dub, when Gordon, fed up with Jigen's increasingly uncooperative behavior, calls him a Democrat. Having put up with Gordon's crap up to that point, Jigen is seriously offended.
    Jigen: Call me a Democrat, will he?
  • Ice-Cream Koan: Goemon has a tendency to speak in these in the Manga UK dub. For example:
    • Business and women are a pink and purple color scheme.
    • The flea uses the dog to feed on.
    • The bear that feels pity for the viper shall perish by its sting.
    • Nice asses turn men into asses.
  • Immortality Seeker: Mamo and Fujiko. Averted with Lupin, even when Mamo offers him eternal life.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Zenigata's assertion in some versions that Lupin's capture will promote friendship between his country and France, which is promptly lampshaded by Jigen and Lupin.
    Dan Dunn: That's real weird reasoning!
    Lupin: My ancestors would turn over in their graves!
  • Kill It with Fire: Lupin deals with Mamo in this fashion at the climax, incinerating him with his own lasers by reflecting them at him with the broken tip of Zantetsuken.
  • Leave No Witnesses: At the end, while Gordon is having a wargasm over bombing anyone who knows of Mamo out of existence, not-Kissinger is making a call to have everyone else with him killed — yes, including Gordon.
  • Lull Destruction: All the English dubs—yes, even the Toho dub, the most faithful of them all—have at least one moment of this, and it usually comes during the Coroner's Report. Of course, the Streamline and Geneon dubs are the bigger offenders. Some dubs also extend Mamo's dialogue in which he reveals himself to Fujiko to have him railing about the counterfeit Philosopher's Stone that Lupin had given him through her.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Mamo's "god" status, and indeed his whole character. While he is revealed to be a giant brain cybernetically controlling a set of degenerated clone bodies and is clearly of tremendous means, we are left taking him at his word about living for 10,000 years and manipulating human history.
  • Mind Screw: Mamo arranges several of these for Lupin.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The Expys of Henry Kissinger and G. Gordon Liddy. Apparently, the Japanese were just as perceptive to post-Watergate malaise as Americans were.
    • Invisible President: Lupin and Jigen find themselves communicating with him over the radio after getting nabbed by the CIA. In the Geneon dub, he sounds distinctly like George W. Bush (who, after getting fed up with the two thieves, calls them "terrorists" and "Democrats"). Jigen isn't happy about the latter.
  • Obligatory Swearing:
    • The Geneon dub has this. Notable with the usually silent Flinch, who swears twice where he didn't even speak in the original.
    • While not as bad as the above, the Streamline dub gives Zenigata an "Oh, shit!" when, after he gets in the wrong boat as Lupin and the gang make their getaway, he has to deal with the USAF firebombing the place to hell.
  • Ondo: The international version of the DVD unfortunately replaces the Ondo song written explicitly for this film with an extended version of the Lupin theme. The Toho dub replaces it with "Superhero", an incidental piece from the series, but the Streamline dub retains it.
  • Ragequit: Inspector Zenigata goes rogue just so he can continue chasing Lupin even after things complicate his police department's case against the latter. Such complications may be why he joined up with Interpol in the first place.
  • Single-Stroke Battle: Goemon's battle with Flinch; after chipping Zantetsuken on The Dragon's armored vest, they exchange another strike. The tip of Goemon's sword falls off — and then the screen splits in three pieces that slide apart, corresponding to the three pieces of Flinch's head that he tries and fails to hold together.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Margo/Margot; Mameaux/Mamaux/Mamo; Haward/Howard/Hayward Lockewood; Frenchy/Flinch/Flintstone; Starky/Stuckey.
  • Stop Helping Me!: The Streamline dub contains an in-universe example. This is Zenigata's initial reaction to the U.S. Air Force bombing the island.
    Zenigata: What the hell's the U.S. Air Force doing here? Who told these hot shot flyboys they could horn in on my territory?! Hey! This is a police investigation!
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Hitler is among the clones Lupin encounters. Upon walking into him, Lupin gives him the appropriate greeting.
    Lupin: [original Japanese] Heil Hitler!
    Lupin: [Toho dub] Heil Hitler!
    Lupin: [Streamline dub] Heil, mein Führer!
    Lupin: [Manga UK dub] Heil Schicklgruber!
    Lupin: [Geneon dub] Heil, mein Führer!
  • Two Aliases, One Character: Mamo is also known as Howard Lockewood, one of the richest men in the world.
  • The Villain Knows Where You Live: Mamo skips the threat and simply has Frenchy hit the gang's hideout with napalm to show them that he really means business when he sends hitmen after them for giving him a phony Philosopher's Stone.
  • Villainous BSOD: The Mamo clone Lupin intercepts undergoes this in his last moments as he goes on about how clones degenerate over time. The not-original Mamo subverts this when he realizes the Philosopher's Stone doesn't help much, if at all. When Fujiko asks if eternal life is just a dream, he responds that there's another way and takes Fujiko to a launching pad to explain plan B - trigger World War III with his private ICBM arsenal so he and Fujiko will become a new Adam and Eve.
  • Villainous Breakdown: When Mamo receives a Humiliation Conga at the climax. First his attempts at immortality go awry, then the government tracks him to his hideout (because he couldn't pass up a challenge from Lupin to perform a miracle), and then Lupin foils his attempt at bringing about the end of the world. That's enough for him to go bat-shit crazy and take Fujiko for himself, trying to roast Lupin with lasers whenever he tried to get near. He even sounds crazy yet truthful when he reveals that Lupin's death at the gallows had indeed been staged all along.
  • Vocal Dissonance: During the first half of the film, Mamo is heard but not seen. He has a deep, masculine, mature voice that one expects of a rich, powerful man. This leads us to assume that he will be as impressive looking in person as he sounds. We then discover that he is actually a short, gnomish looking little man. And no, he wasn't using a voice modulator or an actor. It was his real voice. This effect is preserved in most of the dubs except the Streamline version where he has a gnomish voice throughout.
  • We Have Ways of Making You Talk: In the Streamline and Manga UK dubs. Surprisingly, it's not the Kissinger Expy who says it, but the all-American G. Gordon Liddy Expy, a fact that Jigen promptly lampshades in the Manga UK dub.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Lupin gets quite a bit of flack from his own associates for associating with Fujiko.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: This is Lupin's immediate reaction to Mamo's offer of eternal life and youth. Fujiko's motivation is to have both Lupin and herself immortal; when it becomes clear that Mamo's not interested in making Lupin immortal, she loses interest. As she puts it, she doesn't want to live forever just to see Lupin grow old.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Fujiko tells Lupin about the horrors she had suffered through Frenchy for failing Mamo earlier, so as to lure him in and deliver him up to Mamo. It's implied that Frenchy really did rough her up enough to make certain that Lupin would fall for it.
  • Wrecked Weapon
    • Goemon's face-off against Flinch leads to the tip of his Zantetsuken breaking off, which puts Goemon in shame, as he believes that he's unworthy to use the sword if it breaks even a little. That chipped-off tip later becomes the Chekhov's Gun when Lupin receives it from Jigen.
    • Lupin later destroys Mamo's missiles to leave Mamo completely helpless.
  • Xanatos Backfire: Mamo is killed by lasers he was trying to use in his last attempt on Lupin's life.
  • You Monster!: Jigen describes Mamo as a monster, and Lupin echoes such sentiments to the original Mamo, a gigantic brain, at the climax.
  • Your Mom: Lupin pulls one on Goemon in the Streamline dub after the latter remarks that "the road to hell is paved with pretty women".

Alternative Title(s):

Mystery Of Mamo, Lupin III The Mystery Of Mamo, Rupan Sansei, The Secret Of Mamo