Legend of the Gold of Babylonnote , first released into Japanese cinemas on July 13th 1985, is the third Lupin III animated theatrical feature, co-directed by Seijun Suzuki and Shigetsugu Yoshida. It is the only theatrical representation of the "Pink Jacket" era.
The movie opens in New York City: Lupin and his crew this time are after a legendary treasure, the Gold of Babylon, which is also craved by the son of the man who first discovered the Gold, Marciano, boss of the New York mafia. Furthermore, Zenigata has been roped into judging the "Miss ICPO Beauty Contest" and must now drag a group of nominees around with him, all eager to prove themselves as agents. Aided by his team, a set of stone tablets and a drunken old crone named Rosetta, Lupin sets his eyes on the treasure. But what's really the link between the Gold of Babylon and New York?
The film actually has a very interesting production history. Originally, series veteran (and The Castle of Cagliostro director) Hayao Miyazaki had been approached to direct, but declined due to a combination of being too engaged with his own projects with Studio Ghibli and having lost interest in the franchise over the years. The next person to sit in the director's chair was a young Mamoru Oshii (yes, THAT Oshii), recently booted off Urusei Yatsura, who wanted the film to be about Lupin "stealing fiction itself". Oshii ended up being fired from the project, but many of his ideas were later re-used in his own films such as Angel's Egg (which came out the same year). The film was then passed to a few other directors, before reaching Suzuki, someone who had directed a few episodes of the series, but was mostly known for cult films.
It was released on VHS back in the 90's by AnimEigo as Rupan III: Legend of the Gold of Babylon. Discotek Media announced a license rescue in 2009 but then never released it …until 2018, when they finally put the film out on Blu-ray complete with an English dub by the surviving "Red Jacket" cast (who had already been reunited to dub Part IV "Blue Jacket").
Complete spoilers below — don't read further if you don't want to know how this caper turns out!
- Abhorrent Admirer: Rosetta, a very old lady, towards Lupin, much to his horror. She stops halfway through the movie (thankfully).
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: Goemon manages to slice apart a tank's turret without harming the Chinese love interest inside, because "Zantetsuken doesn't cut flowers..."
- All Chinese People Know Kung-Fu: Qing Xiao, the Chinese Interpol agent, is a kung fu expert.
- Amazon Brigade: The ICPO Beauty Contest nominees following Zenigata through the movie.
- Amazonian Beauty: The Russian agent is the tallest, bustiest, and strongest of the group.
- Ancient Astronauts: The original legend is that a god took all the gold of Babylon. The end reveals that the legend was mostly true, but the "god" was actually a space alien.
- Anime Chinese Girl: Qing Xiao, including stereotypical clothes, hairstyle, and speech. (Note: the other Chinese character Wang speaks with the same broken Japanese.)
- Big Bad: Marciano, boss of the New York Mafia, and primary competition against Lupin in his goal to find the gold.
- Borrowed Catchphrase: In the second half, when Goemon cuts through a bunch of mooks, Jigen quips about him "cutting another worthless object" before Goemon can say it.
- Brainless Beauty: Nearly all the nominees.
- But Now I Must Go: Rosetta, in the finale.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: Kowalski's punishment for failing him is... spanking. He uses a custom-made flyswatter which looks like a spiked club of sorts, hurts like hell and can even be poisoned.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Rosetta, who randomly tries to kiss people and claims to have dated Alexander the Great and Napoleon. Later we find out that she wasn't bluffing.
- Crazy Jealous Guy: Marciano does not like the idea of Fujiko being interested in any other man, especially not competition like Lupin III.
- Crazy Homeless People: The old lady Rosetta sings an apparently random lullaby, drinks a lot, and flirts with Lupin, insisting that she's really quite attractive.
- Defeat by Modesty: Interestingly, it affects both combatants. When Qing Xiao tries to drop-kick Goemon, she accidentally gives him a great view of her panties. Qing Xiao and Goemon both get flustered and embarrassed by this, and can't keep fighting.
- Denser and Wackier: Compared to other Lupin movies, this one has a quirky story, odd animation, and bizarre characters and situations. A good example is when during the climax the Statue of Liberty is so shocked to see the levitating Tower of Babel that she has a face fault and drops her torch.
- Diegetic Soundtrack Usage: Fujiko whistles the show's theme at one point.
- Dragon-in-Chief: Marciano is pretty much a wimp, and his right hand man Kowalski poses the greatest threat.
- Eldritch Abomination: We get a glimpse of is as it descends from the sky to send the spaceship to collect the Tower of Babel.
- Explosive Cigar: Near the end, Lupin threatens Kowalski with some cigars which are presumably bombs powerful enough to wipe out the floor of the skyscraper they're in. Kowalski thinks this is a bluff and after disposing of Lupin and Fujiko, lights one of the cigars. Lupin wasn't bluffing.
- Fanservice: Including some cheerleading girls in the beginning, the nominees, and Fujiko. Also the true form of Rosetta.
- Latex Perfection: Lupin's most excellent disguise in this film is of Fujiko, appearing good enough to make Marciano jealous that Fujiko might like Lupin more when "Fujiko" says …But He Sounds Handsome about Lupin.
- Love at First Sight: Qing Xiao and Goemon fall for each other while fighting on a train.
- Marshmallow Hell: The Russian agent does this to Zenigata when he accidentally insults her. Unlike many examples, this is played as a Cool and Unusual Punishment rather than fanservice.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: How much of the magic within the Treasure is up to the viewer's interpretation, but given the fact that aliens were involved with the construction of the Tower and it landing in where New York City will be built it's hard to say if this wasn't some form of ancient technology.
- Minion with an F in Evil: Marciano's men, save for Kowalski.
- Never Smile at a Crocodile: There are some gargantuan crocs in the temple where the golden lion is kept.
- Poisoned Weapon: Kowalski's flyswatter can release a deadly toxin.
- Product Placement: It's New York City, so it's a given. One can point out ads for Coca-Cola and Pepsi, an audience member of the bike chase is shown wearing a Star Wars t-shirt, and Jigen can be seen drinking from a bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey
- Red Herring: Everyone is convinced that the key to finding the gold of Babylon is to collect all the clay tablets and translate the cuneiform on them. Lupin eventually realizes the message on the tablets doesn't really matter; it's the distribution of the tablets themselves that matters. The tablets scattered when they were dropped, with the gold, from a great height. So Lupin plots where each tablet was found on a map, looks for the center of the distribution, and find the gold deep underground at that precise spot.
- Show Some Leg: In the Iraq desert, the female ICPO agents convince some passing tanks to stop and help, by stripping down to their beauty pageant swimsuits. Then they steal the tanks from the soldiers.
- Sky Heist: At the end of the film, an alien ship shows up in an attempt to retrieve Babylon, which is an entire city underneath New York City. Lupin messes up their Tractor Beam, and the entire golden city breaks apart and falls back to the ground.
- The Starscream: Near the end, Kowalski murders Marciano and takes his place.
- Sufficiently Advanced Alien: The titular treasure, the solid gold Tower of Babel was built under the direction of aliens, who then tried to take the tower with them but failed and had it dropped where New York would have been built centuries later. In the finale, they come back to retrieve the tower.
- Tank Goodness: The nominees steal some army tanks at one point to chase Lupin with. They all end up being partly destroyed.
- Toon Physics: When Zenigata catches Lupin with a handcuffs-lasso, he sends a bundle of lit dynamite down the rope on a pulley-cart, towards Lupin. Then Lupin holds up a U-Turn sign (which he pulls from Hammerspace), and that makes the dynamite reverse course and roll back to Zenigata! They both get caught in the explosion, but it just gives them Ash Faces.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: Alas, Goemon doesn't look for Qing Xiao after their train scene, and the other nominees gag her when she calls for him in the finale.
- You Have Failed Me: Kowalski punishes his mooks for failure by flogging them with with the flyswatter of doom, and with every subsequent failure, the floggings get more severe. On the third failure, the punishment is death by poisoned flyswatter of doom.
- Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: What, you really thought that the Gold of Babylon was a mere statue?