Lupin III: Blood Seal ~Eternal Mermaid~ note is the twenty-second Made-for-TV Movie in the Lupin III anime franchise. It was directed by Teiichi Takiguchi, who went on to be an animation director for Part 4. The special debuted on December 2, 2011 to a modest viewing audience.
Made to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Lupin III on television, the special brought a number of changes to Lupin. The first notable one is the major art style changes to the Lupin characters; past specials for the last decade had relied on designs largely derived from Shin Lupin III, the second TV series. TMS, which was involved with the early days of Lupin, came back to do the animation for Blood Seal, and accordingly the designs were redone to evoke the early years of the first series and the proto-Studio Ghibli designs used in The Castle of Cagliostro.note Discotek Media announced they were bringing over the special, with a new dub featuring the Red Jacket cast. This makes it the second of the Lupin III Yearly Specials to get a dub outside of Funimation's block, and the first special dubbed since 2005.
The second change was the first major shakeup of the Lupin cast since Kan'ichi Kurita took over the role of Lupin in Farewell to Nostradamus, following the death of original seiyuu Yasuo Yamada. It was announced with this special that the long-time voice actors for Zenigata (Gorō Naya), Fujiko (Eiko Masuyama), and Goemon (Makio Inoue) had retired; they were replaced with Kōichi Yamadera, Miyuki Sawashiro, and Daisuke Namikawa, respectively. This cast change left Kiyoshi Kobayashi, the voice of Jigen, as the only original Lupin voice actor remaining.
The movie opens with Lupin being ordered at gunpoint by crime boss Toudou to steal a precious gem, the Mermaid's Scale, at an upcoming black market auction. Although he succeeds, things go badly wrong when a bomb goes off shortly after he departs. In addition, a perky and persistent 14 year-old popcorn vendor and would-be thief, Maki, begs Lupin to make her his apprentice in crime. Combined with another gem, the Dragon Scale, owned by the sinister head of a medtech company, a mysterious waif of a girl who seems to defy death, and a treasure that Lupin's own grandfather seemingly failed to steal, the gang becomes tangled in a dark and mysterious plot for the treasure of mythological figure Yao Bikuni... and possibly the secret of immortality itself.
Complete spoilers below — don't read further if you don't want to know how this caper turns out!
This TV movie features examples of:
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: Goemon goes about cutting impossible things into tiny pieces with his usual aplomb.
- Alcoholic Parent: How Maki ends up in a children's home.
- Arms Dealer: Himuro, who plans to use the secret of Bikuni's descendants to make immortal soldiers.
- Big Bad: Toudou is ordering Lupin around as the introduction of the movie. She is quickly killed off, though, and the real big bad is shown to be Himuro.
- Biker Babe: Fujiko spends the last half of the film on her motorcycle.
- Black Blood: Both Himuro and Kageura.
- Blessed with Suck: How Misa sees her own immortality, while Maki and Himuro thinks it's more like Cursed with Awesome.
- Bloodless Carnage: Averted, rather unusually. This is one of the bloodiest entries in the Lupin franchise, only surpassed by Goemon Ishikawa's Spray of Blood.
- Blood Magic: It's there in the title.
- Body Horror: Himuro. The first injection of Bikuni's blood made him Hulk Out. The second dose (sucked directly from Bikuni's arm) turned him into a crazed, black-eyed, blood-sucking green behemoth with warts, and by the time he's reached the limit he has turned into a hulking nightmarish monster.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Fujiko switches sides at least four different times.
- Determinator: Lupin. Even after he is hurt, he persists in going after Misa and hunting for clues of Lupin I's theft attempt.
- The Dragon: Kageura to Himuro.
- Dual Wielding: Kageura.
- Famous Ancestor: Lupin I plays a role in the overall plot. In addition, both Misa and Himuro are descended from Yao Bikuni, a famous character in Japanese mythology.
- Fair-Weather Mentor: Lupin to Maki. It's on purpose, though; he doesn't want Maki to turn to a life of crime like him.
- False Innocence Trick: Toudou forces Lupin to steal the Mermaid's Scale after revealing a Bound and Gagged Fujiko. As soon as Lupin leaves, Fujiko undoes the ropes and gag, revealing that she was working with Toudou, and only pretended to be a hostage.
- Femme Fatale: Fujiko, as usual.
- Genki Girl: Maki.
- Healing Factor: Misa, inherited from her ancestor Bikuni. She loses it at the end of the special when Bikuni finally moves on. Himuro also temporarily gains it after injecting Bikuni's blood into him.
- Human Shield: Toudou uses Misa as one against Kageura. He simply runs them both through.
- I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: Fujiko pulls this on Lupin often. Lupin later reveals he was pretending so he could trick her instead.
- I Owe You My Life: Jigen to Misa after she takes a deflected dagger that would have killed him.
- Immortality Seeker: Himuro. To the point he is willing to violate his bloodline's role as a guardian.
- I Will Wait for You: Yao Bikuni for Lupin I (as represented by his grandson).
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Lupin has various theories about Yao Bikuni but states that with the island gone, there no way to be sure.
- Medical Horror: Performed by Himuro on Misa and innocent human guinea pigs.
- Mineral MacGuffin: The Mermaid's Scale and the Dragon Scale gems.
- Never Smile at a Crocodile: Himuro's pond is filled to the brim with crocodiles.
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Misa offering to work off the children's home debt for Toudou brings her into contact with the even nastier Himuro.
- Onee-sama: Misa for Maki.
- Power Echoes: Himuro gets this in the dub (specifically when he takes Yao Bikuni blood).
- Psycho Serum: What Bikuni's blood does to Himuro.
- Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: How Goemon and Jigen manage to finish the immortal Himuro off. The lava bath probably helped as well.
- Shout-Out: Misa's outfit is conspicuously close to Clarisse's casual garb from The Castle of Cagliostro.
- Spy Catsuit: Fujiko spends most of the film in one.
- Stolen MacGuffin Reveal: The gems Fujiko steals from Lupin are quickly found out to be fakes.
- Super Serum: Himuro is trying to develop one. He later finds it in the blood of his ancestor Bikuni.
- Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist: Zenigata never stops going after Lupin in this special, but he's also highly suspicious of Himuro and is bound to catch him in the wrong. He later (reluctantly) helps Lupin's gang after Himuro goes crazy.
- Underestimating Badassery: Himuro does this to Zenigata at first; Zenigata promptly throws the hulked-out Himuro over his shoulder. Himuro does not make that mistake again.
- Whip Sword: Close enough, Kageura's two katana are extremely flexible, like an urumi sword.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: The view of Yao Bikuni, her lonely spirit trapped in a cave for centuries.
- Youkai: As they leave the island, Lupin speculates that the mutation induced by Bikuni's blood on Himuro may have been the origin of "Youkai" in ancient Japan.
- You Monster!: Himuro. He experiments on and kills innocent men in attempting to gain the secret of Misa's superactive cells, has no issues with sending Mooks to their death, uses a fourteen year-old girl as a shield, and wants to profit on bringing immortal soldiers into the world.