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Anime / Lupin III: Prison of the Past

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Lupin III: Prison of the Past note  is the twenty-sixth Made-for-TV Movie in the Lupin III franchise, and the second of two released in 2019. It originally aired on November 29th 2019, and was directed by Hatsuki Tsuji, who previously worked on animation and direction on the Lupin III series going all the way back to Red Jacket. An English language edition commissioned by TMS Entertainment themselves in association with Bang Zoom! Entertainment using the usual Lupin dub cast debuted in November 2019 at Anime NYC and is available on Amazon.

Hector Corbett Finnegan, a legendary thief seen as a modern day Robin Hood, has received an unprecedented death sentence for his crimes from the Kingdom of Dorrente. With this news, other thieves from around the world decide to descend on the impenetrable El Guille Prison to help him escape, for reasons ranging from owed favors to wanting to know where he stashed all of his legendary loot. Naturally, Lupin, Jigen, Goemon, and Fujiko are also on their way to assist in his breakout, but what they find inside the prison is a far more dangerous situation than anyone imagined. The fate of the Kingdom itself, as well as the solution to the mystery of what happened to Dorrente's royal family, is in Lupin and his companions' hands.

Spoilers below! Don't read below if you don't want to know how this caper turns out!


This TV movie features examples of:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Zantetsuken, as usual. At one point, Goemon tries to cut the giant stone monoliths threatening himself, Lupin, and Jigen. The sword cuts through them just fine, but the weakness is Goemon; they're so big, he can't slice them completely apart without tiring himself out.
  • Action Girl: Warden Lorensa is more than ready to fight, especially towards the end of the movie when she single-handedly battles and takes out Scarlthos. Lupin, Jigen, and Goemon are so impressed by her skills they don't feel the need to intervene.
  • The Alcatraz: El Guille Prison is a fortress to begin with, but as Lupin finds out it has a safeguard feature in case of extreme emergencies: the monoliths on the outside will jam themselves into the prison, crushing anyone inside. Only by knowing the secret safe places can anyone escape being pulverized.
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  • All Just a Dream: The opening prison escape in the movie is a dream Zenigata is having while he's asleep on an airplane.
  • Ascended Extra: Yatagarasu, Zenigata's assistant from Lupin III: Part 5, returns and gets to have more to do in this special helping not only Zenigata, but Lupin.
  • A-Team Firing: Not only do the bad guys almost never shoot straight, but Yatagarasu barely hits anything he's trying to shoot, even when he's got an anti-materiel rifle with a scope. Well, he is rather inexperienced, but still.
  • Bling-Bling-BANG!: Finnegan's weapon of choice is a gold-damascene Walther PPK.
  • Burning with Anger: After Lupin answers Fujiko's call and tells her he's working on getting her the treasure, the background shows Goemon surrounded by metaphorical flames and about to draw his sword. Lupin hastily claims the phone cut off.
  • Continuity Nod: The dog in the robot armor bears a strong resemblance to Josephine from Part 4.
  • Decoy Leader: Turns out there's a reason Finnegan doesn't want to leave El Guille... he's actually in charge of everything after helping Dorrente recover its wealth through illegal arms trading. Warden Lorensa is further forced to comply because the king has a bomb implanted in his neck, and Finnegan has the trigger switch.
  • Eagleland: Dynamite Joe hails from here; he's a friendly but over-the-top mercenary accomplice from Jigen's past who does his job via explosions and liberally sprinkles his sentences with English phrases.
  • Five-Finger Discount: Finnegan uses his pickpocket skills to steal Jigen's magnum revolver and replace it with a toy before turning on Lupin and his gang.
  • Hair Reboot: Every time he gets drenched by a wave of water during the final chase scene, Goemon shakes his head and his hair floofs back out to its normal shape.
  • Grappling-Hook Pistol: Jigen uses one, of course, during the infiltration of the prison. It's also to show him sticking with his methods versus those of his friends, as Lupin uses his famous watch to launch his line, and Goemon a traditional throwing knife. The hook is also used to send the transmitter for Finnegan's suicide missile, with assistance from some gum, safely out to sea.
  • Great Escape: What Lupin and the other thieves all plan to help break Finnegan out of El Guille. Only Lupin manages to make any real progress, courtesy of the mistakes the other thieves made in their plans, and get to the goal.
  • Implausible Fencing Powers: Goemon's sword skills are envied by Dorrente swordsman Berthet after he witnesses the samurai cut a bullet in half. After he rescues Goemon, Berthet begs him to teach him his skills to help save his country. At the end, Berthet, now revealed as Prince Fio in hiding, does indeed use what he learned to stop Finnegan and his plan.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Jigen qualifies, but so does Zenigata, as the latter is able to hit a control panel by flicking torn-off clothes buttons at the panel's keypad from the other side of a jail door and at a 90-degree angle to boot.
  • I Owe You My Life: Finnegan helped some thieves, such as Jigen, Dynamite Joe, and Doc Heinz, out of serious trouble in their past. For this, they feel they owe it to him to help him escape.
  • Just Like Robin Hood: Finnegan had a reputation for stealing from those who deserved it, and was known for helping other thieves out of tight spots. Goemon invokes it as his reason for interest in Finnegan; after all, his own ancestor had a similar reputation.
  • Latex Perfection: Jigen for Lupin, right at the beginning of the movie to help fool Zenigata into helping Lupin escape from prison. Then, the ol' Zenigata disguise helps Lupin and his gang get into El Guille Prison. And, as it turns out, Finnegan for himself; he'd had plastic surgery to be altered to look like Prince Fio, but he still wore a mask with his old face so no one would realize his plans.
  • Lost in Character: Baron Orellana uses traditional Japanese masks to help him portray the animal he's channeling. He also has an infinite number of them, as El Guille's prison guards find out.
  • Party Scattering: After the reveal about the truth of El Guille and Finnegan's fate, the gang gets confronted by Lorensa and her guards; they try to fight back, but Goemon slips and falls off of the edge of the prison. Lupin goes to rescue him, leaving Jigen behind to get captured. And then, thanks to his stubborness, Goemon literally pushes Lupin and his rescue attempt away before they both crash hard into the sea, with Goemon getting washed away to a nearby island and Lupin ending up in the bowels of the prison utility rooms. The next part of the movie is them recovering from this set back and figuring out how to get back to the other two so they can stop the plan at El Guille.
  • Picky Eater: Goemon, as usual; he keeps being handed a local sandwich that he does not especially care for, but usually eats because he has to eat something. By the end, he's warmed up to it.
  • The Prophecy: Berthet witnesses Goemon's Implausible Fencing Powers and is reminded of a legend of Dorrente: "When the kingdom is about to fall, a swordsman of light who can cut even lightning will arise to save the people." Said swordsman will also leave a pupil. It's why he rescues the samurai after his fall from the prison; he thinks Goemon can be the swordsman of legend, and he could be the pupil. In a Prophecy Twist, Prince Fio becomes the swordsman, thanks to the skills Goemon taught him earlier as Berthet.
  • Rare Guns: Yatagarasu finds a Webley-Fosbery automatic revolver when he's scrounging around for weapons after losing the anti-materiel rifle. The revolver has only one cartridge loaded but that one shot is enough for Jigen to shoot a detonator out of Finnegan's hand. Near the end of the movie, Yatagarasu is shown playing around with the revolver, just before Zenigata tells him to put it back in the evidence bin.
  • Rummage Fail: Lupin attempts to fish a weapon out of a box of guns when Yatagarasu rudely interrupts Finnegan's slave auction, but only manages to fish up a Tanegashima-style match-lock musket, which he promptly loses after bullets whizz too close to his body for comfort.
  • Surgical Impersonation: Lupin finds detailed pictures of the late Prince Fio on a medical computer. Between this and feeling Finnegan's face when he attacked him earlier, he uses them to figure out that Finnegan has had himself surgically altered to look like the Prince and plans to claim the throne once his thieving self is "dead."
  • Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist: After Zenigata stumbles upon the source of Dorrente's wealth, he agrees to help Lupin out in exchange for helping him escape and get word to ICPO. Yatagarasu is unsure, but by the end of the movie, he understands where the Inspector is coming from.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Lupin, Jigen, and Goemon are going through this at the beginning of the special. All of them have different motives for helping Finnegan: Lupin wants the treasure (and Fujiko), Jigen out of a past obligation to Finnegan, and Goemon wanting to help a man similar to his ancestor. They're bored and frustrated with each other, and all think the other's reasons are stupid and/or shallow. It takes the events of the film for them to make it to the end of the movie and re-appreciate how well they work together.