Originally released in 1987, this is the first — and until 2002's Return of the Magician, only OVA in the history of the Long-Running Lupin III franchise. The sub-title has also been rendered as Plot of the Fuma Clan and Mystery of the Fuma Clan.
It is even more notable as the only Lupin III release to use none of the usual Japanese voice actors (or music composer) associated with the series, a decision made by TMS Entertainment for budgetary reasons.note This is the only time in the entire franchise (so far) you will not hear Kiyoshi Kobayashi voicing Jigen, for instance. Due to communication breakdown, the decision to use new actors was misinterpreted by Lupin's seiyuu, Yasuo Yamada, as original creator Monkey Punch being unhappy with his performance and wanting a new voice cast. In reality, while Monkey Punch did not like TMS's decision, he felt he had no control over it and did not fight it. Sadly, this incident put a permanent strain on Yamada and Monkey Punch's friendship, which remained unresolved at Yamada's death in 1995. Since then, no regular Lupin character has been re-cast until the actor dies or chooses to retire.
The special opens with the wedding of Goemon to Murasaki Suminawa, the daughter of one of his teachers. During the wedding, a precious Suminawa heirloom urn is to be handed over to Goemon to symbolize him joining the family. The ceremony is interrupted by Ninjas, who are fought off by Goemon and his friends Lupin, Jigen, and Fujiko. The ninjas fail to steal the urn, but do make off with Goemon's bride. In exchange for her return, the ninjas of the Fuma clan want the urn, which is the key to finding a secret treasure hidden in the mountains of Japan. Lupin and his gang work to both rescue Murasaki and take the treasure for themselves. Meanwhile, Zenigata, who believes Lupin to be dead following an explosion, comes out of retirement when he finds out his long-time rival may have survived after all...
Fuma did receive a feature-film release after its release as an OVA, in spite of its short (70-something minutes) length. It was released twice in North America, once by AnimEigo and again by Discotek Media, though both editions are currently out of print.
Complete spoilers below don't read further if you don't want to know how this caper turns out!
This film provides examples of:
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: Goemon's Zantetsuken, of course. At one point he effortlessly cuts up a bunch of trees.
- Antagonist in Mourning: During the opening, we see Zenigata, retired from his work as a detective, as a Buddhist monk praying for the soul of Lupin, hoping when Lupin is reborn, he will no longer be a thief.
- Bad Boss: The Big Bad seemingly has no qualms about losing subordinates, and he also shows no emotion after some of them are butchered by a trap.
- Bifurcated Weapon: The main villain begins fighting with Goemon with a staff, but shortly reveals that it can also convert to a set of oversized nunchaku.
- Cataclysm Climax: The entire cave is rigged to collapse. The heroes make it out alive, but all the treasures are lost.
- Celibate Hero: Averted by the normally aloof Goemon, who falls in love with Murasaki. And played straight at the end of the movie when he tells her he cannot marry her.
- Continuity Nod: Lupin and Goemon had earlier tangled with the Fuma in the Lupin III (Red Jacket) episode "The Riddle of Tsukikage Castle", and would again during Lupin III: The Last Job.
- Damsel out of Distress: While Murasaki is a typical Damsel in Distress, Fujiko is defiant to her captors, up until she manages to escape them and rejoin the heroes.
- Damsel in Distress: Murasaki, who twice found herself the target of kidnapping and/or traps. The first was when she was captured by a Fuma Ninja during her wedding, and demanded the MacGuffin in exchange for her life. The demand motivated Goemon and company to steal the vase and deliver it to the Fuma.
- Dub Name Change: Like pretty much every other Lupin dub made during this time, this one changes this titular character's name. Uniquely, it changes it to "Rupan".
- Dungeon Crawling: The second half of the movie is dedicated to Lupin & the gang exploring an ancient cave to find the treasure. Death Traps abound.
- Durable Deathtrap: The traps in the cave work quite well, despite being centuries old.
- 15 Puzzle: An n-square puzzle hides the Suminawa family safe and Lupin's remote control bug has to move cupboards around to the correct layout in order to see the safe.
- Fighting with Chucks: The villain has a massive three-sectioned staff (called a sansetsukon) which he uses to fight toe to toe against Goemon and his Zantetsuken.
- Genki Girl: Murasaki, in great contrast to the The Stoic Goemon.
- Happy Flashback: Goemon is reminiscing to the gang about how he met Murasaki while they're on their way to make the Hostage for MacGuffin switch. The happy story is then ended with Inspector Zenigata's arrival, and the trio have to escape.
- Hollywood Density: Fujiko managing to smuggle a large slab of gold out under her jacket.
- Hostage for MacGuffin: The Fuma kidnap Murasaki when they're prevented from stealing the vase, and offer to trade her in exchange for the vase at an "abandoned" train yard.
- Important Haircut: Zenigata shaves his head when he becomes a monk to mourn for Lupin. Impressively, he remains bald for the rest of the film.
- Lack of Empathy: The Big Bad seemingly has no qualms about losing subordinates, and he also shows no emotion after some of them are butchered by a trap.
- Nerd Glasses: Lupin wears these as part of his salaryman disguise.
- Nightmare Sequence: At one point the group stumble onto a trap that releases an hallucination-inducing gas. Among various things, Lupin sees Goemon and Jigen's faces melting into goo right in front of him.
- Later on, the poor Fuma fall into the same trap. Each of them hallucinate horrible monsters, who are actually their allies. It is implied that they kill each other out of mistaken fear.
- Priceless Ming Vase: Fujiko has the vase hilariously put on her head when she is captured by the bad guys. She has to break it to get it off.
- Rummage Sale Reject: Murasaki pieces together a new outfit from Lupin's clothes so she won't have to move around in her wedding kimono. One of the pieces she chooses is his legendary red jacket (Lupin himself wears the green jacket in this caper).
- Separate Scene Storytelling: Goemon is reminiscing to the gang about how he met Murasaki while they're on their way to make the Hostage For Macguffin switch.
- Shout Out: The Fuuma Kotaro are included as the main villains for this film.
- During one of the nightmare sequences, Lupin's face is distorted by the hallucinogenic gas. Rather than becoming a monster, his face instead changes to reflect the designs of his previous incarnations.
- Simple Staff: Not so simple in this case, the villain's weapon of choice is a massive three-sectioned staff (called a sansetsukon) which he uses to fight toe to toe against Goemon and his Zantetsuken.
- Stealth Hi/Bye: Well, we are talking about ninjas, though it is still pretty astounding to see a previously empty narrow corridor suddenly filled to the brim with massive ninja henchmen.
- Status Quo Is God: Goemon leaves Murasaki at the end of the film, as he feels he needs more training.
- Winged Soul Flies Off at Death: Although it is obvious Lupin is still very much alive, Zenigata imagines seeing Lupin floating up to heaven with angel wings and a halo after his 'death' in an explosion.