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.
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 matters 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 shrivelled 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?
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 on DVD in 2013 and later reissued it on Blu-ray in 2022. The film is notable for being dubbed into English four times (all collected on Discotek's release).
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:
- Alas, Poor Villain: Deep down, Lupin believes Mamo's so-called immortality has driven him madder than a hatter, and his line after killing him with a time bomb in space drives the point home.Lupin: Mamo, be grateful to me for letting you die at last.
- 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.
- Anachronism Stew: The Streamline dub has mentions to both the end of the Cold War and the Stair Master. Though the dub was made in the mid-90s, the film itself was released before the war ended in 1989 and the invention of the Stair Master in 1983.
- 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...
- Art Imitates Art: After escaping his cage on Mamo's Caribbean island, Lupin wanders through scenes resembling pieces by Giorgio de Chirico, M.C. Escher, and Salvador Dalí.
- Batman Gambit: Lupin counted on Fujiko double-crossing him and double-crosses her by giving her a fake Philosopher's Stone to deliver to Mamo. It backfires spectacularly when Mamo rumbles him and sends hitmen after him and his gang.
- 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] 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: This is the first Lupin III film to have dramatic and serious stakes. Mamo is playing above the Lupin gang's usual weight class. ICBMs get involved. No, Goemon doesn't cut them.
- Book Ends: For the Geneon dub and international releases, the film starts and ends with the 1979 theme being played.
- Boom, Headshot!: Mamo gets it from Jigen during their first confrontation.
- 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 gets kidnapped and Goemon suffers 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.
- Confucian Confusion: In the Manga UK dub, Goemon uses a quote he attributes to "a wise man" to criticize Wolf the Third for accepting a job from Fujiko simply for liking the look of her ass.Goemon: A wise man once said, "Nice asses turn men into asses."Wolf the Third: True. That sure was a wise guy.
- Continuity Nod: Lupin mentions a levitation trick from the TV series.
- Darker and Edgier: This film is more violent, explicit and crude than the TV series. It doesn't help that looks aside, Big Bad Mamo is a pretty dark character and one of Lupin's most competent adversaries to date.
- 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] 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: Flinch.
- Dub Name Change:
- The Toho dub changes most of the character's names (though 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 dub, rather amusingly, inverts the usual tradition of renaming Lupin, himself; while everyone else was renamed, Lupin's name is left intact, while later dubs would flip this around, retaining the other characters' names while changing Lupin's.
- The Manga UK dub follows the usual tradition of changing Lupin's name for copyright reasons, referring him as "Wolf the Third" instead. Additionally, Goemon is referred to as "Go-men," or in some cases, "Samurai" like the Toho dub, though the other characters' names remain unchanged.
- Averted in the Streamline dub, which was produced a year before Manga UK's dub. Lupin retains his name; however, his name is pronounced closer to how the French pronounce it, as "Loo-pin'" instead of "Loo-pahn". Worth noting that Streamline's decision to retain Lupin's name (when they hadn't in their Cagliostro dub) is the reason the Manga UK dub exists at all London is much closer to Maurice Leblanc's heirs, who are infamously litigious.
- Dull Surprise: The US President's reaction to Mamo and Fujiko's launching of the nuclear missiles in the Manga UK dub.US President: You're insane. Stop the countdown.
- 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 power plant to do this, and decides to imitate the trick with nuclear warheads.
- Everyone Has Standards: Jigen strongly believes in the ideals upon which America was founded, and when CIA agent Gordon, during the interrogation scene, threatens to torture him, Jigen decides that this is not the America he believes in and, in most versions, threatens to renounce his American citizenship and he would've done so, too, were it not for Starky's intervention.Jigen: [Geneon subtitles] Is this what you call "democracy"? If that's the case, let me tell you something. [...] I used to be a fan of Monroe and Humphrey Bogart, but not anymore!
Dan Dunn: [Toho dub] Is that the way you operate democracy? Well, then, I've got news for you! [...] I was a fan of Marilyn Monroe and Humphrey Bogart, BUT NOT ANYMORE!
Jigen: [Streamline dub] Is this the way the U.S. government treats folks? Well, I've got news for you, Charlie! [...] I've always believed in my patriotic duty to buy U.S. savings bonds, but I never will again!
Jigen: [Manga UK dub] Come on, riff! Shouldn't that be his line? If this is democracy, I've had it. [...] I used to be a great Bogie fan, and Elvis, Dean, and Marilyn, but now I resign!
Jigen: [Geneon dub] Oh, yeah? Is that so? And which America would that be, exactly? [...] Yeah, the beacon of freedom and democracy, or the bastion of... blind arrogance?!
- Fanservice: The first time we see Fujiko in this movie, she's taking a shower and absolutely averting Barbie Doll Anatomy.
- Filling the Silence: All the English dubs, including 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. The Streamline, Manga UK and Geneon dubs are the biggest offenders. Some dubs also extend Mamo's dialogue in certain scenes, such as when he reveals himself to Fujiko for the first time, his discussion with Lupin about his plans for apocalypse, and his contributions to human history.
- 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. Of course, the moment he works out the "trick", he falls, leaving Mamo still up in the air...note
- 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.
- Good Cop/Bad Cop: Starky and Gordon, during the interrogation scene. Gordon acts in a more threatening manner than Starky, who simply gets to the point.
- 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!
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Mamo is killed by lasers he was trying to use in his last attempt on Lupin's life.
- Hotter and Sexier: Due to being one of (if not THE) most faithful adaptations of the manga, Fujiko shows more skin than she had up to that point in the anime. Lupin's lecherous nature is played up even more than it was in the TV series at the time, and even features an instance of live-action nudity!
- 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 ya?
- Immortality Seeker: Mamo and Fujiko. Averted with Lupin, even when Mamo offers him eternal life.
- Insane Troll Logic: Zenigata's assertion in the Toho and Manga UK 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!
- Intentional Engrish for Funny: As well as the misspelling of Howard Lockwood, the "Haward Lockewood" sign has other spelling/translation mistakes, as it is labeled an "investingation for ancient remainsparty".
- 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.
Lupin: Come again?
- 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.
- Willingness to amputate without ether is the test of friendship.
- A promise is an iron butterfly.
- The tiger does not tread the path of the scorpion.
- All military might is an illusion.
- Even in the Streamline dub, he's guilty of at least a couple of these:
- The road to Hell is paved with pretty women.
- We watch sparrows while eagles pass overhead.
- Goemon has a tendency to speak in these in the Manga UK dub. For example:
- 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.
- 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.
- Medium Blending: The photos Zenigata shows to the Egyptian officer seem to be actual photographs.
- Medium-Shift Gag: The scene inside Lupin's mind is filled with actual photos of nude women.
- Mind Probe: During their first confrontation, Mamo captures Lupin and subjects him to one. It's initially Played for Laughs, but then Mamo remains pretty shocked to learn how deep down Lupin's head is empty, which according to him it's the characteristic of either a complete idiot... or a god.
- Mind Screw: Mamo arranges several of these for Lupin.
- Moment Killer: The ultimate one: when Lupin finally manages to kiss Fujiko, the Americans bomb the place.
- Mythology Gag: Monkey Punch's infamous use of the Mars and Venus symbols to symbolize sex are used during the look into Lupin's mind.
- 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 (made in 2003) 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. Most, if not all, of the other dubs have impersonations of Jimmy Carter (who was president when Mamo was made) or Bill Clinton (who was president when the 90's-era dubs were made).
- Obligatory Swearing:
Zenigata: [during the Coroner's Report] There was a whole lotta bullshit about "Transylvanian justice" and stringing people up.
- The Geneon dub has this. Notable with the usually silent Flinch, who swears twice where he didn't even speak in the original.
- "Shit" is scattered all over the place in the Manga UK dub which is, ironically, one of the cleaner dubs produced by Manga UK at the time, to the point of being rated 12 instead of the 15 the company usually gunned for.
Wolf: [after his setup falls apart, setting off the alarm] Oh, shit! Let's get outta here!
Zenigata: [just before chasing Wolf as he escapes from the Great Pyramid where he had just stolen the Wiseman's Stone] Ah, shit! Very tricky!
Jigen: [during the trailer truck chase] Shit!
Jigen: [after failing to save Wolf from being kidnapped by Flinch] Shit.
Wolf: [upon being offered eternal life] Listen, I've been around much too long to believe that kind of bullshit.
Wolf: [annoyed with Fujiko's excitement over the Wiseman's Stone] Did you forget that we had an agreement as well? Fuck - if you wanna call off our deal, well, that's fine!
- Additionally, the Manga UK dub has Wolf drop one F-Bomb - at Fujiko, no less.
- Officer O'Hara: The police commissioner, as voiced by Jeff Winkless, speaks in this manner in the Streamline dub.
- Ondo: One plays during the credits. The Geneon dub and international DVDs replaced it with an extended version of the 1979 theme (which played during the opening credits) due to rights issues, however, Discotek Media's Blu-ray release retains the song on all audio tracks.
- Opening Narration: Inspector Zenigata provides the opening narration in the Streamline and Manga UK dubs after Lupin III is seemingly executed in Transylvania.
- Ragequit: The Japanese police chief tracks down Inspector Zenigata in Colombia and tells him he's been taken off the case. Zenigata utterly refuses—then resigns from the police on the spot, resolving to go rogue and continue his pursuit of Lupin as a private citizen. (Perhaps that's why he joined up with Interpol in the first place.)
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Goemon, right before a chopper sent by Mamo starts shooting up the area.Goemon: [Geneon subtitles] I've had it. I'm going home.
Samurai: [Toho dub] Don't you try my patience! I'm leaving!
Goemon: [Streamline dub] This business is unworthy of me.
Samurai: [Manga UK dub] All I wish to relieve myself of is your vulgar company.
Goemon: [Geneon dub] No. I'm out of this. I'm going home.
- To The Italian Job (1969) with the massacre at the French café.
- To Steven Spielberg's Duel with the giant truck chase scene.
- To the DC Comics superheroes when non-Kissinger is seen reading a comic with a page that shows Lupin standing with Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, Robin and Aquaman.
- To the opening titles of 2001: A Space Odyssey when Mamo's brain goes towards the sun.
- 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.
- Those Wacky Nazis: Hitler is among the clones Lupin encounters. Upon walking into him, Lupin gives him the appropriate greeting.Lupin: [original Japanese and Toho dub] Heil, Hitler!
Lupin: [Streamline and Geneon dubs] Heil, mein Führer!
Wolf: [Manga UK dub] Heil Schicklgruber!note
- 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.
- Unwanted Assistance: 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!
- 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 the Streamline and Geneon dubs, while he has the voice of a middle aged man in the Toho dub, and a nasally gnomish voice in the Manga UK dub.
- 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.Jigen: Come on, riff! Shouldn't that be his line?
- We Want Our Jerk Back!: Lupin has this attitude towards Fujiko in the Manga UK version when she starts acting domestic to him in the cottage.Wolf: I don't need mothering! Where's the double-crossing, thieving sex kitten I used to know?
- 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 Flinch for failing Mamo earlier, so as to lure him in and deliver him up to Mamo. It's implied that Flinch 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.
- 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".Lupin: What's the matter with you, Goemon? Did your mother drop you when you were a baby or something?
Goemon (JP): That is his destiny . . .
Samurai (Toho dub): Ladies and Gentlemen, the end.
Goemon (Streamline dub): As you've guessed by now, this is the end.
Goemon (Manga UK dub): Ladies and Gentlemen, end of film.
Goemon (Geneon dub): Contradiction is . . . his destiny.