Anime Special Review: Lupin III vs. Detective Conan The Special

Lupin III vs. Detective Conan The Special was a crossover television special for both the Lupin III and the Detective Conan (aka Case Closed) franchises.

Lupin III vs. Detective Conan The Special
Original Japanese airdate: March 27, 2009
Directed by: Hajime Kamegaki
Runtime: 104 minutes

The special opens in the European kingdom of Vespania, where Queen Sakura is killed while she accompanies her son, Prince Gill, on a hunting trip. Every indication seems to point at Prince Gill accidentally shooting his mother, and he immediately commits suicide. The title of heir to the throne is supposed to go to Gill’s sister, Princess Mira. She wants to reject the throne because she doesn’t feel she should be the rightful heir. On top of that, there is a growing movement among the people that believes that Mira is unfit to govern. When I first saw Princess Mira and could see a resemblance between her and Ran Mori from Case Closed, I had a pretty good idea of what one of the plot points of this special would end up being. The main question I had at that time was wondering how this plot point was going to happen.

Duke Keith, the chief of Commons of Vespania, makes Daisuke Jigen, a former trainer of the country’s regular army, a personal guard of the princess. For those who are familiar with Lupin III, they will recognize that Jigen is Lupin’s right-hand man. Speaking of Lupin, he is also in Vespania. He and Jigen have a plan to get their hands on the crown for the Queens of the Realm.

Now, you may be wondering how the Case Closed characters become involved in this story. A trip to Japan is planned to help increase the princess’ popularity, and her first engagement is at a hotel that her mother was supposed to make. Kogoro and Conan are in attendance, along with Sonoko. Ran is running late. It’s obvious Mira really doesn’t want to be there, and we see that Duke Keith is doing all of the talking during the event. Just as it’s time to make a toast, Conan exposes a plot to poison the princess. In the confusion that follows, the princess makes a run for it because she wants to get away from her situation. As she runs away, she bumps into Ran, and the two are shocked to see how much they resemble each other.

Yes, at this moment in the special, we get the plot point that I was expecting… that Mira and Ran would switch places and Ran would be posing as the princess. Meanwhile, the real princess encounters Fujiko Mine, another character from the Lupin III franchise. Fujiko knows the princess’ true identity and offers to take her around Japan. Conan finds them and tries to follow them, but Fujiko loses him… and Conan loses his skateboard in the process.

Meanwhile, when Ran is found by Duke Keith, Kogoro, Inspector Megure, and Detective Takagi, it’s decided that Ran will continue posing as the princess in order to avoid an international incident. After it’s agreed upon that Ran will do a press conference at the airport and then be allowed to leave, Duke Keith whisks Ran away before the press conference. She is taken onto a plane headed for Vespania, and Conan finds a way to sneak on board.

It’s also revealed that a new and impressive mineral has been discovered in Vespania which has stealth abilities. Lupin uses a dowsing rod to find some of the mineral, because it’s his intention to use it in order to get past the various defenses and traps that have been put in place to protect the crown.

The story shifts to Vespania, where all of the major players gather to finish the story: Princess Mira, Fujiko, Lupin, Jigen, Duke Keith, Ran, Conan, Kogoro, Inspector Megure, Inspector Zenigata, and Detective Takagi. Conan and Kogoro work on investigating the murder of Queen Sakura, with some involuntary help from Jigen. When it’s time to reveal the truth, Conan tries to use his stun gun and bowtie trick with Kogoro, but he ends up hitting Zenigata instead. Unfortunately, Zenigata doesn’t stay asleep long. Lupin comes along and poses as Kogoro, and he and Conan try to work together to reveal the truth. This section is actually quite amusing, especially since Lupin can’t help but let some his true personality slip out a little during this scene.

But in the end, the two of them reveal the truth behind the deaths of Queen Sakura and Prince Gill, and Princess Mira becomes the new queen of Vespania. And Lupin also reveals why he came to Vespania to try to steal the crown in the first place. But as we see at the end of the special, Lupin has figured out Conan’s true identity. And Conan makes a promise to Lupin and his group… if they cross paths again one day, he will make sure they are all arrested.

When I first heard about the Lupin III vs. Detective Conan crossover a few years ago, I was intrigued by the idea, but also found myself wondering how well it would really work. When I went into watching this special, I thought it could either work really well or end up being a disaster. I’m happy to say that after I watched this special, I enjoyed it and thought that it worked. The interactions between the Lupin III characters and the Case Closed characters were amusing, with my favorite being the interactions between Jigen and Conan. The “papa” bit never got old.

One thing I should caution about this crossover for viewers who are familiar with Case Closed but not Lupin III: with the addition of the characters from Lupin III, there are scenes included in this special that you wouldn’t see in a regular Case Closed episode. There is some brief nudity of Princess Mira in the shower, as well as Lupin not-so-subtly seducing Fujiko. There is a noticeable difference in tone between this special and regular episodes of Case Closed.

Before I watched this special, I wasn’t sure how well the character designs of the Lupin III franchise would blend with the character designs from Case Closed. There was a noticeable difference, I didn’t find it to be as jarring as I had initially feared.

Overall, I enjoyed Lupin III vs. Detective Conan The Special. I’m glad that Discotek Media acquired the license for this special and made it available on home video for a Western audience. As a Case Closed fan with some familiarity with Lupin III (which is primarily through the Castle of Cagliostro anime film), I was glad to finally have the opportunity to see this crossover special for myself and experience this little piece of the Case Closed franchise.

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