Lupin The 3rd Part 1 is a three-disc set that includes all 23 episodes of the first Lupin III television anime, as well as bonus features.

Lupin The 3rd Part 1
English Publisher: Discotek Media
Format: Blu-ray
Release Date: May 31, 2022

This set features the first Lupin III television series, Lupin The 3rd Part 1, which has the distinction of being the first anime created in Japan to target an adult audience. Masaaki Osumi directed the first six episodes of the series, and these episodes have a very different feel from Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki’s take on the franchise. When the ratings were poor and the studio asked for changes that Osumi refused to make, Takahata and Miyazaki were brought in to help with direction. Osumi was no longer regularly directing by Episode 14, although he’s an uncredited director for Episode 17.

When Takahata and Miyazaki were brought in, you could already start seeing a difference in the tone of the series in the episodes they directed with Osumi. After Osumi stepped down and Takahata and Miyazaki were the sole directors, the tone of the series changes to what viewers know from The Castle of Cagliostro anime film. In a lot of ways, when you watch the 23 episodes of Lupin The 3rd Part 1 in order, it feels like you’re watching three different series due to the director changes going on. In some respects, it can be hard to judge this series as a whole unit because of the changes going on behind the scenes.

Even though the 23 episodes of Lupin The Third Part 1 may not be a smooth viewing experience due to the circumstances that took place during its production, it’s still an important part of anime history. If you’ve ever watched any of the later series or films in the Lupin III franchise and have never watched the first series, I would recommend watching it at least once in order to have a better idea of Lupin III‘s early origins and to expose yourself to this piece of anime history.

When it comes to this Blu-ray release, it has 1.331 4:3 / 1080p High Definition video. The audio in the set includes English DTS Master Audio 2.0 and Japanese DTS Master Audio 2.0 (Dual Mono). I really had no complaints about either the video or audio quality of this release.

The first disc of the set contains 10 episodes and three bonus features. The first two features are episode commentaries for Episode Three and Episode Four. Reed Nelson, a producer for this Blu-ray release, provides the commentary for Episode Three, while Mike Lepore and Ryan Gilbert provide the commentary for Episode Four. For both of these commentaries, it’s simply the commentators’ audio laid over the episode, which is pretty standard for these kind of commentaries on anime releases. There’s also a text feature of liner notes for the 10 episodes included on this disc, which covers 52 screens that the viewer can scroll through at their own pace. These liner notes go into quite a bit of detail, and you can tell that the person who put them together went to a lot of effort for this feature and included a lot of interesting information, especially in regards to the Japanese language and cultural aspects that English-speaking viewers likely wouldn’t pick up on.

The second disc includes Episodes 11-20 of the series and two bonus features. The first bonus feature is a commentary for Episode 13 provided by Mike Lepore and Ryan Gilbert. Just like the commentaries on the first disc, the audio from the commentators is laid over the episode. The other bonus feature on the disc is a text feature of liner notes for the episodes on this disc, which covers 59 screens that the viewer can scroll through at their own pace.

The third disc includes the final three episodes of the series, as well as quite a few bonus features. There is a commentary for Episode 23, which is provided by Reed Nelson. It’s done in the same manner as the commentaries on the other discs. There are also creditless versions of the openings and endings that appeared during Lupin The 3rd Part 1.

There are four galleries included on this disc, which include key art and model sheets for characters, weapons, vehicles, and locations. Viewers can scroll through these galleries at their own pace. I was a little annoyed with the key art, though, because you would get the main visual, then the next two or three screens would just be close-ups of smaller sections of that art before going on to the next main visual. The model sheets were more straightforward, although the one for the locations seemed to basically show floor plans for one location.

There are liner notes for Episode 21-23, done in the same style as the episode liner notes on the previous discs. However, there are only 12 screens for this one. There are also liner notes for vehicles, weapons, and song lyrics. The vehicles and weapons liner notes are listings that were compiled by a Japanese Lupin researcher and expert named Takeshi Ikemoto. The song lyrics include the lyrics for the first opening theme song, the second opening theme, the third opening theme, the ending theme song, and the insert song “Nice Guy Lupin.”

There are also three essays included, all of which were written by Daniel Thomas MacInnes, the writer and publisher of The Ghibli Blog. The essays range anywhere from five screens to 11 screens that the viewer can scroll through at their own pace. The essays were interesting, and they gave me things to think about in regards to the Lupin III franchise.

Overall, I think that Discotek Media did a great job for this Blu-ray release of Lupin The 3rd Part 1. It’s a release I would highly recommend to readers who are fans of the Lupin III franchise that want to own the first series in their anime home video library.

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