The Mystery of Mamo

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The Mystery of Mamo
Lupin Mamo poster.jpg
Japanese theatrical poster, designed
by Monkey Punch
Japanese ルパン三世 (original title)
ルパン三世 ルパンVS複製人間(クローン
Hepburn Rupan Sansei (original title)
Rupan Sansei: Rupan tai Kurōn
Directed by Sōji Yoshikawa
Produced by Yutaka Fujioka
Written by Atsushi Yamatoya
Sōji Yoshikawa
Based on Lupin III 
by Monkey Punch
Starring Yasuo Yamada
Eiko Masuyama
Kiyoshi Kobayashi
Makio Inoue
Gorō Naya
Kō Nishimura
Music by Yuji Ohno
Cinematography Keishichi Kuroki
Edited by Yoshiaki Aihara
Production
company
Distributed by Toho
Release dates
  • December 16, 1978 (1978-12-16)
Running time 102 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese
Budget ¥500,000,000 ($6 million)
Box office ¥915,000,000 ($11 million)

The Mystery of Mamo, also known as The Secret of Mamo, is a 1978 Japanese animated science fiction comedy adventure film; it is the first animated film of the Lupin III franchise created by manga author Monkey Punch. The film was originally released in Japanese theatres on December 16, 1978 as Lupin III (ルパン三世 Rupan Sansei?) but was later retitled to Lupin III: Lupin vs. the Clones (ルパン三世 ルパンVS複製人間(クローン) Rupan Sansei: Rupan tai Kurōn?) to differentiate it from other elements of the franchise. The film was produced by animation studio Tokyo Movie Shinsha, directed by Sōji Yoshikawa and written by Yoshikawa and cult pink film screenwriter Atsushi Yamatoya. The film's plot follows master thief Arsène Lupin III and his attempts to foil Mamo, a wealthy and powerful recluse, and his bid for immortality.

Since its original Japanese release, the film has been licensed to several companies for release in North America and Europe, with four different English dubs of the film being produced in that time. In 2013, North American publisher Discotek Media released the film on a DVD containing all four English dubs as well as extensive liner notes and essays about the film and its production.

Plot[edit]

Inspector Zenigata travels to Castle Dracula to confirm reports of the execution of his long-time nemesis, Arsène Lupin III. However, the body he finds is a decoy that is being used by another Lupin to escape from the castle. Zenigata travels to Egypt, believing that Lupin will raid the Pyramids based on prior thefts of immortality-granting objects. His prediction proves accurate, but Lupin and his partners Daisuke Jigen and Goemon Ishikawa XIII escape with the Philosopher's Stone. The Stone was requested by Lupin's associate and on-off lover, Fujiko Mine, who, having agreed to obtain the Stone for a mysterious client, steals it from Lupin in Paris. The benefactor reveals his name to her as Mamo, but they discover that the Stone is a fake made by Lupin.

In response to the deception, Lupin and his gang are attacked by Mamo's forces before finding their hideout destroyed by his chief henchman, Flinch. Jigen and Goemon blame the destruction of their hideout on Fujiko, before quarrelling amongst themselves. Lupin eventually calms the others by promising to abandon his desires for Fujiko. With nowhere else to go, they travel toward the ocean before finding a house stocked with food and water. A wounded Fujiko comes for Lupin, forcing him to go against his earlier promise and causing Jigen and Goemon to abandon them. Fujiko drugs Lupin before Flinch arrives to take them to Mamo. Jigen later returns to find the plane leaving, but retrieves a clue to its destination. He and Goemon are later apprehended in Madrid by US Governmental forces and questioned about Mamo, but are released when they are unable to answer their questions. During the inquiry, they decipher Fujiko’s clue, leading them to the Caribbean.

On a Caribbean island, Mamo, a mysterious billionaire officially known as Howard Lockewood, tells Lupin that he arranged for him to steal the Stone as a test, and that he is considering granting both him and Fujiko eternal life in admiration of their skills. Lupin, however, is more interested in the Stone, and searches Mamo's island for it. After retrieving the Stone, he and Fujiko are chased by Mamo's henchmen until they stumble across Mamo's lair. Mamo deems Lupin unworthy of eternal life and attempts to visualize his perverted nature to Fujiko, but she refuses to abandon him. The USAF launches an attack on the base, having tracked Jigen and Goemon to the island. Jigen seemingly kills Mamo and rescues Lupin and Fujiko before Goemon duels with Flinch. The altercation damages Goemon's sword, the Zantetsuken, in the process, causing him to leave for training purposes.

Lupin, Fujiko and Jigen travel to Colombia, where Lupin theorizes that Mamo may have gained eternal life by continuously cloning himself. They are then thrust into a vision by Mamo, who proves Lupin's theory true. He also reveals that he has been kept alive through his cloning process for 10,000 years, and has been responsible for virtually every major event in human history. Mamo also explains that he created a clone of Lupin, and that the Lupin who was executed in Transylvania could have been the original. He then appears in person to reclaim Fujiko, and a distraught Lupin challenges him over his use of "parlour tricks". Mamo responds by setting off an earthquake, which Lupin discovers to have been caused by the destruction of an atomic power station owned by Mamo. He sets off to find Mamo, believing him to be based in an ancient temple nearby, despite Jigen's warnings.

Inside the temple, Mamo explains to Fujiko that his cloning technique has never been perfected, and that he has degenerated from his original form as a result of incomplete transfers of chromosomal data over each individual clone. He then decides that he and Fujiko must repopulate the Earth, and convinces her to push a button to launch nuclear missiles to achieve this end. Lupin arrives, and reveals that he rigged the missiles to explode before they could launch. Frustrated, Mamo takes Fujiko with him to a rocket launching pad and fends Lupin off with lasers. Believing that Lupin does not fear death, Mamo reveals that his clone of Lupin was the Lupin who was executed. Lupin uses the tip of Goemon's Zantetsuken (given to him by Jigen earlier) to deflect the lasers, incinerating Mamo. Lupin, however, finds a computer chip in the ashes.

A rocketship emerges, containing a giant brain that reveals itself to be the original Mamo. Lupin realizes that Mamo had controlled his clones resembling his body just as the rocket launches into space, intending to return to Earth to dominate it as God. Lupin and Fujiko escape the rocket's trajectory, but not before Lupin plants an explosive on it. The glass shatters, and Mamo's brain drifts toward the sun. Lupin finds Fujiko in the rubble where he is captured by Zenigata. Fujiko offers to help Lupin after they kiss, but the Americans launch a missle attack on Mamo's base, as they discovered its location from the rocket launch. Fujiko is rescued by Jigen, but Lupin and Zenigata escape on foot while handcuffed together.

Production[edit]

The Mystery of Mamo was produced while the second Lupin III series was being broadcast, and was created with the intention of making a film that was faithful to Monkey Punch's original manga in terms of animation and content. Due to the increased popularity of the first series, staff who worked on that series were assembled to work on the movie. Yasuo Otsuka, who was animation director and character designer on that series, supervised the film's production. Sōji Yoshikawa, who storyboarded the first and last episode of the first series, acted as director. Tsutomu Shibayama, who had worked on the pilot film, was responsible for the layout. The music was composed by Yuji Ohno, who was the composer for the second series.[1]

Mamo was Tokyo Movie Shinsha's first full-length feature production. The movie was given a budget of 500 million yen, comparable to major live action films at the time and unheard of for an animated production. Production lasted for 15 months and involved 1,315 members of staff. The storyboard was 575 pages. 62,000 cel sheets were used in the animation, compared to 5,000 cels used in an average half-hour TV animation. Oversized cels were used and filmed in a modified VistaVision process, referred to as "Anime Vision", which allowed for a brighter and sharper picture for projection in theaters compared to TV orientated production. 18,000 reference images were used for background and mechanical research and 196 character drawings were created.[1]

Mamo's name is taken from the villain Kyousuke Mamoh who had appeared in the manga and first TV series. His physical design was inspired by Swan, Paul Williams' character in the 1974 musical horror film Phantom of the Paradise, and represents a monster who is both a boy and an old man at the same time. Similarly, the characters of Special Presidential Assistant Heinrich Gissinger and Special Agent Gordon are parodies of Dr. Henry Kissinger and G. Gordon Liddy respectively.[2][3]

Release[edit]

The movie was originally released in Japan on December 16, 1978 as Lupin III.[4] The film was a financial success, earning 950 million yen and making it the ninth-highest grossing Japanese film of the 1979 film season.[5] Around the same time, an English dubbed version of the film, commissioned by Toho, was produced by Frontier Enterprises. This dub, also titled Lupin III, was made for JAL flights.[6] It was also available from the Los Angeles branch of Toho for booking to play at local theaters. Notably, the University of California, Berkeley, was host to several showings. As with Frontier's other dubs, this dub did not use professional voice actors for its cast, instead hiring those in the Tokyo area who could speak fluent English. This version also has no credits for the voice cast itself and as such, the full cast is unknown. Despite being largely faithful to the original Japanese script, most of the names of the main characters were changed to Western-sounding alternatives. Anime historian Carl Horn provided Yasuo Otsuka with a VHS copy of the dub in 1987 because Otsuka was previously unaware of it.[3]

In the mid 1980s, TMS re-titled the film in Japan to Lupin III: Lupin vs. the Clones. By this time, English-speaking fans had been referring to the film as The Mystery of Mamo, to distinguish it from the two TV series and The Castle of Cagliostro. Streamline Pictures, through their distributor Orion Home Video, released the film for the first time on VHS in North America in April 1995. According to anime historian and former Streamline employee Fred Patten, Carl Macek could not release the film with the Toho dub at that time due to copyright issues with TMS, and had to redub the film.[7][8] Much of the cast and crew that had worked on Streamline's dubs of The Castle of Cagliostro and Lupin III's Greatest Capers worked on the second dub of the film. Loosely based on the Toho dub and its script, this adaptation made various alterations to the film's original dialogue.[9] Streamline's release used the The Mystery of Mamo title, despite discovering that the character's name was meant to be spelled Mamaux or Mamoux in English. The decision to keep the Mamo spelling was based on fan familiarity and a desire to avoid upsetting the fans by changing it.[7] A Region 0 DVD of the film with the Streamline dub was released by Image Entertainment on April 21, 1998.[10]

On July 8, 1996, the film was released on VHS in Britain by Manga Video as Secret of Mamo.[11] This release used a third dub adapted and directed by actor-director George Roubicek, with the script also being based on that of the Toho dub.[7] In order to avoid possible legal disputes with the estate of Maurice Leblanc (the creator of the original Arsène Lupin), Lupin's name was changed to "Wolf III" for this dub. Manga later released a DVD of the film with the same title on August 4, 2008.[12]

On July 29, 2003, Geneon (then known as Pioneer Entertainment) re-released the film on DVD in North America using a new anamorphic print taken from the Japanese DVD. Another English dub was produced for this release by Phuuz Entertainment, using the cast that was dubbing the second TV series.[7][13] A DVD based on this release was released by Madman Entertainment in Australia on August 16, 2006.[14] As with their dub of the series, Pioneer's dub of the film has attracted a moderate amount of criticism - while the voice acting in the dub has been well-received, the script, which took a liberal approach with translating the Japanese dialogue, received a mixed reaction from critics and fans. In 2012, TMS Entertainment began showing this dub on the Hulu video streaming service.[15]

Discotek Media released a new edition of the film on DVD in America on February 26, 2013. The release includes all four English dubs in addition to the original Japanese audio, as well as several essays and liner notes on the film.[16] The Toho/Frontier dub was extensively restored and reconstructed from an edited version of the dub released on a previous Italian DVD release of the film, as well as copies of the dub provided by fans.[9]

A TV broadcast of the movie on March 28, 2014 on NTV attained an audience share of 11.2% in the Kantō region of Japan. It was the second highest share for a movie broadcast during that week.[17]

Footage from this film (using the Toho dub), along with scenes from The Castle of Cagliostro, was used by Stern Electronics to make the Dragon's Lair-style laserdisc video game Cliff Hanger.[18]

Full cast[edit]

Due to a lack of localisation credits on any known prints, the cast for the Toho dub remains largely unknown. However, it has been confirmed that Goemon and Zenigata were voiced by William Ross (the owner of Frontier Enterprises, and the writer/director of its dubs) and Greg Starr (a Tokyo-based writer/editor), respectively. A common misconception is that Peter Fernandez, Corinne Orr, Earl Hammond and Jack Grimes were involved in the Toho dub; however, there is no hard evidence of this.[7]

Character Japanese English (Streamline, 1995) English (Manga UK, 1996) English (Phuuz/Geneon, 2003)
Arsène Lupin III/Wolf III Yasuo Yamada Bob Bergen Bill Dufris Tony Oliver
Fujiko Mine/Margo Eiko Masuyama Edie Mirman Toni Barry Michelle Ruff
Howard Lockewood/Foward Fughes/Haward Lockewood (Mamo/Mamaux) Kō Nishimura Robert Axelrod Allan Wenger Paul St. Peter
Daisuke Jigen/Dan Dunn Kiyoshi Kobayashi Steve Bulen Eric Meyers Richard Epcar
Goemon Ishikawa XIII/Samurai Makio Inoue Kirk Thornton Garrick Hagon Lex Lang
Inspector Koichi Zenigata/Detective Ed Scott/Detective Zenigata Gorō Naya David Povall Seán Barrett Dan Martin
Heinrich "Starky/Stuckey" Gissinger Tōru Ōhira Steve Kramer John Baddeley Osgood W. Glick
Special Agent Gordon Hidekatsu Shibata Michael Forest William Roberts Michael McConnohie
Police Commissioner Kōsei Tomita Jeff Winkless John Baddeley Richard Cansino
Flinch/Frenchy Shōzō Iizuka unknown unknown Bob Papenbrook
Scientist Ichirō Murakoshi unknown unknown Richard Cansino
Personnel (Dietman) Shunsuke Shima unknown unknown Richard Cansino
Officer Yūji Mikimoto unknown unknown unknown
Egyptian Police Chief Haruo Minami (Special Guest Voice) Steve Kramer John Baddeley Richard Cansino
US President (Jimmy Carter/Ronald Reagan/George W. Bush) Fujio Akatsuka (Special Guest Voice) Steve Kramer Seán Barrett Richard Cansino
Chief Secretary/Soviet Premier (Boris) Ikki Kajiwara (Special Guest Voice) Jeff Winkless William Roberts Richard Cansino

Reception[edit]

Although it has often gained praise for its faithfulness to its source material, concept and off-beat tone, The Mystery of Mamo has received criticism for the execution of its narrative, particularly its third act.

Manga Mania reviewer Peter Lyle described the film as "a convoluted tale that plays like the adventures of James Bond, Don Juan and Charlie Chaplin all rolled into one" with "plenty of wry humour and slapstick". Lyle additionally praised the animated effects and supporting characters. In summary he felt that Mamo was "a healthy dose of fun".[19]

In his review for Mania.com, Chris Beverdige enjoyed the movie despite having previously disliked it on a previous viewing several years before. He attributes this to being more familiar with the characters through other entries in the Lupin III franchise. However, he criticised the final third of the movie for its science fiction development as opposed to the good action and character development of the first two thirds of the movie.[20] This criticism was shared in another review for Mania.com by John Erini except he felt the movie became unwatchable due to the development of the Mamo character.[21]

Rob Lineberger writing for DVD Verdict also agrees with the criticism of the final third, and despite repeated viewings, felt no closer to understanding the events. Additionally, he criticised the "lack of cohesion" and "unbroken string of jump cuts and deux ex machinas" throughout the film. Reflecting on the positives of the movie, Lineberger highlights the characters of Jigen, Goemon and Fujiko as being more interesting than either Lupin or Mamo. He also credits the movie for tackling interesting concepts such as cloning, personal identity, love and honour despite the way they are presented. In summary, he suggests that Lupin fans will find a more ambitious story in this film than the television episodes if they can accept some flaws. He recommends people who are not Lupin fans to watch The Castle of Cagliostro instead.[22]

Darius Washington of The Fandom Post reviews the Discotek edition of Mamo. He called the story "haphazard" due to a shifting focus and labelled the film as "a bit hard to get into". He praises the collection of "educational" extras and different English dubs on the Discotek release of the film. In conclusion, Washington feels that "the film itself is decent", but is more suited for learning about anime history than for entertainment value. He gave the movie content a B rating and the extras an A+ rating.[23]

In an essay created for Discotek Media's release, Anime News Network contributor Mike Toole highly praised The Mystery of Mamo in virtually every aspect, describing the film as "the absolute essence of Lupin III". Toole particularly lauded Sōji Yoshikawa's direction (likening the director’s affinity for bizarre images and situations to the works of Werner Herzog), as well as the film's cartoonish but detailed animation and design work, characterization and humour. He also gave praise to all four English language tracks of the film, particularly the Toho dub, and noted the film's relevance to real world events of the time (including the Cold War, the Watergate Scandal, the publication of David Rorvik's novel In his Image: The Cloning of a Man and the birth of Louise Brown). Toole concludes his essay by stating that "[m]ore than 30 years after its debut, [The Mystery of Mamo], with its heady mix of globe-trotting action, raciness, wild comedy, and hot jazz-funk music, is the original Lupin, the real deal. Accept no substitutes- even if they're clones! As the international trailer for this anime classic proclaims: Lupin III can do anything!"[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b The Mystery of Mamo (Original Movie Program Translation). Discotek Media. 2012. 
  2. ^ Nelson, Reed (2012). The Mystery of Mamo (Liner Notes). Discotek Media. 
  3. ^ a b c Toole, Mike (2012). The Mystery of Mamo (Why Mamo Matters). Discotek Media. 
  4. ^ ルパン三世アニメ全歴史完全版. Futabasha. April 1, 2012. p. 288. ISBN 978-4-575-30406-0. 
  5. ^ キネマ旬報ベスト・テン全史1946-1996. Kinema Junpo. 1997. p. 224. 
  6. ^ Patten, Fred. "Newtype USA" 2 (5). p. 57.  |chapter= ignored (help)
  7. ^ a b c d e The Mystery of Mamo (A History of Mamo in English). Discotek Media. 2012. 
  8. ^ Patten, Fred (May 26, 2013), Cartoon Research - Lost In Translation, Cartoon Research, retrieved May 22, 2014 
  9. ^ a b Nelson, R. 2012.
  10. ^ "DVD Releases for Secret of Mamo". Lupin III Encyclopedia. Retrieved June 18, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Manga Mania" (Poster Magazine Insert) (34). Manga Publishing. May 1996. ISSN 0968-9575. 
  12. ^ "Neo" (47). Uncooked Media. p. 23.  |chapter= ignored (help)
  13. ^ Beveridge, Chris (July 20, 2003), Lupin the 3rd The Movie : Secret of Mamo, Mania.com, retrieved March 30, 2014 
  14. ^ Lupin the Third : Secret of Mamo, Madman Entertainment, August 16, 2006, retrieved July 23, 2014 
  15. ^ "TMS to Stream Lupin III: The Secret of Mamo, Cobra Films". Anime News Network. Retrieved September 17, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Discotek Catalog – Lupin the 3rd: The Mystery of Mamo". Discotek Media. Retrieved March 30, 2014. 
  17. ^ "バックナンバー2014年度 VOL.13 2014年 3月24日(月) ~ 3月30日(日)". Video Research. Retrieved April 18, 2014. 
  18. ^ Surat, Daryl. "The Castle of Cagliostro- Hayao Miyazaki's First (And Most Enjoyable) Movie". Otaku USA. Retrieved June 1, 2014. 
  19. ^ Lyle, Peter (July 1996). "Manga Mania" (36). Manga Publishing. p. 124. ISSN 0968-9575. 
  20. ^ Beveridge, Chris (July 20, 2003). "Lupin the 3rd The Movie : Secret of Mamo". Mania.com. Retrieved April 19, 2014. 
  21. ^ Erini, John (September 7, 2006). "Lupin the 3rd: Secret of Mamo". Mania.com. Retrieved April 19, 2014. 
  22. ^ Lineberger, Rob (January 12, 2004). "Lupin III: The Secret Of Mamo". DVD Verdict. Retrieved April 19, 2014. 
  23. ^ Washington, Darius (February 26, 2013). "Lupin The 3rd: The Mystery Of Mamo Anime DVD Review". The Fandom Post. Retrieved April 19, 2014. 

External links[edit]