1 September 2017 | TheLittleSongbird
An anime landmark
Love anime and animation in general. There are many anime treasures, film and television, and this series is one of them.
An anime, and animation, landmark that is very much underrated by today's standards. It deserved to last much longer than just 23 episodes, when vastly inferior (and actually not good) shows last for over two or more seasons and still air on a regular basis while 'Rupan Sansei' is nearly forgotten apart from being remembered with fondness by fans of the series, the manga and the films (the films are similarly well worth checking out). Thank goodness that 'Rupan Sansei' is available to watch on a DVD box-set, albeit not at a cheap price, enough to make anybody trying to save up and budget gulp.
The show isn't quite perfect. Its weakest asset is the music, which is rather cheap-sounding and has too much of an early 70s surreal quality that doesn't really gel. Also wasn't completely sold on the pilot, though there are certainly far worse pilot/first episodes of other shows around, which didn't feel particularly settled in terms of quality and tone. Both got significantly better incredibly quickly however, so to anybody not encouraged by the pilot don't give up on the show.
In terms of animation, anime certainly became much more refined and eye-catching later on when resources advanced, budgets became bigger and animators became more experienced. With that being said, things considering, the animation isn't bad here, not always smooth in the drawing but there are some lovely details in the backgrounds and the colours are vibrant and atmospheric.
'Rupan Sansei's' writing also makes it a gem. People are more familiar with the lighter, more humorous touch, adopted in the later episodes and better received (this tone carried over in 'Lupin' films like 'The Castle of Cagliostro'). One can see why, the humour is hilarious, making one cry with laughter or clutch their sides, there is a real sense of exciting adventure and it's just fun.
The darker, grittier tone of the earlier episodes is deserving of much more credit however, there is a lot of suspense in these episodes and there is a dark, melancholic air that gives the show some emotional layering. These episodes still don't forget to be fun though, despite a more serious tone it doesn't take itself so seriously that it alienates. Which makes it a shame that the darker, grittier nature didn't seem to connect as much with audiences.
Pretty much all the stories are compelling, with a beautiful balance of comedy, suspense and adventure. While there is a light-hearted edge that makes the show entertaining, 'Rupan Sansei' also has a heart and a maturity that avoids making the storytelling and writing too silly.
Great characters too, with a likable and interesting titular character who has both a fun and gritty side that stops him from being a one-dimensional stereotype. Of the supporting characters, Zenigata is my favourite, the conflict engrosses between the two and the character is just very well-written in his own right. The voice acting is very dynamic and fitting.
In conclusion, an anime landmark that isn't appreciated enough and deserving of more exposure accessible to a wider audience. 9/10 Bethany Cox