Project #329: Lupin the Third: $1 Money Wars

This review is dedicated to the life and memory of Kazuhiko Katō aka Monkey Punch. 05/26/1937-04/11/2019. 

R.I.P & Thank you for giving me my favorite anime character

Hello and welcome to Project Nitsuj. It’s Lupin the Third time! Good old Lupin. His specials are great, wacky, suspenseful, violent, and always fun to watch. Today’s special is no exception, $1 Money Wars. Also known as Missed by a Dollar, this special came out in 2000 the beginning of the new millennial. This special is pretty important as it was the last Lupin project to feature traditional cel-animation. Yeah, around this time a lot of animation studios worldwide were starting to switch over to digital animation. It was cleaner, affordable, quicker, and for the most part better. With advancements in technology and the new millennial upon us, it only made sense to give one final hurrah to the animation of the past. All is fair in money and war, this is my review of $1 Money Wars.

The special begins in lovely NYC where an auction is going on and Zenigata has arrived with half of New York’s finest to catch Lupin who is after a ring called the Marquez Anniversary Ring (quite the fancy name for a ring). Lupin (in disguise) auctions off for the ring but somebody beats him by one dollar (don’t you just hate that?) and Zenigata comes in to arrest him but Lupin escapes all while stealing the ring in the process. As he heads towards his car, he gets held at gun point by a mercenary named Alex (a common occurrence in New York no doubt) and forced to give the ring up. Lupin then escapes resulting in our first chase scene in the special (which like all the Lupin chase scenes is an absolute joy to watch. It’s fast paced, exciting, the visuals are wonderful to look at, and the music is a joy to listen to). Lupin manages to escape and meets up with Jigen where they follow Alex back to his boss. Along the way we find out that the reason Lupin was after the ring is because it holds the secret location to a legendary broach said to bring good luck to anybody who wears it. This broach has been worn by some of history’s greatest (and worst) figures i.e. Napoleon, Lenin, and Hitler to name a few (and we all know what happened to them. Hm, are we sure this broach brings good luck to people?) and now Lupin wants it, not because he wants to start his own empire (hail Lupin) he just wants to see it. Alex arrives at the headquarters of Bank of World a boomtown bank led by this woman named Cynthia (please be a woman and not a crossdresser) who wants the broach to take over the black market (she’s got the mind of a businesswoman alright). Lupin and Jigen try to get Fujiko and Goemon to help but Fujiko says no and Goemon is trying to walk down the path of good by joining a fake religion scamming people. He does however come running to Lupin and Jigen because his religion needs funds. So they infiltrate B.O.W’s headquarters, get the ring, and take Cynthia hostage until they get to the roof where they escape via helicopter ( but not before Lupin steals a kiss from Cynthia which pisses Alex off since he has a thing for Cynthia (it’s the red hair man. Guys love the red hair). As they escape, Alex manages to shoot Lupin with a fatal shot which causes him to fall out of the helicopter and crash through the roof of a church (well if the shot didn’t kill him than the fall sure as hell did).

Alex recovers the ring and it seems like Lupin is seriously dead and to make us believe he’s dead they actually show his body getting buried (even if that man was cremated, I would still believe he’s alive somehow) and all his friends doing the deed themselves (with Zenigata being the only one crying. Goes to show how close he was to Lupin). The gang decides to finish what Lupin started and they go to an abandoned factory to face Alex and his men where Alex traps them inside with motion detecting guns and a bomb (smart man). He takes his leave believing that’ll die by the bomb or guns but they all get saved by Lupin back from the dead (when there’s nothing more to steal in Hell, Lupin shall rise. So it says in the book of Lupin chapter 3 verse 16). Actually, Lupin survived the bullet shot thanks to his trusty gun and as for fall airbag. He then used a dead body to fake his death and trick Alex. With Lupin back in the picture the group begins plotting their revenge to get the ring and take down B.O.W and it’s here that the special takes a unique turn. Rather than Lupin going after Cynthia to get the ring back he and the others instead buy out an oil company in a southern island and steal all the oil from other rigs to make their rig worth more. While that’s going on, Cynthia is trying to start a war in order to turn over a profit (she’s like a hot female version of Trump done correctly) and even finds a code on the ring which reveals the location of the broach. Lupin manages to get the code and decodes it believing that the broach is in a military hospital in the same country Cynthia is using to help start her war (there’s a lot of stuff going on here and it’s all interesting). Lupin manages to get into the hospital as a patient and figures out that the broach is in the operating room. He takes his leave and returns to his oil company where Cynthia wants to do a joint venture with them and Lupin reveals himself to her (and she takes it quite well seeing a guy she thought was dead standing in front of her) where he says he’ll give her 50% of the company shares as well as the broach in exchange for $100 billion (hot damn~). She agrees to his terms and that night Lupin and Jigen infiltrate the hospital to get the broach with Alex right on their tail. They find the broach and we get our climatic scene where Lupin and the gang take on Alex and manage to kill him by dropping part of the warehouse on him and escaping unharmed thanks to broach. To just leaves Cynthia who thanks to Lupin who forged her signature on blank checks took all her money and he disowned his oil rig company dropping B.O.W’s stock big time so now Cynthia is broke (more broke than a church mouse). She and Lupin share a drink together where she reveals that she wanted the broach in order to follow in the footsteps of her father who was the dictator of his own country until a revolt happened and he got killed. Cynthia tries to kill Lupin but a silver coin gets stuck in her gun and she gets arrested by Zenigata for engaging in terrorism. In the end Fujiko takes all the money and loses it in investing, Goemon got disowned by his religious girlfriend, and Lupin gave the broach to a singer named Sandy who originally hired him to find the broach in the first place (like always, in the end, nobody got anything but they all had a good laugh and fun).

Final Thoughts

So that was $1 Money Wars and honestly this special was a lot better than I remember. Like all the other specials it’s the great writing and wackiness that ensues that makes it such a good watch. The dialogue between the characters is great. Lupin and Jigen really have some good and snappy dialogue they exchange with each other throughout the special. This one was actually a little more violent than some of the other specials I’ve seen. Fujiko actually kills a good number of people. I actually thought we were in the green jacket era for a second. Zenigata’s scenes are hilarious. I love how at Lupin’s funeral he’s only one crying. Showing us that out of all of Lupin’s associates he’s probably the one who cares about Lupin the most. The villains are good this time as well. This is one of the few times we’ve seen Lupin square off against a woman and I liked how she approached every situation from a business standpoint. Alex was pretty smart and deadly, and I give him points for almost killing Lupin. The music is fantastic as always but probably the one thing that really stands out from this special is the animation. This is easily some of the best cel-animation from this series. The drawings of New York are great to look at. Not to mention it was nice to see the Twin Towers again.

If I had to name my complaints it would come down to two things. First one, Goemon surprisingly doesn’t have a big moment in this special. Usually he has one cool moment in the specials but in this one he doesn’t. He kind of gets the shaft too as the story with the fake religion never really goes anywhere. I was kind of hoping that the fake religion would tie in to the main plot somehow. Like maybe Cynthia using them to gain supporters to her side or something. The other complaint is Lupin’s fake out death. The reveal that Lupin is still alive came way too early in the special. He was only presumed dead for like 2 scenes only to come back. The whole fake death just felt pointless to me and it could have worked if they didn’t reveal Lupin so soon. If they wanted this to work, they should have revealed Lupin later on in the special and showed him working behind the scenes.

Final Score

The final score for this special is 7.5/10. This special was definitely a lot better than I remember it being and has now become one of my favorites. Definitely check this one out if you’re a Lupin fan like me. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next time on Project Nitsuj.

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