Japan is a country which, aside from the US, has one of the strongest animation industries in the world. Yet of over 100 films released and yet to be released this year only a small portion feature 3d as its primary medium.
Japan has a strong tradition of 2d animation and while it does delve into 3D it is uses primarily and sparsely as an aid to the 2D animation, mostly utilized for its mechas and or visual effects than principal character animation.
Yet for the past years Japan has been daring to the idea of giving 3d a more prominent role in production. This year will see the release of “Lupin III: the first” a fully 3D animated feature by Toho animation and directed by Takashi Yamazaki
Lupin III was conceived as manga character which respectively transitioned into anime, garnering a strong fan base which prompted the commission of several animated films throughout the year, among the most famous of which is Castle Cagliostro, produced by Studio Ghibli; needless to say, Lupin III has a firm place in anime history and in the hearts of anime fandom as a whole.
This will be the first time Lupin is given a 3d animated film, while it’s not the first anime to be give a 3d treatment it is nonetheless important in the evolution of japan into this medium. The problematic of 3d is that it has components that make limit its potential to mimic the versatility and high energy of 2d animation, yet technology has been going a long way to shorten the gaps between the two and the trailer for Lupin III: the First shows how much it has shortened.
The animation is faithful to the character but however there are moments and expressions, when the aesthetic does not translate pleasantly, even if the animators were being loyal to the source, imitating in as much as possible the animations style. The story for what the trailer shows, is action packed with the usual Lupin III tropes that engage in crime drama with science fiction elements.
As a standalone and looking at the trailer as if there were no previous 2D media to compare it to, the movie is by itself as solid as a non-US 3D animated production can be, an in itself almost on par in many ways. The action is fast paced but the character expressions are odd at times, this is of course because of the inevitable reality that, it is an imitation of a 2D film, the actions and expressions making that all too clear, saying this one could speculate that this film is merely setting itself up for failure unable to be its own thing, but even with the comparison firm in mind it’s still top notch animation.
While the United States’ animation industry is well ahead on the game of 3D animation and of how it has managed to translate 2d characters, such as the Disney princesses as seen in Wreck it Ralph 2, the trailer for Lupin the III shows a lot of promise in this respect and a big improvement over other 2D to 3D anime adaptations such as have been the Zodiac Knights.
Feel free to check out the trailer at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uw7jrQQK3Mc