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Ever since I watched episode 78 of the second Lupin III series the other day, it got me wanting to watch more, so I've started going through the series, though not in order yet. I just watched episode 30, one of the episodes mostly animated by Yuzo Aoki, and I really enjoyed Aoki's drawings, so I thought I'd just post some snaps from the show since I don't have time to write anything long today.
This episode finds Zenigata and Lupin captured by a Gadaffi lookalike trying to mount a revolution in the middle of the desert in Morocco. Yuzo Aoki's style comes through best in the Gadaffi character and his minions. He doesn't have to worry about drawing them on model like Lupin and Zenigata. Maybe he even designed the sub-characters for this episode himself.
The hilarious thing about this episode is that the Gadaffi character evokes Tensai Bakabon. I don't know whether it was intention or not, but the drawing style of the face is similar in a lot of the shots, and they use the same voice-actor, Masashi Amenomori. So the whole time he's talking about starting a revolution with his army of foreign mercenaries, all you can think about is Bakabon Papa. I guess I got this because I've been watching TMS's amazing Ganso Tensai Bakabon series from 1975-77. (See an image from the legendary 'gekiga' episode of that was entirely drawn Sanpei Shirato style by Manabu Ohashi, watch the crazy opening featuring the moon crashing into the earth directed by the late Osamu Dezaki.)
Even just in the general mood and looseness of the drawings the second Lupin series reminds me a bit of Bakabon as well as the other mid-70s TMS shows - Gyators, Dokonjo Gaeru, Gamba's Adventure, etc. It reminds me far more of those than it does of Cagliostro or any of the latter-day Lupin outings. Those mid-70s TMS gag shows were all so dynamic, free and unconcerned with being pretty and orderly. You didn't really see anything as free and crazy in the 80s, much less later.
I used to dislike the second series because of that wackiness - I preferred the more grounded first series - but now I appreciate it a lot more. It's a very different show. It's much looser in its stories, the quality is much more uneven, and it doesn't take itself seriously at all. They take the implausibility of the show's various gimmicks to absurd extremes. In the first show they tried to make it at least somewhat plausible when Zenigata showed up at the most unexpected moments to try to arrest Lupin. Now they just say 'The hell with it.' It's almost like watching Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny.
I just like the roughness of the lines in these opening close-up shots of a jeep. And the fact that the little details are right. It's very Yasuo Otsuka-esque, lavishing loving detail on a jeep. Otsuka actually did a lot of uncredited animation and correction work throughout the show.
General Gadaffi via Tensai Bakabon. I like the way his head looks like it's coming out of his chest. Yuzo Aoki has a way of stylizing certain elements of the body like the hands here that you start to be able to identify as his work after you've seen it a few times.
I like this gnarly drawing of his hand.
Zenigata surrounded by the mercenary army.
Zenigata and Lupin captured.
Look at this terrible drawing. It's from the second half of the episode. It looks totally different from the first half. The shapes are loose in all the wrong ways. There's none of the obvious instinct for stylization borne of experience that Yuzo Aoki learned working on all those A Pro gag shows. At one point around the middle of the episode the drawings suddenly get really bad like this. The weird thing is that Yuzo Aoki is the only animator credited, but obviously this couldn't have been drawn by him. Maybe they forgot to credit the other guy, or he didn't want to be credited because he did such a terrible job. Still, I kind of like the fact that in this series you can see such dramatic changes in drawing style from one moment to the next. It's not always great, but at least the drawings are full of variety and personality, and occasionally there's some better animators like Yuzo Aoki to show how it's done.
Hey Ben, thanks for these pieces!
Yasuo Otsuka did a great job of translating Mort Drucker’s style to his work on Lupin, but I think Aoki even more so does a terrific job of bringing Lupin back to Monkey Punch’s MAD magazine influence.
I only wish the Red Coat episodes were easier to watch in order to locate all the great work, considering how many were made and how inconsistent they could be.
Nice call! That didn’t occur to me, but you’re totally right. I’ll try to post a highlight reel of the episodes worth checking out as I go through the series. (apart from Aoki’s, which I’ve already listed)
Glad to see you’re watching more of the series. The episodes can definitely be hit or miss, but I always enjoy the characters and the humour, so even when the animation or the stories are sub-par I don’t mind quite as much. I also love the music. I really prefer the wackier episodes though, because I don’t think the dramatic stuff works quite as well on such a limited budget, or with such silly designs.
I agree with your remark that portions of this episode look terrible. I remember the first time I saw this one, I loved some of the drawings, but other parts were so lazy and sloppy I couldn’t believe it had all been done by the same guy. It seemed like somebody else trying to imitate Aoki but not really understanding what makes his stylizations appealing. I’ll have to rewatch this one though, along with the other Aoki ones.
It almost reminds me of classic Looney Tunes or Ren and Stimpy, the way you can identify the different animators. That always adds an extra layer of fun to the viewing experience, as long as the styles aren’t so different to be truly distracting or confusing.