The Lupin III Adventures: The Mystery of Mamo (1978)

--review/summary by Paula O'Keefe 2005

Opening sequence: a prisoner is hanged. Titles say the autopsy proved the executed man was Lupin III, but one man refused to believe it. Guess who.--We see Zenigata driving through a storm to a mountaintop castle and finding in the basement a coffin: of course Lupin is in it; Z asks if he's planning to obtain eternal life like Dracula and raises a stake over his heart (came prepared!) but it explodes and L3 is standing there looking quite alive. He says even he isn't quite sure why he's there, but has a hang glider rigged for his escape and once more leaves Zenigata holding the bag.

We next see Zenigata crossing the Egyptian desert in a jeep. Someone has stolen an ancient elixir from a Chinese tomb and a mandrake root from Dracula's castle; he's sure the next target will be Pharaoh's tomb in the Great Pyramid. Sure enough, there are Jigen and Lupin, burgling the Pyramid, while Lupin says he's found that the man who was executed really was the real him, genetically. Sounds fishy, says Jigen. == They pull a black stone out of a sarcophagus and bolt barely ahead of Zenigata's men, break out of the vertical passage on a motorcycle--Goemon is awaiting them and slashes off the tires so they can drive away on a pre-arranged rope bridge (he runs along the rope behind the bike =) and off into the sunset they go.

Cut to Fujiko sleeping in a palace and showering in a green-vine-draped bathroom (here's your fan service, kids). She was awakened by the voice of an unseen man who praises her beauty as she bathes and says he'll never let her grow old. She tries to make him tell his name but he refuses. They have some kind of arrangement already; she dresses and heads off on her motorbike, saying that "business is business".

She arrives to find a dressed-up Lupin offering her flowers, spurns him, sprays him with a paralytic and takes the black stone. ( Typical.) In a graveyard awaits the mystery man and his big strongarm guy, Flinch. He judges the stone genuine but it detonates, showing the transmitter inside and frazzling Jigen and Lupin who are listening in on headphones. The mystery guy rises into the air above the explosion, saying he'll reveal his name--it's Mamo.

Next day at a French sidewalk cafe' Jigen, Lupin and Goemon are discussing the history of the search for eternal life and Goemon has just gotten up to leave--waste of time, he says--when a helicopter zooms down and strafes their table with machine-gun fire. (Just yer average lunch date with Lupin...) They make it to their car, but the chopper pursues them even through the sewer system, and becomes Goemon's latest unworthy thing--how many helicopters is that by now? Above, they meet Fuji in her car--she throws her door open and tells them the man they're dealing with is very powerful, and they should just give her the real stone and run for it. Instead they dump her, take her car and the chase continues, as they're pursued by a huge semi-truck on winding mountain roads.

As they run, the guys argue that Lupin let Fuji off too easy; Goemon snaps "It's your indecent ulterior motive that's unforgivable!", and angrily tells Jigen that if he were Lupin's true friend he would have broken L&F up long ago. They have to bail the car and scramble the 10 km to their mountain hideout, but when they arrive there it's already been bombed into rubble: food, supplies, ammo all gone. Only Fuji could have told their adversary where this place was. The guys turn on Lupin and say it's the last straw, he must cut all ties with her. There's a bitter quarrel in which they all snap at each other, ended only when Lupin leaves them both and starts walking.

They cross the French border into Spain, trudge miles of desert and finally find a hut to hole up in, which luckily contains some water and edibles. Lupin manages in this better atmosphere to make peaceable overtures and things are barely settled when guess who arrives...yup. Fuji, sunburnt and badly beaten: she collapses in the sand outside and tells Lupin that they're all being pursued. She says she still doesn't know the boss's name but the one chasing them is Flinch. He, of course, comforts her...J&G are totally fed up and swear they'll leave him if he forgives her again. But he does. Goemon chokes up a little as he says "we've known each other so long, I may never see you again," but he walks. Jigen watches him, turns and tells Lupin that if he ever intends to call Goemon back he'd better do it now: L stubbornly refuses. Jigen hauls off to punch him, then just leaves, Lupin yelling after him.

So Fuji and Lupin pass the night solo. She plays domestic and cooks a meal for them to share, but refuses to go to bed with him. Of course, she drugged his plate, and just as he passes out a plane arrives. It's Flinch, who takes them both.

Meanwhile, J&G are captured by the US Navy in Spain and interviewed by a guy who looks like Kissinger. They play a tape in which Mamo claims to be God, threatens the USA and requests something mysterious (the black stone, presumably). The US couldn't secure this object since Lupin had already stolen it; they therefore assume he was acting as Mamo's agent and demand J&G tell the whereabouts of Mamo's hideout. They have no idea, but hand over the only clue they have: the word "water" written on a slip of paper Fuji brought to Lupin. They are slightly roughed up and angrily walked out on by the Americans; Jigen is so insulted that he threatens to give up his admiration of Marilyn Monroe and Humphrey Bogart.

However, Goemon notices that a pitcher of water which was overturned in the roughing-up has soaked the slip of paper and caused formerly invisible writing to be revealed: it says "Carib". The Caribbean? --they puzzle...

Lupin wakes in a cage, escapes it and finds himself wandering a palace designed as a wild range of famous art styles; De Chirico, Dali...he meets dead-ringers for Napoleon and Hitler (whom he heils) and a little blue gnome, Mamo, who tells him those men really were who they looked like. He's now convinced, he says, that Lupin really is history's greatest thief, and is considering giving him immortality. Lupin is not impressed.

Jigen and Goemon sail toward Howard Lockwood's private island in the Caribbean. Goemon says it's unfortunate Lupin was so tricked; Jigen chuckles and says no matter how they fight with Lupin they still worry about him, and that bond may never break. Goemon growls that that isn't so--he just doesn't want Lupin killed by anyone else (..guess he wants the honor for himself...)

Mamo releases a cloud of long-extinct butterflies that he cloned as a gift to Fujiko; as she exclaims over their beauty, he says her beauty will also be preserved. He tells her Lupin refused immortality, but she says he must keep his promise. Doctors break in on his comm-screen to say they've completed their report on the Philosopher's Stone (that was the black stone that came from the Pyramid; he took it from Lupin) but while they're talking Lupin walks in and takes it back, telling Mamo he'll throw it where it can't ever be found. Mamo is angry that Fuji is still loyal to Lupin even though he, Mamo, is the one who's promised her immortality. Mamo's goons chase L&F all over the palace grounds and win: Mamo confronts Lupin.

He says he's been performing "God's experiment" for 10,000 years, cultivating the most brilliant minds from every field; he says the world will end within a few days but those he's chosen, the most gifted and beautiful, will all survive. (During his original roam of the castle Lupin saw his clone lab, full of baby Mamos under glass. Yeeesh.) Intruders are reported: yup, Jigen and Goemon have arrived, and Zenigata as well.

Fujiko's deal with Mamo is revealed: Mamo must make both her and Lupin immortal, and she won't accept if Lupin refuses. Lupin is deeply touched and Mamo rabidly jealous. To show her why Lupin doesn't deserve immortality he hooks him up to a device that shows the contents of his mind: the surface layers contain nothing but Fuji (mostly naked) and Zenigata, but to Mamo's amazement his deep subconscious is a blank. He doesn't dream, gasps Mamo, he's either an idiot or God. Before he comes to any decision, enter a fleet of US Air Force bombers which were directed here by Zenigata (and how did he know where Mamo and/or the gang were? How does he ever?) and proceed to bomb the daylights out of the island. (This is by no means the last time the US military will be portrayed in Lupin's universe as only too happy to bomb anyone, anywhere, on anyone's request. It's a little sobering...)

J&G run in and grab the unconscious Lupin from Mamo's device, and Jigen shoots Mamo. Off they run; they way is blocked by Flinch, who draws a sabre and duels Goemon, leaping from rock to rock in the sea. He's wearing a metal alloy vest that (he brags) only a laser can cut; it makes a mess of Zantetsuken's edge. Goemon decides to aim for his head instead. On his next leap he slices Flinch's head into three neat slices and even cuts the frame of film he's in; Flinch frantically tries to shove his head back together (!) and falls dead into the water, but with a clear little ping Zantetsuken's tip falls to the stone below. G, J and F all look stricken and Jigen goes to Goemon's side; he tells him the sword can be fixed, but Goemon, in tears, blames his own lack of skill. Jigen tries to comfort him. Alas, more bombers arrive and they must scram. Zenigata thought he had planned for their escape by tying his little rowboat to the powerboat they were most likely to steal, but...nope. OK, he'll row.

He eventually staggers ashore in Colombia, South America, and is amazingly met on the beach by his Chief Commissioner, who takes him to dinner (just as amazingly, he found a Japanese restaurant: "Hanako Japanes Lestlan" says the sign). As the famished Keibu crams down chow, his boss tells him he's being taken off the Lupin case, since it's now an international incident. He hands him a bonus from the Prime Minister and says, let's fly home. Zenigata will have none of this (as if we thought he would!). He shreds the bonus and says he resigns: he'll chase Lupin as a private citizen. After all, he has to be in South America somewhere! --he's right, but how the @#$% does Z know it?!--and off he goes...

L, J & F are sitting in a hotel room while Jigen brews coffee ("dirty hotel but the coffee is superb," says Jigen as he pours the stuff--well yeah, they're in Colombia...=). Lupin asks where Goemon is and Jigen tosses him the three-inch tip of steel; keep that, he says, that's what's become of Zantetsuken. Goemon said he doesn't want to see us for the time being. Lupin frowns and pockets the point. He says the coffee is too bitter.

Lupin has figured out the riddle of the executed Lupin: it was a clone. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the hotel room turns into a speeding starscape and Mamo's voice says Lupin is right. He himself, in fact, is a clone of the original Mamo, which accounts for his 10,000 years of memory and wisdom. He hovers away with Fuji, saying that now they'll see the wrath of a god, and as he vanishes there's an earthquake.

Jigen swears it was genuine, that Mamo has superhuman powers; Lupin says it was no such thing, and is connected with the island's underground nuclear plant, probably built with Lockwood funds. Jigen says he's tired of L's overconfidence and won't go with him to investigate. Even if Mamo's no god, Jigen says, he's a monster, something no ordinary human can beat. True, says Lupin airily, this job isn't for those too religious; and he slings on his backpack and starts off. Jigen sits at the bar seething another moment, runs after him and fires a shot that perforates an empty can by his foot. Don't go, Lupin, he calls. My dream was stolen, calls back Lupin, I have to get it back. Your dream is that woman?--snarls Jigen. Lupin smiles. You are so traditional, you really are, he says, and keeps going.

Mamo, now based in an ancient ruin, threatens the US President. Lupin arrives and tells Mamo he's destroyed the nuclear arsenal. Mamo grabs Fujiko and screams in rage. He tells Lupin that he should have no doubt it was a clone that was executed, and that he is the original Lupin III, but now he must die as well. He fires a bank of lasers (which he just happened to have handy) at Lupin, but L stands his ground and holds out the tip of Zantetsuken's blade, which reflects all the beams back at once and torches Mamo. ("You saved me, Goemon," says Lupin quietly.) Burning, Mamo staggers after Fujiko and collapses; a huge Mamo brain rises into view and claims to be the original, but L says it's still a long way from being God. Someday it will return and be a true god here, it says, and the rocket it's loaded into rises up off the silo (yes, there's a rocket silo in the middle of the ancient ruin...). L & F crawl along the walls and barely escape; the rocket reaches space, the bomb L managed to plant on the rocket blows and the brain falls toward the sun.

L&F in the ruins: Zenigata appears (how DOES he do that?) and cuffs himself to Lupin; Jigen arrives in a biplane followed by yet more bombers and drops a rope ladder but only Fuji is able to climb aboard. Zenigata and Lupin are forced to run off three-legged to escape the bombers and Goemon, perched on a nearby cliff watching, says it's Lupin's destiny to be pursued.

End titles. Whew.

[Footnote: also known as The Secret of Mamo and Lupin Vs. the Clone.]

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...go on to The Hemingway Papers.