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Originally released in 1987, it is the first—and until 2002's Return Of The Magician, only—OVA in the history of the Long-Running Lupin III series. The sub-title has also been rendered as Plot of the Fuma Clan and Mystery of the Fuma Clan.
It is even more notable as the only Lupin release to use none of the usual Japanese voice actors (or music composer) associated with the series, a decision made by TMS for budgetary reasons. This is the only time in the entire franchise (so far) you will not hear Kiyoshi Kobayashi voicing Jigen. Due to communication breakdown, the decision to use new actors was misinterpreted by Lupin's seiyuu, Yasuo Yamada, as original creator Monkey Punch being unhappy with his performance and wanting a new voice cast. In reality, while Monkey Punch did not like TMS's decision, he felt he had no control over it and did not fight it. Sadly, this incident put a permanent strain on Yamada and Monkey Punch's friendship, which remained unresolved at Yamada's death in 1995. Since then, no regular Lupin character has been re-cast until the actor dies or chooses to retire.
The special opens with the wedding of Goemon to Murasaki Suminawa; during the wedding, a ritual where an urn that is a precious Suminawa heirloom is handed over to Goemon is interrupted by Ninjas, who are fought off by Goemon and his friends Lupin, Jigen, and Fujiko. The ninjas fail to steal the urn, but do make off with Goemon's bride. In exchange for her return, the ninjas of the Fuma clan want the urn, which is the key to finding a secret treasure hidden in the mountains of Japan. Lupin and his gang work to both rescue Murasaki and take the treasure for themselves. Meanwhile, Zenigata, who believes Lupin to be dead following an explosion, comes out of retirement when he finds out his long-time rival may have survived after all...
Fuma did receive a feature-film release after its release as an OVA, in spite of its short (60 minute) length. It has been released twice in English, once by Anim Eigo and currently by Discotek Media.
This film features examples of:
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: Goemon's Zantetsuken, of course. At one point he effortlessly cuts up abunch of trees.
- Antagonist in Mourning: During the opening, we see a retired Zenigata as a Buddhist monk praying for Lupin's soul.
- Cataclysm Climax: The entire cave is rigged to collapse. The heroes make it out alive, but all the treasures are lost.
- Celibate Hero: Averted by the normally aloof Goemon, who falls in love with Murasaki. And played straight at the end of the movie when he tells her he cannot marry her.
- Completely Different Title: Anim Eigo released this OAV under the name "Rupan III" (a literal romanization of the katakana that make up Lupin's name). This was due to the fact that, although the original Arsène Lupin stories had fallen into the Public Domain in the USA shortly before AnimEigo acquired the Fuma licence, TMS was still operating internationally under the old general agreements from the Streamline Pictures days, made when Arsène Lupin was still under copyright and TMS was under constant threat of lawsuit by Maurice Leblanc's estate. The change also extended to the dub and subtitles (Discotek's re-release several years later corrected the subtitles, as well as the title itself, leaving the English dub as the only artifact of this situation).
- Continuity Nod: Lupin and Goemon had earlier tangled with the Fuma in the Shin Lupin III episode "The Riddle of Tsukikage Castle".
- Distressed Damsel: Murasaki, who often finds herself the target of kidnapping and/or traps.
- Flash Back: Shows how Murasaki and Goemon meet and fall in love.
- Dungeon Crawling: The second half of the movie is dedicated to Lupin & the gang exploring an ancient cave to find the treasure. Death Traps abound.
- Durable Deathtrap: The traps in the cave work quite well, despite being centuries old.
- Genki Girl: Murasaki, in great contrast to the The Stoic Goemon.
- Hey, It's That Voice!: This is the only Lupin release to feature none of the usual Japanese voice cast. However, their replacements were not total unknowns (and definitely aren't now).
- Lupin is Ataru and Piccolo.
- Fujiko (Mami Koyama) is Balalaika and Lunch.
- Jigen (Banjo Ginga) is Gihren Zabi and Ramenman.
- Goemon (Kaneto Shiozawa) was Inspector Shiratori and was the original D.
- Zenigata (Seizo Kato) was Megatron and Galvatron.
- Plus, most of these actors had played one-off characters in the previous Lupin TV series.
- Hostage for Macguffin: The Fuma kidnap Murasaki in exchange for the vase.
- Important Haircut: Zenigata shaves his head when he becomes a monk to mourn for Lupin. Impressively, he remains bald for the rest of the film.
- Ninja: The Fuma Clan.
- Priceless Ming Vase: Fujiko has the vase hilariously put on her head when she is captured by the bad guys. She has to break it to get it off.
- Rummage Sale Reject: Murasaki pieces together a new outfit from Lupin's clothes so she won't have to move around in her wedding kimono. One of the pieces she chooses is his legendary red jacket.
- Status Quo Is God: Goemon leaves Murasaki at the end of the film, as he feels he needs more training.
- They Changed It, Now It Sucks: Included here because this exact reaction from Lupin fans in Japan at the time of the OAV's release profoundly affected the franchise for years to come. Despite Fuma receiving generally favourable reviews from critics, fans upset about the change in cast and music boycotted the OAV and caused it to be a financial flop. Reaction was so swift and extreme that TMS was spooked into reverting back to the old Lupin formula the next year, and not changing it at all for the next 23 years (Yasuo Yamada's death notwithstanding).
- ↑ At the time, the Lupin cast were the highest-paid voice actors in Japan