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Lupin III: Green Vs. Red is an OVA made in 2008 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the long running Lupin III franchise. This adaptation is a lot more self-referential than all the others that came before, because it not only provides a huge amount of homages, references and nods to almost every previous incarnation of the gentleman thief (including the original manga), but also uses them to reflect on what Lupin has become during the years and if he's still relevant in this day and age. Possibly.
The story starts indeed with the mysterious disappearance of the real Arséne Lupin III, and with many people all around the world claiming to be him, by dressing as him and committing various grand-scale thefts and crimes. One of the impostors, however, is arrested in Tokyo for shoplifting: since he has tarnished the image of Lupin as a master thief, all the Lupin imitators go to the rescue but most of them are promptly arrested by the Japanese police (led by Inspector Zenigata of Interpol) as well. Some of the copycats however are better, among them some that can be considered the "real" Lupin.
Enter Yasuo, a young cook and pickpocket, whose lifelong ambition is to become just like Lupin. This is straining the relationship between him and his girlfriend Yukiko, a news reporter. Yasuo has the chance of his life when a mysterious old librarian, thought to be the most knowledgeable man in all things Lupin, gives him a green jacket and a Walther P38 gun, the symbols of his hero. He then decides to become Lupin by planning a crazy heist: Yasuo wants to steal the "Ice Cube", said to be an extremely valuable diamond, from the "Night Hawks" organization. However, at the same time another Lupin, this time donning a red jacket, is planning to do the same thing with the help of his lifelong partner Daisuke Jigen: this Lupin could be the "real deal", and Yasuo thinks that, if he can outsmart or defeat the guy in the red jacket, he can become the next true Lupin.
Red Jacket and Green Jacket have a duel in the rain, interrupted when a missile strikes the place and seemingly kills Yasuo. He is not dead, in fact Fujiko Mine saved him from the explosion and promised him to cooperate in stealing the Ice Cube. With Fujiko's help, Yasuo breaks into the Night Hawks headquarter and discovers that the helicopter that shot the missile came from Night Hawks, and not only the Ice Cube is actually the prototype of a new source of nuclear power to be used in warfare, but also that Red Jacket Lupin (along with Jigen and Goemon, who destroys the helicopter, piloted by a Nazi-esque Lupin copycat) and Inspector Zenigata are there in the building as well. Red and Zenigata actually let Yasuo escape with the Ice Cube to prevent its further use in future wars.
The question of who will be the next Lupin is still not resolved, so one of the Lupin impersonators sets up a confrontation between Green and Red. The two meet on top of a building and one of them falls down. The OVA ends with one Lupin awakening on an ambulance and escaping right before Zenigata could arrest him, and another one escaping on a car with Jigen, with the police warning of the arrival of a "new Lupin".
The film provides examples of:
- Ambiguous Clone Ending -- The "new Lupin" at the end could be either Arséne Lupin or Yasuo, or perhaps another one entirely. The evidence supports all three theories.
- Art Shift -- The final duel between Green and Red is in black and white, and animated to resemble the style of Monkey Punch's original manga pages.
- Author Filibuster -- The Ice Cube being a source of nuclear power is used to condemn the proliferation of nuclear weapons, which seems out of place in a Lupin film until one remembers that Hayao Miyazaki has a similar anti-war, anti-nuclear stance.
- Battle in the Rain -- The first time Green and Red meet.
- Humongous Mecha -- One appears near the end, but it bears absolutely no relevance to the plot.
- MacGuffin -- The Ice Cube has no real purpose other than getting stolen and being used for the Author Filibuster above.
- Meaningful Name -- Yasuo is named after Yasuo Yamada, Lupin's most important seiyuu, and Yasuo Ohtsuka, animation director for the animated series. Similarly, Yukiko is named after Fujiko's original voice actress.
- Mind Screw -- What is really going on in this film?
- Mythology Gag -- Many examples. One of the funniest is when some Lupin copycats meet and one of them writes "RUPAN" on the wall, and another one tells him he spelt the name wrong. "Rupan" was the name given to the Lupin series to avoid paying the rights to the Leblanc estate.
- Non Standard Character Design -- The Lupin impersonators at the beginning are drawn to resemble all possible incarnations of the character and then some, including the Pink Jacket Lupin, a fat Lupin and Nabeshin.
- Product Placement -- A famous food corporation is featured prominently in two scenes, when the real (?) Lupin and then one of his impersonators are eating some burgers. Hint: it's not WcDonalds.
- The real (?) Lupin is seen driving the 2007 version of the Fiat 500, the car he drives throughout the series.
- In one scene the Taito logo appears, but it's not product placement as it's possibly a reference on how Taito made the very first videogame adaptation of Lupin III in 1980. Yes, this film makes nods to everything.
- Shout-Out -- Almost everything that happens in Green vs. Red is a reference to earlier films, TV specials and episodes of the series. Just one example: the car chases in this film are directly lifted from The Castleof Cagliostro and The Fuma Conspiracy.
- Even one of the covers is an example, since it shows Lupin in a green jacket and with bandages on his face, just like the one for Castle of Cagliostro, only this time the bandages cover all of his face.
- Zerg Rush -- When hundreds of fake Lupins storm Tokyo to save their fellow copycat from the police.