*This is a translated article by QooApp under the permission of SPICE. Reproduction in any form without permission is prohibited.
Amazon Prime Video’s exclusive anime film, Lupin the Third vs. Cat’s Eye is a dream collaboration that sees the Showa era anime revived with an all-new CG look. A collaboration of two titan IPs, both dating back to the 80s, seems like a match made in heaven, with the narrative bringing the two groups together as they set their targets upon the same paintings.
In this SPICE article, we sit down with legendary voice actors Kanichi Kurita (who plays Lupin the Third) and Keiko Toda (who plays Hitomi Kisugi) to discuss the meeting of the two bands of phantom thieves.
Q. This is the first time Lupin the Third and Cat’s Eye cross paths. What was your first reaction when you heard about the collaboration?
Kurita: Looking at how much characters like the Cat’s Eye and Fujiko Mine look next to each other, I had a feeling this would be a crossover waiting to happen. A few years ago, there was a City Hunter film (City Hunter Movie: Shinjuku Private Eyes) that featured Cat’s Eyes, where they use a similar art style, and I remember pointing out how Fujiko’s character design would fit naturally in that film’s aesthetics.
Q. What was the most memorable scene of Lupin’s Gang and Cat’s Eye interacting in the movie?
Kurita: The truth is, I didn’t get much screen time with Toda-san’s character (Hitomi Kisugi) throughout the movie’s runtime. Lupin the Third ends up interacting with Ai Kisugi the most in the movie. The film puts a lot of screen time into the paternal, almost brother-like interactions between the two.
Q. How about you, Toda-san? How did you react to the news about the collaboration?
Toda: I was more taken aback when I heard about it. Never in my life did I think I’d be working with Lupin, of all people. The wildest things happen when you’re in the voice-acting business for so long!
Q. You had the opportunity to reprise the role back in 2019’s City Hunter: Shinjuku Private Eyes movie. What was it like to voice Hitomi again?
Toda: If anything, I was pretty overwhelmed when I was doing the City Hunter movie as it had been over 30 years since I’ve done Hitomi’s voice again in an anime context. This time around, being able to throw around dialogue interactions with Lupin was a great honor. I was wondering if people would have any problems seeing a character technically from two different generations, but I was glad to see how well the movie turned out in the end!
Q. Were there any memorable scenes from the Lupin the Third vs. Cat’s Eye movie?
Toda: Like how Kurita-san put it, the story mostly revolves around Lupin and Ai, with Hitomi and Rui in a more supportive role by the wayside. Seeing the two characters on the same screen is truly something. The Cat’s Eye Sisters standing next to Fujiko was something I’d never thought would be real.
Q. Did the two of you ever see each other’s works at the time?
Kurita: Sorry to say I haven’t taken the time to. If anything, I have seen Anpanman, if that counts as one (laugh).
Q. Anpanman has been one of Toda-san’s most well-known works, after all! I take it that both of you got to see what the other has been working on after hearing about the collaboration.
Kurita: I’ve glimpses of the Cat’s Eye anime a couple of times whenever it was on TV, so I didn’t exactly go and re-watch them. It definitely helps as Cat’s Eyes has a story-beat formula that it strictly sticks to, like Mito Komon dramas. If anything, I did look into the sister’s stances on thievery in general and how they go about in the show. I wasn’t voicing Lupin back then, so I thought I should at least have that much in mind.
Q. Would you say you absorbed a little bit of the atmosphere of Cat’s Eyes and brought it into your acting for the film?
Kurita: I always thought that the two series would at least blend well with each other art style-wise. Even if the film wasn’t made in CG, both series have a similar atmosphere.
Q. I see. What were your first impressions of Lupin the Third, Toda-san?
Toda: Of course, I’ve known Lupin beforehand. I do remember how I worked with Kurita-san when he just started out voicing Lupin too.
Q. It looks like you have worked with Kurita-san on the TV series “Lupin the Third: The Columbus Files” in 1999 and “Lupin the Third: Napoleon’s Dictionary” in 1991!
Toda: I wasn’t the voice actor for Hitomi in those two movies, but yes, we had met already by then.
Kurita: I was still very new to voice acting at that time. I recall being so nervous for most of the recording sessions… I don’t even remember if I said so much as a “Hi” to Toda-san back then.
Toda: I’m pretty sure you did come in and greet me in those sessions (laugh).
Q. So Toda-san still remembers meeting Kurita-san for the first time (laugh)?
Toda: How could I forget (laugh)? Lupin the Third was such a large IP back then and still is to this day. I was genuinely excited to be a part of such a prestigious series! I probably can’t recall the story contexts of my roles in those two movies, but I remember Kurita-san being there among the Old Legends (the original cast of Lupin) recording his voice lines.
Kurita: The Old LegendsXD
Toda: All of them (laugh). It’s a fond memory even today. We have to record our lines alone because of the current world situation with the COVID-19 pandemic. But back then, we would all record in the same studio.
Q. It must have been a blast recording with the original cast. What would you say is the greatest appeal of Lupin the Third as an anime series?
Toda: I gave it a thought again after recording for the movie, particularly when Lupin, as a character, has a lot of charisma. The three of us (Kisugi sisters) get called sexy a lot, but I think it only applies to Rui, the eldest sister. Hitomi and Ai have more tomboyish personalities. Outside of that, all the other casts act a lot more mature than Hitomi does throughout the movie.
Q. It’s certainly true that Lupins and his gang have a more mature demeanor this time around.
Toda: Quite so (laugh). Why is Ai-chan instead of me tagging along with the guys? (laughs) I’m envious of her being able to spend time with Lupine.
Q. Since the movie is set in the 1980s for the two series’ to cross paths, did the two of you make any conscious decisions to “age down” your acting?
Kurita: No, not really. I just played Lupin like I would in any other show.
Toda: I didn’t try to change my acting either. I thought that if I did, fans would give me flak for it, so I made sure not to strain my voice too much when doing Hitomi (laugh). But I remembered when I talked with Ai-chan (CV: Chika Sakamoto) in private after the recording process, she did mention how tough it was to do Ai’s voice.
Q. In City Hunter: Shinjuku Private Eyes, the three sisters were the sole owner of Umibozu’s cafe and were depicted to be more mature than usual. For me, it feels nostalgic to see the trio act more in line with the original anime series in Lupin the Third vs. Cat’s Eye.
Toda: The art and the script did a lot of the heavy lifting (laugh). Being able to do our parts with the finished stills helped me gauge how I should act, so I didn’t have to make a conscious decision in terms of line delivery. It came naturally to me.
Q. So most of the animation was done by the time you started recording?
Kurita: We didn’t have too many of them when we started recording. On the other hand, voicing over pictures for every scene might have made our acting stiffer (laugh). Adds a bit more pressure on our end, you know?
Q. I see. The entire cast gets a noticeable visual upgrade in Lupin the Third vs. Cat’s Eye, thanks to the advanced 3DCG tech. Have the two of you watched the movie already?
Kurita: I certainly have.
Q. What did you think of it?
Kurita: I never thought that Lupin and the Cat’s Eye would be such a match. The whole movie just feels like a natural extension of a Lupin episode, since I was expecting something along the lines of a thief vs thief kind of plot. Sort of like Fujiko competing against the Cat’s Eye sisters or something.
I could see Fujiko (CV: Miyuki Sawashiro) getting into some kind of situation like that. Akio Otsuka who did Jigen really did his homework and did line reads that sounded just like Kobayashi and it was a pleasant surprise. Not that Yama-chan (Kouichi Yamadera) as Inspector Zenigata wasn’t stellar either. As for Namikawa (Daisuke Namikawa)… Let’s put that aside for a second (laugh).
Kurita: Though truthfully, I do feel like Lupin the Third constantly gets all the seasoned veterans working on it. It’s been 28 years since I started voicing Lupin in the anime, but I’ve always felt like I’m subbing for a big-time baseball pitcher like Ohtani in the major leagues. Like, “why put me in when I can’t even throw the ball to the catcher?” And now I get to feel out of place all over again since I’m working with high-profile voice actors that have emerged since!
Q. Toda-san should also be classified as a legendary voice actor, no?
Kurita: I know right?
Toda: Please, I’m absolutely no legend.
Kurita: There was a collaboration with Detective Conan a few years ago, but in that movie, there was a distinct feeling that Lupin’s crew was going easy on them since they were kids. But in Lupin the Third vs Cat’s Eye, the rivalry is on equal grounds since both sides are grownups.
Q. Definitely. Personally speaking, I thought that the scenes in the cafe with both teams sitting down for a talk were particularly memorable in the movie. Was it easy for you to act out conversational dialogues in scenes like that Toda-san?
Toda: Ever since I started voicing Hitomi, the cafe scenes are probably my favorite too. I was glad that the scenes looked natural as I imagined them to be in my head. It also hammered in the idea that Lupin’s gang, including Fujiko, are grown-ups contrasting with the three of us. Even more mature than Rui who’s the eldest sister of the Cat’s Eye. I’m sorry for repeating but there certainly is an adult, mature sensibility to the cast of Lupin that the Cat’s Eye sisters look up to throughout the film.
Q. There certainly is a different air to the movie in comparison to the Lupin we’re used to seeing in the original anime. You get a much larger scale narrative and world-building you don’t get elsewhere. In the context of the movie, the setting of the art collection composed by Michael Heinz from the story of Cat’s Eye feels like a story beat straight out of Lupin’s book.
Toda: It certainly feels that way. Without spoiling anything, the last scene with Lupin and Ai-chan was very heartwarming in that brother/father-like way.
Q. Moving onto the other moments in the film, did it ever get exhausting voicing the more action-heavy scenes?
Kurita: I can’t count the number of times the gang almost gets themselves killed in the movie (laugh).
Toda: There certainly is a whole lot of bloodshed in the movie.
Kurita: They’d be dead if they ever got shot that many times in real life (laugh). Even after being beaten to a pulp, Jigen, Goemon, and Lupin all look their enemy in the eye and utter the word “You still want a piece of us? We’re just getting started.” There’s a certain conviction to that line that says, “no matter what happens, you’re no match for the three of us”. Then there’s the music cue where the track transitions from Lupin’s theme to Cat’s Eye.
Toda: The music transition was so smooth.
Kurita: The composition was so natural to the point that I was convinced they must have changed something on the two tracks! It reminded me once again that anime only truly comes together when the picture, the sound, and the voice actors work in synchronicity. It’s very much in the same vein as the song has a similar synergy between the lyricist, composer, and singer. It felt as though in Lupin the Third vs. Cat’s Eye everything came together miraculously.
Q. Going into slight spoilers, the film having Toshi (CV: Yoshito Yasuhara) and Inspector Zenigata share scenes were a delight.
Toda: It was a fun moment! There were jokes like the inspector repeatedly mispronouncing his name were a riot. I’m glad the movie also kept in little conversations between Hitomi and Toshi just to hammer in how clueless he is to the true identity of the thieves he keeps chasing (laugh).
Q. In your opinion, what are the highlights of the movie and your favorite scenes?
Kurita: Throughout the movie, Lupin doesn’t get to do much of the thieving, but he does get to figuratively steal and return a piece of Ai’s past in his way by the end. Outside of that, the highlight of the film would be just how the turn of events leads to Lupin’s gang and the three sisters all coincidentally getting wrapped up in the main plot.
Q. So the scenes with Ai Kisugi are the highlights?
Kurita: I’d say so. During the voice recording, they had me and Chinatsu-san do our lines together in the same session for the most part, even though the majority of our sessions were done separately due to the current situation. I like to think there was a reason why they specifically had us in the same booth. Maybe because our actions can’t be conveyed unless we’re together.
Toda: I think another highlight has to be the relationship between Lupin and Ai-chan. Fans will get a kick out of how the film ties the two franchises together, giving equal time for each side by scattering references throughout its runtime.
Q. Last question! What do you have to say to the younger generation of your audiences, who may not have been following the series from the beginning? What would you like them to take away from the movie?
Kurita: I’d want them to get to know Lupin and the Cat’s Eye sisters and maybe have the movie become a gateway to watch the production of the older anime as well. I think the CG animations and graphics should make it easier for our younger audiences to get into the series too.
Toda: Both Lupin the Third and Cats Eye are very stylish, mature works in their own sense. I hope the viewers to enjoy the ride of the movie as a spectacle and the collaboration of the two thieve groups in action!
▍ Lupin the Third vs. Cat’s Eye Anime Staff & Production
Original Story: Lupin III by Monkey Punch/Cat’s Eye by Tsukasa Hojo
Director: Hiroyuki Seshita/Kobun Shizuno
Screenplay: Shūji Kuzuhara
Assistant Director: Keisuke Ide
Character Design: Haruhisa Nakata/Junko Yamanaka
Production Design: Naoya Tanaka/Ferdinando Patulli
Art Director: Mitsunori Katâma
Editing: Aya Hida
Sound Director: Yoji Shimizu
Music: fox capture plan/Kazuo Otani /Yuji Ohno
Animation Production: TMS Entertainment
Animation Production Assistance: Moe
Production: Lupin III vs. Cat’s Eye Production Committee
▍ Lupin the Third vs. Cat’s Eye Anime Cast
■ Lupin the Third– CV: Kanichi Kurita
■ Daisuke Jigen – CV: Akio Otsuka
■ Goemon Ishikawa – CV: Daisuke Namikawa
■ Fujiko Mine – CV: Miyuki Sawashiro
■ Inspector Zenigata – CV: Kōichi Yamadera
■ Hitomi Kisugi – CV: Keiko Toda
■ Rui Kisugi – CV: Rika Fukami
■ Ai Kisugi – CV: Chika Sakamoto
■ Toshio Utsumi – CV: Yoshito Yasuhara
■ Nagaishi – CV: Mugihito
© Monkey Punch・ Satoru Hojo/Lupin the Third vs. Cat’s Eye Production Committee
The original article was written by Nobuyuki Hayashi (林信行), pictures photographed by Jun Arakawa (荒川潤), and published by SPICE.
Find the original article here: https://spice.eplus.jp/articles/313880