Tokyo police led by genius-detective-trapped-in-a-kid's-body Conan Edogawa (voiced by Minami Takayama) surround the site of a jewel heist. Only to be outfoxed by an unexpected adversary: the infamous international master thief Lupin the Third (Kanichi Kurita) who makes a typically daring escape. Whilst Interpol's dogged Inspector Zenigata (Kouichi Yamadera) rallies the local cops to try to stop Lupin's next caper, Conan and his Junior Detective League are drawn into another mystery involving a blackmail attempt on visiting Italian pop star Emilio Baretti (Miyu Irino). It turns out these sinister forces are also coercing Lupin into stealing something they want. Only by setting their mutual antipathy aside can Lupin and Conan crack the case.
The epic franchise crossover-cum-battle of wits anime fans had been waiting for first happened four years earlier when Monkey Punch's unstoppable master thief met Gosho Aoyama's unflappable boy sleuth in director Hajime Kamegaki's like-named television special. Lupin the Third vs. Detective Conan: The Movie picks up where that encounter left off, developing a few previously established plot strands likely to confuse any viewers unaware these two iconic characters have met before. Both franchises are distinguished by the high quality of their writing. Here they merge together exceptionally well despite each catering to a radically different fan-bases: one to puzzle-loving kids, the other to older viewers who like their thrills on the decidedly racy side. True to form the film does not neglect to spotlight plenty of steamy interludes involving Lupin's on-off girlfriend-cum-arch-rival, the ever sultry and voluptuous Fujiko Mine (Miyuki Sawashiro), who also has an amusingly stupefying effect on the perpetually adolescent Conan.
Screenwriter Atsushi Maekawa hits all the crowd-pleasing character beats from both sources and has fun having unexpected combos spark off each other. Such as the Junior Detectives geeking out over Lupin's stoic samurai companion Goemon (Daisuke Namikawa) or the surprisingly delightful dynamic that emerges between Conan and taciturn sharpshooter Jigen (Kiyoshi Kobayashi). Much of the fun arises from pitting Lupin and company against detectives far smarter than the norm, forcing both parties to up their game significantly in a bid to outdo each other. The film weaves a typically intricate, outlandish though still well thought out plot and masterfully draws its two seemingly disparate strands together. Perhaps fittingly, Lupin operates largely on the fringes of the main storyline although fans may despair that the title characters share less screen time than they would hope. If Lupin the Third vs. Detective Conan: The Movie is somewhat talky with fewer standout action set-pieces than one would expect it compensates with a welcome level of emotional nuance and affecting character interaction. On the other hand the script exhibits a propensity for overly cute in-jokes such as the mystery villain using the alias 'Alan Smithee' (until recently the alias favoured by Hollywood directors unwilling to sign their name to a bad film) or the FBI agent whose name is a composite of actress Jodie Foster and her character Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs (1991).
When the film commits to suspense however it is properly suspenseful. Highlights include a daring tower-top rescue attempt of babysitter/clueless would-be girlfriend Ran (Wakana Yamazaki) and a finale that does not disappoint where multiple forces collide and Lupin and Conan are stuck on board an out of control jet, torn between trying to outwit, exasperate or help each other. As crossovers go it is undeniably entertaining although one would not be too surprised if a few years from now we get another more substantial team-up.