Before getting to this part of the recap, I remembered this episode as being fairly nondescript and skippable in that exactly none of it stuck in my brian. It turns out that this was an extremely incorrect assessment on my part, because this episode is a magical granter of wishes. You can see it for yourself here.
The title, “Which of the Third Generation Will Win,” is probably the biggest hurdle to get over. We’re introduced (for the first and last time, thank God) to Ganimard III, the descendant of the original Lupin’s archrival. When I say hurdle, I mean that Ganimard III is the most boring waste of animated space yet used in the series.
What looks like terrible background art is actually
a clever metaphor for the two characters’ respective roundedness
Our poor-man’s Sherlock exists to antagonize Zenigata and move the plot forward by presenting obstacles for Lupin to overcome that would be uncharacteristic for dear Pops. His default mode is ‘arrogant bastard’ with an occasional sprinkling of ‘wailing defeat.’ Oh, and he has a metaphorical boner for science to the exclusion of any other suggestions from Zenigata or anyone else, because “LOGIC. SPECIFICALLY, MY INTERPRETATION OF IT.” Every second with him on screen is a waste, as well as further fuel for the hot water the franchise didn’t know it was in yet.
Science that ignores all observable data during the experiment!
So, not actually science at all
The plot of the episode goes like this: Ganimard has come to Japan, apparently burning with a three generation long grudge despite the fact that we’ve never heard of him before, to arrest Lupin (and of course, he makes sure to take a few swipes at Zenigata, complete with the ‘gee, he sure lets Lupin go a lot’ argument that’s pretty popular among the shipping community). Ganimard is accompanying an exhibit of French national treasures that will include the original Lupin’s hat, cape, and glasses (…why do they have those? Would they not have had to take them from Lupin’s corpse to get them out of the family’s hands? …this opens up so many disturbing possibilities), which Ganimard considers trash but wants to use to lure Lupin III out. Because Green Jacket Lupin has a prideful streak a mile long, if we are being conservative, he vows to reclaim his family heirlooms from this total jackass.
Lupin family heirlooms come up so often as a plot device (in all three jacket colors, no less) that I’m left coming to one of two conclusions – either this family of thieves is so preoccupied with acquiring the objects of others that they’re only able to assign value to their own intrinsic possessions retroactively, or they’re so borderline-sociopathically bored that they leave things for their descendants to retrieve as part of a means to prevent some kind of extremely clever killing spree. It’s clearly doing its job on our Lupin, as he manages to be both in ‘unknowable genius and Kind of a Dick’ mode today while also pulling some really heartwarming stunts.
Sorry, too busy wondering why Pops looks so catlike in this shot.
I don’t know what it is about Ganimard that sets my teeth so completely on edge, but there you have it – this guy, he is how you say, le prick. Every single line of dialogue they give him is dismissive of some established part of the Lupin universe and its characters, 90% of it delivered in the blasé tones of the most disinterested critic you can possibly imagine. The more I think about it, the more it begins to seem like a bull’s-eye from the script. We, as the audience, have no connection to the original Lupin – even if you read the original LeBlanc stories this is so disconnected in practice as to make it completely meaningless. There’s no reason for us to get involved in Lupin’s wounded pride about the whole situation.
Except that Ganimard, as written, isn’t just insulting the legacy of the Lupins. He’s insulting Zenigata as useless and lazy, when we know that it really is just good luck that keeps Lupin out of jail half the time. He’s insulting our thief too, challenging the way the game is played and flippantly disregarding the way the game’s been played up to now. Not in a ‘let’s try something new by building off what your hard work has discovered’ way, but more a ‘everything you people were doing up until now is stupid, and my ideas are better’ way (I am struggling so hard not to take a shot at JJ Abrams right now). Congratulations, writers. You have given me a character for less than five minutes, and my powerful instinctive response is FUCK THIS GUY. That’s no small feat in such a constrained time scenario, particularly to that degree.
All incoming French objects are kept under quarantine
for general safety purposes
The actual exhibit doesn’t show up until the last few minutes of the episode. Until then the treasures are being stored in a warehouse that is stocked with armed guards, an electrified cage, lasers, and wall-mounted machine guns. Kill, arrest, the two are interchangeable really. The bulk of the episode involves Lupin and co. trying to lift the jewels from said warehouse. The first involves Lupin disguising himself as Zenigata and pretending to hear the jewels have already been stolen and replaced by fakes. He even calls in an expert jeweler to confirm it.
C’est ne pas une piège
This plan just about works except for the real Pops showing up and shooting the loot-truck, meaning that Fujiko has to come in and snatch the boys out from under the cops’ fingers. It is the most fantastic thing she’s gotten to do all season, from Punch-and-Judy thwacking Zenigata over the head to dumping Lupin and Jigen into the fiat head first without so much as stopping for breath. All hail Fujiko.
It would seem that the almost success has left Lupin disinclined to try stealing the treasure in transit, despite the suggestions of his gang. Jigen’s plan, by the way, is ‘shoot it with stuff. Also, if that doesn’t work I have bigger stuff we can shoot it with.’
This man can lounge with a grenade launcher up his spine. That is mastery
And then the most peculiar thing happens. Not at first, mind you. First Lupin has to shoot down the heavy artillery plan, saying that Jigen and Fujiko would have to enact it without him if they really wanted to try it. And it’s been a while since we’ve seen a heartbroken Jigen face, so let’s include it for posterity.
But he worked so hard on that idea
But you know what? Instead of admitting that Lupin is the leader and he’ll probably come up with the most effective idea when he gets around to it, which is the modus operandi of most of the previous episodes, Jigen and Fujiko go ahead and start the job without him. Miyazaki answered my prayers for a Lupinless team up.
WE’LL SHOW HIM
It’s everything I ever wanted, for all of two minutes. These two actually work pretty well together when they’re not fighting over Lupin or how they should be executing a plan – Fujiko’s the driver today, and she’s stone cold reliable in the face of pressure and able to set Jigen up for the shots he needs without wavering. They’ve been around each other often enough in Lupin’s company to know basically how the other works, and adjust to what they need to do to carry out the highway robbery. It’s freaking awesome, and a fun short-burst car chase to boot (this is shaping up to be a real skill for Miyazaki, long before The Car Chase). Tragically, it ends like this:
The curse of being secondary protagonists strikes again
Turns out that the truck wasn’t full of jewels but police officers, which Lupin naturally knew and chose not to share (because yadda yadda so forth). I imagine the thought process for this was ‘well, if they’re not going to trust me I’ll just let them learn a lesson, and then they’ll be so grateful to my awesomeness when I pull a last minute rescue. Especially if that rescue is by plane, and rather than letting them get in the plane I pick them up by the handcuffs with a giant hook. I’m sure they won’t break any bones from the whiplash or weight distribution before the actual job.’
None of that’s the weird part. What is weird is how Zenigata isn’t at all jazzed to have caught Lupin’s two closest companions. He’s downright disappointed, like he might as well not caught anyone at all. Do their rap sheets just add on to Lupin’s in his head? Does he not think this is an exciting opportunity to bait Lupin, or at least to demoralize him since this job proves near impossible to carry out alone? Anything? Alright, I’m actually going to give this episode’s Zenigata the benefit of the doubt here – we know the inspector to be a passionate, full steam ahead kind of guy when he’s riled. So let’s assume for today he’s extra concentrated on catching Lupin quickly so he can send that French bastard home (I feel I must here state that I don’t hate the French. Just this guy. A lot).
What’ s the plan for when the day of the exhibit actually comes? Manipulating the civilian hunger for fame to your best benefit, of course!
Fujiko takes a moment to round up the more impressionable parts of the internet
By swarming the exhibit with Lupins, our heroes are able to sidle their way in disguised as guards and nab not only Lupin I’s possessions but the rest of the jewels as well, driving off into the sunset after one of the most gloriously trippy sequences Green Jacket has to offer.
I choose to believe these have all come from Lupin’s enormous personal closet.
Or the same place where he keeps the replacements for all his destroyed cars
Thus do we come to the end of an episode hinged on a boring idea that hinges some of the greatest gang interactions in the series. It’s so rare to see Jigen and Fujiko do a job without Lupin (though the former may refuse to take part and the latter might set up a double cross), especially one that he originally suggested, that I can’t bring up any other examples from the top of my head. I would give up a small, regenerative limb to know what happened in the scene immediately after the plane rescue, but I’m afraid it isn’t to be. Best to take the rarities that’ve been doled out already.
Oh, and just because I haven’t shown off any sufficiently terrifying screenshots in a while, have this:
Look at those empty eyes. The tiny mascots are coming for your soul
NEXT TIME: It’s Lupin versus Lupin! By which I mean, we’ve got an imposter acting a great deal like early Green Jacket Lupin, and Our Hero trying to win back the Charming Antihero Name. Somehow racing boulders down a mountain gets involved. Hope to see you there!