You’ve seen my favorite movie list, right? It was only a matter of time.
The final stretch is upon us!
Something to note with these movies: while they’re technically in order just to keep the list convention afloat, I sort of think of these films as an amorphous blend of “First.” Each does a component of what I value in fiction incredibly well, or speaks eloquently on a personal level. It feels especially unfair to rank them. But! Here we go anyway.
The list goes on! As always, one of the overriding tenets of making the list is the phrase “You haven’t seen this? Siddown, this is our night now.” This week shades, as perhaps such lists always much, into just a drop of the personal.
Almost a year ago I started my very first ongoing series (a lecture series? Recaps? A bit of both, perhaps), concerning the classic anime Lupin III Part I (colloquially known as the “Green Jacket” series). I’ll say the same thing now that I did then (repeatedly, and for 23 straight weeks): Green Jacket is a charming piece of overlooked animation history, a testing ground for new ideas (as the first truly adult-oriented anime) and new talents (Hayao Miyazaki) often overshadowed by its Red Jacketed successor even in its native country. It’s well worth exposing yourself to.
This post is meant to give new readers a sort of helping hand. Putting aside (arguably) Goemon’s two introduction episodes, the series is completely episodic. They can be picked and chosen, in other words. And though I have a certain aversion to top ten lists claiming to list things that are Objectively Best (lacking, as they tend to, any consciousness of their authors’ inescapable subjectivity), lists along the lines of ‘Hey, This is Noteworthy or Good for X Reasons’ can do a lot as far as opening doors to unfamiliar audiences.
With that in mind, here are ten episodes of Green Jacket worth seeking out (if you’re in the US or Canada you can watch it here, and anyone not in need of subtitles can find the whole Lupin catalogue on Japan’s NicoNico).
(And yes, you’ll be seeing rather a few lists in the coming weeks – Auncle Vrai is feeling the crushing weight of writerly deadlines this month).
We come, at last, to the end of the line – the final time a green jacketed Lupin would grace the TV screens of the 20th century. And what an episode to go out on. It’s something like a distilled version of what the series became, a precursor to the Red Jacket tone that would come six years later, and a gentle tribute to the enduring and endearing spirit of Lupin and his gang. I may be a bit emotional about this. The final episode is titled “The Great Gold Showdown!,” and you can watch it here.
Pops and I will just be sharing an emotional breakdown in the corner
Before we get to the sappy stuff, though, I feel it important to note that I can in fact see the future. Remember back at the beginning of this trip when I said that Lupin’s early characterization is more or less the Joker? Well, in this episode Jigen and Fujiko are Batman.
Imagine that you’re reading a novel where the latest fad is modern medical technology, and at the end the characters agree that ‘well, this is cool and all, but it’ll never be quite the same as leeches.’ That’s the closest equivalent I can give to the weirdness of “The First-Move-Wins Computer Operation.” If you didn’t know anything about advances in animation or the history of Lupin III or a single other scrap of information, you could still look at this episode and say ‘why yes, that was definitely the 70s.’ Incidentally, you can watch along here.
If we let this go, one day they’ll be travelling around in our pockets,
Controlling our brains!
This week the meddlesome FBI is getting in the way of Zenigata’s eternal-destined-rivalry with Lupin by bringing a state of the art computer to Japan (this is before Pops is stated to have joined Interpol, making the expenditure of funds even more baffling). This enormous, wall-sized computer is so advanced that it can predict a person’s actions down to the last detail. Naturally, they’re using it to catch a cat burglar. Don’t get me wrong, if we were talking about manga-Lupin, or even the Lupin from when we started this little adventure, this would make a lot of sense. That guy had a body count to fill a church, ties to the mob and his own little criminal underground, and was a happy participant in sexual assault. That guy they should definitely catch, because who knows what the collateral damage of his amusement might be on any given week.
But that guy’s not really around anymore. Instead, they’re spending millions (possibly billions) of dollars to catch this guy:
This has to be one of the weirdest Green Jacket episodes since we started this little adventure. Not in terms of content so much – you’ve got a girl, a chase, lots of guns and a few daring escapes, all pretty par for the course – but because of the weird behind the scenes tension that I may or may not be imagining. Because I just can’t see Hayao Miyazaki, the man who would go on to create so many dynamic and wonderful female characters, leading the charge on an episode whose first act can be summed up as “what is wrong with this girl, fighting back against the men who kidnapped her.”
By the way, the official title for this episode (as in the one that’s on Hulu and most episode summaries you’ll run across) is “Rescue the Tomboy!.” That’s….not so much what the subtitling team decided on, though.
Laugh to keep from crying, folks