Lupin the 3rd Part 6
Episode 14

by Christopher Farris,

How would you rate episode 14 of
Lupin the 3rd Part 6 ?
Community score: 4.4

Deception is a key part of any good heist story, both in terms of the characters keeping their plans obfuscated in-universe, and keeping the audience at home guessing to drive up the dramatic tension. It's tantalizing to know that we don't know everything, and that new revelations could always be around the corner in a story. Even after over fifty years, Lupin the 3rd has piecemealed out elements of its titular character's backstory so sparingly (and often in contradictory ways) that each new revelation feels momentous. Ideally, when a given entry into the franchise makes one of these revelations, it also works to inform our understanding of Lupin as an overall character – or at least the version of him being written in that particular part. This week's episode is all about utilizing that idea with a full storyline, springboarding off of a newly-minted component of Lupin's past to serve as the main motivating force for him moving forward here.

It had been established in previous media that 'Tomoe' was the name of Lupin III's mother. But fitting in with the series' attempts in recent years to expand on the manner of succession for the Lupin line (ironically, by adding more complexities and then obscuring them), the Part 6 anime here walks the concept back to make Tomoe into a teacher of Lupin's who was like a mother to him. It's arguable that the lack of a 'direct' relationship robs some of the other revelations about Tomoe in this episode of their punch, but I'd say that Lupin's demeanor in response to the whole affair still makes clear the weight the situation puts on him. As well, we're still early in this story, so it's entirely possible that further, deeper connections between the two will be revealed as we go on.

We're taken along on that ride because in this case, Lupin himself isn't super caught up on a lot of the more intimate details of what Tomoe's deal actually was. Obviously her tutorial predilection for deception precluded her eventual thieving betrayal of the house of Lupin, but the question of "why" is something the titular thief has been carrying around with him for a very long time, as it turns out. I like the emotional arc on this that the last episode established, the gem that was the initial subject of the heist getting Lupin to think back to his grandfather and his formative training days, before settling specifically on his experiences with Tomoe and the possibility that the answers he'd previously given up on might not be so out of reach after all. It allows us one of those rare opportunities to see a more vulnerable, reflective Lupin.

A somewhat odd element of that interiority is this story's apparent focus on Lupin's dealings with women. The man's always had some kind of love for the ladies, though he has evolved alongside the series into more of a chivalrous rogue as opposed to his more *ahem* forceful apprehending of the so-called "finest treasures of the world". As I suspected just from the framing of last week's episode, the idea of the character's connections with women overall is going to be a driving theme of this whole story, but I question if something as conventional as a gentleman thief's chivalry needed to be 'explained'. I think it's possible to communicate a story about Lupin being hung up on his past issues with a maternal figure without further implying that he's got some whole underlying complex about it. The idea that Tomoe is still out there, training thieves that could surpass Lupin, works plenty well as something personal the character struggles with, and thankfully that latter element is what's mostly on display here.

After he was so thoroughly trounced by incidental rival thief Mercedes last episode, it's energizing to see Lupin come roaring back for Round Two here. That momentum is fed by the backstory revelations from this episode as well, as Tomoe's advice about the layers of deception in thievery is exemplified in the counter-plans and mind-games Lupin and Mercedes end up springing on each other throughout the episode's climactic final section. There are a whole lot of triple-bluffs that pile up and end up being a blast to watch, playing with classic Lupin elements like elaborate disguises as well as bringing back key details like those robot bugs from the previous episode. By making clear that both these characters were trained by the same woman and are now matching those wits against each other, it makes for an effective capstone to all that thematic backstory we were given earlier. Importantly, it also clarifies by the end just how Tomoe herself is playing on several layers above even what we just saw.

And the intense question of whether Lupin will actually off Mercedes at the end, and his choice not to, works well to remind us that Lupin is still Lupin even in the face of an extremely personal battle he's found himself fighting. It works in parallel to his caring treatment and remarks on the injured Mattea at the beginning of the episode, making another case for the portrayal of Lupin's feelings towards women that need not be predicated on any newly-revealed hang-ups the character has. In that context, Mattea's remarks in the scene communicate a broader idea about interpreting seemingly 'bad' experiences in our lives more as 'formative' or 'valuable' instead, allowing us to cope with them in healthier ways.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that the show still looks as good as it did last week. Just that opening scene with Mattea alone is filled with attentive character animation, plus knowingly intimate close-ups on minute business like Mattea pulling petals off of a flower. Lupin wistfully having his thoughts occupied by Tomoe comes through even before he exposits his backstory, thanks to longer, quiet stretches shown as he and the gang take a drive down to Mexico, making as clear to us as it is to Jigen and Goemon that something is bothering the guy. And the portrayal of their rapport compliments that, complete with an aside remark about the fact that we still aren't actually getting a closer look at Lupin's real familial roots. Some of the vehicle CGI could still stand to be less distracting, but overall this pair of episodes have looked like a significant step up from previous portions of Part 6. Granted, we're going into another one-off episode next week, so it remains to be seen how consistently that will hold up. Regardless of that question for the future though, this introduction to the next storyline has me onboard for all of its new mysteries, and I'm eager to follow how far it goes.


Lupin the 3rd Part 6 is currently streaming on HIDIVE.

Chris is a freelance writer who appreciates anime, action figures, and additional ancillary artistry. He can be found staying up way too late posting screencaps on his Twitter.

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