Lupin the 3rd Part 6
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Lupin the 3rd Part 6 ?
I guess it's only fair that a Lupin story that started out strangely would end up only weirder by the time it was finished. The twists that wrap up and explain the plot of Lupin's adventures in Edogawa Ranpo's 1930s technically make the whole plot more 'realistic', but still come off no less bonkers in their execution and how many extra layers they throw onto the proceedings. Granted, set-ups and subversions that keep the audience guessing are a fundamental part of mystery writing, and other aspects of this episode make clear how much this story is designed with maintaining that cleverness throughout. But all the same I feel like the simple need to explain and end this storyline makes it come off a bit more cluttered, not able to coast on the same basic fun atmosphere at its first part.
Those extraneous elements really only become relevant for the final stretch of the episode though, and so the rest of it is the same compelling mystery construction we've expected from the best of Part 6 so far. There are trip-ups and double-crosses as the various players converge on the mystery of the ancient Chinese time-machine, which itself turns out to be something of a red herring for what's really been going on with Lupin here. The opening dust-up in the exhibit hall even lets the show repeat its best trick from the previous episode, collecting all the major characters together to oppose and play off each other without feeling too busy or easy to lose track of people. As well, this whole section has a lot of details that pay off as everything is unveiled in the end, like the focus paid to Lupin and Goemon getting yet another rematch in the fight-based history of their relationship.
Compared to that previous episode which mostly seemed focused on Lupin with the mystery plot as something of an overheard background element, this one flips things around a bit as we follow that storyline in more detail with Lupin mostly along for the ride for much of it. It's a choice that works on balance, as more details get piled onto the mystery of the clock for eleventh-hour revelations. There is a main issue at hand in how inconsequential some of those reveals feel in the end, as Sarantuya's true identity, the actual mechanics and use of the clock, and how its pursuit by the Japanese imperials is taken care of come off a bit too brisk. The ostensible reason for that prioritization is on account of how irrelevant all those bits turn out to be to Lupin's quest by the end, but the story had done such a good job making me interested in them and the characters surrounding them that it was disappointing to see them treated so sweepingly.
It is plenty of fun following things up to that point though. One character who comes through even stronger than before is Ruriko. She was interesting previously, but here in this second part she's just very generally cool, snarking through situations about her appreciation for detective novel tropes, or basically asking to speak to her kidnappers' manager when she and Sarantuya are apprehended. She actually works better as a central figure in the story than Kogoro Akechi, which makes sense once the true nature of the setting is revealed. Focusing on her also neatly lets the story avoid leaning on Akechi as its main source of appeal, sidestepping the issue the Hemingway episode had where it felt like another author's work was doing half the heavy lifting. Akechi is still around and gets some cool moments, but he's clearly employed here as a flavorful accessory to the mystery stylings that both Ruriko and episode writer (and mystery author himself!) Taku Ashime hold reverence for.
The episode delights in throwing curveballs that effectively play off the audience's presumed understanding of Lupin structure and stories like this. There's a great example of that in Akechi's appearance to rescue Ruriko and Sarantuya, where we're expected to presume the nice old man is actually Lupin in disguise, only for the accusatory Akechi to be the one who turns out to be Lupin. There's a confidence to the writing and its expectations of the audience that it can throw out double- and triple-bluffs like that. So after all that, it does come off a bit overt to explain the entire time-travel premise as being part of a whole separate plot about a group using virtual reality to basically steal Lupin's credit card information. The story was obviously constructed as setting up for this the entire time, dropping effective clues primarily around the presence of Lupin and Goemon. And as I said, it's also in service of putting Ruriko over well as a character. But it also almost feels like an extraneous complication of the mystery story around the clock that was going so well, literally dropping out of nowhere to throw an adventure-game puzzle at Lupin that lets him deduce what's really going on.
It's contentious, but at least it's interesting. The sheer amount of moving parts does make it feel warranted that this got to be the first two-part episode not connected to the main Holmes plot (which it looks like we'll be getting back to next week). As long as I'm wishing there was more cohesion to the historical mystery and the virtual-reality resolution, I'll admit that I've also been wishing Part 6 looked a little nicer. The animation has continued its workmanlike efforts, but for such a big deal of a legacy production, I'd prefer to see a little more dazzle. It's especially egregious when plot mechanics at the end specifically deny the chance at a flashy fight scene because I'm pretty sure the show's production couldn't handle it here. That's the ethos of Lupin the 3rd Part 6 so far, it seems: It's fun, it's functional, it's fine, but it seems to be a bit too limited for its own good a lot of the time.
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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