Lupin the 3rd Part 6
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Lupin the 3rd Part 6 ?
Community score: 4.3
That was a mostly-decent month off with the gang for more episodic adventures, but now it's finally time to get back to the 'Lupin III vs Holmes' plot we're all really here for. There's even a definite sense of 'coming back from vacation' to this episode, which spends a sizeable chunk of its runtime 'catching up' with the various characters. Holmes is back to solving exciting, interesting mysteries, Lestrade is discussing his return to form with Lily, who's still suffering from plot-mandated memory headaches, and Albert continues to just have his day absolutely ruined in any episode he appears at the beginning of. I don't mind it, since broader-context characters who feel like they've got whole days they go about are a major contributor to the long-lived-in world-feeling I've come to enjoy in Lupin. That this recollection section culminates in Zenigata and Yata meeting up with Lestrade at a restaurant so they can all get drunk together is a testament to that kind of easy appeal.
Of course, it's still just a flavorful appetizer, and Lupin the 3rd Part 6 nicely respects our time in that, after that little recap section, it jumps right into actually revealing and elaborating on some of the major plot points of this story we've been wondering about since it started. Oh sure, it seems like it's playing coy at first, Lupin pleading the fifth when Zenigata corners him on a rooftop and point-blank asks if he's the one who killed John Watson, only for the two of them to get sidetracked dealing with a sniper. (Sidebar: My airsoft-appreciating ass immediately recognized that said sniper's gimmick was using a Polarstar-style air rifle setup. Can confirm: you do not want to get hit with one of those bad boys.) But it's really just an action-enhanced lead-in to the two characters getting to have a sit-down behind some cover for the evening while they actually discuss the details of the ten-year-old case.
The flashback here is what I'm mainly talking about when I mentioned Part 6 respecting the time and story awareness of its audience. We could pretty well guess that Lupin wasn't actually the one who killed Watson, so following the thief's telling of the story here is more about leading to that confirmation while providing us more background details as to how this whole escapade with The Raven even kicked off in the first place. Lupin's feeling of 'responsibility' for the incident ends up simply being a case of him winding up in a situation that would be lousy for anyone, losing out on the treasure he was chasing and being central to Lily's traumatic event. Getting the possibility of Lupin being the culprit out of the way lets the storytelling pivot to the next part of the mystery to solve: Who was the masked man who actually did the deed, and what was his connection to Watson?
I like Lupin's argument at the heart of relating this bunch of backstory: That he's made a point of reappearing after these ten years because he thinks it's better for Lily to finally confront the trauma of her past rather than continue suppressing it and her own growth. It's in contrast to the more protective angle we know Holmes was nursing in taking care of her, resulting in an odd but effective placement of detective and thief as caretakers of sorts of Lily's destiny. But I also like how the construction of this concept lets us question the actual nobility of Lupin's actions. There's a partial possibility that Lupin's main goal is less Lily's wellbeing and more her memories being the key to track down the treasure of The Raven. Everyone in this story has an angle of some sort to work, and we know Lupin ain't a hero.
I do remain trepidatious about the story's use of Lily. Exploring her growth from her trauma is a solid characterization hook, but the writing continues to frame her and her slowly-returning memories as more of a plot device than anything. It's a very mechanical interpretation of a character they're also trying to sell as an emotional core for Holmes, and if all she's going to do is be sad and occasionally communicate new backstory revelations, it'll feel like a waste of a character whose integration with the others has some real potential. It looks like next week's episode will feature a flashback to another formative time of her life (and Jigen's!) so hopefully my concerns prove unfounded with that case. We still have plenty of show left to go, after all.
Though that prioritization for story communication over more distinguishing character moments comes through in other choices this episode makes. I was absolutely onboard to see Zenigata seeming to seek Lupin out for a direct heart-to-heart over the Watson incident, and the writing here seemed to effectively lean into the long history and begrudging respect the two men had for each other. But then it became clear that 'Zenigata' was in fact Holmes in disguise the whole time, somewhat undermining the use of the two's connection. The fake-out still ends up presenting a different kind of developed rocky relationship, showing Holmes come to terms with how Lily's memories and growth should be handled moving forward, while backing off of Lupin so the thief can, for the time, operate more freely in London. But it means those neat little character moments between Lupin and Pops come off inconsequential in retrospect, even if it does provide a bit of a bonus on rewatch to see when Lupin figured out something was off and the true nature of the conversation emerged. You've proved you can write a solid mystery when you want to, Part 6 – you don't need to keep relying on rubber-mask fake-outs in trying to make us think you're so clever.
Bits like that might get ironed out as Part 6 continues along with its increasing complexities, however. This episode does make apparent that classic Holmes nemesis Professor Moriarty will be involved in the overall story as well. This London plot for Lupin has seemed to proceed at a somewhat slower pace, exacerbated by the multi-week holds for isolated stories. But I'm fine with that for the time being, as those plots have still mostly been entertaining, and when the anime is getting back to the 'main' story, as in this one, it's making sure it doesn't skimp on new information and developments.
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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