Lupin the Third: Part 5
by Rose Bridges,
How would you rate episode 10 of
Lupin the Third: Part 5 ?
Did this second arc fly by a little too fast? It does if you look at the episode count: four episodes to the first arc's five, but for a far more complex plot. At the same time, this final installment felt paced just right. Everything came to a head at the right moment, and we got a perfect combination of everything that makes the Lupin III franchise so much fun: goofy gags, intrepid chase and fight scenes, memorable characters, and suave music and landscapes. Lupin the Third: Part 5 gets this franchise's alchemy just right, and this week might be the best example of it.
This arc's plot details got a little confusing in the lead-up, but everything falls into place in this grand finale. We learn from Guillaume more about José's dastardly plan, and Albert and Lupin set out to stop it. With Goemon's help, they dispatch José's contractors one-by-one before reaching José in his central chamber to retrieve the notebook. Albert even pretends he's Arraignée in order to fool Jose into thinking he's still ahead. After a pulse-pounding confrontation featuring José's electric arm, Albert comes in to save his teammate, and they both escape with the notebook before José can blow himself up.
Lupin III doesn't go into that much detail about José's plan, beyond what we learned last week. He creates terrorist attacks to help Calvess to power. We never learn why he wants to help this guy, why these women are working for him (other than that they're contractors, so they might just be in it for the money), and so on. I'm curious, but I accept that Lupin III usually prefers to use politics and social commentary as setup for fun action sequences, rather than the other way around. The details are rarely important beyond getting us where we need to go.
One place where I might have liked more detail is in Lupin and Albert's past relationship and what drove them apart. (It must have been more than Albert rejecting the "Lupin" title and becoming a cop; the shoot-out scene a few episodes ago suggests that the wound between them cuts deeper.) We get some flashbacks, but they work more to foreshadow what happens in this episode than telling us anything broader about Lupin and Albert's pasts. At the same time, this relationship benefits from the lack of detail in some ways, because it allows viewers to fill in their own versions of the story. If you thought the subtext between these two was heavy last episode, episode 10 kicks it into overdrive now that they're on the same team. It's even easier to read them as exes when they reminisce fondly about past times driving each other around. Lupin III is unlikely to outright suggest a sexual past between them, so the series plays its ambiguity extra hard instead.
The most tantalizing thing this arc left hanging is the question of the "Lupin title." So is the original Arsène Lupin actually our Lupin's grandfather, or is this just a code name passed on to the most worthy thieves? It would make some sense for Lupin III to shuffle that mythology around if it wants to be set in the present day; 1960s Lupin is the perfect age to be the original character's grandson, but a same-age Lupin today would be much too young for that relationship. (Maybe he could be his great-grandson?) Luckily, I don't think that's the end of this subplot. The show seems to be tying these mini-arcs into some larger continuity for later in the story. There's an Easter egg for French-speaking viewers in that vein; if you look at Jigen's newspaper, below the stories about Calvess and Guillaume is one about the mayor of a major city in Bwanda commenting on a "diversion" or "redirection" (détournement). That would seemingly refer to the "Lupin Game" incident, indicating that the region is still cleaning up after that altercation. This suggests that these arcs will eventually affect each other in some way, excluding the one-off joke episodes, which we seem to be getting another of next week, this time with Part 2's "red jacket" Lupin.
Episode 10 works as a thrilling conclusion to a satisfying arc. While the first mini-arc was funny and had some interesting commentary about social media, this one felt more satisfying as a story in its own right. It also seems to have more resonance for the series' larger mythology. So this probably won't be the last we see of Albert, or maybe even Ami. Maybe both of them will come back in before the grand finale! I sure hope so, since Lupin the Third: Part 5 is doing a good job of getting me attached to its new characters.
Lupin the Third: Part 5 is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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