Lupin the Third: Part 5
by Rose Bridges,
How would you rate episode 13 of
Lupin the Third: Part 5 ?
It's the third arc of Lupin the Third Part 5, and two fan favorites are back! We have the triumphant return of Ami, our hacker girl from the first plot, and also Fujiko herself gets to play a prominent role in this story again. I'm a big fan of both of them, so I couldn't be happier, and this story already has a lot to digest.
We get a glimpse of Ami at her new all-girls' school in Annecy. It's not surprising that the oddball girl hasn't made many friends. Girls approach her, but get scared off when they learn that she's a hacker. The exception to this rule is Dolma, who is an odd duck herself. She likes practicing archery on crows and impromptu cooking in the school courtyard. The two outsiders bond and become friends, but it's not long until they're forced to test the strength of their friendship. Terrorists are attacking their school and taking the girls hostage, and Ami also learns that Dolma is the owner of a priceless necklace—one that Lupin's crew is after, of course.
This arc especially has the potential to reveal new depths for Ami. The lifelong loner finally has a friend her own age, but she may need to betray her to save her found family. Can she do it? Ami has to be heavily coaxed by Fujiko to take action in order to save Dolma and their other classmates' lives—but that's just Fujiko, who she's not as close to as Lupin. Who will Ami choose when the time comes for Dolma to learn the truth about her friend's loyalties? And how does Ami's connection to Zenigata, who she wrote to at the beginning of the episode, factor into all this?
So far, I really like the way that the "all-girls' school" conceit gives Lupin the Third Part 5 room to focus on its female characters. Lupin, Jigen and Goemon are important to the story's setup, telling us about the necklace in the first place. (We also get a good joke in that scene about Jigen wearing the same outfit.) The boys get to do some epic battling, particularly Goemon, who keeps slicing gun-toting baddies in half, but the heart of the episode is Ami, Fujiko, and Dolma to a lesser extent. (We don't know much about her yet, but we do get a taste of her strong personality.) Fujiko was important to the previous arc, but she seems to be taking a starring role this time. She likes to use these kinds of environments to pull off her schemes; this is far from the first time she's infiltrated a girls' school. As we haven't seen her interact directly with Ami much yet, I'm curious for what this could mean for the other characters. Also, if you're into that sort of thing, Fujiko gets a noticeably high number of cheesecake shots this week, as she uses her "feminine wiles" to get one over on clueless men.
While this episode clearly sets up the plot going forward, there are still many important questions left to be answered. First, what are the terrorists' motivations? Fujiko suggests that they want their friends to be freed from imprisonment, and she seems to be on to something there. Why were their friends imprisoned, though? And why go after this school; is it connected in some way to the necklace or Dolma's family? Terrorists often have political goals, so I'm curious if Part V might use this to make some sort of thematic statement like it kinda-sorta did with the last arc. The group calls themselves the "Whales of Liberation", so could it be something related to the environment? How would Padar and its royal family be tied into this? Also, what does the CIA want, considering one of their agents is also undercover at Dolma and Ami's school? All we know is that he's suspicious of Ami and Fujiko and presenting himself as helping Dolma—but he probably has his own goals with her.
As for the rest of Lupin's gang, all we know is that they're interested in stealing the Bloody Teardrop, the Padar royal family's 600-year-old heirloom. It's a pretty classic Lupin setup, where he has his eyes on one prize but the search for it gets him tangled in a much bigger web of schemes. Next episode looks to be exploring Dolma and her country further, so I'm sure the net is only going to get more tangled.
In this episode, we already have an intriguing new character and the return of a beloved one. Ami and Albert are both fascinating additions to the Lupin canon, so the fact that Part V plans to reuse them is encouraging. The show continues to have a curious relationship with continuity, both internally and across the franchise. With these 4-to-5-episode-long "arcs" punctuated with one-off throwback adventures, I think Part V has found the perfect sweet spot between episodic and longer-form storytelling. Hopefully it can keep that momentum going, because this new story sounds worth the effort.
Lupin the Third: Part 5 is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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