Lupin the Third: Part 5
by Rose Bridges,
How would you rate episode 15 of
Lupin the Third: Part 5 ?
This week's Lupin the Third episode keeps the "her" in its title somewhat ambiguous. Based on the preview from last week, you could be mistaken for thinking the girl whose relationship with Lupin we're learning about this week is Ami. We get a shot of her and Lupin in a compromising position, and there are indications she might have romantic feelings for him. However, the "her" in its title is clearly Fujiko Mine, the long-time love of Lupin's life, as this episode explores the way their relationship continues to affect both of them long after a supposed breakup.
It does feel like a slight detour at first, when the current main conflict is still so heavy with dangling questions. Episode 15 manages to find a way to further its plot, while also dealing with longer-standing problems about who Lupin and Fujiko are to each other now. Neither party is forthcoming about how things have changed between them or what their feelings are for each other currently—but we can see it in their actions. Even when they pretend not to, Lupin and Fujiko obviously still care deeply for each other. Ami can see it so clearly that she just plain spells it out by the end of the episode
But before we get there, we need to deal with last week's big cliffhanger. Dolma's attack on Lupin was pretty surprising, and I floated a few different theories as to what could have happened. It turns out the real answer is that Dolma cares more for her people than she does for her own ideas about how they should run their country. Ugo convinces her that civil war would be wholly bad for her country, and that it would be better to take her place as queen and find a way to subvert the goals of the "traditionalists" and their coup from that position. Ugo knows this because he's not really American, but from another country that outside forces destabilized with a coup and civil war. He saw his country torn apart, and he doesn't want the same thing to happen to Dolma. This poses the question of how Ugo got involved in the CIA in the first place, but it does make it clear why he seems to side with his young charge more than his handlers. This will likely cost him dearly down the line, but for now at least Dolma has one person on her side. She shows her convictions further by insisting that both Ami and her father come to no harm, but it's anyone's guess what will happen to the latter—as the executives supposedly "protecting" him seem to have their own nefarious goals.
As this web gets ever more tangled, it's probably better that Lupin took a week to nudge things ahead only slightly while focusing on more personal drama. Throwing too many plot threads at the wall can make things confusing, especially in such a politically-charged story. Giving this all some room to simmer—and viewers room to digest it—while veering into more familiar territory is smart. It looks like we'll get more meat next week, with Jigen haranguing Lupin in the preview for getting all tangled up in this coup, but for now it's better to remind us how the main characters are feeling.
I like the way that Part 5 handles flashbacks, and we get one here about halfway through the episode between Lupin and Fujiko, showing the two of them gleefully tumbling to what could've been their deaths, content in the knowledge that at least they're together. We get an ironic echo to this moment later in the episode, when Fujiko detaches Ami and a wounded Lupin from her motorcycle, zooming off by herself with the Bloody Teardrop necklace. Ami berates Fujiko for this supposed betrayal, contrasted to how we see twice (in the flashback and the present day) that Lupin will betray his own goals to help her. Still, this relationship isn't as one-sided as it looks at first glance. When Fujiko first goes zooming off, she makes herself into a target. The Padar army immediately spots her and starts going after her, since she clearly has the necklace. This buys some time for Ami and Lupin to recover away from the enemy. This isn't a surprise for Lupin III fans, but it does give Ami a new understanding of Fujiko. The femme fatale is better at playing disinterested and above-it-all than Lupin, but deep down, she really cares—in her own way.
Perhaps the story of Lupin and Fujiko's relationship will be the real central storyline of Lupin the Third: Part 5. In all these arcs, we keep coming back to what Lupin means to people from his past, Fujiko most of all. Episode 15 carefully avoids answering the question of why they split up, and Lupin doesn't finish his confession to Fujiko at the end. Lupin the Third: Part 5 is doing an admirable job of keeping up its arc-based format fresh while maintaining continuity, which is a great way to get the most out of this franchise's potential for adventure while still keeping viewers grounded in the drama.
Lupin the Third: Part 5 is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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