Lupin the Third: Part 5
by Rose Bridges,
How would you rate episode 18 of
Lupin the Third: Part 5 ?
Lupin the Third: Part 5 gives us another "breather" episode, with a series of goofy shenanigans based around the Lupin gang's various relationships. Once again, the centerpiece ends up being Lupin and Fujiko's romance, or whatever you would call it right now, but this episode manages to cycle through all of Lupin's major relationships, reflected through a minor home crisis that shakes everything up.
Maybe it's because I have a 5-year-old's sense of humor, but I loved that this week's plot revolved around their toilet being busted. Lupin III didn't really mine this for the gross-out jokes I anticipated, but it was still funny how this situation brought out everyone's grumpy side. It's also one of those everyday kinds of problems you don't see much in media, despite its surprising dramatic and comedic potential. It's the sort of thing that can completely turn your day upside-down, and seeing favorite characters react to that is prime entertainment.
At first, everyone is forced to use the bathroom in Jigen's next-door apartment. However, they don't want their hideout location being given away, so they have to keep going there in disguise. Fujiko comes over to "use" the toilet before they can tell her it's broken, and then acts increasingly suspicious about the situation. Could she have hidden something in there that's blocking it up? Meanwhile, since you can't really leave the house while waiting for the plumber to come, Goemon decides to make Japanese food after being frustrated at the lack of it in the restaurant downstairs. The smell of miso soup entices Zenigata, who hasn't had Japanese food in so long. What are they to do when he wants to come in and try some for himself?
I love the increasingly goofy ways that this episode tries to tie in all its major cast members. Fujiko just happens to invite herself over and just happens to be the probable cause of the toilet being plugged. Zenigata just happens to be passing close enough to smell Goemon's cooking. (He also seemingly lives in this same apartment complex. That could spell trouble for Lupin in the future.) Zenigata's scene steals the show for me, as he reveals his fond obsession with Lupin and even catches the master thief off guard. Every Lupin III fan knows that Zenigata and Lupin not-so-secretly like each other, and we still see that reflected all the time, like when they were surrogate-dads to Ami in the first arc. Still, he rarely lets himself admit that fondness so openly. Even behind his disguise, Lupin looks touched. I was surprised that the episode didn't end with them unintentionally revealing themselves to Zenigata. (The "how did you know I was an inspector?" slip strikes again!) It could have added more zest to this story's goofy drama, but I guess they wanted to keep the story confined to the apartment this week and keep them from being forced to move out. It's believable at least; Zenigata can be just that clueless.
Despite feeling like a silly one-off, this story ties into the larger plot focus of Part V, which seems to be about Lupin and Fujiko's relationship. We have yet another key to how the two might have broken up. Not too long ago (considering it's the same apartment and Lupin's wearing his blue jacket), Fujiko came over for an anniversary dinner and found Lupin already drunk. Offended, she threw away her gift for him, which turns out to be the mysterious object she stashed in the toilet and doesn't want them to find. They all think she's hiding something she stole and doesn't want them to know about, but it turns out to be a much more personal problem. That seems to be the key to a lot of Lupin and Fujiko's interactions across this series. One of them tries to address situations like they're rival spies, while the other is thinking about their relationship as lovers, and they don't always match up in the moment.
I didn't even go into Jigen and Goemon's roles in this yet. They react to Fujiko and Lupin's relationship with customary gruffness. Jigen even seems weirdly resentful and jealous, but he's probably just kind of done with Lupin's nonsense right now. Goemon has more of a flustered reaction to Fujiko's shameless sexuality—especially when she strips and corners him. It's an awkward scene, one of the few blatantly fanservicey moments with her in this series so far, but it certainly tells you a lot about their limited relationship. Mostly, I like how Goemon reacts to this toilet drama by making his own fun. He messes with Lupin and Jigen, then goes off to make miso soba when no one will give him the Japanese food he craves. No one knows how to make the best of a crisis quite like Goemon.
Basically, this episode is a lot of fun, the perfect distillation of what makes Part 5 great so far as it works well both for old fans and newbies. It's richer if you've seen enough Lupin III before to be familiar with these characters' long-term dynamics, but it's still funny even if you are newer to Lupin and Zenigata's flirtations or Jigen's resentment toward women. Part 5's arcs might be the most narratively satisfying, but its single episode adventures might be the best part of the show.
Lupin the Third: Part 5 is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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