Lupin the Third: Part 5 Episode 23
by Rose Bridges,
How would you rate episode 23 of
Lupin the Third: Part 5 ?
Like a lot of penultimate episodes, episode 23 of Lupin the Third: Part 5 is largely set up for the grand finale. What a set-up it is, though, with character revelations all over. Plus, we get to see the gang get together for one last hurrah, which is always worth something—especially when it's presented the way it is here. This episode is a reminder that above all, Lupin III is just really fun.
First of all, it turns out that a lot of that stuff I said last week about Enzo being given a compelling motivation is out the window. Maybe he's just pretending in front of Ami, maybe it's sincere, but Enzo at least wants the world—and his daughter—to think that he doesn't care as much about her as the success of his app. He keeps fixating on the way that PeopleLog arrested Lupin, and less on how it helped him find his long-lost daughter. Perhaps he is bluffing, but he does seem so genuinely unconcerned with his daughter, her whereabouts, and her actions in this entire fracas, to sell it to the audience. At least if he has a sudden change of heart next week, they'll have to do a lot to sell it as his genuine feelings. It sets up a predictable, yet heartwarming, theme about Lupin being Ami's "real" father, since he actually treated her like one. So I'm fine with how rote this plot seems to be, if it just further establishes Ami as a "true" member of Lupin's group.
The other big theme of this episode: Is Lupin irrelevant now? That's hung over the technology themes of this series for a while now, and particularly this final arc, with PeopleLog always managing to be just one step ahead of these characters. It's true that in the age of such intrusive social media, it's a lot harder to get away with the kind of deception that Lupin and his gang have excelled in over the years. Even in disguise, PeopleLog manages to track their costumes to their real identities. (Even when Jigen is disguised as a furry! PeopleLog really knows its stuff.) Lupin reminds them, though, that they've managed to adjust to years of changes, and been in tighter pickles than this one. They'll always be able to keep beating the odds and be entertaining—until people stop watching. What really makes this sequence is that delightful bit of fourth-wall-breaking. It's even capped off with remarks about hearing a soundtrack for that moment; curiously enough, this comes in a moment where there's no actual background music playing. I guess Lupin is asking the viewers to imagine it for ourselves.
There's some parallel stuff with Fujiko and Zenigata. I appreciated Fujiko realizing she actually likes the romance that comes with Lupin chasing her, and particularly reminding Ami of the ways that fantasy can appeal to jaded adults. It felt a bit unearned at times; we haven't seen this Fujiko/Lupin plot build up in quite as exquisite detail as I had hoped earlier in this show. Still, we could always tell that Fujiko liked him underneath it all, and it's not surprising she'd prefer to wait for him in a gilded cage rather than go to jail. It also allows for a touching moment of connection between Fujiko and Ami, too.
Zenigata's moments are more "fanservice," which this episode delights in among Lupin and his various associates. (In Jigen's token "touching moment alone with Lupin" scene in the back of the police truck, the show even plays its "Love Theme.") Zenigata just happens to choose the most subtextual wording about how he wants to defeat Lupin: "I need to arrest Lupin's heart." Even Yata looks surprised. (Yata also gets some great scenes this week as the archetypal long-suffering Zenigata lieutenant, here to defend his honor when no one else will.) Zenigata also admits that after Lupin has "served his debt to society," he wants to "grab a beer with him"—not unlike in the show's ED sequence. Every true Lupin III fan knows that Lupin and "Pops" respect each other deep down, but it's still sweet to see Zenigata spell it out so explicitly.
Jigen's on the lam for most of the episode, which means he gets a lot of fun action scenes and shoot-outs. He also gets an assist from Albert, which I had hoped meant for a bigger role for him this week. Alas, that's all we see of him, but the preview for next week shows him more. We also seemingly get an assist from another "forgotten" Lupin ally: "Rebecca" gets a mention at the end of this episode. I hope this means Rebecca Rosellini, Lupin's wife from Part 4. Given she hasn't been mentioned up until this point, it could be a totally different character. But as a huge Rebecca fan who thought she shook up the series' dynamic in some interesting ways, I can live in hope!
Lupin III proves why he's such a Master Thief, because of course he finally turns the Internet and PeopleLog to his advantage. He basically becomes WikiLeaks, uploading tons of secret documents on various world governments' shady dealings to the PeopleLog app. If you think about it too hard, you start to wonder why Lupin didn't just do this earlier, with all the Internet-related crises cornering him this whole series. Why wait until now to release all these things he's stolen? It does make for a satisfying deus ex machine, though, so I can forgive it. With it finally pressuring world governments to do more to try to regulate or shut down PeopleLog, Shake Hands and Enzo are really in a tight spot. That's all the better position for Lupin to rescue his girls from them.
Even if this episode is mostly setting the stage for the final one, it manages to present it in as fun and tight-paced a manner as it possibly could. It's an adventure all on its own, with plenty of scenes that are entertaining and compelling in their own rights. Part 5 continues to prove it might be one of the best Lupin III series so far, and the crown jewel of the summer anime season.
Lupin the Third: Part 5 is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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