Lupin the Third (TV 2015) Episode 18
by Rose Bridges,
How would you rate episode 18 of
Lupin the Third (TV 2015) ?
One of the most fun things about the Lupin III franchise is the many tonal shifts it's taken across its over 40 years of history. It can be goofy and full of cartoonish antics, or it can be thrilling and spooky. This new series is no exception. It's had silly episodes and more traditional mysteries, exploring all sorts of tones. This latest episode, following several lighter ones, takes a turn to the dark side once again.
It begins as silly as ever, though: Lupin suddenly finds a giant, intricate painting of himself on the side of a building. He finds other portraits all over the country of Jigen, Goemon, Fujiko, Zenigata, Rebecca, Robson, and the MI6 associates Nix and Gibbons. (Nix was a more prominent anti-villain in the first cour of the series.) Nix is out of the MI6 now, but that doesn't mean he's escaped this painter's eyes. So they're all invited to the Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, where someone has prepared an elaborate meal for them, reenacting da Vinci's The Last Supper. Through a series of clues, Lupin manages to deduce that their host is none other than Leonardo da Vinci himself.
Of course, once he drops this bomb, an obvious question arises. How is Leonardo da Vinci alive in the modern day? Was he immortal? A clone? A robot? If you guessed the second one, you're right: Leonardo was resurrected by MI6 thanks to Wataru's research from the mid-season finale in episodes 11-12. To recap, Wataru is the deceased former crush of Rebecca's, who was researching something called Il Sogno Italiano ("The Italian Dream"). It's a mysterious collective consciousness with the power to "influence all of mankind," but Wataru was killed during his attempt to unlock its secrets. Lupin—and Nix, who caught him decrypting the notes—know enough to put the puzzle pieces together when they find da Vinci, resurrected by MI6 from Wataru's research. The Sogno Italiano contains the personality of every great thinker in human history, so MI6 uses this to put da Vinci's consciousness into a modern man.
Naturally, the results are not what they expected. Leonardo wakes up and is dismayed at what modern-day Italy has become. He hopes to bring the country into a "new era" and somehow plans to do this by inviting all of our main characters into his project. I'm not sure why he'd go after a group of thieves (even one with Lupin's brilliant deductive mind) and the cop who's hell-bent on imprisoning them, even considering Lupin's attempt to steal the Mona Lisa. I'm sure we will find out soon enough what Leonardo wants with Lupin. Da Vinci's story is far from over, since Lupin never "defeats" him; Leonardo manages to escape before Lupin can catch him. There's unfinished business here, and we'll probably find out more about it next week. This episode feels like the beginning of the series' grand finale.
If that's the case, we'll have more "dark Lupin III" through the end of the show. Still, that doesn't mean an end to the laughs and silliness. Another great thing about Lupin III is the way that it mixes tones even within single episodes or scenes. In the beginning of this episode, Lupin gets a dig in at Goemon after he insists on attending a fashion show in his samurai attire: "You're going to stick out like a sore thumb dressed like that." You'd think Lupin would have realized by now that Goemon doesn't care; he goes everywhere in his samurai outfit. It's amusing to the viewers that someone who knows Goemon even better than we do would forget this, but that's Lupin for you.
It's hard to keep talking about the impressive art and animation each week without repeating myself, but of course the show steps up its game for an episode devoted to an artist. Leonardo's attempted "first supper" is full of shadows and bright color contrasts, setting an appropriately disturbing atmosphere. I especially liked the direction as each new course was revealed. I felt like I was right there in the room with this group of friends (and frenemies), as they casually chatted and tried to stave off their sense of creeping doom, unsure of why they were selected and what awaits them. The show also displays clearly how each person would react to each course. The brief scene where Leonardo first looks out at modern Rome is also beautifully illustrated—making the viewer wonder why he's so unimpressed! (It's also hard to buy that, whatever dirt and misery he might see in its poorer areas, a 16th-century human wouldn't be impressed by the technological marvels of modern cities.)
"The First Supper," true to its title, is just the first chapter of a much longer story that I'm sure will unfold across the remaining five episodes of Lupin III: Part IV. Luckily, it's a promising one, setting the stage for a grander story, with themes we've seen throughout previous Lupin series (like false memories). Whether it's going for silly or creepy, Lupin III is one of the most fun franchises in anime, and Part IV continues to be one of its most inspired additions.
Lupin the Third (TV 2015) is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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