Lupin the Third (TV 2015)
Episode 19

by Rose Bridges,

How would you rate episode 19 of
Lupin the Third (TV 2015) ?

Episode 19 continues the story set up in the previous episode. Poor Nix is yet again in trouble, as he's sent to retrieve a mysterious purple CD known as the "Dragon's Tail." Lupin also has his eye on it, as does another more murderous group that stands ready to kill both of them if they get in their way. It's the perfect set-up for an extremely tense episode of Lupin III: Part IV.

Nix isn't a character I've talked about much in previous reviews, since most of his big moments were in the show's first half. He's not as colorful an addition to the cast as Rebecca, but I like him. He's the standard capable guy who just wants to protect his family, which of course, makes it easy to manipulate him through them. That's why family men rarely survive long in darker action series. But Lupin III isn't that dark, and Nix is too interesting and potentially useful to Lupin and his friends to go too quickly. I was surprised when he seemed like he had been killed off, but not so much when it was revealed to be all a ruse, and he would live to fight another day. Nix has a potent angry streak, and he doesn't go down so easily. He's a familiar trope, but with enough twists to keep him memorable and keep the audience on their toes.

It's good that Nix is such a strong character, because it's all Lupin and him for most of this episode. Both the armed thugs and the MI6's larger designs for them are the enemy here, as they try to escape with the Dragon's Tail intact. Jigen and Goemon show up for a few scenes where they're trying to track down Lupin, but this is mostly a smaller story—despite tying into the big ongoing plot involving Leonardo da Vinci. He shows up near the end of the episode, killing Percival for getting in the way and no longer being of use to him. He's not limited to what the MI6 want with him. Leonardo has his own agenda.

Lupin III: Part IV continues to be one of the most watchable series airing. It's so hard to look away from its fight scenes and its tense, revealing conversations. This episode makes it obvious why, through a few bold strokes. One is the musical score, which uses fast, low runs in bari saxes or breathy, low flutes to maximize tension in quiet moments. In more energetic scenes, we get louder electronic or piano effects. It's admirable how the series' score largely keeps to only a few styles—big-band or modern jazz—but uses so many different types of accents that it fits every possible mood. It runs the gamut from the fun, brassy blasts for more comedic capers and the low, quiet, tense accents needed to make episodes like this work just as well.

The animation, especially in the fight scenes, was another stunning component. Lupin III: Part IV always looks good, but it's really striking in episodes like this one—sitting around and plotting for long stretches followed by sudden fluid movement. These characters have some of the most grounded movement I've seen in anime, even when they're just peeking around a door. The episode also gets a moment to really show its animation chops when Nix comes out of nowhere and beats up Percival for threatening his family. Like so many show-off fight scenes in anime these days, it breaks things down to faded colors and emphasizes the characters' outlines, in a way that really brings out the strong emotions playing across their faces (especially from Nix). It especially emphasizes the blur of their movements as they fight, like Goemon and Jigen's fight did a few weeks ago. It was a beautiful, thrilling moment that proves why this series is so easy and fun to watch.

Still, since "Dragons Sleep Soundly" revolves around the drab business suits of MI6 agents and army jackets of their armed captors, the occasional bright colors really stood out: the purple of the Dragon's Tail CD, the sunny scenes of Nix's family, and of course, Leonardo himself. (His brief entrance, where he throttles Nix, is an artistic callback to Nix and Percival's fight scene, but with so many colors that it's hard to see where the two characters begin and end.) It tells us that he has a whole web of intentions we cannot even guess at right now. His plan is bigger than whatever the MI6 wants or expects. His scene reveals just enough while still not saying anything, just enough to keep viewers curious to see what unfolds in his next episode. In the meantime, Lupin III: Part IV has another one-off caper next week, and will likely be back to its old tricks. Whatever it pulls off, it always does it well,weirdly in defiance of any expectations. You never know what Lupin III has up its sleeve, and that's what makes it so difficult to stop watching.

Rating: A+

Lupin the Third (TV 2015) is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Rose is a music Ph.D. student who loves overanalyzing anime soundtracks. Follow her on her media blog Rose's Turn, and on Twitter.


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