Lupin the Third (TV 2015)
Episode 21

by Rose Bridges,

How would you rate episode 21 of
Lupin III: Part IV (TV 2015) ?

Lupin and the gang are back in Japan for the latest episode of Part IV, with an episode even more fun than the last one. That's a good thing, since it looks like we'll be returning to Italy, and the darkening main plot, with next week's installment.

Fujiko is kidnapped by a mysterious man who sends Lupin a demand that he steal a priceless marionette, or else Fujiko will be killed. At least, that's how it seems. If this is already firing your BS meters—Fujiko is not a damsel-in-distress these days—then you're on the right track, because it turns out when Lupin arrives that it's all a ruse. Fujiko is just fine, and this was all just a bet she placed with Goemon. But is he really Goemon? He rips off the disguise to reveal Akechi Holmes Kousuke, a famous detective, which means this was all a plot to arrest Lupin and Fujiko. The family Lupin stole from are really his own cronies in disguise too.

Confused yet? This is an episode full of mistaken identity and disguises, from both the main characters and their adversaries. It's used not just for drama, but also for comedy. Lupin frequently uses his best frenemy Zenigata as his disguise of choice, and this episode is no exception, as he and Fujiko repeatedly dress up as him to fool Akechi. This leads to Akechi spending an enormous chunk of the second half trying to fight the real Zenigata, convinced that he's Fujiko or Lupin in disguise only to be proven wrong when the actual Fujiko-disguised-as-Zenigata foils him yet again. While Akechi may have captured Lupin and Fujiko in the middle of the episode, it turns out he's far more incompetent as Lupin's regular foe in keeping track of them. Zenigata is at least familiar with Lupin and his friends' tricks by now, but Akechi still has ample room to get taken for a ride.

This is a very classic Lupin episode, in contrast to the tenser capers that we've become used to in this series. It's as much about zany antics and Lupin being a goofball as it is about his expert deduction skills. It also gives just about everyone in the Lupin team something to do (other than Goemon, who is busy staring at the Mouth of Truth in Rome). This leads to some great use of music in this episode, as all the characters' signature themes appear to play different roles in Lupin's eventual success. There's a notable moment near the end where Jigen prevents Akechi's kid assistant from detonating a bomb by shooting the remote out of his hands. The score gives us a rousing version of Jigen's western-style theme as the camera zooms in on him.

However, the main focus is Fujiko and how Akechi underestimates her. It's almost like a distillation of the themes of Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine. People assume sexist things about Fujiko just because she's sexy, and only learn how wrong their assumptions were when she outwits them. In Fujiko Mine's series, the assumption was that Fujiko had to have experienced a past of trauma in order to be so "loose" with her morals. In this series, Akechi assumes that Fujiko is an airheaded floozy who's just enraptured with Lupin. Anyone who is familiar with the series knows this couldn't be further from the truth. Heck, other characters repeatedly warn Akechi that this isn't the truth. He proves himself to be the real bimbo by letting his egotism get away from him instead of heeding the caution from Zenigata and others who are more familiar with Fujiko. She and Lupin both outwit him, and it's rewarding to see his frantic expression when it happens—especially once Akechi loses his toupee. It turns out that he's the one who is truly vain and obsessed with approval, merely projecting his insecurities onto our heroine.

So there isn't much to this episode other than pure fun and plot twists of the more fleeting, comedic variety than the ones we've seen in previous episodes of Lupin III: Part IV. It's a throwback breather even more than the previous episode, with its dramatic, heartwarming ending. This episode is nothing but silliness and action, and yet it's just as engaging as anything else in the series. Lupin III: Part IV has excelled largely by hitting all the different moods that this franchise has shown over the decades, and despite a few missteps, it's vaulted each hurdle spectacularly.

As we presumably move back to the main plot next episode—with Rebecca returning to the action—it's good to have a reminder of Lupin III: Part IV in its sillier moments. Many Lupin III fans got into the series from one mood extreme or the other, so Lupin III: Part IV's ability to cover all the bases ensures that it's a crowd-pleaser. Whatever you love about Lupin III, you'll find it in this series.

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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