Lupin the Third (TV 2015)
Episode 22

by Rose Bridges,

How would you rate episode 22 of
Lupin the Third (TV 2015) ?

Lupin III: Part IV is moving ever closer to its finale. While it's not quite there yet, this episode focuses back on one of the major players—Rebecca—and calls back to previous episodes in the series in small ways. As the episode count winds down, it's time for the show to come full circle.

Lupin and crew are back on the Italian peninsula, after their side-quest in Japan. Rebecca is already aware of this, and she's doubling down on her thievery, even after her butler Robson hopes she'd reconsider. (Rebecca's life is so on the up-and-up that she doesn't need to steal, right?) She's given herself the biggest challenge yet this time: capture Lupin III himself. She sends out a message across the city announcing her intentions, signed with nothing but a kiss. Lupin himself finds out, of course, but in his classic cocky fashion, proceeds as if he's none the wiser.

Instead, it's time for Lupin to rob a bank, for extremely silly reasons we find out later. But the police noticed two people running into that bank, and we see both Rebecca and Lupin deftly dance through its security features. When Lupin finds the one note he was searching for, the vault closes, and Rebecca appears behind him with a gun. She announces that they're now locked in there, since the vault can't open from inside. It sounds like Rebecca is losing it, but we quickly find out that she can call Rob anytime she wants (and he's already looking for her). Rebecca just wants to spend one night with Lupin, who she insists is her "true love."

This episode calls back to episode 10, "Lovestruck Pig," where Lupin attempts to go out with both Fujiko and Rebecca at a Sammarinese wine festival. The wine is by a famous winemaker and supposedly makes the drinkers fall in love at first sight, but hides a gruesome secret (the winemaker stored his wife's body in it). The main point of the episode is to watch Fujiko and Rebecca fight over Lupin and occasionally team up to punish him. They're already mad about him double-timing them, but now they're under the powerful effect of the love potion.

This installment calls back to that one in a few key ways. The first is the focus on how much Rebecca loves wine. She mentions capturing Lupin like it would be cultivating a fine wine for her. The second is the extended interaction in the middle between Fujiko and Rob, referencing something Fujiko said in "Lovestruck Pig." In that episode, Fujiko made a big point in her final conversation with Rebecca about what "true love" feels like and asks Rebecca if she has ever experienced it. They both realize that she hasn't, particularly not for Lupin, and that her feelings are very shallow toward him. This leads into the next episode, "The Italian Dream Part 1," which hinges on Rebecca's connection to Wataru as her former lover.

This contrast is revisited here to make it obvious how much Rebecca's feelings have changed and deepened. When Fujiko drops into Rob's car as he's off to find Rebecca, she notes that Rebecca has the "wrong idea about [her]," and that she "doesn't want to steal Lupin" from her. While that might seem strange from her behavior in episode 10, a lot of that was in the love potion's effects—and in more recent episodes, Fujiko has been very glib toward Lupin. Plus, she seems genuinely helpful in her interactions with Rob. He is convinced that Rebecca is "just chasing the latest thrill," but Fujiko responds with "I'm not so sure about that." She's noticed that Rebecca's feelings are different, and that her pursuit of Lupin is more serious than it used to be. Still, Fujiko comes in with a word of caution: if Lupin and Rebecca spend the night together so easily, he "won't be the Lupin she fell in love with." After all, "what's thrilling about a man she can make her own?" Fujiko sees enough of Rebecca in herself that she can tell what's coming with their relationship. I like this dynamic between the two girls, and I hope it comes out again when they're actually on-screen together—not just through a proxy like Rob.

That said, the focus this week on Rob and Rebecca's relationship was also sweet. We see just how dedicated Rob is to his job of keeping Rebecca out of trouble, and how frustrating it must be when she can fly off into the night at the last moment. I mean, of course she does; she's a Lupin III character. Rob is more like a person flown in from the real world who doesn't know what to make of these thievish antics. He doesn't know what Rebecca has gotten herself into, hanging around with this crowd and adopting Lupin's vices as her latest game. The fact that Rebecca could be seriously into Lupin, that it's not just another passing fancy, is both comforting (she's finally sticking with something) and concerning (it's Lupin). I like how often this show has let us spent time with the "normal" people around the edges of our story, like Lupin's extended interactions with Nix in episode 19. People like Rob and Nix have similar, everyday motives: protecting people. They seem unusual in the high-stakes world of Lupin III, but they act as a viewer's window into the machinations of that world. They remind us what it would be like to be in it ourselves.

This great characterization is what elevates Lupin III: Part IV so terrific. I haven't even gone into what it does with Rebecca herself: how this girl who is used to be a jack of all trades, master of none, and flitting from interest to interest as she bores of them, is suddenly confronted with a stronger, more lasting desire. It terrifies and panics her, but she still tries to keep her veneer of cool removal. She even fools her butler. But she breaks down in front of Lupin himself, exposing her vulnerability as she cries when he rejects her advances. Rebecca Rossellini doesn't cry over things like that! It's hard to tell what part of Rebecca Lupin directs his advice at when he says "change the way you think, and you can change your world." Does he mean the part of her who wants to be a thief? The part of her struggling with her deep love for Lupin? Or something else?

With the two-part finale beginning next week, I'm sure we'll find out soon. In the meantime, Lupin III: Part IV builds toward that confrontation with another personal episode, focused on Lupin's relationships with the women in his life. It expertly furthers and deepens the characterization of not just our main players, but even side characters like Rob, giving us a peek at how a "normal" person might fit into Lupin III's world. This series has been fun and flashy, with great animation and music (Lupin and Rebecca's escape from the bank featured some of the coolest scoring in the series so far). More surprisingly, it's also been thoughtful at times, making the experience that much richer. I can't wait to see how the elements come together for the finale.

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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