May 062011

I’ve been slowly working on the original Lupin the 3rd TV series. The one from the early 70s. The one where the theme song is just a dude sining “Lupin the 3rd” over and over again. Pretty swanky stuff– damn appropriate for the era.

And it also shows its age by adhering to a certain style of logic. Or lack thereof by most people’s terms. But I love this sort of shit.

Take episode five. This is the episode that introduces Goemon to the series. It also acts as the first meeting between Goemon and Lupin, and they don’t care much for each other right off the bat. Goemon’s been hired to assassinate Lupin, and of course Lupin doesn’t care much for the whole “I’m gonna die before my time” shtick. That makes sense and all, since Goemon’s the prototypical silent, badass assassin in anime.

That makes sense for their initial meet-up. What doesn’t make sense is why Lupin’s hanging out in the Japanese wilderness to begin with. The episode starts with Lupin and Jigen playing some con game with Goemon. They play themselves off as Hollywood show types looking for a new act, and they applaud Goemon’s prowess as he does his usual training routine of cutting in half everything that gets in his way with a single slice of his blade. There’s no set-up to this scene. No “yeah, we’ve cased out this joint and we wanna pull one on this Goemon dude” or anything like that. It’s just BAM we’re there and we’re running with this scenario. There’s no logic to this meeting beyond “we need to get these guys together and we don’t wanna waste time with all the details getting to that point.”

I like that sort of thing, especially in an episodic series like Lupin. We don’t need all the small talk leading up to why things are going down. Those details just bog us down and keep us from getting to the meat of the situation– in this case being the fact that Lupin and Goemon need to meet up and get into a throwdown. Reasoning be damned.

It doesn’t matter why Lupin’s up in the mountains. All that matters in the grand scheme of things is that he’s there and he’s gonna bust out some experimental rocket fuel that ignites on contact with the air and toss it on Goemon as a means to defeat the modern day samurai. And all that matters is that, while completely on fire, Goemon is able to toss a grappling hook at Lupin, allow the fire to quickly travel across the rope, and ignite Lupin on fire as well, leading to the match being a draw.

This whole thing’s about one thing: Lupin and Goemon are equally badass. That’s this scene’s thesis, and it isn’t wasting our time on exposition explaining how it got to said thesis. It might defy conventional narrative logic, but it’s pretty damn elegant in getting to the root of shit. It doesn’t work in every situation, but it works brilliantly in a series like Lupin. That’s some awesome stuff there.

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