May 292011

If you’ve been stalking me on myanimelist (And you haven’t because I have, like, two friends on there, so you can start stalking me whenever you’d like to start.) you’d have noticed that I’ve been on something of an old school kick as of late. So let’s talk about some of that shit. The first Lupin series in particular.

I wrapped up the first Lupin TV series a week or so ago. I talked about that a few weeks ago, but a hell of a lot happened between the episode I talked about then and the end of the series.

The first few episodes were surprisingly nasty. While Lupin’s always been a law-breaking scoundrel, I’m used to him being that Robin Hood-ish, Chaotic Good sort of fellow. He carries a gun and uses it when need be, but he’d just as soon try to outwit you and run away than stand his ground and start shooting. And vengeance and the like just never seems his style.

But those first few episodes show Lupin in a considerably darker light. One episode deals with him taking on a dude that tries to pass himself as a magician. The dude can float in the air and is seemingly bulletproof. It’s all due to him abusing some high-end, top secret technology, but even then the villain comes off as something of a supernatural threat, not unlike some sort of slasher serial killer sort. The catch is that Lupin matches his brutality in kind, essentially gunning the guy down in cold blood as revenge for trying to kill him. No wisecracks or goofy chase scene or anything else I’m used to seeing in a Lupin story. Just cold, calculated nastiness.

The first six of seven episodes of the series have this same sort of tone, but after that the series takes a drastic shift in tone. Zenigata plays a bigger role after that breaking point, and the series starts to establish the pattern I’m used to see in Lupin episodes. That was all well and good– and I figured the series would fall into that pattern eventually– but what stuck out the most was Fujiko’s appearance.

All of the sudden Fujiko started wearing her hair considerably shorter than her usual back length style. I couldn’t help but look at her and say “She looks like that chick from Nausicaa.” And that totally makes sense. Apparently Miyazaki took over as co-director at that shift in tone. I honestly didn’t know that this was one of his earliest gigs until I got curious about that shift in tone and shift in Fujiko’s hairstyle.

Guess that makes Fujiko the first in Miyazaki’s series of spunky chick characters. If only they were all as awesomely amoral as she was. I bet Princess Mononoke’d be a hell of a lot more awesome as a heist movie with San trying to break into the forest spirit’s tree vault or something. She could, like, squeeze a kodama into the lock and use it as a makeshift key. That would rock.

And there was a particularly awesome episode that happened after this shift. A dude from the future comes back in time to get revenge on the Lupin lineage. Apparently one of Lupin’s descendants wipes out this dude’s family in the future, so the dude plans on going back into the past to kill the founder of the family line in order to keep this from happening.

The catch is that this dude could easily do that without even meeting Lupin the 3rd. He even tells Lupin that he’s gonna go back and kill one of his ancestors so that no man will ever have the name Arsene Lupin. But the dude doesn’t just want to wipe out the line. No way. He wants to make them suffer in the process. He lets Lupin know of his plan, and every time Lupin tries to do something to right his situation the dude just goes back in time and kill someone so that whatever Lupin is trying to get no longer exists.

The best example of this is when the dude travels back in time to kill a truck driver’s ancestor so that said driver suddenly ceases to exist, leading to the truck veering off the road and running Lupin into a ditch.

And unlike those early episodes, all of this is played for laughs. It’s awesome stuff.

The only complaint I have about the series is that the last few episodes kinda trail off in quality. It feels like the dudes knew the series was getting canceled, so they decided to slack off and get this shit over with. But a couple of meh episodes don’t take away from the awesomeness of the rest of the series. It’s cool to see how the series transitioned from a somewhat more hardboiled beginning to the awesome formula we’re familiar with.

But yeah, I prefer Fujiko with long hair. Leave the bobs to the other Miyazaki chicks.

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