I finally watched the first Lupin the Third series earlier this year. The one from the early 70′s. While most of the series saw Lupin form into the loveable scoundrel we’re used to seeing in later series and movies, but the early episodes of this first series are pretty awesome in that we get to see Lupin in a far more stark setting.
The first four episodes of the first series are more in line with a crime drama. They’re less about setting up and executing the heist with comedic results and more about dealing with dealing with the shit that comes with being a criminal. One episode has Lupin trying to save Fujiko from a criminal with seemingly magical powers. Everything is played completely straight-faced, with the whole thing ending with Lupin gunning down the “magician” in cold blood for daring to harm Fujiko.
But the bit that stuck with me the most was the fourth episode. Lupin gets captured by Zenigata, and he’s placed in prison to await his execution. Lupin stays in jail for an entire year before he pulls off his escape. He could have easily escaped at any time before then, not only because he’s god damn Lupin and can pull off that sort of thing with east, but also because Jigen and Fujiko try to bust him out as well. Lupin chooses to stay in jail and escape when he’s ready to prove a point. But at the same time, it’s one of the few times where there’s any real feeling that Lupin’s life is on the line. The whole thing has a decidedly different vibe than other Lupin episodes. You know the dude has to live to see the next several hundred episodes and movies, but there’s this sense of dread that lingers over the whole episode that’s never present outside of this early episodes.
I’d love to see an inevitable Lupin revival series start off in the same way. Let it start of with this serious tone and have the whole thing slowly change over the course of the series into the more campy, fun-loving tone we’re used to. It’d be a nice nod to the series’ roots.