The bulk of this week’s Lupin episode was pretty standard fare for the franchise. Lupin and Fujiko are after the same score. They compete to steal it. A twist is thrown into the mix. Neither one wins. Lupin laughs about it because he gets off on the mere act of stealing. Fujiko gets pissed because she gets off on the actual acquisition. The End. A perfectly fine scheme but nothing particularly clever.
But I think it’s pretty obvious that this particular series ain’t about the heists. They’re just the groundwork to let all this other stuff go down, and there’s plenty going on in this episode. If anything, this episode lays the groundwork for this series’ intentions better than any episode.
Zenigata and Lupin Really Fucking Hate Each Other
None of the respectful give and take seems to be at play here. When Zenigata meets Lupin face to face for the first time in this series, he gives us a spiel about how it’s his destiny to take down Lupin. Standard “their families have been at each other’s throats for generations” bit we’re used to. But then Zenigata pulls out his gun and shoots at Lupin point-blank. No banter. No swinging of the handcuffs. Just rage and bullets.
This is the first real break from the old school Lupin. Even those early episodes of the first Lupin series didn’t depict Zenigata in such a coldblooded manner. He wanted to see Lupin die for his crimes, but he also wanted him to face a proper trial and be executed by the state. This new Zenigata is all about the vendetta and seems to be willing to do whatever it takes to see this blood feud ended.
At the same time, we get a little nod to the original relationship. Lupin is perched on a balcony in a theater and spouts his own variation of Juliet’s famous “wherefore art” speech, since the “war” between Lupin and Zenigata’s families and their subsequent frenemy relationship can be easily squeezed into that Romeo and Juliet romantic mythos.
And how does Zenigata react? He shoots at Lupin again. No real exchange. No playing along with the joke. Just more violence.
It’s a pretty clear sign that things have changed, at least on Zenigata’s side of things.
Yeah, Zenigata is a Bastard
Zenigata uses Fujiko to get his rocks off. Then he uses her to try to capture Lupin. Yeah.
That sex scene that opened the episode wasn’t really shocking in and of itself, but seeing that it was Zenigata using Fujiko was pretty shocking. Zenigata’s always been portrayed as a bit of a bumbling fool. Not quite Inspector Clouseau levels of ineptitude, but he’s always shown to be inferior to Lupin and his gang. It makes him an ineffective antagonist, but I don’t think he’s really intended to be a foe. He’s just a foil in the original stories– there more to play off of the gang than to be an actual force out to stop them.
He’s always been a confident character personality-wise, but that confidence seems to be spilling over into his actions. Zenigata is being set up as an actual antagonist. But he isn’t being portrayed as the sort of antagonist that you’re supposed to love. Old school Zenigata is just as much a part of the crew as Jigen, Goemon, and Fujiko. He’s a part of the act. In the new series he’s being set up to be an outside force bent on destroying everything we love about Lupin.
That’s a welcome twist, but yeah, in doing so they’re making Zenigata a rat bastard.
Oscar is a Chick?
I had that suspicion when I saw Oscar in the first episode. A character with that androgynous look who shares the same name with the infamous crossdresser from Rose of Versailles? Yeah, they could be going for something else when they had Oscar blush when Zenigata was posturing in the first episode, but “girl dressed as a boy” was my first reaction.
I didn’t have any real evidence beyond that gut feeling, so I didn’t mention it at first. But this episode had Oscar going out of his/her way to rag on Fujiko. While they’re chasing after Lupin, Oscar gets some good digs in on Fujiko. Oscar basically calls Fujiko a slut, accusing her of being little more than a depository for men’s “waste.” A man could easily take offense to Fujiko’s behavior, but Oscar was especially snarky about it. It seems like he/she’s taking Fujiko’s indecent behavior pretty personally.
If that’s the case then Fujiko has her own nemesis, much like how Lupin has Zenigata. Seeing how this series is focusing on Fujiko, it makes sense for them to create a law-abiding foil that despises everything Fujiko represents.
Or, y’know, this could be yet another one of my crazy conspiracy theories and all of this is total bullshit. But I doubt it.
Quantum of Solace
Just wanted to point out the obvious: the opera used in this episode, Tosca, is the same opera used in the best (only good?) scene from the last James Bond movie. Appropriate since Lupin seems to fit the same pop culture niche as Bond. Born out of the same relative era and whatnot. I dug that particular parallel, intentional or not.
That “flashback” Fujiko had in the aqueduct, where she chomps down on a butterfly, reminded me of that Branded to Kill movie I mentioned back in my first Lupin post. There’s some dreamlike sequences that use some heavy butterfly imagery that are pretty damn cool in that movie, and all of said imagery is focused upon the femme fatale character from said movie, much like how it’s linked with Fujiko in this series. Again, could be deliberate, could be coincidence. It’s cool regardless.