This image made me all sorts of happy. Lupin crucified. Yeah, I’m a terrible person for finding such a horrible, sacrilegious image to be the height of comedy. I’m kinda proud of that. But seeing Lupin hoisted up like Christ in drag leads to some awesomely screwed up stuff.
I knew Seijun Suzuki had done some Lupin stuff in the past. I knew he co-directed one of the movies and had a role in the TV show, but beyond that I didn’t know if there was any particular episodes in which he had a direct hand. Then I read some of the awesome stuff over at Anipages and saw that he wrote the 13th episode of the 3rd Lupin series. I hadn’t watched any of the 3rd series yet, so once I heard about this particular episode I had to jump ahead and check it out.
Yeah. This is some Suzuki shit right here. It has the disjointed, dream-like logic of his best stuff. Scenes shift erratically, moving from event to event not because of any semblance of place or time but simply to move on to the next thing. The opening chase between Lupin and Zenigata feels more like something from a Bugs Bunny/Elmer Fudd short, especially since the chase is given absolutely no context outside of our shared knowledge that these two are perpetually on the run. Then there’s some stuff about Lupin dressing in drag so he can steal jewels at an all-women’s party held on a space shuttle shaped like a castle tower. And before all of this goes down, the castle takes a tour across a battlefield and the women on board brag about how their countries supplied the various explosives and computers for the bombs and tanks and whatnot. I especially liked how they focused upon the Japanese woman who was especially proud of how it was Japanese computers that were aboard certain missiles.
Then the episode gets weird.
The castle/shuttle lands and Fujiko has some men take Lupin and the women captive. Zenigata is called in to pay the ransom for the women and Lupin, but when he can’t drum up the money for Lupin’s release, Fujiko has Lupin crucified while he’s still wearing women’s bloomers. Just as Lupin’s about to have spears plunged into him by Fujiko and one of the captive women, a flock of crows attacks. This allow Zenigata to hoist up Lupin and carry him off, cross and all.
Yeah. Zenigata’s carrying Lupin’s cross.
The madness doesn’t stop there. Zenigata loses hold of the cross and Lupin goes tumbling into a river. Just as Lupin’s about to go over the edge of a waterfall, Goemon appears out of nowhere and cuts Lupin’s bonds. OK. First off, Goemon was apparently half a world away before this happened, since I’m assuming the shuttle traveled pretty far from its launch point, so he’s all but teleported across the globe just to act as Lupin’s savior. But that isn’t what’s especially strange about this moment. After cutting the bonds, Goemon expounds upon how he’s placing his faith in Lupin but he makes no play to save Lupin as he goes over the edge of the waterfall.
So Lupin’s been crucified, died, and apparently resurrected by higher powers, and now the one person wholly independent of Lupin has placed their faith in him. Really. Goemon’s his own man and isn’t as intrinsically bound to Lupin the way Zenigata, Fujiko, and Jigen seem to be. He’s at Lupin’s side by his own volition and is now placing his faith in him by the very same volition.
But Lupin’s journey isn’t over. As he falls over the waterfall he finds a cave. Within this cave he comes across one of the crows that allowed for him to be set free from Fujiko’s crucifixion ceremony. The thing attacks him, but Lupin wins out by grabbing a hold of the bird’s wings and beating it on the ground until it’s dead. Lupin proceeds to devour the bird raw.
This little bit is cool based on something that happens at the end of the episode. Zenigata and Lupin have one last battle of wits, and in the process Zenigata compares Lupin to these crows. To Zenigata, Lupin’s nothing but a dirty, thieving, scavenging bird, and yeah, that’s pretty much Lupin. He’s a bird that likes shiny things and enjoys the act of procuring such shiny baubles more than any rational man should. That moment in the cave essentially had Lupin killing that image of himself. If you wanna get all allegorical, maybe it’s him killing those shadows the dudes chained up in Plato’s cave believed were reality. Lupin’s killing this false image of himself as nothing more than a filthy crow, and in the process he’s allowed to become that so-called “philosopher” that’s trying to explain the reality beyond that cave.
That adds some interesting bits to what happens after Lupin emerges from that cave. When Lupin emerges, he comes across a building in which numerous costumes are housed. There are masks of famous archetypes, famous fictional characters, and even characters from the Lupin TV series. Lupin chooses to don a Zenigata costume, and this leads to yet another Looney Tune like moment in the finale as Lupin-as-Zenigata and Zenigata himself duke it out in a game of “which is which” without the aid of a third-party to be the one to choose. It ends with Zenigata caught in his own trap, as if he forgot who he was for a moment. It’s almost as if Zenigata and Lupin are one and the same, or at the very least interchangeable. It didn’t matter which one got caught since the chase would resume next episode.
But yeah, the next episode has to happen. The chase has to continue. Neither character can win because that’d render their existence meaningless. So that damn crow reappears just as it seems Lupin is on the verge of self-discovery and enlightenment. Lupin’s purpose has been fulfilled. He’s been able to destroy his false reality and attempt to find the truth. He’s shown that he and Zenigata are at least figuratively one and the same. Lupin is solved, but the crow reappears and casts its illusion upon Lupin one more time. That look in Lupin’s eyes at the end of the episode is all of his accomplishments in this episode being erased. He can’t be allowed to grow as a character. He can’t change. He’s Lupin and fate deems that he remain as such.
And then the next episode preview rolls.