Lupin The Third: Part 6 is, unfortunately, a mess. Unlike previous Lupin series, this one neither has a serialized focus (like with Woman Called Fujiko Mine) or a primary episodic focus (like Parts 1 through 3). Instead, the series tries to be a hybrid, sort of like Part 4, but instead of the stand-alone episodes fitting in the overall continuity, they go off on their own directions in ways that are very hit-or-miss. This is all aggravated by splitting the show into two different serialized plots – one per cour.
Serialized Plot 1 is based around Sherlock Holmes, which in this universe is a title rather than a given name, with the title held by whoever is, ostensibly, the world’s greatest (British) Detective. The plot in particular focuses on a case related to the murder of John Watson several years prior, leaving Holmes to raise Watson’s daughter Lily – and a case which Lupin had a tie to. The mystery itself is interesting but somewhat clumsily executed. It’s not helped by the story having a twist that undermines the motivations of all the characters involved in the plot. In particular, without getting into spoilers, since this blog doesn’t support spoiler tags, it requires a wide array of characters to engage in degrees of willful ignorance that they should know better than to do – especially related to the degradation of merchandiser that they were ostensibly trying to sell.
Serialized Plot 2 gets into the whole issue of the Lupin family history, Lupin III’s childhood, and who his mother may or may not be. The plot tries to get into some of the mind games that Woman Called Fujiko Mine got into – but with a focus on a male character (Lupin), along with several new women in Lupin’s life, and without getting into the sexual assault imagery as Woman Called Fujiko Mine got into. Except Woman Called Fujiko Mine had the visuals of Sayo Yamamoto and the writing of Mari Okada to pull it off. The writing and direction for Part 6, on the other hand, while having strong individual episodes, can’t tie it all together with the same degree of grace.
And then there are the stand-alone episodes. A lot of the episodes are based around letting various other writers and directors take their crack at Lupin III in a sort of canon-free zone. Some of them are some fairly big names, including Mamoru Oshii – who writes two episodes for the series. That said, because of the circumstances for these episodes, they get very hit or miss. Oshii’s episodes in particular can be pretty rough. The first is an extended riff on a deep cut in Ernest Hemingway’s bibliography, with large chunks of the episode also being spent explaining the reference. The other is a riff on a rejected Lupin III Movie concept, which was based around getting more heavily into the realm of the supernatural and, in particular, the theological – some ideas from which were used in Angel’s Egg and Patlabor: The Movie. The problem there is that for all of Oshii’s genius, this was a concept that was rejected for a reason – it doesn’t fit well with Lupin III.
That said, some of the stand-alone stories were among my favorites in the show. In particular, “The Imperial City Dreams of Thieves” two-parter was a great riff on Edogawa Rampo (particularly some of his later, less eroguro work). The episode “Samurai Collection” is a really great Goemon-focused episode that plays well with the character’s comedic potential. Finally, the 0th episode of the series is a tremendous send-off to Jigen’s original voice actor, the last member of the original cast to still be involved in the Lupin series.
I didn’t hate Lupin The Third: Part 6, but I didn’t love it either. The stand-alone episodes veered all over the map enough that it gave me whiplash, and the core plots didn’t have the structural reinforcement to hold up what they were trying to do.
Lupin The Third: Part 6 is currently available for streaming on Hidive.
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