5 Point Discussions: Lupin the III, Part V, Episode 6: “Lupin Vs. The Smart Safe”

by Sage Ashford

How does the world’s smartest man break into a safe that rejects all intelligent people? …He purposefully becomes stupid? Remember, if you like this article and 5 Point Discussions, please share it on Facebook or Twitter! It really helps. And if you’ve got any comments or questions, please hit me up @SageShinigami.

1. This week’s episode switches things up a bit, focusing on Lupin’s opposition to start off.   They’re a pair of brothers–a younger brother who’s an inventor, and an older brother…who’s an idiot.  And since the younger brother’s inventions don’t sell, and idiots only manage to do important things in real life, the two of them start the episode in dire straits, with everything in their house at risk of being taken by bill collectors if they don’t figure out a solution fast.   But a chance meeting with Lupin inspires the younger brother to create a new invention: a “smart safe”, impossible for anyone to open unless their intelligence is read at “0” by the safe.  Teaming with a local bank, they dare Lupin to try and break into the safe. This is actually a straightforward enough idea to work from for the episode, but…well.

2. It absolutely isn’t. The primary factor delineating Lupin series from one another is the color of Lupin’s iconic jacket. In the original Lupin series, the character wore a green jacket, while the second series saw him in a red one, and the third and “final” series until the revival in 2015 was a pink jacket. Growing up solely on red jacket Lupin, I’d never seen Part III…yet I feel like there should be no way Part 3 can be this silly. The tone for this episode is jarring: the plans are absurd and the characters are all as over the top as possible. This feels more like a comedy rather than the heist thriller it was for the first five episodes.
To begin with, the inventor runs into Lupin as he’s sleepily escaping from Zenigata–there’s no manic chase, it’s like if Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd had been running past the same background for too long and had no choice but to slow down just to get their breath back. Then later, rather than trying to simply break into the smart safe, they take the bank’s invitation to sit down in the chair and allow Lupin’s brain to be tested. Despite being invited to do so, once it fails Zenigata points out it was still attempted larceny and tries to lock Lupin up, but Lupin gets away by tossing a gag bomb into the audience. It doesn’t explode, doesn’t make a huge distraction…it just has a joke letter inside, and Zenigata is distracted long enough for Lupin to escape. Honestly I’m not even sure if this is set in the same universe, let alone time period.

3. Things only get sillier as the episode develops. At first, Lupin turns down the opportunity to crack the safe because the bank was clearly using him for publicity, but eventually his friends keep asking him to return money he’s borrowed until he gets fed up and decides to rob the bank…presumably to pay them back? They were only asking for essentially pocket change, so I guess Lupin’s response to having to pay debts is becoming a millionaire. ….That’s actually not the worst idea in the world, even if it’s a little overkill.
His first plan is merely pretending to be stupid, which works because this machine was made by an idiot and is less a computer and more something from a Rube Goldberg fever dream…but it doesn’t get Lupin to zero, so he’s forced to try and get away.
Angered by his inability to to break in, Fujiko and Goemon team up to make Lupin stupid. There’s actually a training montage to make him less intelligent, as they try everything from blunt force brain trauma, to eating food that supposedly makes you stupid, to sleep deprivation.  Montages are common in fiction, but hats off to them for making the first one where characters become less effective.

Still though, despite his training–the machine still reads Lupin’s intelligence as being at a single point. Failing again, the inventor’s older brother is moved to want to help Lupin win (because he’s stupid, but endearingly so), pointing out how if he can open the safe, Lupin should be capable of doing it as well. This plea wakes Lupin back up, and he reveals he has a different plan of his own.  He starts eating a mountain of blueback fish…raw…which have some kind of special acid that increases your intelligence. And, like pre-Y2K computers, the safe is only set to measure up to 300.   Pushing his brainpower to 301 fries the machine, an unlocks the safe.
….Maybe. Using it also fries his brain as well, so it could be just that it read he was stupid again.  Still, Jigen and Fujiko grab Lupin and escape…without stealing any money. This is easily the least successful version of Lupin ever.

4. Although Lupin successfully opened the safe, since he stole nothing the bank basically called it a draw. Meanwhile, the two brothers became famous thanks to being able to stonewall the legendary thief Lupin the III. They become interviewed for their skill, and the younger brother eventually begins making money off his inventions (and selling canned blueback fish), meaning their encounter with Lupin lead to a happy ending for the both of them.
On the flipside, Lupin and the others have to come up with another way to make money…though Lupin’s still ticked his friends nearly killed him just so they could break into a safe…that they didn’t even successfully steal from.  He tries getting some private time with Fujiko instead, but gets hit with a massive “10t” mallet instead to end the episode. …This was weird.

5. Next Episode: Welp, looks like we’re back to blue jacket, modern era Lupin. A master forger asks him for help, but something goes wrong after he successfully steals what his friend was looking for. …Honestly I’m still wondering what happened to get us this episode. Just an intermission? Maybe Lupin dreams of himself in other worlds?
Lupin the III Part V is available on Crunchyroll.

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