5 Point Discussions – Lupin the III Part V, 20: “Gentleman Thief”

by Sage Ashford

What brings the gang to a quiet, snow-covered city in the far North?  And what’s happened to Zenigata?  He’s turned into a thief! 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. We’re back in Red Jacket Era Lupin once again. The same era where the answer to breaking into a safe that only opened for stupid people was beating Lupin till he was stupid. This episode isn’t nearly as ridiculous, but it still gets to be over the top without having to explain much. Lupin and the gang are visiting a small Russian city where they pulled a job off once before already and abandoned it, only to return after Lupin does a bit more research and learns the whole place is basically fronted by the mob. The bank is where the Russian mafia puts its money, they have a jewelry store that serves as a chop shop for goods they’ve stolen and want to sell, and even the cops don’t seem to have issues guarding all this stuff despite it being obviously illegal.
You’d think in a city like this Lupin and the others either wouldn’t bother because it’s not worth the trouble, or they’d have more trouble to deal with because…well…it’s the mafia. But no, they just kinda pull off multiple capers in the same episode with zero resistance because Red Jacket Era centers on the core idea of Lupin being a Master Thief and everyone not named Zenigata is helpless to even try to stop him.

2. Apparently in Red Jacket Era Goemon unintentionally becomes the funniest dude on the show. The way he spins a bunch fancifully told stories about Zenigata’s whereabouts throughout the course of the episode, his tease of cutting the gang’s car in half with his sword, setting up for when he eventually does cut up a bunch of cop cars? It’s all hilariously well-timed humor from the show’s stoic samurai. “Just don’t go cutting the car in half, man.”  is probably sound advice in real life as well as anime.

3. You shadow a talented artisan long enough, you pick up a few tricks. So unsurprisingly, Zenigata is an excellent thief. Initially the gang believes the entire thing is an act, with Goemon and Jigen describing this as an elaborate plot to capture Lupin. I’m not even sure how that works–he’s going to catch Lupin by also stealing things, and doing it before Lupin even arrives?
However, when Lupin and Zenigata look one another in the eyes only for Zenigata to simply steal what he came for and leave, the group realizes it must be something else. Goemon suspects Zenigata’s been fired and this is the only work he knows how to do other than be a cop, which actually sounds more and more plausible the longer you think about it. Eventually, they learn the truth–while Zenigata was in town after their last job, he suffered a nasty bump while coming out of a bar and lost his memory. Discovered by a pair of two-bit thieves, they decided to use his amnesia to give them a helpful third man to steal things alongside. Now named “Monety”, the group made a name for themselves pulling off crimes normally performed by Lupin the III. This is probably the most 80’s ass sitcom plot we could have gotten, but it works for Red Jacket era.

4. Speaking of ridiculousness, it doesn’t take long before we learn the real reason Lupin came back to a town they’d already hit once: he was concerned about Zenigata. The start of the episode talks about how they hadn’t seen Zenigata for awhile, and their jobs had become so much easier. At this point it’s a good time to remind everyone that the reason Zenigata is allowed to continue searching for Lupin despite his failures, is that he’s so much better than other cops he feels like the best option.
Nonetheless, Lupin realizes the last time they saw the Inspector they were in this town, so he comes back to make sure Zenigata’s okay. I’m not sure if this is because Lupin just cares for the old man, or if it was because he craves the challenge, but none of it matters because now that Zenigata’s a thief he’s challenging Lupin in a different way.

5. This is one of those rare moments where I wish the interlude chapter had gone on longer than it did. There was a lot to be said about the relationship between Zenigata and Lupin–how the years of them chasing each other has turned into an adversarial friendship, how they both care for each other more than either’s willing to admit. There’s even a bit where Zenigata seems happy to have finally beaten Lupin at something that I think could have been zoned in on a bit more, but…we’ve gotta get back to the present day.
After being beaten to the loot on multiple heist attempts, Lupin gets fed up and decides one last time to prove he’s the superior thief. After Zenigata (as Monety) advertises himself as stealing from the richest man in the city (a dude with a jacket so shiny he could be a rare Yu-Gi-Oh card), the two both set up to go after the same goal: a pair of jewels known as the Eye of the Romanovs. Zenigata winds up ahead at first, but Lupin catches up in time to steal one Eye while Zenigata steals the other, and they both wind up running from the cops.
While they’re escaping, the two have a conversation in the snow, when a pair of handcuffs fall from Zenigata’s jacket and wind up falling onto Lupin’s wrist. Immediately, Zenigata begins to regain his memory, while Lupin takes the opportunity to steal the other gem.  Slipping out of the handcuffs, he slaps them onto Zenigata’s ankles while making off, having firmly cemented himself as the greatest thief once again.  That’s one more interlude chapter down…and from the looks of things we’re back to the main story next episode.
Lupin the III Part 5 is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.

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