Lupin III (2015) Episode JP 20 (Italy 21) Review

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"To Hear You Sing Again"

*****SPOILERS*****

Synopsis: A Fiat 500 "Topolino" that was owned by singer Nora Anita is stolen by none other than Lupin III! The singer is close to death and her husband simply wanted to get rid of it, but the broker insists no harm come to it in any attempt to recover it, hindering Inspector Zenigata. Lupin has partnered with Fujiko to fence the car, but all is not as it seems, and a romantic Lupin may have his own reasons for stealing it. On the road of time, can fond memories keep the motor running? Lupin goes on a drive singing "Let's Go For A Walk" in this mellow but emotional new caper!

 

Comments:

This is a pretty straight-forward episode, so there's not a lot in it to review. It stands or falls based on basic elements, not attempting to be ambitious, but still pretty decent. Come off what is my favorite episode of the series, it's a pretty large come down. We went from infiltrating a mercenary's hideout to obtain a list of MI6 agents on a decrypted disc and Nix's struggle to pull away from a life of servitude, to... a cozy little story about withering nostalgia. Still, it has its merits. Heck, I think I just named them.

Vehicle detail has always been a ubiquitous element of the Lupin franchise since the beginning, especially with the vehicles Lupin himself drives. In the first TV series, and for much of the second, he drove a Mercedes SSK. Yet somehow Lupin's most iconic ride appears to be the Fiat 500, chosen by Hayao Miyazaki, based on the one Yasuo Ohtsuka (head animator for the first TV series) owned. It was featured in Castle of Calgiostro and Plot of the Fuma Clan, and a few other features (including that live action movie from 2014). Lupin's Fiat 500 seems to be a model made between 1957 to 1975.  But the car he steals in this episode is the one made from 1936 to 1955, the "Toplino" ("little mouse", and also the Italian name for Mickey Mouse), a red one owned by the singer Nora Anita. Lupin seems to have a bit of a problem with the steering (stuck wheel or ghostly presence... YOU DECIDE), but otherwise has an enjoyable ride without damaging it. For Lupin, this is nearly an unprecedented feat.

It makes total sense that they would stick to city cars like the Fiats for much of the vehicles in this show, since much of it is in enclosed European towns and cities with narrow roads. There have been sparse car chases in this series, and unfortunately this is no different, with nobody actually engaging at close distances because of the value of the vehicle. Ah well.

The real point of the episode isn't the car itself, though, but the relationship between Martin and Nora. The vehicle is just a vessel for that relationship and Martin's memories of it. Nora is in a persistent vegetative state and is fading and Martin's been covering up all the things in the house that remind him of her. It''s hard enough for him as it is seeing his wife dying, but the car obviously brings up a lot of memories, both fond and annoying. Nora was obviously a difficult woman, good-humored, but compulsive. The broker hired Lupin and Fujiko to steal the car to raise its value on the market, but Lupin was more interested in the times shared by the two in the Fiat. He even begins singing Nora's well-known song, "Let's Go For A  Walk", which seems to bring Martin out of his funk and finally appreciate that he shared those moments with his wife before she passes.

The ending is perhaps a little sappy and overly sentimental, but I think it works. Lupin loves challenges and he doesn't mind a good payoff, but he's also subject to romantic whims, as well, and there are things just as worthwhile to him as loot. Fujiko, however... well, she's a bit cheesed off that the caper didn't pay off. But hey, Lupin did offer her a consolation prize.

A mostly average episode, but I'm glad it exists.

Overall Score:

3.5 out of 5