"From Japan With Love"
Synopsis: Lupin jets off to Japan when it seems like Fujiko's in danger, but as usual, it's a ruse by her to get him to steal something for her. Unexpectedly, however, it turns out the ruse is on her as well, because it was all a trap by Detective Ackechi Holmes Kousuke to capture Lupin without her knowledge! While Lupin is in captivity, Fujiko scrambles to correct her mistake and prove that underestimating her is a mistake! It's a contest of deception as the woman called Fujiko Mine shows she's every bit as formidable as the man who loves her!
I think what I enjoy the most about this episode is that it starts off being a Lupin-driven episode (save Fujiko!) and after the first act becomes a Fujiko-driven episode where she's made, essentially, the main character, the focus and the active protagonist, while Lupin becomes an inactive participant. It totally turns the usual "Fujiko trap" plot of previous Lupin features on its head, giving Fujiko more agency than she usually enjoys. I won't pretend that this is a strongly feminist episode, but I'm glad it's a strongly Fujiko episode.
Fujiko is well-known for pulling the deception where she manipulates Lupin into stealing a treasure for either her own benefit or to get her out of a jam, or both. That Lupin finds himself in a situation where it turns out Fujiko was pulling one over on him just to resolve a bet is not very shocking. It's not even surprising that it's really a trap to get him captured by a third party. The sticking point here with our bountifully buxom beauty is that she wasn't in on the real scam, that Akechi Holmes Kousuke fooled her to get to Lupin, and that he thinks so little of her, he's not even upset that she escapes, because she's a "small fry". In essence, he's upset Fujiko's personal pride, and for that he must pay. I mean, come on, she's been in on capturing Lupin for her own benefit before, all he had to do was ask!
And Akechi is hilariously another in a long line of historical and literary references in Lupin anime that have the descendants or combinations of historical or fictional figures match wits with the Lupin gang. In this case, Akechi Holmes Kousuke is a combination of Seishi Yokomizo's detective character Kosuke Kindaichi, Kogoro Akechi, a private detective created by Edogawa Rampo (and referenced in Detective Conan character Kogoro Mouri), and of course, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. Now, they obviously did this to spruce up a character that may have just been your run-of-the-mill arrogant dective character who thinks he can succeed where Zenigata fails regularly, but I think it works pretty well. We see Akechi have some of the traits of the more ridiculous Zenigata portrayals and some of the less moral depictions of him, so that he contrasts with the portrayal of Zenigata in this series, which is more competent, yet still prone to failure. And, of course, what does him in, in trying to capture Lupin, is underestmating Lupin's support network.
You really have to hand it to Fujiko's plan here, and it's the classic Zenigata disguise gamble but with a double trick of being a fake Zenigata that calls into question the real one. She does this by assuming the identity of a defeated and tied up Pops, which plays to Akechi's certainty that he is the superior detective as well as using embarrassment, since why would anyone pretend to be a Zenigata that has already been fooled? It must obviously be the real one because nobody would pretend to be a beaten man! Well, Fujiko would, because as soon as the real Zenigata is held up in accusations, she takes control of the situation.
Akechi constantly dismisses Fujiko's ingenuity and determination and is completely undone by her ability to both plan and be spontaneous, using the cannon as a ramp for the armored vehicle to fly right over him and to safety, and it just goes to show that Fujiko is more than just a Lupin hanger-on. In many ways, she is Lupin's equal.
A great episode that doesn't just have a great premise, but a wonderful atmosphere and attitude, with gorgeous settings, and plenty of laughs and thrills.
4 out of 5