Episode 04, "Living in Song, Living in Love"
Synopsis: Fujiko teams up with Inspector Zenigata to stop Lupin III from stealing a priceless mask worn by a famous opera singer. There are rumors at opera house from which he plans to steal it about a phantom. Said phantom interrupts a performance, but it continues, with Fujiko standing in. Lupin tries stealing the mask and Zenigata steps in to apprehend him. In the catacombs of the opera house, Zenigata goes after Lupin, while Fujiko is caught by the opera ghost, who turns out to be the the secret lover of the singer. Lupin escapes Zenigata and joins Fujiko and the lovers.
Lupin is back! And yet, there's so little of him. He remains sort of a background presence for most of the episode. He only appears a few times, and barely even tries to steal the treasure, despite having declared that he would beforehand. His methods for obtaining it are even pedestrian compared to the last time we saw him, having rockets attached to a giant statue. Kurita does an excellent job voicing him, at least. You really get the sense of his playfulness. I especially liked it when he was disguised as the horse.
Where there's Lupin, there's bound to be Inspector Zenigata. He's as determined as ever to capture our favorite lecherous thief. But something is a little off about him in this episode. I mean, he actually has his way with Fujiko, first of all, which is a bit weird for him. I know that his sort of cockier, more competent demeanor comes from the manga incarnation of him, but his attitude is a bit extreme in this episode, especially when he's shooting at Lupin. It looks like he's aiming to kill. I love the bit where he gets sprayed with Lupin's fake blood and then accidently smashed in the face by Oscar. Now there's a classical Zenigata injury.
If I have an issue with the episode, it's how Fujiko is portrayed. Now, don't get me wrong, I realize that so far, Fujiko's contribution has been largely as an observer, just having happened to be there in most episodes thus far. But we're always given a little insight into her as a character. Here is no different in that regard, we get a short flashback to her childhood, or some representation of her childhood. But, with that said, she really feels like window dressing in this episode. She doesn't impart any of her philosophy of life or even really play much of a role in the action of the show. She feels like a prop.
The story is nothing special, either. I like the idea of Fujiko being a trap for Lupin, even Zenigata setting it up as such. But the thing with the phantom, the love affair, the stand-in prop designer, and such, I couldn't really care less about. It's not as gritty as Jigen's affair with the mob boss wife, nor is it as interesting as Goemon trying to make friends with the children. It's just kind of a distraction from more Lupin we could be getting. Frankly, I was expecting a little more from this episode.
The episode seemed a little disjointed and random at times. The stand-in for Aiyan (not Fujiko, the other woman) just came out of nowhere. There lacked any good focus in the narrative. And the ending is a little too up in the air. Do Lupin and/or Fujiko fish the mask out of the fire? Does Aiya spend the rest of her life in the hidden chamber with that guy? Do they all have dinner in peace? This is probably my least favorite episode thus far, but it was still pretty good. Loved the opera singing.
Next time, Lupin and Jigen meet!
4 out of 5