Episode 09, "Love Wreathed in Steam"
Synopsis: Lupin and Jigen attend an auction that was disguised as a carnival sideshow. The item for bid is a painted woman, used as a canvas for the famous artist, Natar Aiden. It's interrupted by a mysterious person in a black cloak, who turns out to be Fujiko. Lupin and Jigen take custody of the painted woman, but are attacked by Fujiko. They make an escape, but Fujiko persues them relentlessly and ruthlessly. The police take the painted woman in custody, but Fujiko attacks. At the last moment, Jigen saves her. Lupin runs off with her with Fujiko again in pursuit. Confronting her, Lupin surmises that Fujiko is trying to kill the woman because like her, she had a life controlled by other people. Exasperated by this, Fujiko tries to kill herself with Lupin's gun, but it turns out to just be a water pistol. Fujiko leaves, now confused over what to do. She encounters Goemon.
Like the last episode, this episode has this sense of charming cruelty, where the characters just sort of do what they feel they have to, without letting up much or apologizing for it. It's like the first Lupin III TV series in that way. Sort of darkly amusing, containing equal parts levity and harshness. The characters don't hold back, but at the same time, still come off being very amiable in their own right.
For one thing, Fujiko seems to have snapped a bit. Having seen the woman with the tattoos be offered up as a prize, she goes into a state of calm fury, attempting to kill her at all costs. What we're seeing in this episode is a breakdown for the character. Instead of taking things lightly and letting things that bother her in stride, Fujiko is geniunely disturbed to the point of trying to kill an innocent woman simply because, as Lupin put it, she wants to kill herself. Those owl guys seem to have really fucked her up as a child. There's no sign of the coy and sultry con woman here, just a broken and shaken woman driven to attempted suicide. At the end of the episode she's lost, not knowing where to turn to. This is probably the most sympathetic she's come across yet. I actually feel really bad for her.
It looks like Lupin and Jigen are officially a team now. We get more great interaction between them in this episode, as well as cooperation. They seem to be working seemlessly in concert, trying to protect the painted lady. I love their chat during the carnival game and after they rescue the woman for the first time when Lupin warns Jigen not to get too attached to the merchandise (the woman). They worked together pretty well in the gondola scene, too. Now they need to bring Goemon on board, and although neither of them has met him, I have a feeling that they're about to.
One of the noteworthy bits was when Jigen shot down the gondola Fujiko was on and they wondered whether she survived or not. Lupin says, "If she didn't, I guess she wasn't the woman I thought she was." He has high expectations of her.
Another rock solid episode.
4.5 out of 5