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Lupin and Jigen save a mute tattooed girl from the inexplicable wrath of a possessed Fujiko as the pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place. They're in no rush to disclose the gimmick too quickly, though, and we don't learn much new information in this episode aside from seeing just how deeply disturbed and disturbing a character Fujiko is in this version, seemingly driven mad by her inner demons. The script even makes a joke about how slow the revelation is coming, when Jigen, voicing the audience's impatience, asks Lupin to confess what he knows about Fujiko, but Lupin rejoinders tauntingly in the voice of the writers, "I'm not going to give it away that easily."
Aside from more of the same disturbing flashback sequences, I fairly enjoyed this episode. The whole episode proceeded in the form of an extended action sequence that was fairly well paced and choreographed and entertaining to watch. The production values remained stolid at best, but were probably above average for this series.
Lupin and Jigen got a lot of screentime and exchanged entertaining banter. The dynamic felt good, like in the old Lupin. Their behavior and actions also brought alive their personalities well. The sequence at the beginning with a disheartened Jigen trying and failing to win a prize at the shooting gallery was funny in the spirit of the old Lupin, and the story about the freak show actually being a pretense for a secret auction reminded of a similar setup in an episode in the first series. Not to mention there were several smuggled goods auction plots in the second series. The script was written by main writer Mari Okada.
The only odd thing about the episode was Fujiko, unsurprisingly, who behaved like a bizarre stone-faced zombie the whole time, like a sexy Terminator out to kill the girl for some unknown reason. We never even find out why in the end. The trauma of some kind of sexual or physical assault is hinted to underpin her personality in this show, a serious subject that sits uncomfortably beside the old Lupin gang antics.
The storyboarder was Yoshitomo Yonetani. He's a veteran from the 1980s who started out at Toei and did a lot of work for Shin-Ei, but I'm not very familiar with his work. I haven't seen almost any of his work until this, but in looking him up I read that one of the recurring motifs in his work is foreigners speaking bad Japanese, and what do you know, there are foreigners speaking bad Japanese in this episode. There isn't really any narrative need for that scene to have been there, so it's obviously his trademark that he wanted to insert. Kind of a lame trademark, if you ask me. I like how he managed to create fairly interesting action throughout the episode. The action scene on the gondola was pretty nice. It's a great idea for an action scene. It's just that the scene lacks tension for some reason, perhaps because he didn't process his own storyboard, or because the animation of those scenes isn't very dynamic. I particularly liked how during the chase at the onsen in the second half Lupin is constantly making wisecracks and pulling faces, never taking it all seriously. Also, the avant jazz music complemented this scene very well.
There was one bit of animation that caught my eye. It's where the movement suddenly turns to ones in slo-mo as Lupin, Jigen and the girl run away from Fujiko in the room. It was strangely out of place and unexpected, although Yonetani did storyboard much of the action in this episode using slo-mos. That seems to be his style. Their run down the corridor right afterwards also had a nice feeling to the timing. Yonetani even inserted one more joke about gaijins in Japan during this chase, as the group leaps into a room where a gaijin is dancing with a geisha. This guy really has a weird obsession with making fun of gaijins in Japan. Which I can't really fault him.
Am I the only one that found the last scene, Goemon’s appearance out of the blue, absolutely hilarious? His expression and the music that played were perfect in achieving that effect.
I think this has been my favourite episode so far, except maybe for episode five. The comedy may feel slightly out of place next to the darker elements in this show, as some fans have said, but I’m just grateful to finally see some at all. The Lupin/Jigen dynamic is the best thing about this series– it’s the one thing that really feels right to me. Just from the opening scene in the shooting gallery I knew that this episode was going to provide more of what I wanted.