Summary: When Lupin robs a dark web marketplace, the owners turn the eyes of the world on him in an attempt at revenge.
I was out of the loop when The Woman Called Fujiko Mine and Lupin the Third Part 4 aired in their initial TV runs, so this season’s Lupin the Third Part 5 is the first chance I’ve enjoyed to watch a Lupin III series while it airs. The anticipation of waiting a week between episodes promises to be both painful and delicious.
The new series begins where Part 4 left off, with Lupin and gang relocated to France from Italy. A cold open showing mysterious figures pondering Lupin’s elusive origins gives way to a raucously cartoonish opening sequence and a new version of the iconic theme played on the accordion (giving it aural echoes of French café music and the theme to A Shot in the Dark, one of the best Inspector Clouseau films). We then cut to Lupin and Jigen planning a heist targeting Marco Polo, a dark web vendor of drugs and guns that’s more than a little reminiscent of Silk Road.
The pair (and Goemon) infiltrate Marco Polo’s server farm/headquarters in an action sequence that’s half Mission Impossible—Rogue Nation, half Road Runner cartoon. This leads to the introduction of Ami, one of the season’s new characters and the latest in a line of slightly-too-innocent-for-his-taste young women whom Lupin III rescues. Though the theft is successful, Lupin and gang find themselves on the run when the owners of Marco Polo gamify tracking the thief down and turn everyone with a smartphone into unwitting bounty hunters.
Lupin the Third Part 5 charges out of the gate with a smart, thoroughly modern take on the Lupin III heist-adventure formula. While the art isn’t quite as delightful as the previous two TV series (mainly due to flatter colors on the characters), the animation remains expressive and action-packed. Morose, withdrawn (possibly chronically depressed) Ami is amusing in her initial appearance, though it’s far too early to see if she’ll have the impact of Fujiko Mine’s Oscar or Part 4’s Rebecca Rossellini. Inspector Zenigata’s new partner, Yatagarasu, makes no impression, making me wonder if he’s intended for a romance with Ami, almost like one of those bland leading man-types teamed with the Marx Brothers in their later films.
I’m excited by the technological bent of the new series, even if I’m completely indifferent to its promises to explore Lupin’s origins. I hadn’t even heard of Silk Road until reading reviews of the first episode, so I’m hoping the rest of the series continues to educate me about 21st century twists in the heist genre. Even if it doesn’t, Lupin the Third Part 5 will give the thrill of watching a Lupin series unspool in real time for the first time in my life.