The adventures of anime’s signature femme fatale of the season mostly center around two of her partners in crime this week. There’s been a lot of grumbling in the fan community about the firm of Okada, Sakamoto and Satou is taking with the Lupin franchise in this updating. As I’m glad I haven’t read the Zetman manga because it allows me to enjoy the anime without obsessing over the changes, I’m also happy to only be a casual Lupin fan here – too much so to be offended by the things this creative team is doing to the characters. It’s a sexy and stylish change-of-pace, and I can enjoy that without sweating the other stuff.
I suppose the way to view this series is as a sort of origin story, with everyone meeting up for the first time. The one thing all the guys in this story have in common is running afoul of Mine Fujiko, that mess of contradictions that she is. Whether it’s reclining naked in front of Lupin or drugging and molesting Jigen, life is one long seduction for her. It’s not that she isn’t smart and skilled in her own right – she simply has no moral filter than remotely suggests to her that she shouldn’t use her body for every last advantage it can get her. Here, the prize in question is the “Smiling Red Peacock” – a priceless alexandrite sculpture hidden somewhere in a newly “discovered” pyramid somewhere outside Cairo.
Superficially Mine sends Lupin off to fetch the treasure as a means of winning her heart, but nothing is ever that simple with her. Lupin is merely the bait to spring the traps so Mine can get to the treasure herself, and he’s joined in this luckless endeavor by Jigen, looking for some cash after his bag is stolen upon arrival in Cairo. Mostly, this is just an excuse to show us a very cool vision of Egypt, and to watch Jigen and Lupin try to get each other’s measure for the “first” time – and to listen to it too, as their dialogue is about as classic noir as you can get. In the end of course, all three of them have to end up working together to escape with their lives – and as usual, the treasure itself eludes Mine (and the boys) again. No matter – the games the thing with Lupin III, and the journey always matters more than the destination.