I don’t think I can really do justice to the weirdness of this episode by trying too hard to write a blog post – so I won’t try too hard. It seems we’ve entered the final phase, and the story of the mysterious Count Lewis Yew Armied is being tied into the one that started the series, featuring the cult and it’s mind-altering drug. Nothing that happened then was coincidence – Fujiko was tied to the cult, and Lupin was there because he knew Fujiko would be. It’s an interesting thing in hindsight, rather elegantly structured – the entire cult was basically a setup for testing the drug by Glaucus Pharmaceuticals, of which Armied is the head.
There was an awful lot of weirdness here, not coincidentally very much in the mold of a psychedelic experience. We have references to Hegel, the Goddess Minerva, the ending of an age… And all this connected to the ghost city of Eulenspiegel (“Owl Mirror”) left abandoned by Glaucus after their experiments with the fear-inducing drug went wrong. The same experiments “created” Fujiko, supposedly, though it’s clear she wasn’t created so much as altered by the experiments of her father, Dr. Fritz Kaiser (Takaoka Binbin). She may, in fact, be the only thing that escaped Eulenspiegel – which would certainly explain why Count Armied is so anxious to get her back.
Except I’m not at all sure any of what we saw actually happened. It’s clear that Lupin was experiencing a series of hallucinations, and at least some of what he saw was likely true. But it’s hard to say just what – with Zenigata speaking with Lupin’s face at the end, it’s clear we’re still in a hallucinogenic dream of some sort. As is so often the case with this incarnation of Lupin, it might be best not to focus too hard on the specifics of plot and just enjoy the trip (pun intended) because it’s certainly a wild ride full of stunning and disturbing imagery. The owls, the butterflies, the dead Dr. Kaiser – who knows what’s real? I wouldn’t be surprised if the series never fully answers that question, so I’m not going to stress over it. Sometimes being disoriented by an anime is an enjoyable experience, and this is one of those times.