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Zenigata is a Bastard (and Other Awesome Stuff)

April 26, 2012
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The bulk of this week’s Lupin episode was pretty standard fare for the franchise. Lupin and Fujiko are after the same score. They compete to steal it. A twist is thrown into the mix. Neither one wins. Lupin laughs about it because he gets off on the mere act of stealing. Fujiko gets pissed because she gets off on the actual acquisition. The End. A perfectly fine scheme but nothing particularly clever.

But I think it’s pretty obvious that this particular series ain’t about the heists. They’re just the groundwork to let all this other stuff go down, and there’s plenty going on in this episode. If anything, this episode lays the groundwork for this series’ intentions better than any episode.

Zenigata and Lupin Really Fucking Hate Each Other

None of the respectful give and take seems to be at play here. When Zenigata meets Lupin face to face for the first time in this series, he gives us a spiel about how it’s his destiny to take down Lupin. Standard “their families have been at each other’s throats for generations” bit we’re used to. But then Zenigata pulls out his gun and shoots at Lupin point-blank. No banter. No swinging of the handcuffs. Just rage and bullets.

This is the first real break from the old school Lupin. Even those early episodes of the first Lupin series didn’t depict Zenigata in such a coldblooded manner. He wanted to see Lupin die for his crimes, but he also wanted him to face a proper trial and be executed by the state. This new Zenigata is all about the vendetta and seems to be willing to do whatever it takes to see this blood feud ended.

At the same time, we get a little nod to the original relationship. Lupin is perched on a balcony in a theater and spouts his own variation of Juliet’s famous “wherefore art” speech, since the “war” between Lupin and Zenigata’s families and their subsequent frenemy relationship can be easily squeezed into that Romeo and Juliet romantic mythos.

And how does Zenigata react? He shoots at Lupin again. No real exchange. No playing along with the joke. Just more violence.

It’s a pretty clear sign that things have changed, at least on Zenigata’s side of things.

Yeah, Zenigata is a Bastard

Zenigata uses Fujiko to get his rocks off. Then he uses her to try to capture Lupin. Yeah.

That sex scene that opened the episode wasn’t really shocking in and of itself, but seeing that it was Zenigata using Fujiko was pretty shocking. Zenigata’s always been portrayed as a bit of a bumbling fool. Not quite Inspector Clouseau levels of ineptitude, but he’s always shown to be inferior to Lupin and his gang. It makes him an ineffective antagonist, but I don’t think he’s really intended to be a foe. He’s just a foil in the original stories– there more to play off of the gang than to be an actual force out to stop them.

He’s always been a confident character personality-wise, but that confidence seems to be spilling over into his actions. Zenigata is being set up as an actual antagonist. But he isn’t being portrayed as the sort of antagonist that you’re supposed to love. Old school Zenigata is just as much a part of the crew as Jigen, Goemon, and Fujiko. He’s a part of the act. In the new series he’s being set up to be an outside force bent on destroying everything we love about Lupin.

That’s a welcome twist, but yeah, in doing so they’re making Zenigata a rat bastard.

Oscar is a Chick?

I had that suspicion when I saw Oscar in the first episode. A character with that androgynous look who shares the same name with the infamous crossdresser from Rose of Versailles? Yeah, they could be going for something else when they had Oscar blush when Zenigata was posturing in the first episode, but “girl dressed as a boy” was my first reaction.

I didn’t have any real evidence beyond that gut feeling, so I didn’t mention it at first. But this episode had Oscar going out of his/her way to rag on Fujiko. While they’re chasing after Lupin, Oscar gets some good digs in on Fujiko. Oscar basically calls Fujiko a slut, accusing her of being little more than a depository for men’s “waste.” A man could easily take offense to Fujiko’s behavior, but Oscar was especially snarky about it. It seems like he/she’s taking Fujiko’s indecent behavior pretty personally.

If that’s the case then Fujiko has her own nemesis, much like how Lupin has Zenigata. Seeing how this series is focusing on Fujiko, it makes sense for them to create a law-abiding foil that despises everything Fujiko represents.

Or, y’know, this could be yet another one of my crazy conspiracy theories and all of this is total bullshit. But I doubt it.

Quantum of Solace

Just wanted to point out the obvious: the opera used in this episode, Tosca, is the same opera used in the best (only good?) scene from the last James Bond movie. Appropriate since Lupin seems to fit the same pop culture niche as Bond. Born out of the same relative era and whatnot. I dug that particular parallel, intentional or not.

Butterflies

That “flashback” Fujiko had in the aqueduct, where she chomps down on a butterfly, reminded me of that Branded to Kill movie I mentioned back in my first Lupin post. There’s some dreamlike sequences that use some heavy butterfly imagery that are pretty damn cool in that movie, and all of said imagery is focused upon the femme fatale character from said movie, much like how it’s linked with Fujiko in this series. Again, could be deliberate, could be coincidence. It’s cool regardless.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Aiphrem permalink
    April 27, 2012 9:20 AM

    That part where Oscar gets all hot seeing Zanigata drenched in blood makes me want to know more about his origins, and why the police would hire some fucked up, potentially cross-dressing sadist.

    • Landon permalink*
      April 27, 2012 10:10 AM

      Since every significant character is getting some real screen time devoted to them, I wouldn’t be surprised if we got an Oscar episode later on.

  2. April 27, 2012 12:57 PM

    I’m not sure if Oscar is a reverse-trap or simply an over zealous homosexual archetype. If it’s the former, then adding another female persona to Lupin might generate some conflict or contrast to Fujiko’s character since she’s traditionally the lone female in the franchise. This episode seemed like the introduction to the main story since we had that flashback of Fujiko’s past when she touched the pool of water and there was sufficient interaction between the players to begin character relationships. If it’s the latter, then Oscar is just gay for Zenigata and hates all women which could also play into Fujiko’s past because… well… that’s up for the writers to figure out. Whatever Oscar is, reverse-trap or gay cop, his inclusion into the story will play some role for Fujiko’s character.

    Personally, I believe Oscar is a dude since he’s voiced by Jun Fukuyama and all the chicks want to hear him be feminized so that’s why he’s the way he is.

  3. April 27, 2012 2:23 PM

    I don’t have too much experience with Lupin and know only the most rudimentary stuff, but yeah, everything with Zenigata surprised me, as well, in a good way. It’s an interesting twist on everything I’ve heard about the guy, while not being over the top and “dark and edgy” for the hell of it. Really interested to see where the series goes now that each of the main players has had an episode.

  4. Son Gohan permalink
    April 28, 2012 11:56 AM

    I don’t believe that Oscar is a crossdressing woman due to his voice actor, Yuuki Kaji (Ouma Shu in Guilty Crown). For that kind of character the directors usually cast a woman, never a man.

    This version of Lupin reminds me of Frank Miller’s Sin City, where both the good guys and the bad guys (with very few exceptions) are bastards.

    I am eager to see how they are going to explain Fujiko’s past, something that was never touched upon in the original series, AFAIK.

  5. Hjsbhwer permalink
    June 22, 2014 6:53 AM

    Okay, that’s it, I’ve decided. I’m not watching this. If Zenigata isn’t going to be the guy I knew and loved from the original anime then I’m staying far away from this version. However, I will be looking up Oscar out of curiosity.

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