Here you have it, the final volume of the original Lupin III series. I didn’t really think it would have a proper conclusion since it does have a lengthy sequel series and it was really a series of one-shots more than it was a story that needed to be concluded, but it surprised me by providing a nice resolution.
There are a lot of cool things going on in the other stories (not the least of which is Lupin getting trapped in a bottle, Lupin turning into a murderous homicidal maniac at night, and a man that Lupin wants to work for him barricading himself in a hilariously impenetrable room), but the one I want to talk about is the two-part final chapter, “The Funeral March of Lupin III.”
It’s got everything you could possibly want in a Lupin story: attempted murder of Lupin et al, strangely-themed opponents (this time the murder attempts are set to a recurring piece of music), a sex scene which felt strangely filthy for not actually having shown anything, and a final showdown with someone who turns out to be a worthy opponent in a huge battle royale. Lupin even escapes to a brand new place in the end! It was great, I promise.
Really though, that sex scene was the best. It even had a scribbled, poorly written letter from a “reader” who’s age was either 11 or 19, I couldn’t tell. Either way, the joke still worked. Thank you, Monkey Punch.
The first few stories in this volume deal with Rasputin, who seems to be a character who’s able to get one-up on Lupin. The first chapter ends in a draw when both pull a dirty trick, and the second chapter just ends with the line “You’ve got a flair for the dramatic, Lupin” in a truly hilarious over-the-top scene. In the third Rasputin chapter, Lupin, Jigen, and Goemon all three fall prey to clever traps laid by Rasputin’s wives. The pacing at the beginning of the chapter through this scene is absolutely perfect.
Another great chapter features a man who killed Goemon’s uncle. Goemon desperately wants to kill the man, but he has turned himself over to the police to smugly escape Goemon’s wrath. Lupin is always more than willing to help out a friend though, and the trial for the man is quite good, along with the twist ending, as always.
One more volume of Lupin to go.
One of the disadvantages to spending so much money on manga is that I have less to spend on things like a nice apartment. It has been frigid lately, and unfortunately the crappy heater in my apartment doesn’t heat my bedroom. Right now, a draft is rolling out of the window and across my lap as I sit at the computer. This draft is approximately five below zero. I have a lot of stuff to add to the site, but it’s just too cold in here to sit and do it.
This volume of Lupin felt like Monkey Punch had picked up the series after taking a break. One story in particular seems to embody everything about Lupin III you’ve come to know and love. The characters mention they haven’t seen each other in awhile, each one is introduced separately, and weird things like Lupin having sex with an invisible woman happen. Even the art looks a little different in some of these stories, but I have no way to check this out and see if its true.
There’s a great story at the beginning of the volume where a tabloid newspaper starts running stories on Lupin III that give a lot more details than Lupin’s comfortable with. He starts a war with the paper, and as they progressively get closer and closer to what he’s about to do, he tries various strategies to take them out… most of which wind up reported in the paper seconds after he tries. It actually made me laugh a few times.
There’s another story involving the thief with 20 masks, which makes me think of the CLAMP series. One wonders if this man exists in books somewhere.
There’s also a story at the end about Lupin becoming a vampire. I wasn’t sure what to think of that one.
This volume was kind of odd. A plot was set up where Lupin’s family charged him with taking out the Pandora clan since they had discovered their secret headquarters. Then… nothing. The Pandora clan was not pursued further in this volume. Maybe later.
My favorite story, hands down, was one where we didn’t even get to see Lupin’s face. It opens on a prison island, and we are to understand that the sole prisoner is now Lupin, who’s face is obscured by wild hair and a thick beard (basically his head is illustrated as a hairball with an eyeball peeking out of it). The rest of the prison is totally empty, and Lupin, in solitary confinement, is due to be executed. The entire chapter is him trying to come up with different ways to escape, which include urinating in the same spot on a wall in order to wear it away and escape, molding a gun out of excrement to try and threaten the guards, and training scorpions to attack on command. It was pretty cool.
One chapter was entirely wordless until the end, I think. I liked that one. It was about a woman who kept getting the better of Lupin, and finally, and the end, he winds up getting the diamonds she stashed away. And they were stashed away in a place Lupin will enjoy retrieving them from very much.
One chapter at the beginning was really, really disturbing, because it has you believe most of the time that Lupin killed a little kid to get a spy to talk.
And other things, which include corpses, hypnosis, and the like.
I had a lot of fun with this volume too, actually. At one point, Lupin is extremely happy because there seems to be a woman who wants to have sex with him. He comments that he can’t believe he doesn’t have to force her, and… that’s when you realize the series is full of rape, and then feel bad. Not really, a joke about force being Monkey Punch’s thing is made, but still… it was a creepy moment of truth.
Anyway. There’s a bit of a continuing story at the end of the volume when Lupin has to get a family island back from a man who seems to have claimed it as his own, had it sworn in as a sovereign nation, and declared himself president. Zenigata is featured prominently, and in the continuing story, he is captured so Lupin can impersonate him. A serum that make people believe they’re Lupin is thrown into the mix at one point, and of course Lupin gets some only because the girl believes she is Lupin III.
There’s a story with a game played between criminals. Whoever opens the box that doesn’t kill them wins police immunity. You can imagine where that goes.
At one point, while fighting Zenigata, Zenigata somehow gets the better of Goemon by sliding a pair of handcuffs down the blade of his sword… and then from there, one cuff is around his wrist and the other winds up around a tree branch, suspending him in midair. Jigen berates Goemon for a minute, says nothing like that will happen to him, then after a panel of dust, we see the two suspended together from the tree. Lupin looks up at them, then turns to face the “camera” (so to speak) and says something to the effect of “What the shit is this?!” It was one of my favorite moments in Lupin III ever.
So yes, this series has still got it, too.
This was the best volume of Lupin I’ve read in awhile. Instead of having themed stories, this was once again just random stuff, and at the end of every story things twisted and Lupin wound up on top. You got to love it, especially since the tone is just so goofy and loveable. I know I’m kind of hard on this series sometimes, but it really is wonderful, and I really love the art (but yes, it can be hard to follow, though I didn’t have any trouble in this volume).
The strangest story in this volume by far was one about a man who was time traveling from the far future and had a grudge against the Lupin family. He comes back into the present to kill Lupin, then goes back further into the past to kill the easier target, Lupin’s farmer great-grandfather. This terrifies Lupin since there’s no way he can prevent his own death. For some reason, he kills Fujiko’s ancestors from the past, so she just vanishes in the present in the middle of sex with Lupin. The ending is priceless. It always is, but it feels particularly good here since this story is not as comedic as usual.
This volume also has one of the most surreal pages of comic art ever. The last story features one of Lupin’s dreams, and one of the images is a full-page illustration of the Statue of Liberty from the waist-up emerging from the clouds. She is naked, and there is a small naked Lupin straddling one of her breasts. It’s just… bizarre. My scanner’s broken, or I would have broke protocol and included it in this post. It’s great.
Yeah, I’m still kind of torn on this series. On one hand, it’s very hard to tell what’s going on. This is not only because sometimes the artwork can be confusing, but because the plots in the one-shot chapters are sometimes unclear, even right up until the end when the big reveal comes. On the other hand, I wouldn’t change the artwork for the world, and I’ll trade some confusion for the perfect image of Lupin getting it on, groping a breast, etc. And when the twist ending does explain everything that’s been happening, or throws a clever joke your way, the results are quite awesome.
Lupin III is also kind of experimental in a way that not a lot of other manga are right now. It looks and reads more like an indy comic than almost any other manga I have. One chapter here, for instance, is done entirely in first person, with Lupin addressing the reader and “your” thoughts on capturing Lupin. Some open entirely wordlessly and the effect is quite nice. Some have really awesome panel layouts, there’s one here which opens with a puzzle metaphor and some really nifty panel and word placement. Of course, that was hampered by the fact it wasn’t clear what was in the panels, but I still appreciated it all the same.
Lupin is still a treat when I get it every once in awhile. It’s probably my favorite of the pre-70’s manga I’ve read, and it still makes me laugh, sometimes very hard, several times per volume.