When the first new Lupin III series in two decades was announced, titled “Lupin the 3rd – The Italian Adventure”, it all looked pretty good. It looked even better when it was said that Italy would air the show in worldwide premiere. Now it’s over, and while it’s still airing in Japan, for some reason nobody is simulcasting the show in the west. So I think only Italians and a few other diehard fans have watched the anime to its end, yesterday night.
For what it’s worth, it was a mixed bag. It starts out well enough, with some of the good old Lupin atmosphere, reminescent of even the Green Jacket series, but with some Red Jacket sensibilities: Lupin is still a far better person here tan he used to be, but the show is not quite as kids-friendly as its longest TV appearance. New characters are introduced that look like they might carry things by themselves, and overall there’s fun to be had.
But near the end of the first season, after some “plot of the week” fun, the series delves into faux psychological babble, and it never really recovers from here. Only Lupin and perhaps Fujiko have any important scenes: the rest of the gang, even Zenigata, is pretty much there for comic relief. The new characters end up crumbling too, with the Bond-expy Nyx being just about the most one-dimensional character ever, and Rebecca wallowing in self pity until the very end.
Said end comes abruptly, as a sort of over-arching villain is introduced in the second season who is then quickly forgotten for some filler episodes (which are far worse than in the first season, and probably the lowest point of the series), then shown again, then more filler episodes (fortunately better ones) until the final two-parter which is even more faux babble, with said villain unable to function as a compelling enemy. And then an unsatisfying ending to close the curtains.
I don’t know what kind of reception it’s having in Japan, where they must be close to airing the first season finale. It feels like the worst is yet to come for them. Unfortunately, while the new Lupin has some traces of his past self, Monkey Punch can’t make the jump between letting go of the past and designing a future that can stand on its own.