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As I mentioned yesterday there’re some oddities buried deep in my anime collection. Some of which I didn’t even know I had until I pulled the tapes out again.

One of these is episode 155 of the Lupin III Part II TV Series, Farewell My Beloved Lupin. For those that don’t know, this is one of the two episodes that was directed by Hayao Miyazaki, and oh boy does it show.

The female lead added for this episode, Maki Oyamada, is very much cut from the classic Miyazaki heroine mould, but that only helps the episode by setting her character early without much exposition.

The episode starts with a robot that is remarkably similar[1] to those that later appeared in Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986) performing a flashy jewelry heist in broad daylight, followed by a video message from Lupin condemning the military development of the robots. Lupin is apparently working with the pilot Maki Oyamada[2] to raise awareness of the threat.

Apparently. Not all is as it seems, and Inspector Zenigata works out the deception simply from the video message that this just isn’t in character for Lupin. It’s important to remember that, even though he always loses to Lupin, Zenigata is nobody’s fool. He’s actually very, very good at what he does, it’s just that he’s always up against legends.

The whole thing is a ruse by Nagato Industries to generate black market sales for the robots by publicly showing how effective they are in combat. After a chase scene involving gung-ho JSDF[3], and property damage on the Dirty Pair scale, Zenigata catches up with Maki only for the deception to be sprung. At which point the criminals try to blow up Zenigata, and send Maki to her death tied up in the robot.

Which is when the real Lupin shows up to save the day. Mayhem and hilarity ensue, including signature moments from all the gang – Jigen, Goemon, Fujiko, and Lupin.

It’s worth noting the contemptuous attitude to the JSDF in this episode. This would have been partly a product of the cold war, partly fresher memories of WWII, but the attitudes here are far removed from those often seen in 21st century anime.

Alas, due to licensing restrictions, grimy fansubs on VHS is still the only way I can watch this episode. CrunchyRoll have the series, but not in Australia. As a result the colours were washed out, and the sound was dodgy, but the magic was still there. I’m not sure that I’d want to wade through all 155 episodes of the Lupin III Part II TV Series, but Farewell My Beloved Lupin does amply demonstrate why the franchise developed such staying power.

And on that note I think I might watch the next thing on that tape. Which is completely unrelated.

[1] And by remarkably similar I mean effectively identical.

[2] The daughter and main assistant of the scientist who developed the robots.

[3] Not to mention incompetent, and recklessly disregarding the safety of civilians.