Twelve Days 3: Lupin III

For day three let’s begin the long litany of anime I’ve watched this year and just haven’t finished! I was seriously watching this last year, too. That doesn’t indicate a problem in the show. It’s a problem with me. I’m definitely one of those people who slows down as the end of something approaches, at least if I’ve really liked it. I don’t want it to end! But I suppose that won’t keep me from dealing a reading for Lupin. He’s probably had them before, and, anyway, this is technically a prequel for a long-running series. It would be hard to go too wrong!

This is definitely my favorite iteration of Lupin so far. Not only is the animation very pretty, but the stories and setting are stronger than ever. Lupin always had a flair for its settings, but this show just doesn’t give any fucks, it goes everywhere (at least, in the area of Europe the show’s confined to). While there are still some weird gadgets, the plots are usually about Lupin noticing something no one else has noticed. Some plots include fighting a James Bond secret agent who’s designed to look like even angrier Daniel Craig; Lupin getting married to someone for a plan who got married to him for a different plan; flashbacks explaining the “origins” of Jigen and Goemon; and that flashback every femme fatale gets where she wasn’t always bad, but tragic love made her so.

If my tone makes you think the plots are bad, they’re not, I’m sorry. They’re great. It’s basically my favorite prequel.

The show really keys in on the nature of art. Lupin hallucinates a mindscape of a dead inventor based on his writings; Leonardo da Vinci is still alive, or cloned, or something; and of course lots of art gets stolen. I think that may be my favorite part about Lupin overall: he’s an art thief. He does lots of shit (if you were in a show for hundreds of episodes you would too), but at his core he appreciates art and wants to steal it for the classic cat burglar challenge involved.

So if Lupin, young and marginally more naive than regular Lupin, came for a tarot reading, what would it say? Let’s find out!


The ratio of swords to “not swords” is unsurprising, as is the fact that the other card is a coin.

In the past we got the Page of Swords. The page is young, ambitious, excited, and generally ready for anything. They can get run down though, or turn out to need more experience for the messes they get themselves into. The swords are the cards of intellect, and we certainly know that Lupin is smart. I feel as though a lot of people, characters and viewers, tend to sort of not think of that much. Lupin is frighteningly clever; he doesn’t rub everyone’s face in it like Sherlock Holmes might, that’s all. It’s the reason Jigen and Goemon put up with his shit, after all.So, before all this, before Lupin was Lupin, he was a smart kid. He was clever and interested and wanted to prove himself. He’s certainly doing that now. But it’s interesting to consider that there had to be a before, a before this time. But there was, necessarily, a time when Lupin was not, in fact, the greatest thief in the world. The show overall is about that time, but he’s already got the skills, if not the resources. No wonder he keeps doing shit that’s reckless even for him in this series: he still has something to prove. And no wonder the show keeps throwing big mysteries at him: nothing else would catch his attention in this phase of his career.

In the present, we got the nine of pentacles (or coins). The nines are the near fullness of completion. Lupin certainly doesn’t hurt for money, much. Over the course of the series he gets money, loses it, gets it again, loses it again. He’s at that point where he can be confident that he’ll get something new. There’s no point for saving if you’re just going to make this much money again next time. If you’ve ever wondered how the super-rich can’t be ruined by things that destroy whole economies, it’s because they always have those savings. Lupin is, at least, normal in one way: he can’t save any damned money. This card, by the way, depicts a woman in her spectacular garden, full of coins, listening to a bird. It’s paradise, apparently. But she looks kind of bored. She also has  robe covered in images of flowers, but her garden is full of grapes. She seems to want what she can’t have. And she carries a hooded hunting bird with her, too. There’s money, and then there’s freedom. This card (not all the cards, but this one) implies that you can’t really have both. She’s walled off in that garden, as much as she’s protected by it. Lupin, then, pisses away his money because he’s not quite crazy enough to work if he doesn’t need to — but he really needs to, deep down. So if he’s poor all the time, he needs to work all the time! And it even gives him that pressure he’s so fond of.

The future is, as always, tricky. Here we got the six of swords, which Crowley named “Science.” Is that good or bad, you might ask? Well, science is either the thing that killed all the mystical joy in the world or it’s the thing that brought to life the wonderful mysteries of the world around us. And those aren’t actually mutually exclusive. So it depends on your point of view (which is, of course, a very safe thing to say about the card in the future slot). The card indicates a journey of some kind, but it’s not clear what kind. The swords are like guardrails, keeping the woman and her child in the boat. That could be a form of limitation and safety, like the last card, or a form of preparedness — she is on a boat now, after all, not in a garden. This card implies Lupin is on a journey, and will continue it. Well, how else will he go on to star in the original series of shows, right? But, thematically, he’s going to want to take on more intellectual challenges.

None of the cards are really about sex, which is what we usually think of when we think of Lupin. I think this has been a refreshing take, since it refocuses our attention on the other side of the famous thief.

And of course you have to watch the intro before you go.


One thought on “Twelve Days 3: Lupin III

  1. Pingback: 12 Days of Anime 2017 Omnibus – Better Living through Symbolism

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