Lupin Zero

Lupin 0

Although Lupin III is a well-known moniker among anime fans all over the world, not all of them are aware of its actual meaning. I, for one, have been intrigued by Lupin III for who knows how long, but the franchise’s size over the past fifty years has daunted me. I eventually had an understandable introduction in the shape of Lupin Zero after several years of confusion.

The six-episode ONA series, billed as the tale of Lupin III in his youth, notably his high school years, begins with Lupin’s encounter with Jigen, his future partner in crime, and Yoko, their first love, who would go on to play a more significant role in the series’ last two episodes. Lupin is depicted as a youthful, extremely skilled con artist who stands at the nexus of two opposing worldviews, as symbolized by his father Lupin II and his great-grandfather Arsene Lupin. His contacts with Jigen, the troubled kid who proves to be much more than a troubled student, would cause a significant transformation in their lives and would signify an enduring connection formed through life and death.

Particularly the secondary characters, the characters in the series have a propensity to be one-dimensional. For instance, Grandpa Lupin is a smart master thief, Lupin II is a cool thief-dad, Shinobu is a hot outstanding bodyguard-maid, etc. However, keeping the emphasis on Lupin and Jigen’s character growth works wonderfully. Don’t even start me on how cool Jigen is, while we’re talking about cool. Although, oh yeah, the manchild in me screamed how much I would have liked a cool friend like him in my high school days, he might not be the most charismatic person compared to what you might see in other anime. Combining him with naughty Lupin creates a funny comedic team reminiscent of old buddy cop films.

I have to give the series’ aesthetics a thumbs up because they bring back so many fond memories for me. When I was a toddler, I enjoyed watching Time Bokan and Casshern. The 1960s setting works well with the retro aesthetics as well. Not to mention some of the absurd, cartoon-like action scenes that, although not for everyone, do a fantastic job of adding flavor to the environment. Even though they are extravagant and sophisticated, the action scenes have a touch of realism when the subject is serious. They include sprinting through Looney Tunes dungeons, a high school kid shooting at a railroad to alter a train’s course, and even one instance where the guys commandeer a ship equipped with nuclear armament and manned by armed revolutionaries. Awesome? Of sure, I say.

The storytelling is not the strongest component because there is no overall plot. For instance, the episode where Lupin attempts to connect his hidden school base to a whisky-smuggling pipeline feels like fluff for a six-episode series. Additionally, it tackles comedy and conflict in a rather clumsy manner. Nevertheless, despite it being a brief series, we still get a colorful cast of distinctively created characters, an almost satisfying adolescence drama, an engaging friendship story, a few fantastic action set pieces, and, most significantly, a wonderful dad and a very awesome best friend. You can excuse a few lulls here and there.

Overall, Lupin Zero is a fantastic series that stands alone. I have no hesitation in recommending this to my friends. It also does a fantastic job of piqueing my interest in exploring Lupin III’s world more than before. I really hope Lupin and Jigen remain close buddies throughout their adult lives.

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