Oct 9, 2021
***THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS***
“You’re not old, you’re a classic… Jigen”
The times, they are a-changin'
It’s been 50 years since Lupin the Third initially hit television screens, and while the gentleman thief tailored himself to each new iteration, his partner Daisuke Jigen remained the cool-headed, hard-boiled gunslinger he was since day one. The same can be said for the man behind the voice. From his first appearance in the 1969 pilot film, to the most recent Lupin the Third: the First film in 2019, Kiyoshi Kobayashi has been the voice of Daisuke Jigen. Kobayashi and Jigen have been one in the same for decades. But at the
ripe age of 88, it’s about time that Kobayashi holstered his Smith & Wesson for the final time. It was announced earlier this year that Kobayashi would be retiring, with Akio Otsuka taking the role of Jigen for Part 6. While initially sad news, it’s great that Kobayashi was able to exit on his own terms. Besides, with the legacy he left behind, Kobayashi has forever left his imprint on Jigen. It’s time to pass the baton (or more accurately, the Model 19). And what better way to give Kobayashi a proper send off than with this special Episode 0, aptly titled, “The Times”.
Following a heist-gone-wrong, Lupin, Jigen, and Goemon end up in jail. It’s business as usual, but Jigen thinks it might be time to call it quits. This latest caper, filled with AI drones and dudes with high-tech weaponry, left a lot to be desired for the antiquated trigger-man. Things just ain’t how they used to be – maybe that’s a sign for Jigen to hang up his hat. “The Times” is a deeply introspective episode, with a meta-contextual mood that begs the question, “Why are we still doing this?”
Looking back on 50 years of Lupin the Third, not much has really changed. Sure, Lupin has changed his coat a handful of times, and the artstyle has had a few facelifts, but at its core, this series has remained true to its roots. The fact that Lupin the Third has remained relevant for half a century is a testament to the infallible characters Monkey Punch created all those years ago. No matter the time or place, Lupin is the gentleman thief and Jigen his right hand man. Goemon is the reliable rival and Fujiko the fickle femme fatale. And of course, Inspector Zenigata will be hot on their trail. These characters have outlived the word trope, ascending to their own gold standard. WE know why they’ve kept it up all these years, but in the context of Episode 0, the reason for their continued cops-and-robbers boils down to a timeless, wholesome bond between these characters.
What “The Times” lacks in plot, it makes up for as a character piece. This episode is a slow-boil with plenty of playful downtime and no-nonsense dialogue – its pitch perfect for a guy like Daisuke Jigen. Each of the token cast members gets a moment to reflect on that larger-than-life question, but ultimately, it’s Jigen’s choice whether he sticks around or not. Goemon is frustrated that Lupin isn’t more concerned about Jigen’s possible departure. Lupin responds with a poignant portrait of their relationship and why the two have remained partners in crime all these years.
“When times change, I adapt to them. That’s how I’ve always lived. But Daisuke Jigen is the only man who never said a word and just accepted me no matter who I was. He’s the only stable thing in my life. And maybe that’s why I’ve been able to stay true to myself. So it’s simple: No matter what he decides to do, I return the favor by accepting it just the same.”
After 50 years of heists and hijinks, the bond between Lupin and Jigen needs no lengthy explanation. Why has Jigen stuck around with Lupin this whole time? Well, life’s just more fun that way.
The times, they are a changin’. But Jigen baby, you don’t gotta change a damn thing.
With “These Times”, time has come full-circle for Lupin the Third’s 50th anniversary. For the newest installment, Lupin dons the green jacket once again, harkening back to the series’ origin. In the same vein, we say goodbye to the last remaining remnant of the original anime production. Thank you for all of your work, Kobayashi-san. As far as I’m concerned Kiyoshi Kobayashi is and forever will be Daisuke Jigen. With that said, I’m looking forward to Akio Otsuka’s performance.
What did you think of this review?