[From April Issue 2011]
Lupin III Episode 0: First Contact (Directed by OHARA Minoru)
Lupin III was originally based on an action-manga magazine serial that ran for about two years starting in 1967. It was then turned into an animated TV series years later, at which time the magazine resumed publishing as an accompaniment. Though comical, the Lupin III series are well-liked by all generations for the characters’ philosophies and style.
Monkey Punch, the writer of Lupin III, was inspired by Maurice LEBLANC’s “Arsène Lupin.” The series’ main character is supposed to be the original character’s grandson. He steals treasures all over the world and is hunted for by each country’s police forces. Millionaires and crime organizations want him dead. But he really isn’t a treasure hunter or collector. His raison d’être is in the art of the steal.
This program was specially broadcast in 2002. It tells of how four characters encountered one another: Lupin III, who is nimble and good with disguises, but also easily excitable with a weakness for beautiful women; JIGEN Daisuke, quiet and stubborn, but a crack shot; ISHIKAWA Goemon, a master fencer, who is a direct descendent of ISHIKAWA Goemon, a historically famous Japanese thief and, MINE Fujiko, the beauty who uses men to get money and jewels. Inspector ZENIGATA also makes an appearance as he attempts to incessantly track them all down.
The setting is New York City. At the request of a female journalist, Jigen begins to recount his encounter with Lupin. It happened while he was working as a bodyguard for the mafia boss, Galvez. Jigen spotted Lupin sneaking into Galvez’s residence to steal an unbreakable metal tube harder than diamonds. A shootout ensued and Lupin gave up, fleeing without it.
Later on, Fujiko, who is being pursued by Japanese police, successfully steals the tube with her boyfriend Brad. However, now she needs the “key” to open it. Brad is then killed by one of Galvez’s men. So, she uses Lupin to get it for her. Meanwhile, Inspector Zenigata and Goemon finally arrive in New York. Zenigata is after Fujiko while Goemon is searching for a special, steel-cutting sword.
It turns out that the sword that Goeman is after is the key to cutting open the tube. Contained within the tube are instructions detailing how to reproduce the metal’s indestructible formula. The four come into contact with one another as enemies who are all seeking the same treasure. Initially, they deceive and try to kill each other, eventually having no other choice but to join forces in order to bring down the Galvez gang while eluding Zenigata and the New York Police Department.
As Jigen finishes his story, Goemon, Fujiko and another person also named Jigen all arrive on the scene. It seems that the person the journalist was talking with was really Lupin in disguise. Quickly, the four disappear before the story’s veracity could be checked. The journalist then looks back onto the Federal Reserve Bank, where the four thieves are trying to break in, with Zenigata in hot pursuit, as the film ends.