Recap / Lupin IIIS 2 E 36

"Expose the Secret of Tsukikagejoo"note , with the English title "The Secret of Tsukikage Castle". Released in 2004 by Geneon on Volume 7: Royal Scramble.

Goemon has requested help with a job from his friends Lupin and Jigen, involving a trip to the secluded Tsukikage Castle, located high in the mountains of Japan. The journey there is interrupted by an ambush from the mysterious Fuma ninja clan, who burn up Lupin's car and attempt to trap and kill the gang. Lupin and friends escape, but not before the leader of the ninjas recognizes Goemon's style of fighting.

The gang arrives at the castle on foot, and Goemon explains why they are there: an eccentric and rich old man named Kuranai. When he passed away a few years earlier and without an heir, he decided to leave his wealth and treasures to the one who solved the riddle of his home, the titular castle. While no one knows of the exact contents, one of the rumored treasures is Tsukikagemaru, a powerful sword that Goemon wants. As Lupin pays the castle admission, a group of local dignitaries arrives, lead by a beautiful woman who will instruct them in the art of the tea ceremony. As the gang walks by one of the ceremonies being performed, Goemon gets an odd feeling about her, which Lupin dismisses as Goemon forming a crush.

The gang climbs to the top of the castle, where Goemon finds scroll with an odd riddle: "When the top of the tree pierces the sun, to the mountain beyond the moon goes down." Lupin believes it has something to do with the big mountain near the castle, but a fed-up Jigen decides it's too much work and heads off for the inn. Lupin and Goemon continue exploring the castle itself, but are lead outside the castle and into a trap by the tea ceremony instructor, who turns out to be the leader of the Fuma. There, the two find Jigen, cornered and blinded by a special powder. Telling his friends to cover their faces, Goemon blindfolds himself to protect him from the powder, and then takes out the flying ninjas, allowing them all to escape and leaving the fuming Fuma leader behind.

The gang takes the temporarily blinded Jigen back to the hotel, where they meet up with Fujiko. Letting her in on the situation, she advises them to walk away, but Lupin has resolved to help his samurai friend. As they discuss the situation, Lupin is suddenly clued into the solution to the riddle by a flickering neon sign across the street from their hotel room. The riddle refers to kanji characters: putting the character for sun in the center of the character for tree creates the character for east, while writing "the mountain beyond" and covering up the lower radical of moon leaves the character for north.

With this, Lupin, Goemon, and Fujiko head for the northeast tower of the castle, called the Demon's Gate. There, they find a broken grandfather clock, stopped at 8:49:42, and with the pendulum pointing sharply to the right. Lupin takes the facts back to the hotel and spends the whole night trying to unravel the riddle, but to no avail. Goemon, annoyed, accuses Lupin of being uninterested in the whole thing and declares with the trouble from the Fuma they should just give up. While Lupin takes insult and renews his work, Fujiko offers to take the still blinded Jigen to the doctor. However, the two are accosted by the Fuma en route and Jigen is taken. Fujiko is sent back to Lupin and Goemon with a message: if they haven't figured out the answer to the riddle by 5:00 P.M, Jigen will be killed.

Lupin's ruminations are interrupted by Inspector Zenigata, who has tracked the gang to the hotel in his usual determined fashion. He references a quote about catching things, which gives Lupin the big hint needed to figure out the riddle. He thanks Pops, but not before Pops also reveals he was in Tokyo the day before, and he saw Fujiko out on a date! The gang confronts "Fujiko", who turns out to be Shinobu, the Fuma leader herself. She reminds the gang of the threat before disappearing.

At 5:00, Lupin and Goemon meet the Fuma at the Hachiman Shrine as promised, where Lupin gives them the answer to the riddle: the numbers on the clock refer to the order of the 48 phonetic Japanese letters. Saying them backwards results in "Shi-ya-chi", or fish, referring to the two ornamental fish on the castle roof. As the hands of the clock are pointing left, it indicates the fish on the western side of the castle holds the treasure. Jigen is turned over to his friends, and the Fuma disappear.

That night, under cover of darkness, both the Fuma and Lupin's gang go for the treasure. The Fuma ascend to the roof using special kites, and Goemon borrows one to fight Shinobu, but his line is cut by another Fuma. He manages to land safely, and is joined by Lupin on the roof, while Jigen distracts Zenigata at the castle gate. Lupin, however, is distracted by Shinobu just long enough for the Fuma to fly the stone fish off of the roof using their kites. While Shinobu gloats, Lupin heads for the other fish, noting that he made up the part of the riddle about the hands. The indicator of which fish was the clock's pendulum, which was pointing in the opposite direction. Sure enough, a secret trigger opens the fish and out pour gold coins that cascade down the castle roofs like a waterfall, landing on Zenigata. The Tsukikagemaru is also in the fish, and Goemon triumphantly claims his prize as Zenigata calls for assistance. Goemon and Lupin still escape by sliding down a rope sent up by Jigen, but Zenigata begins furiously throwing gold coins at them, severing the rope like his famous ancestor as one last gag.

This episode features examples of:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Look, it's Goemon episode. Trust us, it's all over the place.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Fuma have infiltrated the hotel room...oh, it's just Fujiko. And later averted, as it really is the Fuma!
  • Blindfolded Vision: Goemon takes out the Fuma while blindfolded.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Shinobu is more dangerous than all of her mook ninjas put together, as Goemon aptly demonstrates time and again.
  • Continuity Nod: Shinobu refers to Goemon at the beginning of the episode as "Goemon of Iga."
  • The Determinator: As Lupin says of Goemon:
    Lupin: Even when you kill him, the guy just won't die!
  • Implausible Fencing Powers: Goemon blocks ninja stars with his sword. Then he blocks them while on a kite. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • Latex Perfection: Shinobu for Fujiko.
  • MacGuffin: The Tsukikagemaru, which Goemon obtains, but is never seen again. As a bonus, the sword is stored with the rest of the treasure, A MacGuffin Full of Money.
  • Ninja: Enter the Fuma Clan.
  • Shout-Out: And a bit of a Genius Bonus. In Japanese, Lupin declares the view from the top of the castle a "masterpiece" and strikes a kabuki pose, echoing a famous line from Kinmon Gosan no Kiri, the famous kabuki play about none other than Goemon Ishikawa the first!
    • Later, Zenigata begins throwing coins like his Famous Ancestor, Heiji Zenigata.