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Anime / Lupin III: Episode 0: First Contact

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Lupin III: Episode 0: First Contact first aired on Japanese network NTV on July 26, 2002 and is the fourteenth of the Lupin III Yearly Specials. Directed by Minoru Ohara, it was created to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Lupin III franchise on TV, as marked from the debut of the first series.

In a smoky bar, a reporter named Elena begs Jigen to tell her the story of how the Lupin gang originally met and came together. She tells him how Lupin is always too distracted to tell her the story, so she needs Jigen to tell her. After much cajoling, Jigen begins to tell the story:

Years ago, he was in the employ of a mafia boss named Galvez. Galvez's most precious possession was a rare treasure from Japan, an indestructible metal case containing the instructions to a great treasure. Two rival thieves, Lupin and Brad, are after the treasure. But when tragedy strikes, Brad's girlfriend Fujiko takes up his cause in revenge. She, in turn, is being pursued by a dogged Japanese detective, Zenigata, for her crimes in his country. Meanwhile, a samurai named Goemon is searching for a lost sword that would be worthy of his skill, one that would also open Galvez's sealed case. As the plot thickens, all five characters are drawn together...

This special was extremely well received, especially by the (small in number but very dedicated) Western fans. After multiple entreaties by fans to Funimation failed, Discotek Media licensed and released it in 2009. It is notable for being the first Lupin III anime released on DVD in North America without a corresponding English dub.note  There is, however, a DVD Commentary track from Fandom VIP Reed Nelson.

More than a decade later on December 13, 2021, Discotek announced a up-scaled, remastered Blu-Ray release of the special, featuring a new English dub commissioned by TMS Entertainment themselves with the "Red Jacket" dub cast, released on April 26th, 2022.

Complete spoilers below — don't read further if you don't want to know how this caper turns out!

This TV movie features examples of:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Zantetsuken's cutting ability is a major plot point of the film.
    • The sharpness of Zantetsuken is shown off before it even slices through anything when Goemon opens the case containing it, as it lets off a blinding light that eventually subsides with Goemon holding the blade in his hand.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: After refusing to shoot Jigen, Lupin tosses his gun to Galvez, who decides to shoot Lupin himself. Turns out, Lupin had a trick-gun swapped out and the one he tossed to Galvez had a spring-loaded boxing glove in the back that punched Galvez in the face when he pulled the trigger. Lupin burst out laughing, and Jigen slowly broke out laughing as well.
  • All Asians Wear Conical Straw Hats: Justified in the case of Goemon, the tradition-obsessed samurai is wearing it to keep his head dry.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Jigen and Goemon when they're attacked by Galvez's men.
  • Big Eater: Zenigata orders ten hamburgers and finishes them all.
  • Bound and Gagged: Fujiko is captured, bound and gagged and used as a hostage to force Lupin to shot Jigen.
  • Cigar Chomper: Galvez, constantly seen with one in his mouth or his hand.
  • Chase Fight: The duel between Lupin and Goemon. Lupin runs away as an increasingly frustrated Goemon tries to fight him. It begins with Goemon on foot, chasing Lupin in a car, then they're running on top of cars, as well as around Central Park. Lupin mostly just wants to escape.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Fujiko, of course. During the course of the movie, she manages to betray Lupin, Galvez, and Shade.
    • She's accused of betraying Brad as well, but the Narrator hints that Lupin picked up some subtle body language from her telling him that she truly loved him.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Zenigata singlehandedly takes down three drug dealers. Who later turn out to be undercover officers. Whoops.
    • He also takes out a STREET of toughs, in order to interrogate them on Lupin's location. Subverted when you see Zenigata is just as badly beaten up as the people he's left on the street.
  • Decoy Backstory: Played with. Jigen tells a reporter the story of how Everyone Meets Everyone, especially Lupin, but the climax has Fujiko and Jigen appearing out of the shadows to complain that the story "Jigen" just told was a bunch of bullshit. But then they steal the MacGuffin from the "bullshit story"...
  • The Dragon: Shade to Galvez.
  • Embarrassing Rescue: Lupin saves Jigen from Galvez's goons. Jigen is not pleased.
  • Episode Zero: The Beginning: The movie is a prequel explaining how the gang all met. Maybe. Not the only Origins Episode this franchise has had, but it is an Origin.
  • Everyone Meets Everyone: The whole point of the "Episode".
  • Expy: Shade heavily resembles Neo.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Pretty much how Lupin's gang comes together.
  • Foreshadowing: Lupin tells Jigen that robbing the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is his dream, and he could do it if they worked together. Guess what Lupin and his gang rob during the credits.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Jigen at the end, when he decides to join Lupin instead of fighting him.
  • Ignore the Fanservice: Fujiko takes a shower in Jigen's apartment, comes out in just a Modesty Towel, and tries to seduce him by leaning over to show her generous cleavage off, and then when he ignores that, starts to drop the towel. He uses the barrel of his magnum to hold it on her body while simultaneously threatening to shoot her if she tries that again. This is also a slightly defining moment for Jigen, as he is the only one consistently unaffected by Fujiko's appearance (even Goemon is affected; he just blushes and looks away when she's naked, though).
  • Implausible Fencing Powers: Goemon can cut lightning.
  • Incendiary Exponent: Lupin and Goemon's fight, just as in the other two versions of their meeting.
  • Infernal Retaliation: Lupin sets Goemon on fire, with a squirt gun! Goemon returns the favor with rope. The next time Lupin tries it, Goemon deflects the liquid, and the fire sets a tanker truck on fire.
  • Latex Perfection: Lupin begins the movie disguised as a woman, and steals the key to the Clam of Hermes disguised as Crawford. In the end, it's revealed that Jigen, our Narrator, is really Lupin.
  • The Mafia: Jigen worked for them as a gunman.
  • MacGuffin: The Clam of Hermes.
  • MacGuffin Delivery Service: Galvez and Fujiko plot to have Lupin steal the key and then steal it from him. Lupin is aware of this, but he still ends up captured.
  • Mugged for Disguise: Lupin lures the NYPD director into a news van, and after the sounds of a scuffle, steps out wearing his clothes.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The movie contradicts Goemon's introductions in the manga and the first TV series, but the fight between Lupin and Goemon is filled with references to both of them.
    • George McFly resembles and plays a similar role to Akechi Kogoro from the original pilot film.
  • No MacGuffin, No Winner: The scroll ends up being destroyed. Which technically means Goemon wins.
  • Older Sidekick: George McFly for Zenigata.
  • The Rival: Jigen to Lupin, at first.
    • Brad also served this role for Lupin, until Shade killed him.
  • Sleeping Dummy: Lupin uses one to fool Galvez's hit men.
  • Skewed Priorities: At first, Zenigata is tasked with hunting down and arresting Fujiko, with McFly acting as his partner. Once Lupin sends his calling card, Pops starts to shift his focus from Fujiko to his eventual eternal nemesis, with the key turning point being the heist at 9 PM Eastern Standard Time.
  • Success Through Insanity: Zenigata, natch. When he is barred entry from the building Lupin is planning on stealing from, he manages to find a sewer entrance that links into an Air-Vent Passageway, which somehow brings him from the basement to the top floor! Even Lupinnote  was freaked out by this level of commitment.
  • Theme Music Powerup: When Lupin, Jigen, Fujiko, and Goemon are together for the first time in Galvez's basement, the new version of Lupin III '78 starts playing just as they begin kicking ass.
  • Unreliable Narrator: At the end it's flat-out said that things didn't go how they're narrated. While the credits make clear that some of it happened thanks to the appearances of the sliced open Clam of Hermes and an older George McFly, how much and when remains unknown.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Except for the frame story with Elena, the entire special is one big flashback.


Lupin III: First Contact

Fujiko tries to seduce Jigen. He's having none of it.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / IgnoreTheFanservice

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