"Requiem for the Assassins"
Synopsis: Several assassins are themselves being killed off and Goemon is one of their targets! Goemon approaches a fellow killer, a woman named Beladonna from the same hit squad he was in to assassinate an African warlord. Can their old target's bodyguard, a man who shoots a Winchester M70, still be alive, looking for revenge? It's a tale of death, promises, and betrayal, and no matter how you slice it, Goemon will cut to the heart of the matter with his Zentetsuken!
It's rare that we get an episode that focuses on the workhorse of th Lupin gang, the perpetually anachronistic Goemon Ishikawa XIII. Our stoic, sword-swinging samurai began as Lupin's would-be killer, one that he only barely staved off, partially out of pure blind luck. Goemon eventually joined Lupin's gang and has been doing all the real work ever since, cutting through near anything and everything (except konyaku gel). Oftentimes Goemon's role in the plot of a Lupin feature will be downplayed, because he's sort of overpowered, and could readily solve most problems they encounter quite handily on his own. It really depends on the writer, though. (What in fiction doesn't?) So perhaps fittingly, Lupin and Jigen don't appear in this episode until the very last scene and Fujiko doesn't appear at all (even Pops shows up but not her?).
Like most Goemon-related episodes and features of the past, Goemon finds himelf faced with some kind of rival assassin, this time in the form of somebody's bodyguard thought to have been killed in the past during an assignment he undertook with several others. The episode's flashback to this incident features a host of different assassins all given the same mission to kill a military dictator of a small African nation. Beladonna, the girl of the week, was one of the new faces in the crowd of hitmen, and Goemon and her were partnered for their part of the job, with Goemon promising to protect her, but her ending up doing so for him. As such, Goemon has pledged some sort of samurai life debt, and is determined in present time to prevent her death from an avenging threat. Goemon, despite his hardened look, is almost as big a sucker for a woman as Lupin. In fact, perhaps moreso in some ways, because Lupin nearly always suspects an ulterior motive (he just doesn't care), while Goemon is naive and believes the best of any woman in every case until proven wrong.
Naturally, Beladonna turns out to be the real team-killer, gunning down her former partners at the behest of their benefactor, Leopold Fago, a corrupt politician who wanted the tinpot dictactor out of the way for his own purposes, and now wants to silence those who knew about it. This is an understandable goal, but also kind of stupid, because assassins tend to keep those sorts of things under their hats. If he was so damn concerned with keeping things hushed, he never should have appeared at the meeting with the assassins to begin with, and sent a proxy. Who actually goes to meet the assassins themselves? What a doofus. And he shows what a doofus he really is by shredding his credibility with Beladonna, who'd do anything for him, which leads to his own death. Dingus.
This was one of the more brutal episodes of the series, as you might expect from an episode about a hit squad being killed off one-by-one. Though there are some of what they call "gore discretion shots", in this case some sillouted violence where you can't see the details of, say, a sword piercing a woman in midair. Ouch. It's not quite as brutal as some of the moments from the Fujiko TV series, but that makes it a bit more accessible to fans of the lighter fare. Lupin anime can be equal parts wacky and dark, and the gradient is long. I think the amount of violence in this episode served the narrative well without overstepping.
Goemon may have even less luck with women than Lupin. Well, he did get to penetrate a lady in this! Ohohohoho.
4 out of 5