"Don't Move The Mona Lisa"
Synopsis: Lupin III, the world's greatest thief, is broke! After a dry spell, Lupin targets the most famous painting of all time, the Mona Lisa. Of course, stealing it is no small feat with Zenigata eager to capture Lupin again, and it seems at first to be too much for the famed bandit to handle. However, there's much more than meets the eye when it turns out there's a fake painting as well as a real one... as well as another fake one! But which one is Lupin making money off selling? The Mona Lisa is smiling at the farce as Lupin tries to restore his treasury!
Stealing the Mona Lisa is an audacious scheme that seems so obvious for the world's greatest thief on the surface, but there's much more going on here than just casing Da Vinci's masterpiece when Fujiko compicates things with an extra play. But when a guy like Lupin is lacking in funds, he has to think big to stay on top, and fortunately it ends up paying off, though it's far from an easy win.
In Episode 115 of the second Lupin TV series, "The Mona Lisa Smiles Twice", Lupin attempts to bag the famous painting, but things become confusing when he keeps running into fake ones, to the point where by the end, thanks to a crafty conterfieter, nobody can tell which one is the real one, and the conterfieter himself becomes an exhibit in the Louvre. Clearly, just as the previous episode was a new take on the fourth episode of the first series, this is a new take on that classic episode, with a brand new twist. I'm shocked that there haven't been several episodes, TV specials, and movies involving the Mona Lisa, given what an obvious target it would be for a thief like Lupin with French blood and a love for expensive art. Perhaps writers have just thought somebody must've done it already (though they did, who would remember in a sea of episodes and movies?), so there was no reason to retread it.
One of the little history lessons in this episode concerns the Isleworth Mona Lisa. Like the one in the Louvre, it is a painting of Lisa del Giocondo, wife of the man who comissioned da Vinci. The painting was found by an English art collector, and is said to be an unfinished version of the painting, perhaps a prototype for the "real" one, though its authenticity has been disputed for decades. In the case of this episode, a very convincing version of the painting is in play in the struggle to get the real one, along with another fake, and Lupin has to deal with that in an effort to regain the money he lost when he was captured.
Though that leaves me to wonder what Lupin III actually does with all the treasures and money he gets from either selling them, or money stolen itself. In the TV special Stolen Lupin, the antagonists (as well as Fujiko) are all after the "Lupin collection", but at the end it's revealed Lupin never keeps his purloined booty for long. Even given that, why should having his wallet confiscated by MI6 or the ICPO render him hard up for cash? Surely he keeps some stashed away. And even if he personally doesn't, Jigen or Goemon do. Does Jigen smoke through his money and Goemon hit the sake too hard? Does Lupin keep all his money in his wallet? Why would he take his wallet with him to go confront MI6 about the Dream of Italy? Was he planning on stopping on the way back at the ATM? IT JUST DON'T ADD UP!
Kind of a middling episode, overall. The information about the Mona Lisa was interesting, as was Lupin's experiences dealing with the millionare, the corrupt politician, Zenigata, and Fujiko. But it wasn't terribly inventive and the twist wasn't much of an improvement on that second TV series episode, outside of the production values. I enjoyed the Jigen-as-Lupin fakeout, though, and I do like to see Lupin and the gang triumph now and then.
I guess Lupin won't have money troubles for a while, though, with that huge mansion he built from selling the millionare the "forgery" which was actually made by... get this... a MI6-resurrected Leonardo da Vinci, now one of those artists that paint out on the street. Yeah, we'll see more of him later. Doesn't take a Renaissance Man to paint that picture.
3.5 out of 5