Episode 02, "The False Playmaker"
Synopsis: Professional footballer (that's soccer player for Americans and Japanese) Mario Brozzi has a problem. Not only does he need to dope to get an edge in the game, but gangster Riccardo Mondini has blackmail on him concerning that doping. "San Marino's treasure" Brozzi seeks out the help of Lupin and the gang to steal the photos and records that would indict Brozzi from Mondini, who owns a rival team. Can the world's greatest thief assist the nation's favorite player? What does MI6 have to do with this? And is the carbonara any good? A sly gambit and spirited car chase is all in a day's work for Lupin III!
I have to admit up front, my complete disdain for soccer probably had an effect on my overall enjoyment of this episode. I don't like soccer. I think it's a weak, dull sport where effete, shorts-wearing Eurotrash prance down a field kicking a big ball and then break for Capri Sun and orange slices from the moms of the players.
Hm, I could be confusing professional soccer with my experience with soccer as a child. Needless to say, I was that kid staring into the sky, picking his nose. But it's at least more interesting playing it than fucking watching that shit. I'd rather get a root canal than sit through the World Cup and yes, I resent the increasing popularity in this country. Fuck soccer.
Fuck hooligans. Fuck Arsenal. Fuck Liverpool. Fuck Chelsea. Fuck David Beckham. And fuck American soccer players, too. I can't name any, because I'm an American.
But then, I'm a (casual) hockey fan, and I think there are even more soccer fans in America than hockey fans at this point.
But what can be more European than soccer? And specifically, Italy is pretty big on soccer, and thus it makes sense for Lupin and the gang be availing themselves of the constant matches on TV (though with a little gambling to make it interesting) while in the Boot Country. The only thing more Italian is the carbonara on Lupin's plate as he plays computer chess (who just takes their laptop into a restaurant?).
Well, this episode's heist involves retrieving a file folder of health information about a star player who appears to be 'roiding up. Now, while retrieving a file folder would have been perfectly unquestionable in the 1970s, we tend to have these things called computers in 2015 that you can use to do other things besides computer chess. You see, you can't actually "take" information. If the gangster has anything resembling a fucking brain, he'd have made several COPIES of the medical records. He'd have, you know, put them on a computer. A thumbnail drive or the like. Instead of, you know, in a wall safe, like he was hiding a stash of random jewels.
Point being, he easily could have made several copies of the blackmail material, as any intelligent criminal would have. But fortunately, this particular crime boss is, in fact, so heroically dullwitted, that as soon as Lupin makes his getaway, that's it, that's the end of the scheme. The guy somehow gets the medical records of the star player on the rival team of the team he owns, even has pictures taken by some hidden camera of the player shooting up something, and yet he isn't intelligent enough to make several copies of this blackmail stuff?
Fortunately, that idiocy is partially obfuscated by the short but sweet car chase that has Goemon sitting perfectly still on the roof of a speeding Fiat and Jigen using his marksmanship skills. It's no Cagliostro or Fuma chase, but that'll do, pig. That'll do. I also enjoyed that in the end, it turned out that Brozzi's drug habits were to alleviate his eye sight problems, which made him dizzy. The drugs left traces that could be mistaken for steroid drug use, and if it got out that he had eyesight problems, he'd be sidelined, and he was sure it would affect the team's performance (unlike having a player who can't see shit, which is apparently no big deal, because he's a great player regardless, like he's Matt Fucking Murdoch). Brozzi couldn't let it be known he was taking medicine for the intended purpose, but he also couldn't let it be thought he was taking performance enhancing drugs, either. Naturally the dumb crime boss was trying to get him to pay up or take a dive, or somesuch, to benefit the team owned by Scummy McDumbass. But Brozzi was an honest guy after all, he just didn't want to let his team down.
I like that. It makes for a kind of touching ending, especially when you find out what Lupin's payment really was. Perhaps a little sappy and soft for Lupin, but that's okay now and then. And with the show still looking beautiful, I can take kind of a dud story if it's got enough mitigating elements that I can latch onto.
Not nearly as good as the first episode (invest in a scanner, Mondini), but about as good as any typical episode of the first two Lupin TV shows. Come to think of it, the second episode of the Red Jacket Series (Lupin III Part II) involved soccer, too, didn't it? Weird, but I recall enjoying that one more. Maybe because they were stealing FROM soccer, not stealing FOR it.
The Italians like hockey, too, right?
3 out of 5