I recently watched Lupin the Third: Daisuke Jigen’s Gravestone, a spin-off of Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, which shares its gorgeous artwork. I thought it was absolutely incredible. I think one of my favorite things about it, and what I especially like about the original Arsene Lupin short stories, is that it presents a seeming impossibility and then has Lupin figure out exactly how it’s mundane.
Spoilers ahead, so go watch it if you’re interested.In Daisuke Jigen’s Gravestone, Jigen (and eventually Fujiko and Lupin) is being pursued by a famous assassin: Okuzaki Yael. To their consternation, Jigen and Lupin find that he is seemingly omniscient, able to predict their movements, and able to make seemingly impossible sniper shots by predicting exactly when they’ll run out of cover.
But in true Lupin style, there’s no such thing as the impossible. With just a few logical certainties and facts, Lupin is able to deduce exactly how Yael works. Firstly, if it’s impossible for Yael to make such shots without seeing them, then he’s not doing so. He must have some way of seeing them. Secondly, the police of East Dorea, where they committed their latest theft, is easily able to track them down no matter what they do. Thirdly, Yael is a sophisticated engineer, able to build complex machines.
From these, Lupin finds the answer. East Dorea can track them so well because of its ubiquitous, hidden security cameras. Yael can see them because his engineering skill has allowed him to build a special eyepatch that lets him see what the cameras do, allowing him otherwise-impossible vantage points that let him make his amazing shots.
I thought it was very clever and well done. There are definite hints throughout the movie, but during you first watch-through, you’re unlikely to connect the pieces of the puzzle before Lupin does. Instead, Yael appears to have some sort of supernatural ability to predict their movements and fire a bullet before they’re even visible to him, the probability of which is increased by his flamboyant habit of constructing a tombstone for his victims before they’re dead, and rolling a dice to decide exactly how many bullets he’ll expend to assassinate them.
As I said, it reminded me of the rationality found in the original Arsene Lupin stories. Whatever’s impossible can’t happen, so our assumptions must be disregarded. In The Invisible Prisoner, it is impossible that the thief left. Therefore, he must still be on the premises. In Arsene Lupin in Prison, it is impossible for the thief to have broken into the castle without Ganimard and his men noticing. Therefore, the thief did not come from outside the castle. Stories like these are my favorite Arsene Lupin works. If I ever write a mystery myself, that’s probably the template I’ll use.