The whole of the second episode of Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine is not simply an homage to film noir; it inhabits the shadowy, confusing space that is the heart of the genre. The visual style helps a lot, of course: The bold, sketchy character designs, hard-edged settings and moody lighting are well-suited to this type of story. Jigen more than pulls his weight, though, as the man at the center of the story. He’s the type of man film noir loved to highlight — someone who cares about honor in a world where that concept is obsolete, a man whose cynicism and suspicion provide a weighty shield for a caring heart that this warped reality cannot wait to spit on.
Jigen once found himself as a bodyguard for the type of woman who is forever surrounded by red alarms the film noir hero can neither see nor hear (or simply ignores). Now he isn’t, but they find each other once again, because it’s fate. Through all the twists and turns of the story, at the end, Jigen finds himself staring down the barrel of his beloved .357 magnum, with one decision to be made. He makes it. The result — and the story of how that decision is arrived at in the first place — is driven by the type of grand irony that makes film noir dig deep into the viewer’s skull and settle in. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, one the size of Chinatown.
Killing kind of sucks, Jigen decides. Maybe it would be better to be a thief.