It feels good when your hunches are validated. Dropping into this series cold, I felt like it just had to be based on some side-story about one of Lupin III’s ancestors, because the lead seems exactly like what the master thief would’ve looked like if he were operating in historical Japan. Well, a little online research reveals that, in fact, Monkey Punch did the character designs for this show, so my intuition proved right.
I also suspected that the lead might be voiced by Hiroaki Hirata, the gruff and eccentric character actor who played the leads in TIGER & BUNNY and SPACE BROTHERS. Turns out it’s actually Kazuya Nakai; whom I had previously confused with Hirata when he was voicing Mugen in SAMURAI CHAMPLOO. While my guess wasn’t right, it’s at least supporting my thesis that these two dudes sound very similar, so double kudos on me.
Anyway, what about the show itself…?
This pilot was absolutely all over the place. What initially looked like it was going to be the simple story of a Robin Hood-like hero in the Meiji Restoration (I think?), somehow leads to the sublimely-absurd sight of that same character transforming into a superhero and chopping an entire fortress in half with his bare hand as if it were a stack of plywood. I’m still pretty confused about how we got from Point A to Point C but, holy shit, if I wasn’t outrageously entertained along the way.
There are plenty of other surreal non-sequitors in the show - - from a couple of sack-cloth homunculi to a literal rain of coins to - - and I’m just as befuddled as to how they all fit together. However, there’s just something so inherently appealing about this good-natured n’er-do-well “Roman” that made all that messiness play positively. Out of all of the pilots I’ve watched this season, this is definitely one of most entertaining.
At the least, it’s not about MMO’s gettin’ real, right?
Watch this episode, "A Lavish Banquet of Raining Coins" here and decide for yourself.