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Episode 0: First Contact was released in 2002 and is the fourteenth of the annual Lupin III Made-For-TV Movies. It was created to celebrate the 30 anniversary of the Lupin III franchise on TV, as marked from the debut of the first series. Discotek Media released it in the United States in 2009 as Japanese language only; it is notable as being one of the few Lupin releases without a corresponding English dub. There is, however, a DVD Commentary track from Big Name Fan Reed Nelson.
In a smoky bar, a reporter named Elena begs Jigen to tell her the story of how the Lupin gang originally met and came together. After much cajoling, Jigen begins to tell the story: years ago, he was in the employ of a mafia boss named Galvez. Galvez's most precious possession was of a rare treasure from Japan, an indestructible metal case containing the instructions to a great treasure. Two rival thieves, Lupin and Brad, are after the treasure, but when tragedy strikes, Brad's girlfriend Fujiko takes up his cause in revenge. She, in turn, is being pursued by a dogged Japanese detective, Zenigata, for her crimes there. Meanwhile, a samurai named Goemon is searching for a lost sword that would be worthy of his skill, one that would also open Galvez's sealed case. As the plot thickens, all five characters are drawn together...
This TV movie features examples of:
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: Zantetsuken's cutting ability is a major plot point of the film.
- Back-to-Back Badasses: Jigen and Goemon when they're attacked by Galvez's men.
- Big Eater: Zenigata orders ten hamburgers and finishes them all.
- Biker Babe: Fujiko rides a motorcycle for much of the movie.
- Cigar Chomper: Galvez.
- Chase Fight: The duel between Lupin and Goemon. Lupin runs away as an increasingly frustrated Goemon tries to fight him.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Fujiko, of course. During the course of the movie, she manages to betray Lupin, Galvez, and Shade.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Zenigata single-handedly takes takes down three drug dealers. Who later turn out to be undercover officers. Whoops.
- The Dragon: Shade to Galvez.
- Embarrassing Rescue: Lupin saves Jigen from Galvez's goons. Jigen is not pleased.
- Everyone Meets Everyone: The whole point of the episode.
- Fire-Forged Friends: Pretty much how Lupin's gang comes together.
- Foreshadowing: Lupin tells Jigen that robbing the Federal Reserve Bank is his dream, and he could do it if they worked together. Guess what Lupin and his gang rob during the credits.
- Heel Face Turn: Jigen at the end, when he decides to join Lupin instead of fighting him.
- Implausible Fencing Powers: Goemon can cut lightning.
- Incendiary Exponent: Lupin and Goemon's fight, just as in the other two versions of their meeting.
- Infernal Retaliation: When Lupin sets Goemon on fire, Goemon returns the favor.
- Latex Perfection: Lupin begins the movie disguised as a woman, and later disguises himself as Crawford. In the end, it's revealed that in the parts with Elena, Jigen is really Lupin.
- The Mafia: Jigen worked for them as a gunman.
- MacGuffin: The Clam of Hermes.
- MacGuffin Delivery Service: Galvez and Fujiko plot to have Lupin steal the key and then steal it from him. Lupin is aware of this, but he still ends up captured.
- Mythology Gag: The movie contradicts Goemon's introductions in the manga and the first TV series, but the fight between Lupin and Goemon is filled with references to both of them.
- No MacGuffin, No Winner: The scroll ends up being destroyed.
- Older Sidekick: George McFly for Zenigata.
- The Rival: Jigen to Lupin, at first.
- Sleeping Dummy: Lupin uses one to fool Galvez's hit men.
- Theme Music Power-Up: When Lupin, Jigen, Fujiko, and Goemon are together for the first time in Galvez's basement, the new version of Lupin III '78 starts playing just as they begin kicking ass.
- Unreliable Narrator: An argument about this at the end of the film ensues.
- Whole-Episode Flashback: Except for the bits with Elena, the entire movie is one big flashback.