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"Falling Cherry Blossoms - The Mysterious Gang of Five - Part I", with the English title "Kooky Kabuki - Part One". Released in 2005 by Geneon on Volume 11: From Moscow With Love.
In Shinjuku, Tokyo, a hotel is hosting an art exhibition of the famous 36 Views of Mount Fuji. Inspector Zenigata, lamenting the seemingly limited security the hotel has, goes to inspect the exhibit the day before the opening. He finds the door to the exhibit hall unlocked, but is then blown off of his feet by a sharp blast of air. An old man, apparently in charge of the exhibit, finds Zenigata and explains the depressurization is part of a the security system. However, the old man takes great pains to point out the system's major flaw: the frames holding the pictures in place are made of a super alloy, but the glass is still breakable. The old man then hastily locks Zenigata out of the room and pulls off his mask, revealing he was Lupin all along. He proceeds to do exactly as described, using the air pressure to break the glass in the frames and suck the pictures themselves into a hole in the floor. In the hotel kitchen, disguised as a cook, Jigen catches all of the pictures in a trash can and casually loads it into the back of a van parked behind the hotel. The three thieves make a run for it.
As they drive along, Lupin declares that Fujiko will be excited to see the pictures. Jigen and Goemon berate Lupin for bringing her into it, reminding him of the pictures' value and that Lupin shouldn't just give them away out of lust. Goemon suddenly spots something amiss on near a temple, and the thieves stop the van; cherry blossom petals blow around them, even though it the wrong season for them. Looking up, they spot a group in kabuki costume at the top of the temple steps. Each person introduces themselves in the style of a kabuki play: the leader Damemon, the dangerous Kikuko, master of disguise Rihei, tracker Jusho, and gang muscle Manmaru. Together, they are the Mysterious Gang of Five, and they seek to take the 36 Views from Lupin. They promptly disappear in another cloud of petals, leaving behind a very confused Lupin, Jigen, and Goemon.
Hastily, the gang makes their way to their secret hideout near the temple and admire their loot. Lupin excitedly remembers that Fujiko doesn't know, but when he goes to pick up the phone, a single petal blows past his hand. Fearful that the Gang of Five has somehow penetrated their hideout, Lupin and friends rush out to confront their rivals. The Gang of Five assaults them with old-fashioned weapons and a boulder, but Lupin's gang succeeds in chasing them off. Realizing the attack has caused them to leave the prints unguarded, they rush back to the hideout, where they find one of the prints missing, and a note in its place warning that the Gang of Five will be back for the rest. Lupin puts the remaining prints in his custom safe, but it suddenly occurs to the gang that Fujiko doesn't know what's going on, leaving her vulnerable to an attack from the Gang of Five.
Lupin rushes to Fujiko's house. Luckily, she's lying in her hammock in the backyard taking a nap. She's seen an article in the paper about Lupin's caper and wants to know if he's behind it. When he says he stole them because his girlfriend has a similar name to Mt. Fuji, Fujiko gets excited, believing Lupin stole the prints for her. As Lupin stumbles for an answer that won't ostracize her, he reveals he's locked them away because someone else is after them. She wants to know how their being kept safe, and so Lupin reveals the safe is voice-activated and password locked, giving her the ridiculous password to show how secure it is. Fujiko laughs, calls Lupin an idiot, and then reveals she is actually a disguised Kikuko and has tape-recorded Lupin saying the password. As Lupin charges the fake Fujiko, a pair of handcuffs knock him out from behind. Kikuko has called in Zenigata, who delays Lupin just long enough for her to escape.
Kikuko and Damemon promptly head for Lupin's hideout, where they play the recording and open the safe door. However, they quickly find that Lupin wasn't quite as dumb as they thought and the safe contains another safe with an electronic keypad on it. In another part of the hideout, Goemon is tending to Lupin's head; while Jigen chews him out for letting Kikuko trick him, Lupin reveals that when he fell forward from Zenigata's blow, he managed to plant a tracking device on her. Before the gang can use it to follow the Gang of Five to their base, and hopefully Fujiko, they receive a call from the Gang, demanding the keypad code in exchange for Fujiko's life. Lupin calls their bluff, refuses to give them the code, and he, Jigen, and Goemon follow the tracking device's signal.
The signal leads them to a lake, and tied to a spire on an old boathouse in center of the water is Fujiko. Goemon sneaks back to the hideout while Jigen and Lupin confront the gang and bargain for Fujiko. Lupin tells Kikuko and Damemon the code; the two leave, but not before setting the boathouse on fire with flaming arrows once Lupin and Jigen set foot there. The two thieves struggle to put the flames out as they try and reach Fujiko before she gets roasted.
Meanwhile, Kikuko and Damemon arrive at the hideout, and this time successfully open both safes. However, Goemon is in the second one. He confronts the Gang of Five, who admonish him for giving up tradition to work with Lupin, a man who always puts the women he lusts after before honor, and who uses Goemon's skills without thanks. They appeal to him by citing the traditional tools and methods they use to perform their capers. Pressuring him, Goemon finally cracks and swings his sword, but instead of attacking Damemon and Kikuko, he splits the safe door in half and then lets Zantetsuken fall from his hand as he kneels before them.
Fujiko is being burned alive, Lupin and Jigen can't rescue her, and Goemon has just betrayed one of his oldest friends.
This episode features examples of:
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: In this episode, Goemon gets to cut apart a boulder and a solid steel vault door.
- Anime Hair: Kikuko's hair is a normal color, but her hairstyle is just...odd. Justified, as the next episode reveals.
- Arrows on Fire: The last part of the Gang of Five's trap.
- Cherry Blossoms: How the Gang of Five makes their first appearance.
- Conflicting Loyalty: Goemon, between his old friends and the traditional ways of the Gang of Five.
- Damsel in Distress: Fujiko, for the second episode in a row.
- Dramatic Unmask: Kikuko, after Lupin reveals the password to her.
- Face Heel Turn: Goemon, in the end.
- Foreign Queasine: In the English version, Goemon's traditional cure for bruises:
Goemon: Lupin, please, it's a remedy from my ancestors.
Lupin: What the hell is it?
Goemon: Well, actually, it's scorpion poop.
- Hotblooded Sideburns: The confrontational Kikuko has them.
- Kabuki Sounds: Throughout, but especially the Gang of Five's introduction and their confrontation with Goemon.
- Latex Perfection: Kikuko for Fujiko. Also parodied; the disguised Lupin takes great pleasure in pulling on Zenigata's face, accusing him of being Lupin.
- Meaningful Name: Kikuko; "kiku" means chrysanthemum in Japanese, and she has chrysanthemum blossoms decorating her kimono.
- Stock Ninja Weaponry: The Gang of Five's tools.
- The Password Is Always Swordfish: In the English version. To be specific, the password is "Aye-ahh! Swordfish, open sesame, and other crap like that!"
- To Be Continued: The second and final two-part episode in Shin Lupin III.
- Tracking Device: Lupin manages to sneak one into Kikuko's hair.