Presenting the newest in social media services: PeopleLog, the social network that can predict a person’s actions before they make them. How will Lupin survive in a world where even average people can predict every move he makes? Remember, if you like this article and 5 Point Discussions, please share it on Facebook or Twitter! It really helps. And if you’ve got any comments or questions, please hit me up @SageShinigami.
1. The start of “An Outdated Master Thief” features Zenigata and his partner attending a conference by ShakeHanz CEO Enzo Bron, there to reveal his latest technology: PeopleLog. PeopleLog is Facebook and Twitter merged into one, with the benefit of even more advanced predictive AI. With PeopleLog, information is collated from across the web about individuals and used to verify new claims and information. This is easily the most topical Lupin’s ever been–the final boss is literally social media, something that’s proven a danger to the world for the past several years now. Worse, the system was created by a technically brilliant but seemingly socially inept techbro who’s honestly stupid enough to believe it’s fine to go through with a thing so long as it’s “what the people want”.
To Zenigata’s credit, he sees PeopleLog for what it is: a disgusting invasion of privacy that our society isn’t responsible enough to deal with. And throughout most of the episode we see consequences to PeopleLog. Some of them are “positive”, like allowing a woman to track down her cheating husband. Others are decidedly negative, like a business owner talking about how he can use PeopleLog to avoid looking at someone’s “padded resume”. Oh boy. Like it needs to be harder for people to get hired to work crappy entry-level jobs.
2. This episode does a great job building up the tension of PeopleLog eventually affecting our protagonists. After its introduced, there’s a growing sense of concern you have for Lupin and his crew, starting with them attempting to pull off a museum heist while in disguise. That time, PeopleLog affects a cheating husband while Lupin successfully hacks his way past the museum’s security, but when they group is finally noticed the hammer drops hard. It starts innocently enough, with them being noticed by a group of people while they’re out eating, but the full power of PeopleLog just makes things increasingly more difficult for them. The group tries to beat a hasty underground retreat, only to be tracked down because the AI knows the likely routes Lupin would use to escape.
They dodge the cops in a heated car chase, they slaughter their way through old foes suddenly aware of some of their old haunts…not even the hideout they’ve been using all series is safe. PeopleLog’s advanced facial scanning technology somehow allows people to see through all their old man disguises. It’s what you’d expect from most series finales–everything’s blowing up because there’s no longer a need for a status quo.
3. Easily one of my favorite parts about the new Lupin series is how they’ve managed to walk the tightrope between being episodic and tying all their storylines together. The interludes are cute (though there could have been fewer of them) and serve to remind us of some of the past eras of Lupin, while the actual multi-part arcs have woven a narrative with even minor characters coming back and serving an important role.
After PeopleLog leaves our gang cornered they try to escape to one of their multiple hideouts. Unfortunately, PeopleLog also offered information on their most likely hideouts, so they get a nasty surprise upon arriving: the Rat Clan, the remainders of the group they wiped out during episode 3. Of course, just like episode three they easily destroy the group, but this time it comes with consequences. Thanks to PeopleLog, the last survivor was able to describe how Lupin had killed his family. Twice. The information is automatically validated, which reveals a flaw in the system: it can’t actually detect nuance. For sure, Lupin and Goemon wiped out the Rat Clan twice, but in both cases they were only acting in self-defense.
4. Goemon tries to escape from PeopleLog’s reach by traveling out to the mountains. Which…yeah, if I were out in the middle of nowhere I’d think a social media service would be the least of my problems too, if only because who can get a signal in the middle of the forest surrounding a mountain? But apparently the same ubiquitous Wi-Fi that lets Japan play Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey via streaming over their Switch also lets them access PeopleLog. In the middle of the forest, Goemon runs into a young girl wandering around lost. Upon seeing him, she takes his picture and uploads it to PeopleLog, discovering his identity and declaring him a murderer before running away.
Not that she’s wrong–even if it’s self-defense they’re still murderers–but it’s still another example of PeopleLog being used irresponsibly. Zenigata points out early how its an invasion of privacy and Enzo’s response is that “it’s all information available on the internet”, but not everything on the internet was attained with consent. Goemon specifically tells her not to photograph him, but she ignores him because who’s ever actually listened when someone said they didn’t want their picture taken? But it’s exactly that kind of thing that becomes more important in a world where everything digital done is permanent and every moment of your existence can be viewed and reviewed like a television series.
5. The end of this episode has Lupin and Jigen driving into a forest to avoid being tailed by anyone, only to run into Zenigata. He points out that Fujiko’s been captured, and it almost seems like they’re going to team up like the credits have been hinting all series. But somehow I doubt that’s it, if only because the stakes aren’t quite big enough. While Zenigata doesn’t think highly of PeopleLog, he’s not the type to go out of his way to shut it down. Ultimately if this results in Lupin going to jail it’s pretty much the win he’s looking for, so maybe there’s another plan in mind here?
Lupin the III Part 5 is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.