I’m only including the 1971 and 1977 series because I haven’t had the time to watch all of the 2015 series yet (which made me decide to exclude Fujiko Mine as well). And the 1984 wasn’t objectively good, so there wouldn’t be any of those episodes here anyways. I’m doing 11 because there are too many good episodes, and I couldn’t shorten it further. I’m only speaking briefly about all of them and will probably talk more in depth on each in the future.
11. “A Flower of Suicide Blooms in India” (1977, episode 60)
With a title like that you know you’re bound to see something interesting. And what you get is just non-stop and complete nonsense, but in a good way. Some India terrorist made a suicide ray, Zenigata shoots himself twice and misses, Lupin turns into a manic trying to kill himself and they are all saved by literal bullshit.
10. “A Trap for a Trap!” (1977, episode 63)
The 1971 and 1977 series vary greatly in tone. I love the prior of its coolness and intensity mixed with humor, as you’ll see with some of the later ones on this list, and the latter for its exaggerate and insane stunts straight out of classic Warner Bros cartoons. This is another of those insane episodes. Once the plot got started it had me in non-stopped laughter. A millionaire tries to pretend Lupin stole his fortune with holograms to avoid having it given away, only to have the real Lupin pretend to steal it with more holograms, resulting in chaos, confusion and lovely inspector impersonations.
9. “Beware the Time Machine!” (1971, episode 13)
The anime introduction to the franchise’s most reoccurring villain, Mamou Kyosuke who’s appeared in one movie and one episode, which was based on a manga chapter. Mamou is out to kill Lupin by killing one of his ancestors, and the way Lupin evades this is very clever, if not a slight stretch. But seeing Lupin actually frightened for once is interesting, though it is toned down a bit from the manga, where he was reduced to cowering under a blanket (lol…).
Mamou’s backstory is slightly varied in each of his incarnations, but basically Lupin’s descendants “steals” someone from him. In this episode, he kills his whole family, in the more recent movie, he steals his girlfriend. Times have changed…
8. “The Great Gold Showdown!” (1971, episode 24)
The last episode of the first series. Although the heist is awesome to watch, I put this lower because there has been much cooler. Still watching Zenigata’s blow up in front of his boss is awesome and the ending always brings a smile to my face.
7. “Killer Sings the Blues” (1971, episode 9)
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that before this episode Lupin and Fujiko’s relation was honestly more acquaintance-y than love interests. Lupin does try to kiss her once or twice, but he’s like that with everyone. This episode cements that he really cares for her and she returns his feelings. Fujiko gets shot and kidnapped by an old partner/boyfriend and Lupin must rescue her and get her medical help. His method for get up to a well defended cottage is brilliant (I know I’m saying that a lot, but it’s true), and it reminds me why this is my first and favorite OTP.
6. “The Magnificent Team-Play Operation” (1977, episode 137)
This episode is a magnificent combination of brilliant and hilarious. The team must practice an extremely difficult stunt for a heist involving throwing rocks at diamonds, shooting the diamonds and collecting it in a baggy attached to an arrow. Hilarity ensues as the gang blindfold themselves and start shooting at each other. Eventually they all beat the shi*t out of Lupin for making them to sometime so idiotic. The performance during the actual heist is completely brilliant, perfectly timed with an awesome jazz score in the background.
5. “You’re a Cat, I’m a Dried Tuna” (1977, episode 106)
Sigh. Too funny. Too cute. So much love. A bratty lady pretends Lupin steals her pencil shaving eating cat so she can get famous. Lupin sets out to find her cat (which doesn’t exist) to clear his name. He finds a cat and gets attached to it. The cat eats pencil shaped fish paste. ^0_0^ ~meow
4. “The Day the Old Man Died” (1977, episode 98)
Cuteeeeeee~ I love the ones that show Lupin and Zenigata as friends, and this is one of the best. Zenigata is killed, but not really, and everyone thinks it is Lupin. Lupin doesn’t believe he’s actually dead, and tries to steal his body. At the end, there’s a cute little salute from Pops.
3. “The Emerald’s Secret” (1971, episode 14)
The mystery is easy to solve, but this one is good for other reasons. There’s third way rivalry before Lupin, Fujiko and Zenigata for a jewel, Lupin hides in a wedding cake, and Zenigata does an adorable dance.
How can you not love this man?
2. “Let’s Catch Lupin and Go to Europe” (1971, episode 15)
Probably one of the best back and forth rivalry moments between Lupin and Zenigata. They are totally neck and neck in this one, and the pacing is super fast from start to finish. Zenigata eventually fails, as is the destiny of most antagonists, but this might be the closest he’s come.
1. “One Chance to Breakout” (1971, episode 4)
My head could just explode. This will probably forever me my favorite episode. There’s no beating it though a recent episode from the 2015 series tried, it couldn’t live up to this raw classic awesomeness. The ending is just brilliant and is actually almost do-able in real life. Honestly just mind blowing, and it shows that “crying wolf” can sometimes be a good thing. I don’t want to say more, because this one really just has to be seen.