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Once again, I have cut a worthless object.

— Goemon


Goemon Ishikawa XIII is the thirteenth generation of renegade samurai, a descendant of the historical figure Ishikawa Goemon. He is usually quiet and participates in Lupin III's exploits less frequently than Jigen.

Creation

Monkey Punch came up with Goemon as he felt like the manga needed a more Japanese character.[2]

His original plan was to have a descendant of Nezumi Kozō, however, famous manga artist Osamu Tezuka had already come up with the idea. The idea was later done for Part 2 Episode 23. It was thought that Goemon was either based on Soshi Okita, a 19th century samurai who was also a noted swordsman[3] (and who is also a character in another Monkey Punch manga, Bakumatsu Yankee) or Kyūzō from Seven Samurai (who Britt, the Magnificent Seven character Jigen was based on, was inspired by).

Origins

In the original manga, Goemon is one of Lupin's targets; he wants to steal the secrets of how to make Goemon's sword, or in the American release, the secret on how to make gold. In later issues, Goemon is sent by his masters to kill Lupin, but after failing many times, he decides Lupin could be a valuable teacher to him, and joins his side.

In Part 1 Episode 5, which is Goemon's first appearance in the anime series, he is tricked into going against Lupin by Old Man Momochi, who wants them both out of the way so he can claim the title of the world's greatest assassin. The two both outwit him and survive. Two episodes later, Lupin attempts to steal the sword formula; after being outsmarted, Goemon gets revenge by slicing Lupin's car in half. After both break down into homeric laughter over the situation, Goemon decides to join the gang. The two episodes pull in several elements from the manga stories.

In the 2002 TV special "Episode 0: First Contact", Goemon met Lupin when he was searching for the Zantetsuken, the only sword he felt worthy of his abilities. Lupin, Jigen, and Fujiko all served as adversaries until being forced to work together to survive. There are hints that parts of the story may be made up at the end of the special, however, so it is unclear if whether or not it can be considered canon.

Appearance

Further information: Goemon Ishikawa XIII/Gallery

Goemon's typical outfit resembles that of a stereotypical sword-wielding samurai; his wardrobe primarily consists of a traditional kimono and an andon hakama, which is a type of undivided tube skirt-like pants. His kimono is typically colored light pale blue (in The First it is colored an even darker shade of blue) with the exception of Part 4 having it be a light pinkish color and Part 5 having it be a light yellowish-green color. The color of his hakama also varies, but it is usually a much darker color compared to his kimono; however, in the manga, the Pilot Film and in Part 1, it was colored white.

His hair is long and somewhat unevenly cut, because of his refusal to get a proper haircut. Occasionally, he is seen wearing a sandogasa.

His face is usually visually similar to Lupin III, which allows him to dress up like him without having to use masks as demonstrated in Goodbye Partner. In Part III, he sports a cleft chin. For Parts 4 and 5, he was given a more youthful appearance (most especially in Part 5), which Part 6 discards in favor of a more masculine face for Goemon.

In some special occasions, he can be seen wearing a black kimono with bits of white on it.

Personality

Goemon has an extreme sense of pride in his abilities, and when he cannot accomplish a task, he usually feels extreme shame and remorse. Breaking Zantetsuken, as he did in a battle with Flinch from Mystery of Mamo, is a common cause of shame. He will also show chagrin when he succumbs to his weaknesses, as when a woman ran off with his sword in Tokyo Crisis. On many of these occasions, Goemon will leave to meditate or further train to rid himself of his weak points.

Goemon's most oft-seen way to pass the time is meditation; during inactive moments, even with potential danger near, he is usually seated on the floor with legs crossed, eyes closed. So deep is his trance that's he's virtually unmovable from this posture.

Goemon shows allegiance to Japanese culture as strictly as his traveling and unique lifestyle can allow, always seen dressed in his traditional Japanese clothing. His preferred food is Japanese cuisine, which is one of his two great weaknesses, as cops & a few enemies have used his favorite foods to lure him into traps. He has also been bribed into doing things he doesn't want in exchange for Japanese food. He is a firm believer in Buddhism and Shinto. Although he may toast with champagne, his drink of choice is sake. On occasion, he has been seen smoking a traditional bamboo kiseru. His favorite music is enka, or as Jigen calls it, "elevator music".

Unlike the other four main characters, he doesn't smoke, although the credits of Lupin the 3rd Part 5 show he won't refuse a cigarette if he was offered.

Due to his personality, he also has problems dealing with technology. In Part 4 Episode 17, Goemon was unable to drive the Fiat as he didn't know what pedal was the brake. This is pushed further in Lupin the 3rd Part 5 where he was unable to use a smartphone and had to in one occasion ask local children how to use the phone or to use a camera with Lupin helping him. Despite this, there are occasions where Goemon is adapted to modern society, such as using a mobile phone or driving without any issue. The degree to which he is capable of using technology varies depending on the series, film or TV special. Notably, Goemon is at one point implied to be good at video games as he has the top score in a Xevious leaderboard.[4]

Although typically a person of mellow aloofness, Goemon has been seen exploding or crying with frustration, avoiding looking at beautiful women, and occasionally screaming in fright. Such out of character moments are usually treated as humorous takes. If Goemon has one true weakness, it is that he's even weaker with women than Lupin is. He readily trusts any woman who seems superficially trustworthy or innocent, often landing him in much trouble. At the same time, he fears sultry women will distract him from his training and tends to blush or flee when any woman puts him in a less than a modest situation.

Goemon is also bad with money. He falls for any scam that states will show the path of enlightenment, and he also constantly charges Lupin for his services in some fashion. What he does with the money is usually a complete mystery. In $1 Money Wars he gives it to the female leader of a cult, who promptly runs off with it.

Commonly thought to be just a samurai, Part 2 Episode 21 has Goemon visiting his Ninja sensei. This episode depicts him as having had the training of a master ninja, perhaps giving some reason behind his willingness to find thievery as an acceptable practice, in spite of his samurai ways.

His preferred sport is fishing.

According to Lupin, he has a weakness for his dear ancestors. As well as teaming up with Nezumi Kozō, Goemon was also willing to steal a ukiyo-e of Goemon Ishikawa I with Lupin.

He is the most religious & celibate member of the team, especially in Part 3, where he often nags Lupin about his sinful relationships. But once in awhile he comes across a woman who turns this into a personal struggle to avoid hypocrisy. In the end, he can't even look at a naked woman for more than 2 seconds without closing his eyes & freezing in place shivering, making women an excellent tool for rendering him useless. Fujiko and some of Jigen's exes have given him the view that women are to be protected but not trusted.

He is compassionate to those in need or those who have died, such as in Part III Episode 26 where he finds what he thinks is a body washed up on the Hudson river.

Goemon has other weaknesses that are used against him, such as his desire to protect children and his fondness for Japanese food (traits he shares with Zenigata, but to a more intense degree). He is bad at resisting pleas from children despite his best efforts to ignore them. If a child is hurt, he feels a deep need to avenge them. He once got stuck with a kid with a note claiming it was his, and even though he admitted it was impossible (unlike Lupin, who has had a lot of sexual experience), he treated the child as his own until it ran off with the other kids back to the acting school. Japanese food is something he can be easily bribed with. He will go out of his way to track down the only restaurant in town with Japanese cuisine. Wasting Japanese food or ruining his meal is one of the fastest ways to invoke his fury.

His portrayal by Lex Lang, from the Geneon dub of Part 2 onwards, gives him a wide vocabulary which is a subject of humor from the other characters. However, unlike in the Japanese dialogue, Lang's Goemon isn't above using colloquial words ("Ah, the old exploding bear trap in the ass trick."). This is appropriate to his early anime characterisation, where he is strictly traditional, but is willing to try new things once in a while.

In the original manga, Goemon's personality was very inconsistent for more than half the series. He was extremely emotional; crying a lot, short tempered, vengeful, a little happy-go-lucky, frequently making a variety of bug-eyed, furious & excited faces. If Lupin told him to seduce a woman as part of a plan, he was willing to do so.

Skills

Goemon Ishikawa XIII is a lifelong adherent of a number of Japanese martial arts, particularly Kenjutsu, Karate, Jujutsu and Iaidō. His training gives him many extraordinary talents, i.e. underwater breath control for diving without an aqualung, and a limited understanding of the supernatural. He can easily best several trained thugs in unarmed combat and catch an arrow or a thrown dagger with his bare hands. His trademark skill is near-superhuman fleetness, enabling him to slice bullets in half before they make contact. It should be mentioned that, despite the deadliness of his weapon, Goemon will never take a human life unless challenged to a duel, and even then only if the opponent reveals a dishonorable nature. Although his Zantetsuken sword gives him a virtually undefeatable advantage, it is Goemon's talent with the weapon that proves more valuable in a pitched battle. Goemon, like the rest of the Lupin Gang, is also talented at disguises and impersonation, speaks several languages, and is a trained driver and pilot, although he prefers being a passenger rather than taking the driver's seat.

Goemon had exceptional cold tolerance, being able to stay in snow or deep water dive with no protection from the elements, often flaunting this by wearing only his loin cloth. He nearly always refused to wear socks in the snow, choosing to go in nothing but sandals, & nearly always refused to wear a diving suit. He has also been shown to be resistant to tickling sensations, as shown in an episode in the second series where Lupin tries to tickle him underwater.

He is an adept fisherman, taking it up as a hobby in Part 3. He functions as team nurse, nearly always being the one to apply bandages & treat wounds. He is the backup rescue for the team, showing up at the last minute to rescue someone in a dire situation. He's the other team scout aside from Lupin, sent on solo missions to follow someone or sneak in & relay information back to the team. He is the team shield, standing in the front of the line to deflect waves of bullets with his sword.

Despite these strengths, he has been known to have several weaknesses. While it varies from episode to episode, Goemon claims he is bad with technology. He is rarely seen driving or operating machinery, and he finds robots to be creepy. As he is a living anachronism, going by old feudal Japanese ways, this is not surprising. Jigen also claims that Goemon is a terrible liar who wears his emotions on his face, thus Lupin will often not fill Goemon in on plans. Goemon is still an expert when it comes to keeping secrets under duress & will not say a word under torture, demonstrating a high pain tolerance as well.

Zantetsuken

Goemon is an incredibly gifted martial artist, both in hand-to-hand and melee combat. However, he is best known and usually employed for his skills in Iaidō and the famous Katana that he uses. His sword goes by the name of Ryusei (流星, "shooting star") in the manga, but it is better known as its animated incarnation, Zantetsuken (斬鉄剣, "iron-cutting sword").

The katana can cut anything and everything: airplanes, cars, tanks, skyscrapers, and even lightning and a meteorite have been sliced apart by the blade. Its keenness has never been so proven than in the surreal moment when Goemon cut the "film" his animated world was drawn upon, effectively slashing his entire universe in twain. Objects cut by Goemon will fall apart a couple of seconds after he rends them, usually after he has snapped Zantetsuken completely into its sheath. Goemon's speed and skill are such that he can block submachine gunfire with the blade. To Goemon's distaste, most occasions require Zantetsuken to cut unworthy inanimate objects, rather than his using the sword for its designed purpose, namely in a battle against a suitably talented opponent.

Zantetsuken has had a number of origin stories over the years, including having been made from the metal of a fallen meteor or made from a special alloy passed down through Goemon's clan. In his first TV appearance, the sword is described as being forged from three famous or mystical Japanese swords.[5] A common explanation for its existence is still argued, but its strength and sharpness are constants in every Lupin III incarnation. However, Zantetsuken has also been known to chip or break when applied to a particularly tenacious surface; usually, its failure indicates circumstances are the worst possible for Goemon and the rest of Lupin's gang. It is unknown how Goemon has the blade repaired after such damage however in Part 1 Episode 7, it is possible for the Zantetsuken to be strengthened as two blacksmiths had work done. It is revealed in Part 2 Episode 61 that the sword has at least one known weakness; it cannot cut a yam based gel named "Devil's Tongue", because its sticky properties adhere to the weapon.

The second series also gives Zantetsuken a more mystical ability; on a few occasions, the blade acquires a shadow, showing death lurks nearby for Lupin and his gang. This started in Part 2 Episode 7. Likewise, when the shadow disappears, it shows that the danger has passed. This trait of Zantetsuken appears to be unique to Shin Lupin III, however, and has never been used in any version of Lupin III afterward.

In Part 2 Episode 131, the sword lost its cutting power, something that happens every 100 years. The only way to return the power to the sword is to make a kind of wedding celebration with the "female" version of Zantetsuken. This "female" sword is smaller than the "male" one, but with the same cutting power. At the end of the ritual celebration, Zantetsuken regained its power. Unfortunately, the female sword fell into a pool of magma. It seems that the female sword is lost forever. If it is confirmed, Zantetsuken can maintain its cutting power only for the next 100 years.

Zantetsuken is also the source of Goemon's most famous catchphrase, "Once again, I have cut a worthless object," ("またつまらぬ物を斬ってしまった。", "mata tsumaranu mono o kitte shimatta.") which he says whenever he uses Zantetsuken to do something spectacular that he nonetheless considers mundane (for instance, cutting down a helicopter chasing his friends in The Mystery of Mamo, as well as another helicopter in The Castle of Cagliostro). This has been referenced many times in other anime and manga and has become something of a joke within Lupin itself. In Da Capo of Love: Fujiko's Unlucky Days, Lupin even tells Goemon, "No one is better at cutting worthless objects than you!"

Reception

In 2007, Oricon magazine polled readers on which characters they would most like to see in their own series. Goemon appeared in the number eight position on the female readers polls, and seventh place in the combined poll.

Notes

Name

Further information: Name Variants#Goemon Ishikawa XIII.

Goemon's Japanese name has a lot of variations:

  • In the original manga and in Part 2, it is written as 五右ェ門.
  • In the pilot film, it is written as 五右ヱ門.
  • In Part 1, it is written as 五右ヱ門 in the opening and as 五ヱ門 in the end credits.
  • In more recent works, it is written as simply 五エ門.

When romanized, all of them simply mean "Goemon".

As seen above, the multiple variations come from some Lupin media adding a 右 ("u") and/or using ヱ ("we") instead of エ ("e"). As it is the one most commonly used nowadays, the variant that will be used for his Japanese name will be 五エ門.

Other

  • According to The Castle of Cagliostro Dictionary Book, Goemon's birthday is on August 16. This is the only time when a date for his birthday was given.[1]
  • In episode 10 of Steins;Gate, the main character Okabe says (in the dub) about one of his inventions: "Number 5, aka 'I've connected yet another trifling thing," similar to Goemon. This is a reference to Goemon's catchphrase, "I've cut another worthless object."
  • In the original manga, Goemon is drawn with the same face as Fujiko, plus some thick eyebrows, & is the only man in that series to be drawn this way.
  • According to Part 2 Episode 113 Goemon's biggest weakness are women.
  • According to Part 2 Episode 135 he hates ketchup.
  • There was an account that Goemon was created due to a complaint. When Monkey Punch went to Comic Con in San Diego despite his editors telling him not to go due to the language barrier, a woman was disappointed when she asked for his autograph and he drew a sketch of Lupin, she thought that it was not Japanese enough.[6]This account is inaccurate since Comic Con was founded in 1970 while Goemon's first appearance was in 1968 and Monkey Punch would have been unaware of the convention at the time. It is also used in Japanese Wikipedia in their creation section.
  • The man Lupin stole from in the chapter Golden Opportunity describes him as looking like Souji Okita, the captain of the first unit of the Shinsengumi.
  • When Goemon is saying "Once again, I have cut a worthless object" in the original Japanese, he says "つまらぬ" (tsumaranu, "trivial"), an old-fashioned way of saying "つまらない" (tsumaranai, "boring"). It is a result of his strict adherence to old/traditional Japanese culture.[7]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Lupin World. lupin-3rd.net (in Japanese)
  2. Monkey Punch Interview - Lupin III: Dead or Alive Funimation DVD
  3. Lupin III: World's Most Wanted TokyoPop / Essay by Gilles Portias
  4. Lupin the 3rd Part III: Episode 43
  5. Part 1 Episode 5
  6. 『Pen』No.315-「完全保存版ルパン三世全解明」―『ルパン三世』を生み出した、5人の男―より。Pen No.315 - Complete Preservation Version: Lupin III Complete Clarification - The Five Men Who Created Lupin III (in Japanese)
  7. https://epjapanesey.com/goemons-quote-once-again-i-have-cut-a-worthless-object/ Goemon’s Quote “Once Again I Have Cut A Worthless Object” - Easy Peasy Japanesey
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