Anime Review: Lupin the Third – The Woman Called Fujiko Mine (2012) by Sayo Yamamoto

Lupin the Third has endured to grow to be one of the recognizable franchises to come back out of Japan. With new interpretations of the manga by the late Kazuhiko Kato (aka Monkey Punch) persevering with to emerge, the cheeky thief and his band of crafty acquaintances, hasn’t waned in reputation. Nonetheless, one of the experimental Lupin collection to be produced lately focuses on one in all his ever-present but most enigmatic allies – Fujiko Mine. The femme fatale takes middle stage in Sayo Yamamoto’s 2012 collection, “Lupin the Third: The Girl Known as Fujiko Mine”.

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Fujiko Mine is an exquisite and ruthless thief with a coronary heart of stone, or a minimum of, that’s what she’d like most individuals to assume. Utilizing her womanhood to full impact, she thrives on this planet of underground thievery, at all times setting her sights on essentially the most treasured and elusive of treasures. Nonetheless, her life as a thief takes a brand new path when she encounters the infamous Lupin III, who makes her his major goal. Crossing paths with new and acquainted faces, Fujiko turns into affected by complicated recollections of her troubled previous, which threaten to reveal her deepest vulnerabilities.

Undoubtedly, “The Girl Known as Fujiko Mine” is likely one of the most daring Lupin the Third diversifications to this point. What begins out as an episodic affair revealing how Fujiko got here to satisfy the acquainted faces of the Lupin franchise turns into an engrossing thriller that delves into childhood abuse, sexual exploitation, and private insecurity. The overarching narrative tying the collection collectively doesn’t pull any punches when exploring Fujiko’s previous, which is becoming for an anime that has mature themes at its entrance and middle. As the feminine felon’s journey goes on, we be taught extra in regards to the causes behind her skewed ethical compass and the complexities of her numerous relationships. Usually thought to be somebody unimaginable to determine by Lupin and others, it turns into clear that Fujiko typically struggles to know herself, with fragility mendacity slightly below her steadfast and cheeky exterior.

One of many collection’ most notable components is its concentrate on Fujiko’s sensuality and the way she makes use of her femininity to get what she needs. Fujiko typically sleeps her means out of, and one thing into, problematic conditions and takes benefit of the truth that she’s the article of need for a lot of males and even some girls. Nonetheless, whereas there’s undoubtedly a component of cheek and humor to her romantically manipulative ways, there’s extra at play regarding how her sexuality is offered. Relatively than her frequent nudity and promiscuousness feeling exploitative, its inclusion makes for an efficient means of finding out and even critiquing the traits which have come to outline Fujiko in different Lupin the Third media. Exploring Fujiko’s sexuality on this extra express method not solely presents the thief as an empowered feminine anti-hero but in addition highlights the tragedy of her magnificence, in that she is commonly discarded as not more than a trophy for her male friends. It’s no coincidence that the trio of Jigen, Ishikawa, and Lupin all lust after Fujiko all through the collection, with the latter initially viewing her as a treasure to be gained.

Whereas the main focus of the collection is rightfully on Fujiko, we additionally get the prospect to see different recurring Lupin characters in a distinct gentle. Essentially the most drastically modified determine is the often goofy and loveable Inspector Zenigata, who right here is offered as a hardened, cynical, and at occasions intimidating determine. Lupin is as devilishly crafty as ever, whereas Jigen and Ishikawa are handled to darkish backstories detailing their first assembly with the femme fatale. By Fujiko’s eyes, we see a distinct and considerably grislier aspect of our acquainted band of characters, and it’s one which Lupin traditionalists may not like.

As with most anime collection, “The Girl Known as Fujiko Mine” has its lulls, with a handful of episodes not residing as much as the excessive normal of the remaining. Essentially the most notable instance of an episode derailing the character-driven narrative solely is “Music and Revolution”, which follows a weird Cuban Missile Disaster-esque plot, which sees Fujiko turns into concerned with a Fidel Castro-like determine. That is the one episode that looks like an entire departure from the central narrative and, whereas mildly entertaining by itself, provides little to the restricted collection. An analogous case might be made for “Jail of Love”, through which Fujiko poses as a trainer at an all-girls college to develop shut to 1 significantly rich pupil. Whereas introducing some narrative components that return later within the collection, this episode options a much more cold-hearted Fujiko, whose inappropriate and callous ways make her really feel like a wholly totally different character.

What’s certain to be essentially the most putting characteristic to first-time viewers of the collection is its beautiful artwork type. A darkish but diversified shade palette dominates the wealthy, primarily European environments to present the anime a suave and noir-like environment. Opera encounters, carnival escapades and mafia showdowns enable for a breadth of beautiful backdrops, which preserve the collection visually recent. The character fashions are a far cry from the predominantly playful and cartoon-like Lupin animations we’re used to, as they as a substitute intensify a few of the loveable solid’s extra grotesque and hardened options; Fujiko’s shapely determine is exaggerated to determine her magnificence whereas Jigen’s twirling beard look sharper than ever. The tough depiction of each the characters and the environments are contrasted with explosive bursts of psychedelic imagery that first present up within the opening titles and have extra closely because the collection progresses. This distinct type of animation is likely one of the greatest attracts to the collection and, together with Naruyoshi Kikuchi’s sultry jazz-dominated rating, units a darkly romantic tone.

With “The Girl Known as Fujiko Mine”, we take a welcome deep-dive into one in all Lupin the Third’s most beloved characters. Sayo Yamamoto explores and exposes the complicated, conflicted, and weak traits mendacity simply beneath Fujiko’s shimmering floor, efficiently elevating the character from bit-part participant to main woman. The present unpacks Fujiko by means of the eyes of others earlier than bringing her again to the perky persona that we all know and love. The tough artwork path is a pleasure to behold, with the collection being one of the visually distinct anime of the 2010s. A darkish, mature, and comparatively brief endeavor, Yamamoto’s collection is important viewing for Lupin followers.

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