Lupin III: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna – 09

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Even for a series as dark as this one, Lupin went to some pretty dark places this week.

Yes it was an Okada script this week, and certainly a provocative and interesting one – a massive improvement over the last episode she wrote personally.  I must say, though, that the degree of pure hopelessness that pervades the episode tends to suck a lot of the fun out of the series – and after all, Lupin III should be a fun show to watch, shouldn’t it?  It’s undeniably fascinating to watch it descend along with Fujiko on a path of increasing self-loathing, but it’s a bit of a downer to see her pull a trigger, fully expecting to blow her brains out.

What we have is the story of a “painted lady” (Shimamura Yu) paraded about as a circus freak – apparently raised strictly as a human canvas and unable even to speak.  Fittingly, she serves as a canvas for the emotions of the characters to play themselves out.  For Mine, the girl represents everything she hates about herself, having lived her life as a tool of others, principally the owl-ish Count Lewis Yew Armeid.  For Lupin she’s merchandise, a job.  For Jigen Daisuke, she’s something to be pitied – and she brings out the paternal instincts in him, as he tries to protect her from both Lupin (his nominal partner) and Fujiko.  Jigen’s surprising sentimentality is the strongest element of the episode, and its most humanizing one.

A constant with this incarnation of Lupin is always the eye-catching and stylish animation, and this ep is no exception.  The show never seems to cover the same landscape twice, and this time turns its eye to rural Japan.  A circus, a hot spring, a lazy river, cable lifts and a painted lady – it’s all quite striking visually.  There’s also a pretty funny take on American tourists (“I can eat sushi off your body!”) that’s exaggerated but not too much, and as you might expect as we’re back in Japan, an appearance from Goemon Ishikawa (briefly).

But really, this boils down to Fujiko and her impressive levels of dysfunction.  I don’t recall another Lupin incarnation quite like this – Lupin continues to be his usual high-energy bundle of mischief, but Fujiko’s presence is a black presence that looms over everything.  She really is crazy – wildly firing her machine gun without a thought to who might die in the process, including her “prize”.  It actually boils down to Lupin doing psychoanalysis on her in the end – diagnosing her attempts on the Painted Lady’s life as suicide attempts and forcing her to the point of suicide.  I don’t know where a Lupin series can go from here – will Lupin try and save Fujiko from herself? Perhaps Goemon will?  It’s pretty much new territory for me but given where Okada has tended to take shows in the last couple of years, I expect things to get even crazier before they’re done.

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4 comments

  1. S

    I've kind of slacked off on following this Lupin, I'll mainline through what I haven't watched when the season is over (and summer is lacking anything to watch).

    But, as one whose first Lupin exposure was Miyazaki's Castle of Cagliostro, this really is a very different take, especially with Mine. And I do wonder if recasting her Sexpot-style from "freely chosen" to "childhood sex slave" as the backing doesn't change the character at a fundamental level. It removes a lot of the "fun" to how she operates and makes it coldly clinical. Just a thought.

    The animation & style are still just something else. It's nice that Kioke & company got to go wild.

  2. A

    Episodes like this raise the bar for Lupin the Third.

    More gravitas, please. I'm looking forward to the aftermath of this episode — hopefully there won't be some kind of reset that undoes the revelations & insights into the complicated & fascinating creature whose swagger and confidence is but a mask.

  3. A

    Now, I'm pretty sick right now, and as you might know I say some pretty insane stuff while I'm drinking my Vitamin C and taking anti flu Panadol , but …

    ''I must say, though, that the degree of pure hopelessness that pervades the episode tends to suck a lot of the fun out of the series – and after all, Lupin III should be a fun show to watch, shouldn't it?''

    Normally, or rather early on the show I might have agreed (actually, I did say that this show was lacking in the fun factor the Lupin shows were known for huh … nowadays, our opnions seem to be swaping over every once in a while with Okada related topics and shows Enzo) and the disturbing implications were just really making this show darker than it should be.

    But right now, I came to not only accept it, but welcome these changes. They give this show flavour, it makes it different from the rest of what we had, it makes it unique and sends this franchise into a different territory with different possibilities.

    It certainly makes Mine a more compelling character, and certainly raises her from the takes in the older Lupin shows into a strong women.

    Mind you she’s still a horrible dishonest person, but then again that is what ever one in this show really is.

    *Goes to watch Nazo Kano X flu episode again*

  4. M

    I do not think Lupin was ever really after the girl.It seemed like he had looked into Fujiko past and figured out that she would go after the girl and why.

    That was what he was keeping secret from Jigen.Everything was about him confronting Fujiko the girl was just a lure.

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