LUPIN the Third ～峰不二子という女～
LUPIN the Third – MINE Fujiko to Iu Onna
Ever since I watched the raw version of Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro when I lived in Japan, I have held a fondness for the franchise, enough so that I have watched a great deal of it. While Castle of Cagliostro is certain what I consider the peak achievement of the franchise, there have been other good specials and episodes within the TV series. However, it is always a mixed bag when it comes to Lupin III. Still, when a new Lupin III TV series was announced, which would feature Fujiko, I had to watch it despite my skepticism at the art, nudity, and whether Fujiko could carry a series. While there is good in this latest Lupin III outing, there’s bad as well.
I hate style over substance no matter where I encounter it in the course of my life. Style is pretentious, trying to be something it can never be. However, with enough style in the name of art, people can and often do get caught up in it, describing style for the sake of style as brilliance in action. If this is you and that’s your thing, that’s fine by me. My words are not meant to be a personal attack against you (though as I learned long ago, sometimes folks so caught up in the brilliance of style do not take kindly to anything that attacks said style, which I figure is because deep down, they know there’s no substance behind the style).
For A Woman Named MINE Fujiko, the style starts right away with the visual look of the anime. It as if the production team says, “Look at this! It isn’t your normal anime because it doesn’t have that normal, polished anime look. Plus, we have symbolism. That means we are cool, and you will be too if you watch this!” Had this been the only stylistic offense of the series, I would have mostly brushed it off, since I got used to it, though I never did like it. I never had a problem with the character designs as such per se, but just the whole look of the anime smacked me as so pretentious, as to be really off-putting for me. So, no big-O from me on the look of this anime.
Next we come to Fujiko’s breasts, which are shown as often as possible. Again, this is another excursion into style, now with a heavy dose of exploitation thrown in, all in the name of getting lonely otaku to watch and wait for the moment Fujiko shows off the goods, allowing the otaku to have their iku moment. It made me think of a Blackadder the Third episode, where a couple of playwright-actors pen a piece called “The Bloody Murder of the Foul Prince Romero and His Enormously Bosomed Wife,” stating the the violence of the murder and the enormousness of the bosom are justified artistically. I get the feeling the director justified all of the nudity for the same reason, on top of the otaku angle.
Then, there’s the story presentation. The series goes to introduce how Lupin, Jigen, and Goemon all meet Fujiko, which is fine, but the series implies there’s a very interesting and tragic story behind Fujiko. Frankly, I was interested in knowing this. Unfortunately, the production team decides to throw in a massive plot twist at the end, thus wasting thirteen episodes to apparently say, “Fujiko is Fujiko” (or possibly “Fujiko is a bitch”). I know some thought this brilliant, but I’m not one of them. Indeed, I’m thinking, “So what does this mean? That Fujiko is someone who’s banged so many men, you need to strap a 2×4 to your back to keep from falling in during sex with her?” I like character stuff, and at the end of this, Fujiko’s character is not explored, which was unfortunate.
It was difficult to tell what era the series took place in, until the non-comedic parody of Castro coming to power in Cuba and the Cuban Missile Crisis. I have no problem with this being set in the 60’s since the original manga started in 1967. However, at times the series felt like it might be set in the late 1800s and at times, even when it was clear that the series was set in the 1960s, I felt there was some fast and loose playing with technology. I suppose it was trying to be like the old James Bond movies in that regard, with the 60s “future tech” tossed in, along with a healthy dose of LSD. Actually, watching this on LSD might have helped somewhat.
That’s not to say that this was an entirely bad series. While Fujiko in and of herself proves rather uninteresting, especially in light of the major plot twist at the end, it was more interesting seeing how Lupin, Jigen, and Goemon all became entwined with Fujiko. While it was unfortunate that Goemon and Lupin don’t meet here, I loved seeing how Lupin and Jigen become partners and friends. Further to that, Lupin’s stated goal of stealing Fujiko was something I also liked. That’s something I’d like to see further explored if there were another Lupin III TV series created. Also, actual character explorations would be something I’d like to see as well.
The character who changed the most for this series is Zenigata. Gone is the bumbling, Lupin-obsessed detective who will sometimes work with Lupin to nail a greater villain, as seen in Castle of Cagliostro. In his place is a smart detective who knows more than he lets on. This Zenigata is a darker creation, who’s not running around yelling, “Lupin,” but instead lets his gun do the talking, if needed. He even has sex with Fujiko at least once for his own purposes, using her as much as she was using him. I liked this version of Zenigata, and hope that future Lupin III incarnations as anime go with this version rather than the bumbler.
The character of Oscar, on the other hand, is poorly handled. He’s Zenigata’s right hand man, but as the cases with Fujiko and Lupin proceed, he becomes obsessed with Zenigata. When Zenigata sleeps with Fujiko, Oscar goes off the edge, and while the writers try to give Oscar some tragic backstory, I frankly didn’t care. That’s because Oscar isn’t a sympathetic character in his lust to play jackhammer with Zenigata’s arse, nor in his subsequent decent into madness to have revenge on that lust-dump known as Fujiko. Making it so that Zenigata saved Oscar as a lad doesn’t change things. Frankly, it seemed the writers didn’t know what to do with him, so they end up just abandoning him. *_*
In the end, I found Lupin III: A Woman Named MINE Fujiko to be a lot of style and very little substance. Different artwork styles, constant and pointless nudity, and a story that ended up going nowhere take up the negatives, but there are interesting elements when it comes to Lupin, Jigen, and even Goemon to an extent. I do recommend watching this, but for me, it is a one-time only viewing event.