Posted on 28 June 2012 with categories: Anime Reviews, Lupin III - Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna



As the spring season approached, it seemed clear what would be the series with the most interesting staff working behind it: Sakamichi no Apollon, the director of Cowboy Bebop coming back after many years of absence to work with some of Madhouse’s top animators and the always lovely music from Yoko Kanno. And then a new Lupin series got announced.

Seriously, the people involved in this project: it’s directed by Sayo Yamamoto, who directed Michiko e Hatchin, the scriptwriting powerhouse of the recent years Mari Okada wrote the series composition, Shinichiro Watanabe (the same director of Cowboy Bebop) did the music production, Takeshi Koike is behind the character-designs, and on top of them there are some episodes written by Dai Sato (the guy who wrote Ergo Proxy and Eureka Seven) and Junji Nishimura, the director of Simoun. All of these people are responsible for masterpieces, and here they were stuffed into one single project. The result is a breath of fresh air.

Now, I do have to admit one thing:: the influence of all of them is clearly visible, but don’t expect any of them to surpass themselves here. Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna is far from as good as the series that these people became known for. When you set the standard lower and compare it to the series that have come out in the recent years though, it really stands out as something unique that anime definitely needed.

This series just oozes style from beginning to end. The character-designs are just gorgeous and every episode is just chock full of inspired images and artwork that go completely against the trend of current anime. There is a TON of nudity in this series, but the fanservice is completely different from the juvenile fanservice you see in all the other shows these days.

This series is really focused on adventures, just like the Lupin series it’s based on. This time though, the one who stands in the center is Mine Fujiko. The episodes are all varied and very different from each other, and they all are chock full of references and homages to other works of fiction that use often-used female character tropes, which it then proceeds to subvert completely. Seriously, the huge amounts of boob in this series may not make it so apparent, but Mine Fujiko is a very strong and independent character.

Beyond this, this series is also a whole lot of fun to watch: there are some episodes that have great chase scenes, others have great action scenes, yet others are much more focused on well written dialogues and yet again others thrive on using weird plot twists. It’s a really well made series.

There are a few things that do hold this series back though. First of all there are the character-designs in this series: they look gorgeous and really detailed. But they also are really hard to animate consistently, and yet, the creators definitely try to animate as much as they can. The result is unfortunately a lot of jerky movements and facial movements that just look off or strange.

The second is that this series has little character-development, but that’s just a minor issue. The creativity that went into the characters and their re-imaginations, complete with how they play off each other more than makes up for this. This is why I love remakes for anime: a lot of them are really made by fans of the franchise who don’t care about trying to recreate them as accurately as possible, but want to give their own spin to them, and Mine Fujiko to u Onna is no different. the more I write about this series, the more complete it starts to feel, and that’s a sign of a really good series.

Storytelling: 8.5/10 – Loads of variety and a bunch of great scripts that come together really well.
Characters: 8.5/10 – The characters are used really well and play off each other wonderfully. This excuses the sometimes jerky acting more than enough.
Production-Values: 9/10 – Very artistic and unique. The art is where this series set itself apart among the many shows with gorgeous graphics this season.
Setting: 8.5/10 – Where this series rocks is how there is so much to be read in between the lines. It’s a homage and a parody at the same time, and it references a wide variety of different works and uses this really well.

Suggestions:
Michiko e Hatchin
Seikimatsu Occult Gakuin
Ultraviolet: Code 044

Posted on with categories: Lupin III - Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna

So, what did Lupin decide to end with? With an exposition episode. I really expected an epic action-packed episode instead, but this works too, even though it’s a kind of ending that’s very easy to screw up by rushing through things way too much, or turning the story into something completely different.

This episode was slightly rushed, and it actually was completely different from the rest of the series, but it worked. I like the balls of the creators to go with an anti-climax like this: throughout the enitre series we’ve seen it established over and over again that Mine Fujiko was abused and raped as a childBut no, she was just brainwashed at some point and she had always been a thief like she is now. It’s awesome to see that the creators had the balls to go with such a creative ending, rather than going with the most obvious type of ending and I really appreciate this creativity.

So in the end, we still know very little about who Mine Fujiko really is, but she doesn’t have a ham-handed backstory that screams “pity me!”, and instead we’ve got a main villain with one heck of a messed up backstory. The ending was pretty much a “life goes on”-ending with Mine Fujiko getting revenge on the girl that kept her brainwashed for years, her mother is left behind in her own castle without her daughter, Oscar disappeared, and everyone else pretty much ends up doing what they’ve been doing all along. Normally I’m not too fond of these types of endings, but here they strangely fit: Lupin is a series about adventures, and this series was just a small sample of the places that these people go to. Best ending of the season so far? I’d say so.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 22 June 2012 with categories: Lupin III - Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna

Now this was good. This was a completely trippy episode that had even more visual symbolism than usual. It was both gorgeous, fun and disturbing to watch. It’s in this arc in which we finally get to see the full extent of the trauma that Mine Fujiko had to endure. While all at the same time Mari Okada is on a roll again with bringing her beloved Oscar back on top of introducing yet another person dressing as Mine Fujiko. Dressing up really is a large theme in this series, especially considering how often Fujiko dresses up as someone else.

One thing I’ve noticed is that blogging this series turned out to be more difficult than imagined, mostly because I don’t have much to say about the individual episodes. They really are things to be experienced and there are a lot of very imaginative pieces of art amongst them, and this episode was the same. Just watch this trip.

I do have to say though that the final third of this series is without a doubt its best. It’s filled with imaginative and meaningful episodes that all attempt to be really creative in all kinds of ways: script, setting, theme, mood. And they’re all completely different. The variety between them is great.\It’s here where this series gets much more cohesive, and it really fits this series better than the random stories of the first half of the series.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 14 June 2012 with categories: Lupin III - Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna

This was another Mari Okada episode. And one impression I’ve gotten after watching this episode is that she really likes Oscar. This was the second episode devoted to him and his crush on Zenigata. Whenever this show focuses on Oscar it suddenly gets so full of shoujo-vibes, completely different from the rest of this series. It’s great for variety’s sake, not to mention that we actually have a bisexual character in a series where the rest of the cast is just straight.

Having said that though, I do have to point out that the end of the episode suffered from one huge flaw in Oscar’s logic: why jump along with that bomb? I mean, couldn’t you just… drop it or something? Right now, his end is basically that he was trying to be someone who impressed inspector Zenigata, he got indirectly rejected and couldn’t bear this so he committed suicide. Was that the image the creators were going for? Still, I liked this episode a lot again. Perhaps also due to this shoujo vibe it had.

The animation by the way also really improved over this episode. This episode finally had some smooth animation again, plus the artistic direction also was at its best again. The smoke effects in particular had some really good animation, so I’m glad that the producers still managed to find enough budget to pay some attention to inbetween animation. On top of that this episode took place in Paris. Having been in Paris a month ago, it really hit home how they portrayed it. Although obviously all hints of commercialization were removed.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 7 June 2012 with categories: Lupin III - Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna

This was another episode written by Dai Sato, and really: his influence is all over it and I am reminded again why he is one of the top scriptwriters out there. I’ve really missed him: Norageki had his ideas, but not his writing style, while the Tekken movie felt like he was forced to be generic. Here though, he got lots of freedom to tell Mine Fujiko’s backstory. The result is one of the best episodes of this show so far.

This was dark and surreal, and it had a great script that explored Mine Fujiko’s past without having her even in it. I love how it was non-linear on purpose, revealing a bit each time with different images and references, including Hegel of all people. It’s a great way to meet the owl baron as well, and this episode also built further upon episodes 1 and 6. It all comes together wonderfully at the end. Serioulsy Dai Sato needs to write another series. Get him to do some sort of Noitamina series or something. He can make something awesome out of that.

This series is probably really different from what the original Lupin III was, but I like that a lot: instead of trying to relive the original it really went into its own way. This doesn’t come without risks, though. The most dangerous is when a remake can’t choose between trying to be faithful or going into its own direction, or when it doesn’t really have anything impressive to add. Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna isn’t going to win the best of the season award, but it still had plenty of noteworthy things and is another addition to the collection of great remakes.
Rating: **+ (Excellent+)

Posted on 1 June 2012 with categories: Lupin III - Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna

So, this episode was nearly entirely dedicated to one big chase scene. It showed Mine Fujiko in a completely different state than usual, making Lupin the good guy to root for for once and making a very big change to the dynamic of this show. Like expected this episode properly starts the finale of this series, but I’m surprised that it’s not centered around the assholes who abused Mine Fujiko, but rather about her feelings themselves and how her past still haunts her.

The one thing I noticed with this series is that it isn’t the easiest series to blog. This series’ strength doesn’t exactly lie in its depth, but rather it’s style, and beyond that it’s just a really enjoyable adventure series that bothers to be different, but I don’t have as much to say about it compared to other series. So yeah, that’s why this entry is rather short.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 24 May 2012 with categories: Lupin III - Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna

I suspect that from now on we will get a closer look at Mine Fujiko’s past. This episode wasn’t exactly about that, but it did confirm that she was abused at a young age for who knows how many times. This episode was probably the catalyst that triggered her looking at her past again.

What stands out about this episode was how subdued it was, in a good way I mean. There was no nudity whatsoever, but the creators still captured Mine Fujiko in one of her most restrained performances so far. With Mari Okada behind the script (good lord, she’s writing three awesome scripts this season; all at the same time; again!), it’s bound to become interesting, especially with such an excellent director as Sayo Yamamoto. She really showed how well she can create an atmosphere and went into her own direction, while at the same time doing great justice to the Lupin Franchise.

What also made this episode interesting was how it was about predicting death days using this lithograph. The fortuneteller in this episode was great, both as a catalyst for Mine Fujiko, but also as a villain
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 18 May 2012 with categories: Lupin III - Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna

Unlike the previous episode this again was a fairly straight-forward episode centered around just one of the members of the side-cast. But it really made upfor that with the backdrop it chose: a very loose version of Cuba’s role in the cold war. I’ve said before that I love it when anime takes place in a place other than Japan, and even though this episode was full of Japanese references with taht samurai, it’s still very refreshing to see a country like Cuba pop up here.

This episode was this weird thriller about this over the top prevention of World War 3. It’s obviously heavily simplified with a lot of creative liberties taken, but the suspense for this episode was really well done Mine Fujiko again had some great interplay with the people around her, which overall again lead to a very enjoyable episode.

At this point of the series though, we should start seeing more things about the overarching plot, mostly about Mine Fujiko’s issues. The creators do have some sort of ending planned, but the only hints about that that we’ve seen so far are about her troubled past. We’ve entered the second half now, so it’s time for this show to evolve.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 10 May 2012 with categories: Lupin III - Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna

Yeah. This was awesome. Lupin III just got better again.

This looked like your average Lupin episode, this time paying a homage to the catholic school genre. I was really reminded of Oniisama he for some reason. In any case things looked to be a fairly standard heist episode that had Mine Fujiko pretend to be a female teacher, while we follow some students around her, in particular one girl with braids who I remember noting had a really out of place voice actress. And then he took his wig off.

What followed was a wonderful battle of wits between Mine Fujiko and that one cop assistant with a little assistance of Lupin, and it was really well done. The acting was awesome, the camera work really managed to capture the characters this time, and I also love how well this episode made use of the tiny details that the previous episodes built up on. I loved how Mine Fujiko completely pwned that cop assistant and the wit with which she did it. And the guy had some nice tricks up his sleeve as well. I did not expect the gun-wielding schoolgirls.

Those bits around Fujiko’s past are also pretty surreal and very artistic. This episode indeed revealed that she had to endure a lot of abuse when she was a kid, which pretty much shaped her to what she is now. I like how subtle the portrayal of how she remembers those times is: it’s obviously a trauma, but we never see heavy emotions from her around thsoe flashbacks, unlike how she usually behaves.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 3 May 2012 with categories: Lupin III - Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna

This episode had more room for its animation compared to the previous weeks, and the result shows as Lupin heads into Indiana Jones. The direction in this episode in particular was excellent, making the dungeon crawling really fun and artistic to watch; the characters were also more expressive this time, both with the voice acting and facial expressions. Along with a nice script, this altogether was an excellent episode.

The first three episodes all showed Mine Fujiko with one major side character. The past two episodes however we see her along with two of them, which brings in a much different dynamic, especially with Lupin in the picture again. This episode made good use of that, and I liked the interplay between all three characters, especially how everyone was trying to wait for everyone because they couldn’t progress further.

One particularly interesting part of this episode was when the Egyptian afterworld came into play. you know, the myth of where everyone’s sins would have to be weighed. I liked how Lupin played with the definition of “sins” in order to get past the trap.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

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  • Bam
    (Friday, Oct 24. 2014 06:43 AM)
    @Friend: perfect, I on the other hand am not as fast lol
  • Friend
    (Friday, Oct 24. 2014 06:19 AM)
    I should have the rough draft ready by the next 24 hours, so I’ll show it to you then.
  • Friend
    (Friday, Oct 24. 2014 06:16 AM)
    @Bam :-) “Rome wasn’t built in a single day”
  • Bam
    (Friday, Oct 24. 2014 06:14 AM)
    @Friend: very pragmatic- I like your style ;)
  • Friend
    (Friday, Oct 24. 2014 06:09 AM)
    @Bam Heres what I’m planning to do: I’ll draw the city as it might have looked like pre-industrial revolution and post-columbian. So, maybe the late 17th century. Then, I’ll add in the changes brought in by industry. Afterall, every building isn’t built at the same time, so it’ll give that contrast of old/new, making the city much more authentic.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Oct 24. 2014 06:07 AM)
    @Friend: hard question … needs some serious thought if we’re trying to feel authentic.
  • Friend
    (Friday, Oct 24. 2014 06:04 AM)
    What would they use electricity for, if they’ll even accept it?
  • Friend
    (Friday, Oct 24. 2014 06:04 AM)
    @Bam I’ve been thinking about that as well. Their irrigation was already a masterpiece, so I think hydraulic piping would only perfect their skill at city planning. Now, energy is what I’ve been stuck on.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Oct 24. 2014 06:02 AM)
    @Friend: you’re on the right track with the modernization of the culture, but I need to ponder a little bit about what would’ve happened in that scenario. Metals, medicine, energy and irrigation would be the significant advances that they could use without serious industrialization, but I need time to think what these would’ve all meant to them and where they could’ve taken their society with it.
  • Friend
    (Friday, Oct 24. 2014 05:56 AM)
    @Bam Yes, it’s very bright and sentimental. It is a morning prayer/celebration. \.0/

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