Lupin the Third: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna – Stylish and Sexy
April 7, 2012 6 Comments
Lupin The Third has always been a favourite series of mine, with countless TV specials and films, all showing the world the majesty that is Lupin III, master thief and ladies man. This latest offering from the Lupin franchise takes a slightly different approach with the focus firmly on Mine Fujiko, the original Femme Fatale of anime, and easily one of the first that I ever encountered. And while this is a Lupin III series the focus is going to be on Mine Fujiko, a character who is important to Lupin, and yet is often marginalised in many of TV specials and films.
What Lupin the Third: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna presets us with is a slick and sexy show that has a spectacular soundtrack, along with a provocative, yet alluring appeal that harks back to the original manga by Monkey Punch. There is a certain 1960s/1970s aesthetic to the visuals, with highly accentuated character deigns; seeing Fujiko with her classic hourglass figure is reminiscent of this period in film and fashion where this specific figure was considered incredibly sexy (Marilyn Monroe was famous for having such a shape). But more than that, Lupin the Third: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna is pure, unadulterated pandering to its audience, with an opening full of more nudity and breasts than half the series in the last season combined (well, except for High School DxD, but that’s another matter).
But more than that, Lupin the Third: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna is full of style, with elements haring back to classic spy thrillers such as early James Bond, The Avengers and so on. Of course, there will always be the claim that such an aesthetic puts style over substance, with the flagrant use of the female body as a way with which to garner an audience. And yet, this series appears to be so much more than that, and is in general following along the classic pattern of any Lupin series. What we see in this series, which celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Lupin III animated franchise is a series going back to its roots, taking the story back to the original manga from the 1967. There was a cold ruthlessness to the characters created by Monkey Punch, with Lupin appearing at times to be more of a ruthless killer and sometimes rapist with an insatiable sexual appetite. And, although recent specials, beginning with Cagliostro have toned down his character somewhat, there is still that element there that appears to be hiding just under the surface waiting for a chance to come out.
There is also a certain playfulness in how Lupin the Third: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna uses sexuality, with Fujiko in particular fully aware of what she is doing. As a character she is dangerous, sexy, and amoral, capable of killing people who get in her way, and not afraid to use her looks and body to get what she wants. Her character is one that captivates Lupin, viewing her as the way to make his boring world interesting again; as characters they are lovers, rivals and occasionally mortal enemies, not afraid to sleep with each other minute, yet start shooting the next. Fujiko in particular is dangerous, with a highly sexualised figure that nevertheless has a certain masculinity about it – one that is apparently fragile to the touch and yet has its rough edges and danger. She is beautiful, sexy, dangerous and captivating, something that is missing from many female protagonists in current anime. There is an ambiguity in their relationship that makes it incredibly fascinating, drawing everyone to them like moths to the flames. They are fascinated by each other, and are drawn to each other, yet they are also against each other, each with their own goals and desires.
What Lupin the Third: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna has succeeded in doing is make sexuality, and in particular female sexuality dangerous. But more than that it I showing a relationship between a man and a woman as morally ambiguous, one that is constantly on a knife edge where the smallest movement can push it over into the abyss. Lupin and Fujiko have always been a fascinating pairing, both incredibly clever, morally ambiguous, and who always do their best thinking when they are at each other’s throats. Their selfishness makes them interesting and appealing characters, which while clearly crooks are also in a sense heroic in their actions. It is like a classic Bond film, with the main protagonists sizing each other up, waiting for the other to make a move first, and always calculating their best escape route with the prize.
This first episode, while demonstrating the brilliant, yet dangerous relationship that Lupin and Fujiko have also produced some great action along with a nice little mystery like all good Lupin shows do. The soundtrack was brilliant, adding to the frenetic pace of the action, and adding another layer to the already slick and sexy production qualities that this show posses. You could sense the tension in the air throughout the episode, with our main characters both attempting to reach the goal before the other. It was a nice introduction to what vintage Lupin III was largely like for anyone who may have started with Castle of Cagliostro, and perhaps may come as a shock to some. The animation itself is brilliantly retro, reminding me of animated Shakespear, along with earlier animations – and while there are modern elements it is afar cry from the current way of animating and character deign. Not that the current way is necessarily bad, but it is always great to see something a little different, something raw and often quite basic, yet with a style and quality that often escapes current series.
This series is taking the franchise back to its origins, with a stylish and alluring aesthetic that is lacking in so many newer anime; there may be objectification of Fujiko’s body with her sexuality on show for all to see, but it is dangerous. This sort of dangerous sexuality is largely missing from current anime where the female body has been toned down, even sterilised. Lupin the Third: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna is far from a sterile series, with the knowledge that Fujiko is fully willing and able to use her body to get what she wants. It is also fascinating to see how all the characters that many may be familiar with come together. I assume that we will see this because this series, while focussing on Fujiko only brought Lupin III and Zenigata into the picture, thus leaving out Goemon and Jigen. I look forward to seeing how Fujiko and Lupin interact as the series progresses, one of the best relationships in anime. It was sexy, it was stylish, it was dangerous, and it was brilliant, that’s the kind of Lupin that we need.