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Fujiko Mine…Seductress, Spy, and Thief; she’s a woman who wears many hats and is shrouded in mystery. When Lupin the Third sets his sights on this bewitching woman he immediately has to have her. This is the tale of how Fujiko Mine, lady thief, meets the infamous master thief, Lupin the Third. Only this time, the story is told through Fujiko’s eyes!
Fujiko Mine, in the past, has played a crucial role in Lupin’s team of thievery, playing the seductive double crosser that Lupin just can’t help but love despite the many times she’s leads him into trouble. However, she’s a character that has never really had a proper introduction or backstory until now. In The Woman Called Fujiko Mine series, the spotlight is completely on Fujiko this time, and this series doesn’t’ leave out any of the small details either.
If you’re new to the Lupin franchise, then strap up because this series while fantastic, is nothing like its predecessors. This Fujiko Mine series is gritty, sexy, and a lot darker than ever before. The 13 episode story covers how Fujiko met Lupin and the rest of the cast for the first time. It was also created with the intention of capturing the “sensuality” present in Monkey Punch’s original manga series.
From the minute the show opens and you hear Fujiko, played by Michelle Ruff in the dub, the bar is already set for craziness that is about to unfold. Fujiko is a character who feels compelled to do wicked deeds in exchange for materialistic items, but as you find out, even she doesn’t know why. It’s as if the action and thrill of stealing is what she lives for more than the items themselves. As the show progresses you see a number of different scenarios in which Fujiko is, in her own way, trying to find the answer to why she is the way she is. Still though Fujiko is the lead this time, it doesn’t mean we don’t get our fair share of the usual cast of characters.
Lupin, Jigen, Goemon, and even Zenigata all return for this new series. Lupin played by the extremely talented, Sonny Strait. Jigen played by Chris Sabat. Goemon is played by Mike McFarland. And Richard Epcar returns to the Lupin series to play Zenigata. Now, Dub vs. Sub, in my own personal opinion is a petty debate in which really it comes right down to preference. And so I won’t make it the basis of my review at all. But since I’m reviewing the American release, I shall be reviewing the dub. And the dub is fantastic. Sonny Strait and Michelle Ruff do a fantastic job in their respective roles. And with each of the characters going for a darker feel this time around, I think all of them adjusted very well to the drastic change from the norm.
Now with this new series the first thing you’ll notice, aside from the great amounts of nudity, is the interesting art style it has. It looks like nothing you’ve ever seen before in anime, looking closer to the original art style of the manga from Monkey Punch. But as said earlier this series, doesn’t hold back. Fujiko’s character is nude in a fair amount of this 13 episode adventure, but compared to the fan service in most animes, it’s tastefully done and used as a means of empowering Fujiko as a character. Fujiko uses her body as just another weapon in her arsenal and often is the one leaving the male characters in the dust due to them being swayed by her womanly charms. This however is definitely a series meant for mature audiences, and not meant to be watched during meal time with the family. This despite the sexual situations that are present in this series, is all in good taste and works with the aesthetic of the overall narrative and art style.
This series also interestingly enough was written and directed by women, (Mari Okada and Sayo Yamamoto), and the direction in which they take Fujiko, definitely plays toward strengthening her character more than ever before. The story though focuses on a number of different themes. Mainly the idea of running from one’s past. Throughout the series Fujiko’s back story is something that she herself is constantly running from, and through all her capers, we are slowly finding out why. Why is Fujiko the way she is? Who is she really? What led her to a life of crime? These are the questions, and through this tale we get those answers.
But it’s not just Fujiko’s past we deal with in this series. Jigen and a number of other characters in the show also suffer from this common problem. However, Lupin is the exception. Lupin instead finds a different perspective every time with each of the other character’s situations, and often shows that we aren’t defined by our pasts but by our futures. Zenigata also is far different from his past incarnations, acting more as the badass of this time around. Throughout the series, he and his partner Oscar, played by Josh Grelle, have their own story together. Oscar, a troubled character who is obsessed with Zenigata after having been helped by him in the past, has an very intriguing part in this tale. Zengiata also plays a big role in helping Fujiko throughout this story, the two of them often using each other to get what they want, be it business or pleasure. Zenigata’s main inner conflict however lies in his obsession with catching Lupin, and the lengths he’s willing to go just to catch him, even if it means getting his hands a little dirty and breaking a few rules.
This anime though isn’t without its flaws however. While artistic and fitting of the character, some of the nude scenes do seem unnecessary. Another gripe, though small, its Goemon’s very small part in this particular Lupin series. While the episodes he’s in are entertaining, his role in the overall scheme of things is so insignificant it almost feels as if he was forced into this series. Unlike Jigen, he doesn’t really get an interesting back story to which we can learn more about him. And he never truly meets Lupin or Jigen, technically, in the series. But again that being said, this series was indeed more Fujiko based, again this is only a small gripe that doesn’t truly hinder you from enjoying the plot. Overall this series paid great respect to the original series while bring something new, fresh and edgy to the table. And I hope this isn’t the last I see of Lupin and Fujiko.
+ Amazing visuals and music. Well Written, entertaining, and an interestingly dark new take on the series that doesn’t fail to impress. Great performance from the voice over cast. Fun extras including a cast reunion and episode commentaries from the staff and crew
-Some nude scenes can become overbearing, and Goemon’s role in this story though interesting, make him seem greatly underused as a character in this particular take on the Lupin franchise, especially if you’re a fan of the original series.
- + Amazing visuals and music. Well Written, entertaining, and an interestingly dark new take on the series that doesn’t fail to impress. Great performance from the voice over cast. Fun extras including a cast reunion and episode commentaries from the staff and crew
- - Some nude scenes can become overbearing, and Goemon’s role in this story though interesting, make him seem greatly underused as a character in this particular take on the Lupin franchise, especially if you’re a fan of the original series.