Lupin the Third is the world’s greatest thief but in the form of the seductive femme fatale Fujiko Mine, he has met his match. They say behind every great man is a great woman. In the case of Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, she isn’t behind him but standing side by side with him. Fujiko is a tough as nails thief in her own right and in The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, she gets equal billing to the anime icon. Despite that, this isn’t the story of Lupin, this is very much the story of the mysterious Fujiko Mine and the woman that she became.
This is not the usual Lupin the Third anime. It is a true departure for the long-running series, yet at its core it maintains the one thing that has always defined Lupin the Third, a spirit of adventure. It is a sense of romanticism that transcends all in the world of Lupin. They are all on an adventure in one way or another, it is the feeling of freedom that comes with it that drives them.
In the character of Fujiko we see a woman free of attachment, free of inhibitions, free of compassion, free of pain. Or so it seems. With each passing episode, much like the clothes Fujiko wears, layers are stripped off to reveal a softness beneath her exterior. She is a woman that somewhere along the way was broken. For Fujiko, losing everything was freedom.
Perhaps an insight into her desire to steal, is her subconsciously fighting back at the world. Trying to take back what she believes was taken from her. There is a real air of mysticism to Fujiko that is highly intriguing. Who is this woman? How did she become this way? These are questions that Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine ponders and bit by bit reveals some insight to. But with this collection only featuring up to episode 8, The Woman Called Fujiko Mine is still holding its cards close to its chest. The episode ‘Death Day’ does however serve as quite the teaser for things to come.
All around, Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine features a superb cast of characters that have all been well-tread over the decades since their conception. Each character feels fully lived in here and bare a personality so distinct that it is easy to imagine their many adventures that we don’t see.
That is really what Lupin the Third is all about, adventure being the gateway to freedom. An escape from the rules of the world, a journey to remember, living on your own terms. These are the things that embody freedom in the world of Lupin. But inevitably, all forms of freedom must come with sacrifice. What Fujiko had to lose to be free, may very well be the thing that cages her heart.
Visuals and Audio
Aesthetically Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine is an absolute masterstroke. The squeaky clean visuals that most other iterations of the Lupin the Third series feature has been tossed aside in favour of a gritty art style to pair with it’s tonally darker story. Anime fans may recognize this aesthetic to be the work of Takeshi Koike of Redline fame.
The character designs are smooth and appealing, at times sexual in nature. While there may be a great deal of nudity, it doesn’t ever come across as excessive of out of place. In fact there are times in which nudity is justified and adds a great deal to the plot playing out on screen. On top of that the darker screentones used provide the anime with a old-school vibe that hearkens back thoughts of the original Lupin the Third anime and anime of that time all the while updating that style for modern audiences.
The soundtrack for Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine is simply superb. From the incredible haunting opening theme to the unforgettable ending theme and all that lies between, this anime features brilliant musical composition that is somewhat off-kilter, but somehow so very fitting.
This release features an English dub as well as the original Japanese audio, both of which are excellent. The dub is produced by Funimation Entertainment, a company known for their quality English language localizations. There are some real stand out performances here, Sonny Strait in particular breaks type as a smooth as silk Lupin the Third. Michelle Ruff also provides a memorable performance as the femme fatale Fujiko Mine, seductive, delightful and layered. The dub is very faithful to the original Japanese version and is a credit to Funimation’s actors and directors.
Hanabee Entertainment have once again produced an incredible product here with Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine Part 1. While there is few on disc extras, the release itself is a DVD and Blu-Ray combo, giving you the best of both worlds in video playback. On top of that the release itself comes in a lovely hardcover book that features a plethora of artwork from the series, a pop-up book style page with Fujiko holding all of the cast in her hands and an information section on each of the episodes on the release. This is more than you could possibly ask for from an anime release and shows that Hanabee are willing to go well beyond expectations for their fans. The only downside here is that the series is being release in two parts, which does seem a little unnecessary given the 13 episode count for the series.
Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine is a stunning piece of anime, that is every bit as ground-breaking as it is astonishing. It is a landmark anime for many reasons, but the most important is that it brings the spirit of adventure that defines Lupin the Third to a new generation.
The ideals of freedom that Lupin the Third romanticizes is every bit as mystifying as it was 40 years ago. If you aren’t hooked in by the wild hijinks of Lupin and friends, there is no doubt that the woman called Fujiko Mine will steal your heart. Lupin the Third is back and better than ever.
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