Steven is currently busy with exams so you can count on me to be reviewing last week’s and this week’s Tsuritama and Mine Fujiko by myself (don’t worry, he’ll be back by Wednesday).
Lupin the Third: Mine Fujiko has really impressed me with its ability to waver between the fine line of being episodic, a slice of life, and a character study all in one (though you can mesh the last two together). This episode was no different. While most of the episodes for this series have all been in Fujiko’s point of view, this one was mainly from both Jigen and Lupin’s. We open to an exotic fair where all sorts of things- mainly people- are shown on display; one main attraction catches the eye of Jigen and Lupin (Jigen who is grudgingly working with Lupin) and it is a tattooed woman, apparently from the Amazons. Before Jigen and Lupin can get their hands on her, a thief appears and nearly snatches the girl away- a thief no other than Fujiko.
The construction of this episode was something I really enjoyed. It followed the format of yet another chase/escape adventure, but followed something along the lines of a major arc episode rather than a filler. Lupin and Jigen must keep the girl safe from Fujiko, who in this episode is perceived to be a threat rather than the heroine of the story. While our attention first focuses on the girl, it slowly turns toward Fujiko- why is she so possessed on capturing this girl, to the point of endangering herself? And that’s something we know Fujiko would never do, because the one thing Fujiko values more than anything- more than goods, exotics, gems or treasure- is herself. It’s only halfway throughout the episode that we learn what instinct Fujiko is acting out of. Fear. The same fear we saw in the past episode when she sat and brooded in the bath, or the same look we saw when she killed Shitoto. Fujiko sees the girl as a mirror of her younger self- a life which has been totally controlled and decided by other beings. While most people would sympathize and help the girl understand herself, Fujiko wants to kill her. She wants to obliterate every reminder of that sort of past- a path that leads to a confrontation with Lupin, who tells her that in destroying the girl, she would be destroying herself. Lupin certainly has a point. In killing this exotic ‘present’, what would Fujiko gain out of it? A sense of calm? Nothing can erase the past. What’s done is done. Lupin thus asks Fujiko in an indirect way to look at herself; what she has made herself into. She’s better than that. Fujiko is the name that this woman has strived to work for and has made for herself, independently. It’s something she can be proud of. It’s something she is proud of.
Yet Fujiko doesn’t understand this- not yet, which is intriguing because as much as Fujiko loves herself, she still doesn’t accept it. They are two very different things. Fujiko acts under her name, but she hasn’t accepted her past or the history behind herself. Her pride is facetious, which clashes with her endless lust to be desired. So is that pride an illusion? Is Fujiko Mine running from her demons or is she trying to chase them down, like in this episode? Who is Mine Fujiko? But that is why this show is called The Woman Named Fujiko Mine. It’s her story. She has to figure that out for herself. Lupin can only help her so much, as can Jigen, or Mr. Samurai Man. That’s something I’m hoping this conclusion will bring, with only three (or two?) episodes left.
So yes, this is a good beginning to the end- it opens up the story of Fujiko’s past, yet is more of a hint than an actual introduction. At the same time it concludes the last of our “episodic chase” stories, but not in a sad way. It’s more of a last road mark telling us that it’s time to hit the last route, and that road is going to be bumpier and darker than ever. But where does that road lead in the end? We can only hope to find out.
Enjoyment Level: 8/10