Fräulein Eule. Fräulein Eule. If there’s one phrase that stuck me through this crazy episode, it was that one. This episode was filled with allusions, symbolism and literary/historical references that I was all too excited to dig in and look up. (warning: a long post follows!)
For weeks past, people have been commenting on how Lupin the Third: Mine Fujiko to iu Onna seems to be a cluttered show- visually breathtaking, but lacking in depth and a well told story. While I beg to differ, I feel like this episode more than anything showed the true colors of this show in ways more than one. This episode had no Fujiko Mine in it at all- and yet to me, it was this series’ strongest episode. I’m always a fan of trippy things, because they offer such an interesting perspective into the human psyche. This week’s episode offered that same sort of question- what is real and what isn’t- but in a way that still kept you alert rather than just boringly confused.
A common theme in Mine Fujiko is the perseverance and exoticness of individuality. In the opening of every episode, Fujiko states “Now stop everything, and look at me.” It’s not just about ego. It is about sustaining oneself, in liberty. Fujiko steals for freedom. Her life in the past has been explicitly controlled and observed in every detail by these mysterious owl-headed figures, and as such, the show is about how Fujiko tries to live for herself. The people blocking her path to becoming truly free are these Owls themselves. Fujiko is chained by her past, and it’s only until now do we get to take a glimpse at how these Owls really are so threatening, but not in the way we expected.
The Owls (or so I’ll be calling them) take a great liking to Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom, justice, courage, inspiration, warfare, medicine and skill. While Minerva can be compared to Athena, who is the Greek goddess, Minerva is a goddess of medicine. She is also a virgin, which to me, is ironic because the Owls explicitly abuse Fujiko Mine sexually and physically. But why Minerva? She is also the commander of Glaucus (the name of the pharmaceudical company that the Owls are in charge of) who is an owl that can see through the darkest and blackest of nights. Owls are perceptive. They represent wisdom, clairvoyance (the roman root word of owl also comes to mean “bright eyed”) and most of all, they are the masters of observing. To have an owl’s eyes is to have great eyesight- to see over all, to be a lord of the night. Owls are as mysterious and intelligent as they are foreboding. Just as legends say that owls are good luck, they also say that owls bring death and disease with them. Ironic then, to associate an animal of death with the goddess of health and justice, no?
Where it starts getting interesting is when one of the Owls quotes that “the owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk.” This is a direct reference to the 19th century idealist philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, a man who theorized much about the idea of freedom and also transcending oneself. Hegalian noted that the idea of freedom, the idea of human nature- that is is in our nature to progress, to become infinite (transcend our boundaries as finite creatures). The culture and religion are simply byproducts of our strive to become more than what we are, and that these two are driven by reason rather than innate nature. I feel like this very much applies to Fujiko Mine herself. She constantly strives to achieve outside of her goals- to become something more than just one woman, or an ordinary thief. The byproducts are her lust and her ego, bu only some of these driven by a reasoning of their own. Fujiko lusts because it is in her nature to do so. On the other hand, she loves herself, but only facetiously so, because it is driven by thorough reasoning (I must love myself in order to progress). It is ironically the very thing that is holding her back. She does not fully accept herself, in all of her limits and imperfection. Fujiko is so blinded by progression that she does not see that she is still rooted to the ground, very finite, and very imperfect.
Going back to the “wings only with the falling of the dusk” however:
“One more word about giving instruction as to what the world ought to be. Philosophy in any case always comes on the scene too late to give it… When philosophy paints its gloomy picture then a form of life has grown old. It cannot be rejuvenated by the gloomy picture, but only understood. Only when the dusk starts to fall does the owl of Minerva spread its wings and fly. ”
—G.W.F. Hegel, Philosophy of Right, “Preface”.
Hegel states that philosophy is based only on historical references- only when an event becomes part of the past. We cannot collect data unless it has already happened-in the same way, philosophy can only be gained when an act is fully performed. The Owls are waiting for this to happen. They are scientists, using a man’s words of philosophy to explain their actions (could this episode be emphasizing greyness any more than it already is doing?) Fujiko Mine is the key for this understanding to take effect, and they need Lupin as a part of their greater plan to make it happen (notice how they say butterfly, instead of an owl- this is a direct reference to Fujiko Mine who represents the butterfly- but more on that in a bit.) Owls observe. They do not participate- Fujiko and Lupin are just tools that will become history and data for them to collect.
Even more, Hegel is also noted for creating the Hegalian Dialectic, the concept that society must progress but at the stake of the empowered becoming even more powerful. Society runs on the process of creating a ‘thesis’ and then an ‘anti-thesis’ and then combines the two to function and move forward. It’s a direct reference to when Lupin talks about the French Revolution- something Hegel refers to as the prime example of the Hegalian Dialectic (bloodshed must happen for the sake of the progress of freedom).
This to me, sounds very much like the experiment Glaucus Pharmaceuticals was working on. “The demise of an age,” going back to the idea that the Owls think that they are the saviors of humanity, but are the instruments in making it progress, all come back to their Eulenspiegel Project, or rather, the Fräulein Eule Project. To control people not by hope though. Out of fear. The Fräulein Eule drug is one that creates ecstasy and confusion, and also makes people perceive humans as Owls (a little interesting, since the Detective can see the Owls as owls and we have never seen him being exposed to the drug while Lupin and Fujiko have). The Owls used the incident in Episode 1 as just another observation experiment to see how the drug would work. Even the Cold War itself is a sort of project used by the Owls to determine the effects of the Eule drug. Bloodshed for the sake of freedom. It’s a wonderful touch when dealing with a stereotypical “godlike” villain- because the Owls, while not omnipotent, are lethal, cruel, coldblooded and dangerous. They observe and do not participate. They represent absence, which to me, is much more of a villainous trait than just wanting to control the world.
The Eule drug then brings us back to another constant symbol in the show- flowers. Looking closely however, these are not just any sort of flowers- they are poppies, and god, they appear everywhere. The Glaucus Owls aren’t just obsessed with Roman goddesses and philosophers. They love their mind controlling flowers too, and these flowers are quite dangerous.
Poppies of course, are known to create opiates, which are of course, very similar to the Eule drug. But poppies also represent lust and passion, something that can be compared to Fujiko Mine. Flowers are as beautiful as they are dangerous. Nothing is as it seems- which seems to constantly go back to this episode, when it’s hard to figure out what’s real and not real in the first place.
Turns out these flower drugs are tied back to one very hushed-up incident, referred to the Eulenspiegel incident. Euelenspiegel is yet another reference, this time to a famous German prankster who made his entrance in a literature piece known as “Owlglass.” Hmm….
Eulenspiegel seems to be a connection to the whole trippy dream itself. He is a “model of communication,” or rather the “inherent, unpredictable factor of complication that can throw any communication, whether with oneself or others, into disarray…..these irritations, amounting conflicts, have the potential of effecting mental paradigm changes and increases in the level of consciousness, and in the end, of leading to truth.” We don’t know if the town is actually called Eulenspiegel- it may just be Lupin’s consciousness interfering (considering that he did much research on Fujiko Mine’s life and past and seems to know a lot about it) and giving the town a name to make himself understand that this may just be a dream, after all. The Eulenspiegel town itself may be just the end of the line itself- the truth of Fujiko’s past, but also the truth of the Glaucus company’s horrific actions. It certainly seems to be that way, when the town looks so post-apocalyptic. Decay and death is everywhere. But what is real, and what is not?
This is somewhat answered with the conclusion of Lupin stumbling upon a young Fujiko Mine. It turns out that she’s the daughter of the doctor (another reference to an actual living business entrepreneur, but I don’t think that was relevant), who was dead all along. Young Fujiko Mine is the light at the end of the tunnel, but only if Lupin can get there himself. This leads to a game of tag, which turns into an even trippier event when Fujiko disappears into a flock of butterflies.
Butterflies appear just as often as poppies do in this show, and this show answers that question too. The butterflies seen in the show, just like the flowers, are of a specific type. They are Monarch butterflies, which are commonly known to be equally beautiful but also dangerous, in a different sense. Monarch butterflies have an excellent defense mechanism. They eat milkweed, which has something called cardiac glycosides. If eaten in small doses, it does not become lethal and the butterfly becomes immune to the poison. But if any predator eats a butterfly, which has the large amounts of cardiac glycosides in it, then they are most likely to die. But butterflies are fragile and lethal at the same time. Fujiko Mine is no different- she is beautiful, she is seductive, and she is dangerous. Her lethal nature is very much a protective cover. She protects herself under the allusion that she is flawless and free, unable to really forget and accept her past. She uses her sexuality as a weapon to assert authority over others and gain what she wants. However, she is still very human. The Greek root for butterfly is “soul.” The show is about the Woman Named Fujiko Mine; it is about her struggle as a living soul to understand herself. Individuality is what this show is about. It was never really about the adventures, or the sexual tension with Lupin (though he will be the one saving her life). This show is about Fujiko. It started with her, and it will all come back to her.
Lupin wakes up in his bed just as we saw at the beginning, with one of the Owls right behind him. “Capture Fujiko Mine,” the Owl says. Was it all a dream? Did it really happen? The episode leaves with that same touch of Alice in Wonderland feeling, making us feel like we didn’t really find out much about anything, when all along, we discovered more than we may have wanted to.
With three episodes left, I’m very happy to see where this show will go. This episode to me was the best, with such excellent direction for such a creative story and there’s no doubt that Fujiko Mine has not run out of steam yet- on the contrary, it seems to be just getting started. I guess we’ll just have to wait a week to see what happens next, eh?
Enjoyment Level: 10/10