The Black Gem; Lupin the Third: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna Episode 11

With tensions running high in Fujiko Mine’s life, the show decides to take a step back (again) and this time, focus on the young and very romantically driven Oscar.

Whereas last week’s episode gave us a very…interesting trip into the mind of Lupin, Fujiko and those damn Owls, this episode takes a peek into the life of Oscar. Apparently, Oscar was taken in as a young child by the Detective when he threw himself off a bridge (literally) to save his beloved coin. Determined to win the actually-canon love of his life (something I was pleased with, as homosexual subtext is a thing I’ve been frustrated with for a long time), Oscar decides to do the extraordinary to please the Detective. Not only does he fail (he goes as far as to shoot a person under the name of Mine Fujiko while stealing) but he gets caught by the very Detective himself. What’s interesting is that the Detective doesn’t permanently condemn him for his actions- rather, his very mysterious speech rings off as more of a parental concern than just another “You’ve betrayed the moral code of the police!” speech. Which in a way, really sets the darker and more mature tone of this series. Oscar is so blinded by his love that he corrupts himself in the name of it- a nice circle back to the beginning where as a child, he selflessly threw himself for a simple coin; an act that inspired the Detective to really serve the term “Justice.” In that way, the black gem is not the Detective but Oscar himself. He follows the setup of an anti-hero (and certainly follows it in this episode, which did irritate me slightly) but he subverts it because he’s not a hero. He follows the codes of justice but uses them to his own end to please his teacher and only corrupts himself in the process. Whereas love is meant to be pure and selfless, Oscar’s sacrifices are very much selfish, and are committed out of lust and jealousy- the emotions the Owls take advantage of when they ‘assist’ him in his attempt to please the Detective even more. Part of me wonders if the Owls knew in the end that Oscar would die in a futile attempt to ‘cleanse’ himself of his actions, but if anything this show has shown me that the one thing the Owls can never predict is a change of heart- something that has been entrapping Mine Fujiko in her own little cage for all this time.

I do like that Lupin the Third has given some solid background to a character who doesn’t show up in the original (…for obvious reasons) but  I do also wish they had stuck this episode at a time where it mattered and not in here. While Oscar’s ‘heroic’ deeds may have struck a chord in viewers’ hearts, it still came off as somewhat….messy to me; I was looking forward to a morally dubious Oscar and while I did get that the whole idea of “sacrificing for one’s love” trope, it came off, especially in this show, as very hackneyed to me. The show focuses on twisting the very nature of justice and “good hearted” people. Lupin and Fujiko are no doubt, seen as heroes in our eyes, but they steal and take what they want. Even they have a moral code though. Oscar on the other hand, is so desperate in seeking his loved one’s attention that he breaks them and he doesn’t care what it takes to catch Lupin and Fujiko. His actions in the past have shown nothing but that. So when Oscar jumps off the bridge with his bomb, in order to ‘save’ the Detective (something that doesn’t make sense to me because if planned the bomb would not have hurt the Detective anyways) it is a very sudden change of heart. In fact, I would say that it felt more like a leap than a gradual understanding on Oscar’s part, and because of it, Oscar is a forgettable character. Instead of sacrificing himself and realizing the ‘wrongs’ he’s committed, I think it would have been much more realistic on Oscar’s part to still steep himself in that wronged understanding that his love is immeasurably selfish and that he would sink to the deep not regretting that. Instead, he comes off as a mismatched, confusing sort of shota kid, and it’s sad to say that he will sink down into the depths of that river as just another somewhat faceless supporting character in this series when he could have been much more fascinating to watch.

Boo Hoo, Shota Kid.

This episode is not a waste though. I did enjoy it, and I did love the story that it told. Oscar’s very descent into the depths of madness could be paralleled with Fujiko, who is also mentally broken as well. Lost, helpless and frightened, Fujiko has turned against her very own self- something I fear that could not just destroy her and her story, in the Owls’ perspective, but could also irreparably damage others who care about her. The problem with Fujiko is that that very image of confidence that she believed in is gone. It was fake. Fujiko has realized this and has cowered into a dark place into her mind, seeking to start new, or just erase everything so that she doesn’t have to change.

What does this actually mean though? Does Fujiko seek to end the internal conflict and horrific past that has consumed her life? Or does she seek altogether to destroy everything she has ever stood for- to die, in a metaphorical sense, by killing the soul? If the former is true, then it would create a change of play- Fujiko would now hunt the demons chasing after her instead of letting them get to her. If the latter is true, it would mean the death of Fujiko Mine- not just the individual we see now but rather the story of her, to erase the term “Fujiko Mine” out of existence. And that is a horrifying conclusion, if it goes according to plan.  I think of course though, that Fujiko’s trump card to gaining herself and her confidence back, in essence, will be the trump card she never thought of: the friends she has surrounded herself with. The people who have been affected by her spirit and presence, despite how false they were, and will do everything in their power to help her. Is that a moral code too? Perhaps not. But that’s the message of this show: human beings are unpredictable. They are dangerous, they are aloof, they are beautiful, and they are dark and mysterious. We’ll only have to wait out to see what happens next, I guess.

*Author’s Note: Steven is out for this week as well, which is why I’ll be doing this week’s Lupin and Tsuritama again.

Enjoyment Level: 7/10



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