Well, what can I say? Steven’s back in time to witness what I personally think was the best episode of Fujiko Mine yet.
illegenes: Talk about a satisfying build up indeed. Mine Fujiko has been really dealing its cards well, especially with the ‘trippy’ episodes, and this one was no exception. You could almost say that my jaw was hanging open the entire time- something I have to congratulate the entire staff on for. Not only was the animation exceptional, the use of background music well done, or the script fabulous- but the build up (which is just so crucial to creating an epic ending) was executed to a nearly perfect level. Stick in some more symbolical imagery and you’ve got what this show has been to me for the past 12 weeks- a delightful ride.
Whereas Mine Fujiko attempts (and in my opinion, answers) the question of what Fujiko Mine is and how she came to be who she is, it also offers us insight into the perception of a ‘story’ itself. Since episode 1 we’ve known that the foreboding, powerful and mysterious Owls have been in control of everything, and it’s here where everything is slowly falling into place. The disturbing imagery of broken dolls singing, live girls being turned into marionettes all speak to me that not only are the Owls sick, but they continue to seek a dominative, authoritative behavior that is cold and ruthless as it is dangerous and obsessive. The use of color in these scenes is visually striking, with the pinkish hues of gums and intestines, to the disarray of light blues and sickly greens to create a warped sense of paranoia. It obviously gets to Fujiko as she quite literally, loses it and starts shooting everything. Even Lupin loses his nerves, as shown with the ice cream being filled with maggots. Things go from bad to worse when it turns out (as I correctly predicted) that Oscar isn’t dead after all. Everyone has a score to settle here, not just Fujiko. But it is Fujiko who takes one last courageous step into the hall of the Count, who sends shivers running down my spine when he asks her to sit on his lap. With a breathtaking cliffhanger, Fujiko cries and calls the Count “Papa” and…blackout. Next week can’t come soon enough.
What I really enjoyed most was how the show broke the fourth wall and asked us what a story really is composed of. There are set characters, there’s a set plot, and in every story there’s a certain meaning or morale being given. The Story of Mine Fujiko then, does not deal simply with Fujiko herself, as the Owls say, but with everyone involved in her life. Perhaps everything was set in stone since the very beginning- one cannot say for sure, regarding the Owls’ omnipotent powers- but one of my favorite themes is the construction of predetermination in a character’s life, and this episode was about that and how the characters struggled against that very idea. Fujiko’s life has been controlled in every aspect since the start of her life. Her internal conflict on judging herself and setting standard expectations for herself only to have them constantly broken by her past, has finally taken central root in this episode. As the Count says himself: all of Fujiko’s interactions have simply been ‘keys’ to opening up her past. This episode sees the end of that, with the ‘treasure chest’ finally opened, and Fujiko, completely and utterly lost. It’s here we realize that Fujiko’s story is not a story. It is a symbol of complete and utter dominance; stories have at least, the slightest sense of freedom in allowing their characters to go wherever they want to. Fujiko is a bird trapped in a cage.
In a sense, it reminds me of Alan Wake which also deals with similar themes. Alan Wake is a writer who’s forced to write a horror story that comes true. Everything he finds was meant to be, his journey already predetermined by the things he wrote himself. He is his own fictional character; in Mine Fujiko Fujiko is the central protagonist but not in control of her own story. Likewise, Alan also is bound by a story he doesn’t even remember writing which has been corrupted and twisted by a Dark Presence who has used it for its own ends. The conclusion might be the same for Fujiko as it was for Alan: Fujiko will have to take the pen herself and rewrite her own story, seeking to become both the writer and the character, and write a true story. Of course, every action has a consequence in this show; in breaking the bonds that have so firmly bound Fujiko to her past and her predetermined fate, Fujiko might lose everything she has meant to gain in her life. What’s ironic is that we know what Fujiko is like afterwards- there is a sequel that exists, so our fears are alleviated. But the true purpose of Mine Fujiko is not to show us the end result of Mine Fujiko. We already know that. Rather the show seeks to answer why and how she becomes Fujiko Mine. So far the ride has been great, with the last one third of this series really showing off its true colors. It’s going to be sad to see it go.
I don’t know about you guys, but Mine Fujiko has been quite the ride, so here’s to hoping the conclusion is just as satisfying as the beginning (and the rest of the show)!
*Author’s note: I’m currently recovering from a fever (just when I was finally about to catch up!) so Saint Seiya, Eureka Seven AO and Nazo no Kanojo along with the last Jormungand will be on delay until Friday.
gallifreyians: I mean, what can I really say about Mine Fujiko? This show is easily my favorite of the series, and this show exemplifies why. Lupin the Third: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna is exceptional in both it’s narrative (plot, character, themes, symbolism) and production (animation, music).
One of the things that I have really enjoyed about Lupin so far is how each weak the plot has gotten subtly more complex. In the beginning, when I watched “Master Thief vs Lady Looter”, I was enamored by the relationship between Lupin and Fujiko they presented and really didn’t care about the specifics of what was happening in the episode. Now, however, I look back on that episode and see what I had considered a simple plot as actually important and splendidly complicated. Really each episode has introduced a new character or concept or event that, while seeming random, fit into the larger plot of the show. Episode ten was the ultimate culmination of these disjointed pieces as the much teased owls took the stage and revealed their narrative significance as a powerful, international organization. In our closing two-parter we get to the good part though, which is putting together all of these pieces and figuring out Mine Fujiko, the show and the girl. I honestly cannot cannot say anymore what has relevance and what doesn’t, and that makes me really happy, because the not knowing builds up a definite tension and suspense for the next episode.