While police fiction is very popular due to shows like C.S.I. and Law and Order, we all have a special place in our hearts for the criminal.
Whether it’s the smuggler with a heart of gold Han Solo or the serial killer with a moral code Dexter there’s something compelling about the bad guy.
In anime, there’s one crook that stands over all the rest, Arsène Lupin III. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the legendary Lupin the Third anime, a new series was created. This time focusing on Lupin’s female counterpart.
Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine is a 13 episode series directed Sayo Yamamoto (Michiko to Hatchin) with story compositing done by Mari Okada (Blast of Tempest).
Instead of retreading the ground made by the popular and long running Lupin the Third series, this series tells an origin story.
The focus of the series is put on femme fatale, Fujiko Mine (Michelle Ruff) as she first runs into the charming blazer wearing Lupin (Sonny Strait), the straight shooting bodyguard Jigen (Christopher R. Sabat), the wandering samurai Goemon (Mike McFarland) and the officers who try to track them down Zenigata (Richard Epcar) and his new assistant Oscar (Josh Grelle).
Over the course of the show a series of seemingly unrelated events lead the characters to meet for the first time and, in part, work together to decipher the past of titular character Fujiko.
At a glance it’s clear to see that the title was well financed as both the character design and animation are top notch.
The series plays with dark tones, and it’s visually represented with shadows. Heavy black lines are used in shadowing, darkening the bright character designs throughout the series. It’s a cool look and helps the series stand out from other similar titles.
The art style starts to stand out more during the latter episodes when we start to see dreamlike (or rather nightmare like) flashback scenes from Fujiko. The bright colours are whitewashed and negated by quick stylized editing and loud digital musical cues.
These moments are few at first but quickly become some of the more interesting visuals of the series. To talk more about it would only give more of the plot away, but let’s just say these visuals become stories main focus near the end of the series.
In the past the Lupin the Third franchise was known for it’s over the top action scenes. While there are a few in this series, the ones we get live up to the originals.
The shows budget comes into display, as the action is fluid and vibrant. While Lupin is more restrained at times, he does have a number of over the top moments that harken back to the original series.
One major change comes from the series shift to more adult content.
While the series has always been a bit salty this new series ends up taking it a step further and features a great deal of nudity from Fujiko as she uses her…assets to her advantage over the series. This is becomes clear by just watching the shows opening sequence. Just make sure the kids are out of the room before watching.
One of the things the original series was known for was it’s voice acting. This is something that’s carried over in this new series.
While I love David Hayter’s version of Lupin from the Castle of Cagliostro film, Funimation’s Lupin, Sonny Strait pulls off the role easily. Michelle Ruff also seems to fit the voice for titular character Fujiko.
In fact the only voice that really sticks out is Christopher Sabat’s as he makes Jigen. He ends up sounding a bit too much like Piccolo for a show that has it’s own legacy (that could just be me, he was one of my favourite characters in Dragon Ball).
In addition to the strong voice acting the music is excellent as well.
Series composer Naruyoshi Kikuchi gives each character their own catchy music cues that range from the frantic horns of Lupin’s action to the Asian influenced jazz used for Goemon. The latter of the two will stick in your head for a while.
Both the opening and closing themes are strong as well. The opening Wuthering Heights mixes the darkness of repeating string phrases with bright harpsichord melodies. The closing theme features a more modern take of R&B fitting in nicely with the characteristics of Fujiko.
In a nut shell the series is a love letter to the classic Lupin the Third anime. While it’s clear that there are some new ideas used, the show doesn’t stray from the things that made it loved by otaku.
All of the characters are interesting, the music is great and the story is interesting. Even if you’re not familiar with the small group of thieves, this series will certainly peek your interest and leave you wanting more.
Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine was produced by TMS Entertainment and Po10tial. The series was directed by Sayo Yamamoto and written by Mari Okada using characters created by Monkey Punch (Kazuhiko Kato). The series is licensed by Funimation Entertainment in North America and Manga Entertain in Europe.