Lupin the Third is the manga franchise the features the the titular master thief, Lupin III. In Lupin The Third – The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, the thief is tasked with stealing various objects at the request of certain individuals. The Lupin franchise is by the Manga artist, Monkey Punch, and is an older series that was published in the Weekly Manga Action magazine. This recent anime story is by TMS Entertainment and released by Hanabee here in Australia. The complete series has 13 episodes in total, spanning across two collections. We have previously reviewed the first season, which you can check out here.
The story in Lupin The Third – The Woman Called Fujiko Mine focuses strongly on the seductive Fujiko Mine for the first part of the series after she is introduced early on in one of Lupin’s adventures in thieving. Interestingly, the main character focus switches from Fujiko in the first half to Lupin in the second half. This story structure is a little strange, but it works incredibly well with this series, especially when the two plots meet up in the middle of the story. Although, it can be a little confusing when two episodes next to each other in the middle have the similar content, but the focus is on another characters perspective of the story.
The stories progression in this Lupin series is quite interesting and takes some interesting themes and works them into a show about thievery. More interestingly is that while the first half of the show feels like a crime story with lots of tits, stealing, guns and danger, the second half feels quite a bit like a detective story. This is both interesting and a little strange, as Lupin is a master thief, and not a detective. However, the investigations come as a part of Lupins new job to steal Fujiko, and leads into quite an interesting backstory into her past. As a story with two halves, I want to say that the second half is much better than the first, but I think that without the focus on Fujiko in the first half, the second wouldn’t be so strong.
Quite often, it feels like the first half of the show is an excuse to have Fujiko get naked and be lewd. This aspect of the show is a part of Fujiko’s personality as she seems to enjoy thieving and doing promiscuous things. She has especially caught the eye of Lupin, and he is frequently seen saying that he is going to steal her for himself, rather than at the request of his employer at one point. From a design perspective, Fujiko is designed to be an incredibly attractive woman, and she really is. She almost too ideal of a woman physically and her personality shows that she is aware of just how attractive she is. This is shown in multiple examples in the series, especially in the first half.
One of the things that stick out with The Woman Called Fujiko Mine is that the artstyle is very unique and distinct in comparison to other anime series’. The aesthetics themselves are much more suited to an older generations art style found in manga, with things having a more stylised and creative look, rather than an absolutely realistic look with exaggerated facial styles. This Lupin series is definitely reminiscent of an era in design where risks could be made in manga to stand out from the competition. However, sometimes this style does get in the way of fluidity, with things often looking a bit more stiff than they should. It’s kind of like watching a manga, but also watching an anime. It’s probably not the best approach, but it’s the approach the staff have taken. Although, thanks to this style, there are some moments that are reminiscent of a more classic series. Like, when Fujiko is chasing Lupin and this girl through a hotspring and she’s shooting at them with a submachine gun, there would be this bullet hitting the ground effect, which isn’t seen too often these days outside of a comedy moment.
One of the things that is a bit weird is that the first half of the series skips an episode in the DVD version, while the second half of the series skips an episode on the BD version. Fortunately, the release comes with both releases, with each half also coming collected in a collectors book within the cool collectors box. It’s just a bit odd that it skips an entire episode and it alternates on each format. The booklets let you know which episodes are being skipped, but for people without a DVD or BD player, they’re probably getting shafted by one entire episode.
We mentioned in our previous review that both languages are workable in Lupin The Third. This is still the case in this release. However, Lupin himself doesn’t quite sound right in English, but the rest of the cast are pretty fine. Especially Fujiko, whoever did her voice got her down perfectly. The opening is a narration of Fujiko’s about herself for both halves of the season, a narration that actually foreshadows the story in a cryptic way. If you watch the series, at one point the narration clicks and you’re like “Oh! That’s what she’s talking about”. It suits the series quite well. The ending theme is a song and it is quite catchy.
Overall, Lupin The Third – The Woman Called Fujiko Mine is an excellent anime series that is a standout showing for the medium. The story itself is interesting, mature, and entertaining while also portraying some rather interesting events. The art style is very unique within the medium and adds a tonne to the experience of the series. We’d definitely recommend Lupin the Third – The Woman Called Fujiko Mine to anime fans everywhere, even to people that aren’t anime fans just yet.
Lupin The Third – A Woman Called Fujiko Mine is released by Hanabee here in Australia. It comes in a collectable box with two booklets and a copy of the BD and DVD editions of the series. This review is based on the BD for the first half and the DVD for the second half (so we could see all of the episodes). Review copy was provided by Hanabee. You can purchase the series on Hanabee’s website for ~$80. Image taken from DVD source. Pictured – not Fujiko Mine.