Weekend Review: Lupin III – A Woman Called Fujiko Mine

This weekend we’re taking a look at a recently concluded anime series, and the latest installment of the Lupin III series, with Lupin III – A Woman Called Fujiko Mine.

EDIT: I’ve realized that I had failed to include the score for acting when this review was originally published. The error has been corrected.

Cast & Crew
Kanichi Kurita as Arsene Lupin III
Daisuke Namikawa as Goemon Ishikawa XIII
Kiyoshi Kobayashi as Daisuke Jigen
Miyuki Sawashiro as Fujiko Mine
Kouichi Yamadera as Inspector Zenigata
Yuuki Kaji as Oscar

Directed by Sayo Yamamoto
Series Composition by Mari Okada
Characters created by Monkey Punch
Animated by TMS Entertainment

Available for streaming (in the US) on Hulu.com

The Premise
The series follows the members of Lupin III’s merry band of thieves before they formed as a cohesive group – with the focus on femme fatale Fujiko Mine, and the new villain Count Lewis You Alemeida.

The High Points
Good news! This show basically succeeds at being the best Lupin III series of all time. The series does a fantastic job of mixing the humorous elements of earlier series with some of the more serious elements of the manga. However, this feels darker than the manga ever was, but without going into the realm of grim-dark.

The Low Points
There’s been this unfortunate trend in pop culture recently of strong female characters getting rape added to their backstories to explain why they’re strong. In Metroid: Other M, Samus responded to Ridley like he was her rapist. The Tomb Raider reboot has an attempted rape against Lara. And now, in this series, Fujiko could be described as a double victim of rape – she is mind-raped by having the memories of a repeat rape victim implanted into her mind.

Content Notes
Hoo boy. There is alot of female nudity in this show. If you include the opening credits, I suspect that this show just might have more female nudity in the 13 episodes of this show then the first season of Game of Thrones did.

Originality: The series is a spin-off of a classic anime, but one that puts its own unique spin on the source material. 5/6.

Animation: This show is gorgeous. It’s like TMS, who also worked on Batman: The Animated Series, went back to their experience on that show and said, “What if we took some stylistic cues from that – but instead of combining 1950s design with modern technology, we do 1960s design – and we use shadow the same way B:TAS did? ” And they did, and it worked! The fact that they got the director of Redline to come on the show to work as an animation director also helped a great deal. 6/6

Acting: The acting is extremely good. The actors who play the big 5 (Lupin, Jigen, Goemon, Fujiko, & Zenigata) have been playing these characters for several years now, and they feel like they’ve come to fit comfortably in these roles. This also means that they’re also good at playing these characters in mental or psychological situations that are different than how we’ve seen them before, which is ¬†great. 6/6

Story: The show is well written, with each of the stand alone episodes holding up well on their own, while also contributing a great deal to the larger picture. I’d compare this show to Babylon 5’s first season, where each episode adds to the overall narrative, but (with a few exceptions), is completly newbie friendly. 5/6.

Emotional Response: Ultimately, you’re going to be this show for two reasons – you either want to know more about Fujiko, or you want to learn more about how the Lupin gang got togeather. Well, good news, the writers give the Lupin gang chemistry, without coming across as too familiar – which is exactly what I wanted, and something which I suspect is a little difficult to do. 5/6

Production: I’m not going to say that this is the Lupin work with the highest production values (that would be Castle of Cagliostro), but this comes pretty darn close. 5/6.

Overall: I’d consider this show superior the earlier TV series. 6/6.

In total, I give this series 38/42.