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Title: Lupin the Third: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna
Genre: Action, Comedy, Psychological
Summary: Many people are falling prey to a suspicious new religion. Lupin III infiltrates this group, hoping to steal the treasure their leader keeps hidden. There he lays eyes on the beautiful, bewitching woman who has the leader enthralled. This is the story of how fashionable female thief Fujiko Mine first met Lupin III, the greatest thief of his generation.
Review: Oh how I missed the Lupin series after seeing it as a little kid back on the famous Cartoon Network, the only stop source of anime for the American youth. I found it interesting because it different from the usual anime that aired like Bleach and Naruto that I wont badmouth, but they both follow the same basic formula. Lupin III has always held a special place in my anime heart for being funny, interesting, a little strange. Maybe it was my innocent mind believing become a world class thief was a viable career choice until I realized it actually requires a lot of tact, skill, and planning. When I saw yet another spin-off of Lupin III coming out I knew I had to wathc it. I couldn’t wait to watch the crazy antics Lupin pulled or the near impossible heists. I couldn’t wait to see all the old faces and characters which made me like the series in the first place. Much to my surprise Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna was nothing like the original series and had a much darker note to it. It was mysterious, edgy, and far more story oriented than my original expectations. Thankfully that also meant the season went far and beyond my original expectations.
The art for Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna looked like a movie the whole way through. It was darker, artistic, and downright amazing. As I said earlier the story was a lot darker this time around with a lot of psychological elements. I’m extremely happy that they decided to change the art style to fit the portfolio. The backgrounds tended to be darker and shadowing was done with thick black lines adding a new edge to art that you don’t normally see in anime. The characters also weren’t very vibrant and didn’t stand out much from the bleak background. This added a lot to the character development and backgrounds because none of them had the brightest past. Whether it be a lone assassin who can’t find true love, or a samurai lost in the modern era, the character design and coloring always matched. I’m quite happy with what they did and there were a lot of solid scenes. More importantly, they didn’t stray too far from the original design so it was obvious that everything was tied in to the original series. The best way you could put it is the art was “tweaked” to fit the new story.
Along with some solid artwork the series did a phenomenal job story telling. I have read other reviews and tweets about the series that weren’t so flattering, some downright mean. However, my opinions are based only what I felt while watching the anime and that was pure enjoyment. From start to finish the story gripped me and held on tight. There were times I started to fade away from being eager to watch every week, but that soon returned once I picked up the series again a couple days after release. It always had something going on, a deeper meaning under the surface of entertainment and theft. Surprisingly they also tied in episodes with one another to a much bigger picture. I was used to the Lupin III that was more episodic and had a single theft every week. This one followed a roughly similar pattern but told a great story about Fujiko. As I said earlier, the season was much darker than I expected and had a lot to do with more taboo themes. The characters were given a lot more depth with solid background stories and a brilliant method to tie them all together. This I think was the most important detail about Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna. The characters didn’t necessarily like each other or have the same goals in mind but when it came down to it they ended up working together in some strange fashion. It was nice to see a change of pace from the normal anime who have distinct groups or organizations plotting against one another. What this anime offered was a band of misfits thrown together with completely different pasts somehow meeting up thanks to a single, beautiful, mischievous woman by the name of Mine Fujiko. However, I can’t say that was the story’s best aspect because it was the final arc that really had me fall for this anime. My jaws literally dropped in awe when everything was pulled together and unraveled the mystery behind Mine Fujiko. Her past wasn’t pleasant and filled with jewels and money. Instead it was filled with regret, anger, fear, and confusion. Her personality and theft operations also became clear, extending far beyond petty cash. The amount of work the creators put into the characters was amazing, and for anyone who has read some of my past reviews you will know that I’m a sucker for anime with great character development. For those of you who aren’t so much into learning about the characters this anime still had a lot of other great things about it. The dialogue and mini-plots were all very entertaining. Even if you aren’t a fan of the Lupin III series or haven’t seen any at all I would suggest giving this a go. It really differs from all the others I’ve seen.
The soundtrack was probably the only thing that will remind you of the past series. It kept with the classic Lupin III sound of smooth jazz and witty lyrics. The very beginning of the opening was probably the most addicting thing in the Spring 2012 season. When I heard in my headphones I instantly knew what I was getting into. Overall there wasn’t much else to say about the sounds though. If you enjoy Japanese jazz or a fan of the previous Lupin III soundtrack give it a go. I’m personally not the biggest fan of jazz (with the exception of Sakamichi no Apollon) so I didn’t really check out any of the full tracks.
Final statements: Despite what a lot of people are saying I actually thoroughly enjoyed watching this spin-off of Lupin III. It had a darker atmosphere and strong character development. It’s a high priority watch in my book and I hope that others feel the same way. If not I would always love to hear why that is too! Also a little fun fact, Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna was directed by a woman. You may think that sounds sexist but honestly after watching it I can’t say I expected it.