Final Review: Lupin the Third: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna

DISCLAIMER: Anime reviews on this blog will attempt minimal to no spoilers unless other noted. If a review seems dull or shallow, it’s because I’m trying to make sure not to go into too detail for those who are actually interested in the show before or after reading the review or those who have yet to finish the title. If you want further details, there are usually tons of reviews that can be found elsewhere on the internet. Furthermore, anime reviews in general are the sole opinion of the author writing it and thus differ across the users. There is no such thing as a “right answer” only a majority agreement. You are free to have your own opinions and thereby free to state and/or argue/debate in the comments section below or on the Fansub TV Forums. The review is not necessarily meant to serve as a recommendation but rather a personal opinion of having completed the series.

Lupin the Third: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna is the fourth Lupin TV series since the Lupin the Third anime franchise first started. This is also the second Lupin work to feature the new Lupin cast after three of the four main seiyuus retired. The story focuses primarily on Mine Fujiko and takes place before Lupin and co. crew is formed, meaning, yes, it takes place before the original Lupin Pilot Film in 1969 and thereby making it the “first” series before any other story in the Lupin franchise. Lupin the Third: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna aired during the Spring 2012 anime season and was simulcasted by Funimation Entertainment, but has not yet been announced for home video distribution in the US.

Oh Lupin the Third… this franchise has always been amazing in many ways. Lupin the Third: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna adds to that record by providing a very different and unique chapter to the Lupin franchise. The series is much darker and significantly more adult and seinen oriented than any of the previous Lupin titles. There is not as much Lupin comedy because of this orientation but it certainly does have its perks still in a number of new ways. Let’s start with the story. The show starts off as simple one-offs with the first few episodes introducing the four “future” members of the Lupin cast: Lupin, Mine Fujiko, Jigen, and Goemon. Obviously, with the show being centered around Mine Fujiko, it explores the life Fujiko and her individual encounters with these three in the early days. Unlike the other Lupin titles, the show really dives in not only Fujiko’s character and past but also presents it in a highly convoluted and bizarre manner. While certainly not a bad thing to do it doesn’t really paint a clear and compelling picture. Furthermore, there is a lack of proper plot continuity for a show attempting to fully develop a single character. It does a nice job with bringing elements from various parts of the series to form a conclusion at the end, but needs better more reasonable cliffhangers.

Art wise is very well done. It really captures a retro feel while keeping up with the modern quality standards. The backgrounds are very detailed and the character designs are incredibly sharp and well designed to match the darker atmosphere of the series. Animation is by TMS Entertainment, which for this studio is very impressive. While TMS has worked on Lupin titles in the past, I believe this is their first time taking the lead on the actual project and boy was it fantastic, especially when compared to their previous works like Sengoku Otome ~Momoiro Paradox~ and Cardfight!! Vanguard.

OP/ED is the typical Lupin jazz feel from the 1970s. I’m not particularly fond of the genre but it certainly fits the show very nicely. The background music is also very well done along with solid sound effects all around. Seiyuu wise, Lupin is still Lupin. While I do miss the old Fujiko, Jigen, and Goemon, the new cast is certainly still very good and have high hopes for them as more Lupin works come out in the future.

Enjoyment? This is a 40+ year old franchise and it’s still alive and kicking well. As I’ve said before, it doesn’t have the same amount of Lupin fun as the other Lupin titles due to the darker themes but it’s unique in its own way. It definitely gave us quite the insight on who Mine Fujiko and explored a completely new realm of the franchise when you consider its target audience back when Lupin was just starting, including the 1971 TV series, 1977 TV series, and the Cagliostro movie by Hayao Miyazaki. For Lupin fans, I definitely would recommend watching this even though Lupin himself is not always present. As for those who were not fans of the Lupin franchise, this may provide a nice and new perspective on the franchise if you couldn’t get into it, especially since no prior knowledge is required due to it being chronologically set before even the first Lupin title.

Overall, it’s no masterpiece but certainly a solid title. I wouldn’t call it the best of 2012 but it’s definitely up there that can give many titles of this year thus far a run for its money.

 

Story and Character:

  • Premise (1/1): A completely new world in the Lupin franchise.
  • Character Personalities (1/1): Amazing cast returns.
  • Character Development (2/2): As it’s a show specifically about Mine Fujiko, it did a great job at diving into her character and past.
  • Character Usefulness/Presence (1.5/2): Solid overall, though Goemon’s appearances felt a bit forced and unnecessary.
  • Reasonable/Plausible (0/2): There are a lot of holes with Fujiko’s past that doesn’t really make sense. I see they want to make an atypical Lupin title, but it seemed far too stretched for it to be considered reasonable even for a Lupin title. Owl illusions are a bit too much.
  • Conclusion (0.5/1): Wraps things up. Odd conclusion that didn’t quite feel satisfying.
  • Total: 7/10

Art and Animation:

  • Backgrounds (2/2): Very detailed and creative.
  • Character Designs (2/2): Fitting with the series and consistent with other Lupin titles.
  • Fluidity (1/2): A lot of still shots. Motion seems very stiff.
  • Visuals/Special Effects/Flashiness (1/2): Very nice all around. Dark colored scenes need some improvement with lighting considering a large portion of the series is in a dark setting.
  • Art and Animation “Expectation” (2/2): Very well done for a TMS work.
  • Total: 8/10

Sound and Music:

  • OP/ED/Insert Themes (1/3): Fitting with the series, but I’m personally not fond of them.
  • Background Music (2/2): Slightly atypical Lupin music but fitting with the series.
  • Sound Effects (2/2): Well played.
  • Seiyuu (3/3): Lupin returns in his full glory while the rest returns with the new voices. Miyuki Sawashiro did quite the wondrous job as Fujiko.
  • Total: 8/10

Enjoyment:

  • Amusement (2/2): Lupin fun is still around even though Lupin and co. aren’t regularly around.
  • Weekly/Next Episode Anticipation (1/2): Started off strong but the lack of good cliffhangers or attention grabbing moments as the series progressed wasn’t really helpful.
  • Presentation (1.5/2): One off episodes for the most part. Ultimately ties it together but could feel “relatively” boring or repetitive until those “ah-ha” moments.
  • Re-watchable (1/1): Yes. Definitely a unique and still solid Lupin title.
  • Recommendation (2/2): Perfect for Lupin franchise fans as well as those new to franchise or those who disliked the typical Lupin fun. It provides a different perspective on things.
  • Value (0.5/1): Unique style is definitely there. Plot is a bit messy though so it could deter even the most hardcore Lupin fans.
  • Total: 8/10

Preliminary Score: 8/10

Final Score: 8/10

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