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Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 12, 2013 by  



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“Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine” is a sexually-charged, darker version of the world of Lupin the III but focusing on the femme fatale, Fujiko Mine.  Featuring a unique presentation for an anime series and edgier, sensual storyline more faithful to Monkey Punch’s manga, longtime fans of Lupin the III will no doubt enjoy this series.  Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2013 FUNimation Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2012

DURATION: 13 Episodes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), DolbyTrue HD 5.1, Japanese DolbyTrue HD 2.0, English subtitles

COMPANY: FUNimation

Release Date: August 20, 2013

Originally Created by Monkey Punch

Directed by Sayo Yamamoto

Series Composition by Mari Okada

Music by Naruyoshi Kikuchi

Character Design by Takeshi Koieke

Art Director: Seiki Tamura

Art Design by Takashi Miyano

Anime Production: po10tial, TMS Entertainment

Featuring the following voice talent:

Miyuki Sawashiro/Michelle Ruff as Fujiko Mine

Daisuke Namikawa/Mike McFarland as Goemon Ishikawa XIII

Kanichi Kurita/Sonny Strait as Arsene Lupin III

Kiyoshi Kobayashi/Christopher R. Sabat as Daisuke Jigen

Kanji Kodate as Count Luis Yew Armied

Katsumi Chou as Owl Head

Kouichi Yamadera/Richard Epcar as Inspector Zenigata

Yuuki Kaji/Josh Grelle as Oscar

She’s a thief. A killer. A saint and a scandal. She’s whatever you need her to be to get the job done. After sizing you up with one sinful glance, she disarms you with a touch. You’re powerless to resist. She’s walking seduction, with an insatiable itch for the priceless and a fetish for mischief. She takes your breath away to get what she wants. She takes everything else just because she can. It’s all in a night’s work for the woman called Fujiko Mine. She’s the slinky, sultry thread that holds Lupin III’s crew together – and this is the heist that started it all.

In Japan, “Lupin III” is one of the most appreciated manga franchises that still continues in Japan for nearly 50 years.

Originally created back in 1967 by Monkey Punch and first appearing in Weekly Manga Action, the popular manga series has have had many manga, anime TV series, five animated feature films, a live actoin film, three OVA’s and many specials including music CD soundtracks, video games and a musical.

“Lupin III” is about Arsene Lupin III, the world’s greatest thief.  But what makes this thief so different from other thieves is the fact that he sends a calling card to owners of the items he plans to steal.  And over the years, we have watched Lupin III and his allies such as Daisuke Jigen (the marksman), Goemon Ishikawa XIII (the master swordsman) and Fujiko Mine (femme fatale) taking on various missions while being pursued by police inspector Koichi Zenigata of ICPO.

In 2012, TMS Entertainment and Po10tial wanted to create an anime series but this time focused on the femme fatale Fujiko Mine and how she met Lupin III, Daisuke Jigen and Goemon Ishikawa XIII.  The series marks the first time that Lupin was not the main protagonist, the series is more faithful to the manga by featuring  a darker and serious story and also a series in which a Lupin series was directed by a female, Sayo Yamamoto (“Michiko and Hatchin”, “Galaxy Angel”, “ERgo PRoxy”, Texhnolyze”).  The series is also written by a female, Mari Okada (“AKB0048”, “Angel Tales”, “Black Butler”, “Black Rock Shooter”).

The series features music by Naruyoshi Kikuchi (“.hack//Legend of the Twilight”), character designs by Takeshi Koike (“Afro Samurai”, “Trava”, “World Record”) and art direction by Seiki Tamura (“Bakuju Gasshin Ziguru Hazeru”, “Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya”, “K-ON!”).

The 13-episode sereis focuses on Fujiko Mine, a deadly thief who takes on a variety of missions in disguise to get whatever she wants.  “Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine” also shows how Fujiko met Lupin the III, Daisuke Jigen, Goemon Ishikawa XIII and Koichi Zenigata.

VIDEO:

“Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine” is one of the most unique anime series that I have watched when it comes to animation.  Featuring a manga sketched out character design and backgrounds, you really don’t come across anime series that try to be this visually creative in an artistic type of way.  So, in many ways, to see the anime series done in this style is quite refreshing and also unique.  With that being said, it’s not an anime series that one would go search for vibrant colors or excessive detail as a lot of the artwork is line-art via sketch.  While colors for characters and their face and clothing are nicely painted, buildings or vehicles tend to have this matted look.

But it’s hard to criticize a series that looks much different from other series.  Black levels are nice and deep, I didn’t notice any banding issues or artifacts.  If anything, for an artistic and creative anime series, “Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine” looks very good in HD.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine” is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0.  The lossless audio may not be immersive but the dialogue and music are crystal clear and sound fantastic. As one would expect with the English dub receiving the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack, the dynamic range is much better with the English dub.  But both soundtracks are very good and well-acted.

While I grew up watching “Lupin the Third” back in the ’90s via its original Japanese presentation I eventually started listening to the English dub and my foray into Sonny Strait’s work as Lupin.  But watching “Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine”, Michelle Ruff literally won me over with her voice of Fujiko.

While there are many female voice actresses that can sound seductive, sexy, independent or strong, somehow voice actress Michelle Ruff really gets into the character of the femme fatale.  And for this series, you need to be at your best and she rocked it!  Amazing voice dub performance!

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine” features the following special features:

  • Episode 6 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Brina Palencia (Co-ADR Director) and Josh Grelle (voice of Oscar).
  • Episode 9 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Christopher Sabat (Co-ADR Director) with Sonny Strait (voice of Lupin III).
  • Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine Cast Reunion – (26:34) Featuring Richard Epcar (Zenigata), Mike McFarland (Goemon), Michelle Ruff (Fujiko Mine), Sonny Strait (Lupin) and Christopher Sabat (Co-ADR Director)
  • Fujiko Mine at OkraTron 5000 – (5:46) Michelle Ruff visiting OkraTron 5000 Studios and talking about playing the character of Fujiko Mine.
  • Textless Opening Song
  • Textless Closing Song
  • U.S. Trailer – FUNimation trailer for “Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine”
  • Trailers – FUNimation trailers

EXTRAS:

“Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine” Blu-ray also comes with the DVD version.

I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunities to watch the Lupin films, to meet creator Monkey Punch and also to be around when these special or films were released in Japan.  Growing up as an anime fan during the ’90s, “Lupin the Third” was well-received by anime fans at the time and it’s been awhile since I have seen anything Lupin related.

So, as a fan of the series, I was very excited to watch “Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine”, a series focusing on the sexy femme fatale and also starring all the other characters that we have seen in the past.

But this series is rather interesting because of its presentation, its edginess but also how Fujiko Mine is portrayed.

This is a woman who calls her own shots, doesn’t need a man to get things done, she is deadly and she gets what she wants.

But it’s probably the most mature presentation I have seen of Fujiko Mine in an anime series.  From the opening theme alone, she is fully nude and is probably the most mature opening theme for an animated TV series that I have ever seen.  It is important to note that because of the sexuality of the series and the nudity featured, the show was broadcasted in Japan at 1:29 a.m.

She’s not afraid of her sexuality, she’s not afraid to walk around nude in front of people and many of the guys that cross her path are taken by her.  Especially Lupin who seeks to conquer Fujiko Mine but finds her to be ravishing and lusts after her.  He knows she is deadly, using him but he sees her as a one of a kind rarity and loves when he is around her.

But we also get to know more about the woman and her tragic past and what drives her to do the things that she does.

The series is also fascinating because it shows how she met Lupin, Daisuke Jigen, Goemon Isikawa XIII and how she has this close relationship with Koichi Zenigata and why Oscar (Zenigata’s assistant) despises her.  And also learning about this mysterious owl investigation that has been watching over her for some apparent reason.

As mentioned earlier, the presentation of “Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine” is fantastic! As a storyline that tries to be more faithful to the manga in terms of a darker storyline, it also features characters and art backgrounds that look like they came out of a page of a manga.  Sketched out, featuring line art and a unique presentation that you don’t see with anime series.

Also, I like the fact that the series is directed and written by a woman.  I think there are some who would think by looking at the opening theme and the use of sexuality that this is some man’s perspective of trying to sexualize a popular character of a well-known anime series but that is not the case.

Both Japanese and English soundtracks were well-done but as one can expect from the English receive the 5.1 lossless soundtrack, the dynamic range is much better with the English dub.  And I have to say that I was pleased that FUNimation tried to bring back the original cast but also bringing back Sonny Strait as Lupin III.  But I was very impressed with Michelle Ruff’s voice acting for Fujiko Mine.  She literally put her voice and it embodied the character and giving one of the best performances I have heard from her.  I was very impressed with her voice acting and her ability to switch from going seductive, manipulative to emotionally losing i, she was able to put herself in the shoes of Fujiko Mine and was amazing!

You also get a few special features from audio commentaries plus a cast reunion included on the Blu-ray as well.

Overall, “Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine” is a sexually-charged, darker version of the world of Lupin the III but focusing on the femme fatale, Fujiko Mine.  Featuring a unique presentation for an anime series and edgier, sensual storyline more faithful to Monkey Punch’s manga, longtime fans of Lupin the III will no doubt enjoy this series.  Recommended!






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