Author Topic: Rewatching Fujiko and I think I don't like it anymore.... [Unmarked SPOILERS!!!]  (Read 858 times)

Shin Lupin Sansei

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So I am rewatching the Fujiko series for the first time since release and I am having a completely different response to the show. Previously I loved how they modernized and adultified (is that a word?) the show and I felt it was akin to how the new Casino Royale reinvented Bond for the modern era. But on rewatching the show it is much more problematic of a viewing experience for me.

To begin with the animation on the whole is very inconsistent. Sometimes it is just sucks trash. In the Jigen intro episode for example cars on the road are literally not even animated. They are just Flash drawings being moved along by a computer script. Also before I wanted the pencil filter removed as I felt it detracted from the animation. Now I realize it is there to cover up some very inconsistent quality workmanship. There are some nicely animated scenes throughout, like in the tattooed girl episode when fujiko is rope swinging over cliffs and such. But far too many scenes in the series look like something from some obscure independent animation film, or something out of Heavy Metal just with a different theme.

Also I don't like the darkness of the show on rewatch either. Which is weird because I have no issue with films like Vampire Hunter D Bloodlust, Ninja Scroll, X, etc. But the child abuse angle to the show is honestly too extreme and unnecessary. It works to establish her character, and works well, I just find it very tasteless.

Then there is Oscar. Two entire episodes dedicated to this weirdo. Whose idea was this? Because they should never be allowed to work in the anime industry again, lol. So inconsistent... he wants fujiko, he hates her, he chastizes her for being a "worthless receptacle of male lust" and yet that is exactly what he want to be. Whoever's idea it was to work out their own inner gender-bending sexual confusion on screen pretty much ruins this series with this absurd trope of a character. Then there is Zenigata...who is frigging awesome in this show. But takes a back seat to his assistant Oscar! WTF?!?!?!

I will say the music kicks @$$ however. I know everyone love Ohno's work but honestly outside of while watching a Lupin anime I have no interest in listening to his tunes. By contrast I find the music in Fujiko to be much more interesting and unique. Also the show COMPLETELY works as on origin story. Just not sure I ever want to see it again. Anyone else have similar responses after repeated viewings?
« Last Edit: May 19, 2018, 08:44:57 pm by Shin Lupin Sansei »

VampireNaomi

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I also like the series less and less every time I go back to watch episodes of it. After the first viewing, I was really impressed by a lot of the things it did and said, but not so much anymore. Like you, I love the music, and I also enjoy the character designs. The darker take on the characters works in some episodes, such as the Jigen introduction episode. And in general, I like how the guys are portrayed in the series, with the notable exception of Zenigata because they took it too far with him. The sex scene with Fujiko in episode 4 and how he tried to burn her with his cigarette is one of my most hated scenes in the whole franchise. I like when he's competent, but Zenigata needs to be a good person in my eyes.

My main problems with the series all have something to do with Fujiko. The child abuse angle was too dark for me, but I almost wish they'd stuck with it in the end because the way they pulled the rug from under the viewer's feet and went "Ha! Everything we told you about her was a lie! She's a mystery! She doesn't need a backstory!" was bull. The only thing the series had to say about her in the end was that she likes sex and using it to get what she wants from men, and that's boring and bleak. In a series that claims to be all about Fujiko, I wanted to know about her hobbies, her taste in things, what she does in her spare time (other than being sexy, it seems), if she has any friends, how she grew up, what opinions she has etc. etc. When you look at the official Japanese website for the franchise and click on the character profiles, you'll see that they have a tiny bit to say about the guys, like that Jigen listens to classical music. But for Fujiko, all they offer are her measurements. And that sums up my issues with this spin-off, it doesn't even try to portray Fujiko as anything more than someone who is sexy. I have no problem with sexual content, but surely there's more that can be done with Fujiko as a character.

SolHerald

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I haven't watched it in its entirety since my first viewing (so forgive me if I'm rusty on the details), but when I first watched it, I thought it was really good. Probably because we had years of vanilla TV specials, so the Fujiko series was a big shock for the franchise, the music, animation, character representation, etc. After rewatching a few episodes (this is a while back), I'm like "well, this is just ok I guess." Some episodes are quite good, but than others I can't even remember a single detail on. I'm glad Koike took the series and ran with it because his movies are quite the improvement. He also got the specific darker feel of the manga down better; as much as I complain about the drill robot in Jigen's Gravenstone, it actually felt like something that would be in a Monkey Punch manga, weird, sexual, and silly. Owl people experimenting and doing weird stuff to little kids? Not so much.

In regards to Oscar, I never liked him, the biggest issue is that he gets so much screen time. The series was only 13 episodes long, not a long time, and instead of giving more time to the main cast, they give it to an extremely lame one-time character. He is such a flat character, his only driving force is that he is gay and wants Zenigata REALLY bad and hates Fujiko, to the point where he becomes a full-on murderous psychopath. If you're gonna have a gay character why not have them be an actual interesting character with realistic flaws/perks, likes/dislikes, and fact that they are gay is just a part of their character.

If they were gonna give Zenigata a partner, they should have given him a female cop partner. Since he was the hard-boiled "bad cop", she would be the "good cop". She would still have feelings for Zenigata, and that would be one reason she would chase after Fujiko, but the main reason would be for her sense of justice. She could also actually have a more developed and interesting relationship with Zenigata and by the end of the show could have been the reason Zenigata would later become the "good cop" he is generally considered. Also having Fujiko face off against a competent female adversary, one with a polar-opposite personality, would have been much more interesting.

I agree with VampireNaomi, the twist at the end pissed me off, even when I watched it the first time. Great, all the 13 episodes of her being a broken, crazy woman ended with "just kidding, I've always been a promiscuous thief. *wink*"

Idk how well it would have worked, but I kinda wish the series just had Fujiko, a one-time character, and maybe Zenigata for a majority of the show. We don't see Lupin, Jigen, or Goemon at all, or until the very end. So that so much more time would have been dedicated to fleshing out Fujiko. And, we could have seen her performing heists and all sorts of other criminal adventures.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2018, 10:29:30 pm by SolHerald »

Fujiko Lover

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Interesting comments, everyone! Watching Part IV on Adult Swim got me really interested to check this one out again, but I just never got around to it. It’s still on the “to-do” list, though.

I did mostly like it at the time; in fact somewhere on this board is a long post I wrote on why I thought it was good. I didn’t care for Oscar or some of the darker elements like the child abuse stuff, but I really liked the treatment of Lupin and Jigen, plus Fujiko’s characterization and the art style.

So it’s fascinating to see some folks who initially liked it have gone the other direction. Now I’m really curious what I’ll think when I eventually finally rewatch.

Shin Lupin Sansei

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I didn't mind the ending at the time but thinking about it now it is basically the same as Episode 0...watch the whole thing to find out it is a lie. Perhaps not quite as bad as Episode 0 because while that was total BS Fujiko thought she had these experiences with the Owls because of all the weird memory implanting but still pretty close so I can definitely see why folks would be pissed with the ending. I am at the last two episodes for a week now and literally can't bring myself to watch them, lol.

Also given the total trash that mainstream American cinema and TV has become I find myself usually only watching either documentaries or anime. My wife watches most shows with me but she hated fujiko though she enjoys the better lighthearted Lupins so this rewatch has been one of my "late night" shows I watch when she goes to bed along with things like Legend of the Galactic Heroes or Gundam that she has no interest in. So on an interesting aside every night I have watched this before bed I have experienced the weirdest of dreams. Not specifically Fujiko-related but totally bizarre as if I was in a Lovecraft story. The only other thing I can think of to cause this for me was the PS2 game Haunting Ground which I recently acquired but stopped playing due to a similar experience every time I played it before bed, lol.

I really liked Zenigata in this series before but I had never noticed the attempt to burn Fujiko during their tryst. Also in Episode 11 when he essentially lets Oscar know what he has been up to and tries to act like he is the one who walks the moral high-ground it is absurd given his Weinsteining of Fujiko. He is a dirty cop and that makes him worse than Lupin. I do like the more hard-boiled tone and that he is completely Lupin's equal not a bumbling bafoon as he is often portrayed be he is completely hypocritical and inconsistent.

I do really like Lupin, Goemon, and Jigen in this series however and when the show focuses on them it excels. The episode with Jigen and Lupin facing off in the pyramid for example was one of the better parts of the series. I do very much prefer the direction Koike's films are taking the series over this show which he was only somewhat involved with.

penguintruth

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I only appreciate it more with each watch (except that Cuban expy episode, which is so DULL) and what it says about Fujiko. A lot of thematic/emotional complexities and amazing artwork. It kind of distills the gleeful meanspiritedness of many of the manga chapters (though that element is usually neutralized in the manga with more silly sight gags to compensate). But I think I like the overall product more than individual episodes, as I don't really have a favorite one.

Lupus Zeniga

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THE WOMAN CALLED FUJIKO MINE was a change in pace from the cartoon hero trickster Lupin, which had been getting stale by the 2010s (about forty years on after Miyazaki pioneered Lupin in that characterization). It was a refreshing change and a definite success, as it produced the JIGEN GRAVESTONE and GOEMON BLOODSPRAY features, but there were parts of it I didn’t like.


GOOD POINTS
The return to the manga/Green Jacket anime criminal Lupin revived the dark, gritty, hardboiled side of Lupin and his gang – a welcome revival that brought back Monkey Punch’s original noir work back into relevance and showed that they were not to be underestimated. It does some things better than the Green Jacket show too IMO, since that show was held back by its time and couldn’t be as adult-oriented as this show.

The setting – the 60s-70s era, where espionage, mystery and adventure was in abundance – does Lupin and Co glorious credit and suits that group wonderfully.

The artwork in this show is beautiful to see. I consider it a high point for Lupin animation. The cross-hatchings and shades may have been too much, but it emphasizes the shadowy underworld of cops and robbers. 














The music is good too, as good as what Yuji Ohno did (I won't say better). It helps that the music crew had Shinichiro Watanabe, a talented musician (Space Dandy, Kids on the Slope) and a noted Lupin fan, he and Ohno should get together some day.


BAD POINTS
However, I did think the show had some problems, specifically in the story and partly the characterization.

The story is centered round Fujiko and tries to present a possible origin for her. So what happens is an origin involving a secret cartel that specializes in clones, an angle that’s been seen in many Lupin stories – Mamo, Tokyo Crisis, the Blue Jacket show – to be really worthwhile. Also, to set up an prequel/origin tale for Fujiko – a story that is implied to involve child pornography – and then to just dismiss it strikes me as a letdown. I mean, I’m glad there was no child porn, but still to use a twist like that just spoils the story IMO. It’s like with IRON MAN 3, where the Mandarin was set up as an opponent only to find out there is no Mandarin.

But then, I believe that any of the Lupin gang never needed detailed origin stories, or prequels. Their characterization is simple enough to fit a lot of stories (capers, adventures, etc), and interpretations (from dark and criminal to light and comedic). The most we get are encounters from their past, and that’s enough.


Regarding characterization, the four main cast members – Lupin, Fujiko, Jigen and Goemon – were suitably darkened and edged up in a satisfactory manner. They’re criminals, femme fatales and mercenaries; a touch of treachery, rivalry and mean-spiritedness is expected in that business. I found it awkward at first, but I soon got over it.

The only person that really disappointed me is Inspector Zenigata – he is driven and defined by his loyalty and respect to the law, making him a hardboiled detective who engages in trysts and deceitful tactics does him no credit at all. The setting though is a cynical one. in keeping with the film-noirish tone (corrupt officials undermining law work), so his gray-shaded was a product of that setting; IMO there needed to be some stories that show his service to the law was a worthwhile endeavor.   

I could also have done without Oscar, Zenigata’s effeminate subordinate who had a crush on his boss. That was a pointless addition IMO that only served to act as some weird twisted love rival to Fujiko.


So on the whole, Fujiko has its highs, but its lows too. But it’s still enjoyable by itself, and may be the best portrayal of hardboiled Lupin to date.