Colloquium: Lupin III – The Woman Called Fujiko Mine Episode 1 (NSFW)

Fujiko Mine, Mine Fujiko, Lupin III, Lupin the Third, Fujiko, A Woman Called Fujiko Mine Episode 1

“Now, stop what you’re doing. And look upon me as your heart beats fast.”

ajthefourth: Warning! This post will contain NSFW images. If you are at work, you probably shouldn’t read this post. Why?

Because, if one thing could be said about this series, it’s that Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine is sexy.

Sexy in a way that one rarely sees; in a dangerous manner that is as provocative as it is alluring. This series isn’t meant to make you comfortable, just as the promise of intercourse, at first blush, is hardly something comforting. It’s meant to make your toes curl, your knees quiver, your breath catch, and your heart rate quicken instinctively when you see something like this:

Do I have your undivided attention?

Fanservice is an odd thing. Sexual fanservice, nudity and the like, is present in a myriad of series each season; however, not one episode of those series have ever been as attractive, to me personally, as this first episode of Fujiko. One only has to take a look at the late-night anime lineup of the past several years and no fewer than three series per season will appear, calling out to the frustrated viewer with their siren’s songs of pantyshots, dissolving clothing, and perhaps, if one is particularly lucky, a nipple slip during a shower scene. These events are usually played up for comedic effect and there is the prevailing attitude that intercourse is so far beyond the male lead who is attempting to woo these women (he’s either hopelessly embarrassed by the female body or drooling over it; in both cases his attitude is used for humorous purposes) that it removes the sharper edge that the promise of sex can hold.

This isn’t to say that these series are inherently bad, but for me, they’re certainly not inherently sexy. I want something beyond titillation that is meant to be humorous, indirectly glancing my libido with empty promises. No, I want a direct assault on my heart, and in that sense, through its presentation, style, and attitude, Fujiko delivers.

vucubcaquix: Before we get a bit too carried away, we should make clear the fact that Fujiko is definitely pure pandering. The sexuality on display isn’t set up to illuminate some greater truth about the human condition. No, this is titillation straight and true. But what about it stirred our passions enough to expend the effort to extol its virtues regardless?

Simple: this is a kind of pandering that just happens to use a visual aesthetic and sensibility about the female body that appeals to the both of us.

There will be much made about the overt sexuality in coming days, as even notable directors will decry the triumph of style over substance, but style in a commercial art such as anime is nothing to be dismissed outright. Lupin III – The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, while drenched in raw eroticism, I would contend is not wanton pornography without clear direction. The Fujiko project is a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Lupin III animated franchise, and as such the deliberate calls and attention paid to the female form seem to remind one of the sexploitation genre of film-making of that era. There’s a certain playfulness, irreverence, and ease with female nudity in the genre that arose from a confluence of factors, ranging from a favorable Supreme Court ruling to prevailing cultural attitudes about sex becoming less conservative. It wouldn’t be a stretch in my mind to say that Fujiko, this Lupin III reboot, arms itself with sexuality the same way these films did in the sixties and seventies in a manner that isn’t as prevalent in modern cinematic styles.

If not sexploitation, then perhaps the Pinku Eiga? If sexploitation isn’t a readily identifiable style to Japanese audiences, then the Pink Film most definitely is. The Pink Film was a style of film-making that arose in Japan in the sixties and seventies. It was a result of the creative restriction placed on Japanese filmmakers that were being exposed to imported American films by Russ Meyer and the like of the sexploitation vein, while still being hampered by their own country’s censorship laws. What arose was a very unique and stylistic approach to nudity and sexuality that avoided the “working bits” that would trigger the censorship laws of the time. This style was developed and cultivated into something distinct that you can see echoes of in a few modern productions such as Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, and now Sayo Yamamoto‘s Fujiko.

Behold Sex & Fury for an example of what I’m talking about. Warning, the video has gratuitous nudity and violence.

Our “hero.”

ajthefourth: First displaying his “Act of the Entrance” on August 10th, 1967 in Weekly Manga Action, Lupin III was hardly a warm and fuzzy gentleman thief. Instead, he was known as a ruthless killer and sometimes rapist. Fujiko aims to harken back to these days of the manga characterization of Lupin III (or the “Red Jacket” anime series), before Hayao Miyazaki supposedly ruined Lupin III by making Castle of Cagliostro (one of my personal favorite anime films). I disagree that Lupin III is ruined for the change in characterization, but there is definitely a notable tonal shift in the way that he appears to care more about others in Cagliostro.

This isn’t to say that Lupin is going to immediately begin ravaging every woman he meets and murdering all others in Fujiko; however, it’s interesting to note that he appears alone, and the first person he interacts with is Fujiko herself. It lacks the “gang is all here” sense that I’ve seen in previous iterations of the series.  In addition to this, there is a certain moral gray area that both Lupin and Fujiko exemplify in this episode which furthers the series’s sex appeal.

Their repartee as they size each other up, both physically and mentally, is just as sexy as any possible nudity could hope to be. These are two clever and morally ambiguous people, whose best thinking is done when they are at each others’ throats. Both are equally prepared to do whatever it takes to get what they want, and in their selfishness, are interesting and appealing characters that one can’t help but want to see more of.

vucubcaquix: These two do their best thinking while at each others’ throats, if not down each others’ throats as well. Sex and danger are intertwined in this production as the moral ambiguity of our main duo is painted as a reflection of what makes them very seemingly adult, in addition to coloring the design of the characters themselves. So along with the curves of Fujiko’s breasts, lips, and hips, we have the ferocity in the musculature of her legs in her thighs and calves. Fujiko is sensual and sexy for sure, but she also looks dangerous. That itself adds to her appeal.

Is this an objectification of Fujiko’s body? By extension, is this objectification of the female body in general? Yes, it is.

It’s a habit that’s been pushed back on by many circles, but in the particular medium we consume—anime—I’d argue that this specific style of audience pandering is itself a slight push back on the currently prevailing attitudes regarding female sexuality. Namely that of emphasizing the physical sexual characteristics of a woman while simultaneously infantilizing the girl who possesses them. This is related to the de-fanging of sexuality in anime that my partner alluded to above. Sex doesn’t need danger in order to be alluring, but the sterilization of it in many works of anime is in no way effective in appealing to either of our particular tastes.

Sex is heavy. Sex is raw. Sex is powerful. But with that and because of that, sex is fun. There’s an ease and confidence to which this show handles this decidedly loaded subject, and it wears it breezily as the audience is carried along that reinforces and imbues the core of this production with that very throbbing sensuality.

Confidence is sexy after all.

16 Comments

Filed under Colloquia, Lupin III - The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, Lupin III - The Woman Called Fujiko Mine

16 responses to “Colloquium: Lupin III – The Woman Called Fujiko Mine Episode 1 (NSFW)

  1. “Their repartee as they size each other up, both physically and mentally, is just as sexy as any possible nudity could hope to be.”
    “Sex is heavy. Sex is raw. Sex is powerful. But with that and because of that, sex is fun.”

    I’ve already declared it, but I LOVE YOU both~ such a stylish and informative writing! And I also fell in love with the series at first sight. Seeing you two praising it is more than enough to make me rejoice after other bloggers have expressed a very negative opinion about it and thus made me feel a bit superficial… Still, their opinion triggered some thoughts in my mind in love, hence, what if Lupin III: Fujiko Mine leaves me with the sour taste Mawaru penguindrum left me? In other words, let’s hope that the story, plot and characters will get better and that we won’t be left only with awesome music and visuals.

    As for the boob issues, I think I’m a pretty touchy person when it comes to fanservice, but I never thought Fujiko’s bossom was annoying. She’s quite a promiscuous woman after all. And there are no silly jiggling breasts, with only a few and descent close shots.

    About the objectification I have to say 2 things: 1. what I always say about it, namely it’s human nature, it’s fiction and if distincted from reality there should be no problem. Women objectify men or other women, too. Sex is raw, as you said. 2. the opening and the lyrics leave a promise about Fujiko’s place in the story – she won’t simply be an object/ a slave, she’ll also play the role of the master.

    Will you follow it every episode? That’d be delightful :)

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: We’re a bit…ah…whimsical in the way we approach blogging in that we only speak to things that inspire us to write. We could end up blogging more of Fujiko, but chances are that it won’t be an episodic because, even with Mawaru Penguindrum, which we blogged to completion, no series can hit it out of the ballpark every episode. Therefore, there’s not always something to say about every episode, even if said episodes are still enjoyable to watch. That being said, thank you so much for your kind words. They mean a lot. ^ ^

      As for the plot of Fujiko, I’m happy to see some expansion on Fujiko Mine’s character (the least-developed character in the Lupin III series), and hope for some more exciting clashes between her and Lupin. If that occurs, then this series will be successful for me.

      Two sexy, smart, and deadly people constantly trying to outwit each other? Yeah, that sounds like a lot of fun. ^ ^

      Thanks for the comment!

      vucubcaquix: Penguindrum left no sour taste with me, as it’s sitting amongst my favorite anime of all time now. Even with that, I did struggle to have something of worth to say for every episode. Hence why one episode is conspicuously absent, and my contribution for 16 was very lacking.

      Accusations of superficiality are very specious in this medium, since I argue that the very base of all of our enjoyment of anime comes from the visual aesthetic itself. We’re drawn to these moving, drawn representations of life as opposed to live action’s portrayals of it.

      Extolling and celebrating how an anime represents ideas from life in visually inventive ways is nothing to feel ashamed for. It’s just, I personally don’t have the vocabulary to constantly do that. I’m drawn more toward certain philosophical ideas, characters, and subtext.

      Will we continue blogging Lupin? Who knows. Maybe the next episode won’t speak to us as strongly as this one did. All I know is that this first episode was a really wild ride in many ways, and we had to let the world know.

      • Guys, do as you feel like, I just asked out of curiosity, not to put pressure on you. In any case, if there’s stuff to talk about in this new Lupin III, you’ll see me around :)

        ajthefourth: I haven’t watched other Lupins. I’ll try Castrioglio and The First Contact. Will they be enough?

        vucubcaquix: About Mawaru Penguindrum, the sour taste came from my inability to connect with it in more than one ways. It might be visually stunning and with an exceptional BGM, but looking back at it, I was left a bit hollow inside, not being able to sympathize much with the characters (hm except Yuri perhaps) or get affected by the story. It didn’t pass the outer disk test, as you also call it. And that’s why I had afterthoughts about Fujiko. I hope her character will be well-fleshed. And likeable- but that’s totally subjective I guess.

        “Accusations of superficiality are very specious in this medium, since I argue that the very base of all of our enjoyment of anime comes from the visual aesthetic itself. We’re drawn to these moving, drawn representations of life as opposed to live action’s portrayals of it.”
        So true! My guiltiness flew out of thr window :D Thanks!

        Sth irrelevant on Pinku Eiga: Can Kanashimi no Belladona be categorized as such?

  2. I have a slightly different take on this series but definitely admire the unabashed sensuality of the first episode and Fujiko’s character in general; it’s hot. I think it’s great that we are getting a kind of fleshing background of her character. Many viewers are likely trying to place this premiere in the midst of the franchise, and I’m not sure we should be doing that.

    There’s a different kind of power to this one.

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: I’m not trying to place this episode, or this series, in any particular timeline within the franchise. (Honestly, I don’t think I’ve seen enough Lupin III to do that.) As you say, this series appears to be focusing on the further development of Fujiko’s character, and perhaps her and Lupin’s relationship, and in order to do that I think that comparisons to the rest of the franchise will be inevitable.

      That being said, one could go into this series knowing nothing about Lupin III and enjoy it just as much as a hardcore Lupin fan.

      Thanks, as always, for the comment.

      vucubcaquix: I’ve only seen Cagliostro and nearly a decade ago at that, so I’m no position to place Fujiko anywhere in relation to the Lupin franchise. Actually in my case, knowledge of Lupin in general would probably only have served as a distraction from the other influences that I saw it draw from.

      And the power in this I would say DOES come from those outside influences drawn. Seeing a woman violently tear a group of mooks apart while a very jazzy track is playing can be so very Fujiko, don’t you think? There’s a confidence in how this show wears its sexiness that’s more than enough for us to sing its praises loudly.

      This is sex, and of the weighty and dangerous kind. Upotte on the other hand, is sex of that neutered kind we mentioned in the post. The teacher will casually look at a middle schooler’s thong and be comically sent to the hospital as repercussion. There’s no danger in that.

      Well, except for the danger of heading to the slammer if that scenario would be given any more weight.

      • Yeah, I didn’t mean to insinuate either of you were placing the episode. It’s merely one of the [primary] things I noticed across other posts and tweets. Funny enough, I’ve been meaning to watch Cagliostro, and realize now my Lupin experience is lacking in having only seen various episodes on Cartoon Network. However, I did snatch the first season recently. ^ ^

        • It’s true. The majority of what people have to say about this series is in regards to how sexy/vulgar it is.

          I’ve only seen bits and pieces of what was shown on Cartoon Network in addition to Cagliostro. I really want to see more of the “Green Jacket” series and “The Secret of Momo.” The latter is next on my Lupin watch list. ^ ^

  3. I think it’s quite interesting how people keep pointing out the sex overload. It wasn’t that surprising to me and I didn’t really think it was an overload. Then again I don’t watch Lupin the third to be overloaded with sex but to watch Lupin find crazy over the top solutions to ridiculous problems. Though of course Fujiko is one of the important secondary characters in other series.

    It is kind of funny how Lupin the third can “get away” with this level of fan service where other shows with similar levels of fan service would immediately be a turn off for most anime fans. Maybe the reason we are okay with this series is because of Lupin’s familiarity. Or it could be that Lupin as criminal allows the show to be more vulgar. Though vulgar doesn’t seem like the right word to use there.

    Anyway I’m just guessing over here. A very interesting read.

    • hikoboshiandorihime

      ajthefourth: Hnnn…for me personally, the sensuality of this series, the sex overload as you say, stood out for me because, for once, I was actually attracted to it. I’m sorry if that didn’t come across in this post, I’ll do my best to be more clear and concise in the future.

      Back to your point, I see fanservice in series often and 99.9% of the time it washes over me as something that’s just “there.” I’m not repelled by it, I know why it’s there (to sell the series and/or merchandise), it’s just a somewhat necessary presence that one deals with when watching anime. Unless it’s in a particularly jarring setting, it’s not something I care to take much notice of.

      Fujiko is different in its approach, both with its attitude towards the female body, and the characterization of Fujiko’s own attitude. Most of these other series that feature fanservice are distant from the viewer. As I said in this post, and I’ll reiterate here, most late-night fanservice/ecchi series don’t actually address sexuality in an accessible way. Their girls are put on pedestals often, with the promise of actual intercourse removed (if I could delve a bit further into this, the reasoning would be that actual sex is scary) and it dulls the edge of any sex appeal that they would have.

      Whereas Fujiko is someone who is sexy and wields that sex appeal just as well as any other weapon in her arsenal. It’s integral to her character. Yes, the fanservice is to appeal to the viewer and get them to purchase things, but it also ties in to the characterization of Fujiko herself, and isn’t randomly inserted in places only to sell blu-rays. In both cases, it’s the style in which the fanservice is placed within the greater context of the series. For me personally, the way that Fujiko does fanservice is appealing.

      In addition to this, one of the attributes that furthers the series’s sex appeal is the fact that both Lupin and Fujiko are clever and quick-witted. The way that their personalities clash with each other is just as enjoyable and exciting as any nudity that the series presents.

      Thanks for the comment. Hopefully this makes sense. ^ ^

      vucubcaquix: As opposed to me, who is actively put off by fanservice. I think if I were to put a bead on it, the removal of the threat of sex in these more prevalent scenarios strikes me as being pretty disrespectful of sex in general. The closest I came to laying out my concrete opinions on fanservice was in a reply to a comment in my write-up of Moretsu Pirates episode 3.

      There is a lot of sex in Fujiko, but whether or not we can use a descriptor like “overload” is something I will debate, since the presentation of sex here is of a variety that I can enjoy. Does this overshadow other elements of the show? While I don’t think it does, nether do I think it matters since the sex here IS the content.

      And no, I honestly don’t think our comfort with the sexuality on display here has anything to do with familiarity of the franchise or its characters, since I have NO familiarity with either. No, the comfort comes from how confident the series is with sex to begin with, despite the inherent danger in the proposition.

      THAT is sexy.

      • Oh sorry, looking back on my earlier comment I can see now that it lacked clarity.

        The first paragraph was intended to portray my confusion with people around the ani-sphere who were surprised with the level of sexuality in this new series. Personally I was comparing this series to a few volumes of the old manga that I had read. I expected this type of atmosphere because the manga as I remember it was similar. Whereas the many other people including yourselves were comparing this series to the other anime series that you have seen in the past. In that case I can see how it would drastically different. Not necessarily bad just different. So when I said overload I didn’t mean to imply that I thought that was I bad thing. I actually thoroughly enjoyed the first episode. Hopefully next time my writing will be less confusing. Honestly in hindsight my original comment is almost embarrassingly bad at conveying the intended message.

        You both have managed to to convince me that appeal of the show is in it’s confidence with the more risqué scenes. You could probably even argue that those scenes made up the majority of the first episode. Plus the jazz music doesn’t hurt the mood. Bye-nee.

        P.S. Both of your opinions on fanservice are very intriguing.

        • I suppose the main point that we both wanted to make was that we weren’t surprised by the fanservice, but impressed and attracted by it.

          I assume that by comparing this to “other anime series you have seen in the past” you mean the more recent attitudes to sexuality and “what’s sexy” that we compared this series to. I only ask for clarity because “in the past” could mean further back in the past, in which this type/style of fanservice was far more common.

          As for our attitudes, I think that most of it has to do with gender and/or an ability to be attracted to two-dimensional representations. I am female, and as such, I am used to fanservice being present, usually not being marketed towards me, and therefore am fairly immune to it. It passes over me because everything I’ve watched has been so super-saturated with it that it’s an innocuous white noise I’ve come to expect. Surely my partner will expand on his stance and how it differs.

          The difference with Fujiko for me, was that it stood out. It wasn’t just background noise, it was sexy to me. And that, was very cool.

          Thanks for the clarification and the comment! ^ ^

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  5. Having never seen or read anything previous of Lupin, I have to say this episode caught me off guard. Aside from the main topic at hand, I thought the thievery and competition between two persons skilled in their craft was well directed, and excellently paced. This show from start to finish held my interest in that alone. I’m split between it being sexy, and it just being there for the sake of being there. It almost reached a level as to overwhelm the rest of the show; like a distraction from everything else that was going on. I’m going to have to see how the next few episodes play out to see if this was just to gather some attention in a crowded market, or if there is a higher purpose in the end.

  6. Ugh, as usual, your commentary and writing is perfect. I have nothing to bring to the table, because you’ve already said it! But I look forward to hearing more from you guys- this season is pretty superb for original anime, and refreshing takes on some otherwise old and trite anime plots and tropes. :)

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  8. Yi

    Love this post! Commentaries like this are right up my alley.

    I found the sex in Mine Fujiko to be quite lovely, bold, and sensual indeed, but without the distaste of late-night anime. I think ajthefourth has that pegged (and me aroused).

    On sexploitation, I feel like Mine Fujiko is a bit of a departure from those in grindhouse theatres. It’s not as violent, as exploitative, nor as gratuitously sexual (although it is fanservice…) to be stylistically reminiscent. The comparison to Quentin Tarantino seems more deserved. But the line is vague. Tarantino, after all, plays with grindhouse Seventies a lot as well. I have yet another take on the styles in the cold open and later on. *

    “These two do their best thinking while at each others’ throats, if not down each others’ throats as well.”

    Oh gosh, vuc. ♥

    And yes, confidence is sexy as hell!

    * I wrote a post in response to the colloquium if you don’t mind checking it out: http://listlessink.wordpress.com/2012/08/03/mine-fujiko-bringing-sexy-back-to-the-old-school/

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