Initially daily but now sporadic blog about anime and world animation with a specific focus on the artists behind the work. Written by Ben Ettinger.
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Saturday, June 30, 2012

03:01:00 pm , 662 words, 6383 views     Categories: Animation, TV, Lupin III

Lupin III: A Woman Called Fujiko Mine #11

Fujiko goes on a spree impersonating Lupin, Lupin cuts himself shaving, and Oscar dreams of wedding dresses. That, and lots and lots of owl men.

This episode is devoted to exploring Oscar's character with a story about how he impersonates Fujiko in an attempt to get Zenigata to try to kill Fujiko. Why he has a vendetta against the "spitpot" I'm not exactly sure, other than that she slept with his heartthrob Zenigata. A little bit of back story is finally revealed about the relationship between Oscar and Zenigata, but it feels like too little too late. The character remains just as annoying and misplaced as before, with his overplayed melodramatic screaming and shouting that don't make any sense and ridiculous costume that doesn't look like a regulation police uniform to me. (high heels?) The writers may be telling a very deep and powerful story through Oscar and Fujiko, but it's too bad they forgot to let us in on what it is.

It feels completely arbitrary how one of the side-characters will without fail be absent. This time Goemon and Lupin were there so Jigen had to be absent even though he and Lupin seemed to have formed a pretty close relationship already by the time of the previous episodes. Goemon's and Lupin's scenes were reminiscent of the old show, with Goemon going around splitting things and Lupin defusing a bomb, and wound up being the parts of the episode that were the most fun to watch, which is to say the least annoying. The shot where Goemon buys a falafel right before Lupin does the same was fun, reminding that they still haven't met each other. The odd thing is that Fujiko doesn't play a very big part in her own show. She's either absent or zoned out and doesn't do anything a lot of the time other than have flashbacks.

They're obviously trying to do something very postmodern with the schtick about the owl-men observing Fujiko as if they were the author of a story observing the character whose story they were writing, but it is done so repetitively without any clear meaning that it just comes across as a pretentious attempt to be artsy and sophisticated. Scenes such as the infant Fujiko being electroshocked in a room full of stuffed animals are clearly meant to, well, shock, but they occur over and over without us understanding the context, so they have no impact other than to seem like self-indulgence for shock effect on the part of the writers.

The episode was fairly competently directed and interesting otherwise, even with a cute little section done in Michel Ocelot cutout style explaining how Oscar planned to steal the wedding dress. Whoever storyboarded and directed the episode decided to use a silly pen name, so I don't know who it was. The storyboarder was 袋小路ピーチク and the co-director was 梟小路パーチク, which is a pun that's hard to translate, but basically involves cul de sac, owl, and the onomotopoeia for a bird's chirping - which is an obvious reference to the line in the episode where Oscar sits down on the stairs in despair when cornered by the owl men and asks them, "Go on, chirp away!" Clearly this suggests the point of this episode - about exploring how Oscar came to feel cornered.

The episode also featured another person using a pen name, Hiromichi Kojinanokuni, which is Tomonori Kogawa of all people. He has apparently gotten a second wind after an extended period away from the front lines and now does lots of animation on various TV shows using pen names. I'm curious what part he did, although I'm sure his style is nothing like what it used to be during the days of Ideon and Xabungle.

Another person present was Kaichiro Terada, whom I presume animated the water effects during the bridge scene at the beginning and the smoke effects during the tiara scene. I like his effects work. Motohashi Hideyuki was again present.



manveru [Visitor]  

I was having similar feelings about this series. Wasn’t really sure what the point was or where they were going with it. It also didn’t really feel like Lupin III at all. I got that they were trying to do something different, but it seemed like they may as well have just done the same thing without using Lupin characters for seemingly no reason. I also find Oscar to be misplaced and very annoying. Zenigata seems very personality-less and undeveloped to me as well (seems like he only exists for Oscar’s sake). Once you get to the last episode though, I think the way it concluded made everything all better (not in every little aspect, but in general). I can’t explain why as I might spoil it for someone, but I was extremely relieved that they didn’t take it in the direction I thought they were taking it in.

06/30/12 @ 23:12
busterbeam [Visitor]

The finale changed my opinion of this show from “it’s not Lupin, but eh, who cares” to genuinely hating what they did with it and hoping it doesn’t sell well at all. But I tend to disagree with this blog when it comes to story & writing somewhat often, so I’m genuinely curious what you’ll think of it.

07/01/12 @ 04:47
Ben [Member]  

I wouldn’t have had a problem with the series if I hated the story but the show was well done. I would be able to accept that it’s just not for me. But I just don’t think they told this story well, and objectively speaking, the quality was an absolute shambles. So add to that the fact that the show doesn’t feel like Lupin to me - as manveru says, they could have equally well told this story with completely different characters - and I find it hard to appreciate the show. I doubt the finale will do much to change my opinion of the show. I’ve watched 90% of it already. It’s too late to save or destroy the show in the last episode.

07/02/12 @ 13:19
Yudhiya [Visitor]

“even with a cute little section done in Michel Ocelot cutout style explaining how Oscar planned to steal the wedding dress”

That scene reminds me to an interesting series called Hyouka which utilized similar scenes in every of its episodes, fwiw.

07/03/12 @ 07:24
colonylaser [Visitor]

So excellent that you mentioned Kogawa Tomonori. It did something for me grand when I saw his name in the credit. I was nuts back in the 80s with his Xabungle, but back then our club was missing many episodes so I were not able to watch the whole series in sequence until now. And 30 years later, I must report the show is just as crazy and fun and imaginative as I had remembered. Indeed, Xabungle (along with Giant Gorg) is simply my all time favorite Sunrise robot property, surpassing even Gundam. There is just nothing like it on the horizon then or now (King Gainer tried to pick up the vibe with hits and misses, but I appreciated the effort). I chalk it up to Kogawa’s uniquely dynamic style. Even some of my non-anime fans back then had noticed his illustrations of characters in full motion or exaggerated poses. So given Lupin’s equally exaggerated and energetic style, Kogawa was a perfect fit… except I can’t say if I would have recognize it in this episode were it not for the credit. Still, it was great seeing his name just as I’m diving into the Xabungle series now. Oops, sorry getting off track commenting on Lupin. Well, since I’d already watched the last episode, let’s say that my opinion was always in the positive, be it the direction, the re-characterization, the rendering, or the story, though there were moments in the middle when I too questioned where it was going. But happily by the time the last episode’s credit rolled, I found a familiar sense of melancholy swelling up inside, which for me is always a good sign that what I had watched was something special. Sure, Michiko and Hatchin was a tough one to top, but that would be true for any animator. So while for Yamamoto it’s less than M&H, it’s still the strongest Lupin entry since, oh heck, Cagliostro (and Green vs. Red… I like that one, so sue me). Oh well, sorry for the long rambling…. I was in the moment.

07/10/12 @ 12:24