Spring 2012 has been a remarkably interesting anime season, in that multiple shows are doing unique things (yes, the bar for “remarkably interesting” when it comes to anime gets lower every year.) One of those shows is Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine. It had buzz long before it ever aired. Here are the reasons:
- It’s directed by Sayo Yamamoto (female anime directors are extremely rare), who previously directed Michiko to Hatchin.
- Takeshi Koike (of REDLINE fame) did the character designs on it.
- It looks amazing, incorporating that chalky line quality exemplified in 60s and 70s anime to great effect.
- A female supporting character, Fujiko Mine, is actually the main focus of the show, not Lupin himself.
We’re only three episodes in, but there’s a lot of frank Fujiko nudity and sexuality in this show. Frank nudity and sexuality occurs all the time in anime, especially in garbage shows I avoid because their facile titillation is so remarkably dumb/creepy/pedophilic it would kill whatever non-existent boner I’d theoretically be watching the anime for.
Fujiko Mine does it differently. The show is still trying to give me a boner (a task which, hotblooded male I may be, it fails at every week), but the quality of its eroticism is different. It’s more womanly and less childlike (read: less creepy). It approaches something you’d even dare to call eroticism in the first place.
The opening calls attention to the manner in which the creators of the show are setting out to do this: deliberately, up-front, and without detracting from the complexity of Fujiko Mine herself. The opening is also kind of brilliant, articulating the submissive/dominant parts of every person’s psyche that inevitably conflict as sexuality becomes one of the dominant forces in our lives.
However, I think the creators of this show are failing. Admirably, but still failing. Every time Fujiko expresses her sexuality to some end, the result is most often either abject failure or success despite herself. Yes, she is confident. Yes, she is brazen. But it seems mostly unwarranted and kind of humiliating. Like a broken superpower she’s hasn’t noticed no longer works.
Honestly, the opening lyrics (surely intended to be Fujiko’s own inner monologue) are by far the most interesting thing about the entire show. We don’t really get any glimpse of who Fujiko might be outside of it. Three episodes in, and she would be entirely cardboard if it wasn’t for that opening. At the same time, the show is too smart for me to throw my hands in the air and write off its absurdities as par for the course.
So the profound inclusion of ecchi is the fifth interesting wheel on this anime. And I think there’s more room for it to be discussed. But not by me, because I find Fujiko Mine’s inclusion of nudity to be cloyingly deliberate and ineffective. It doesn’t make me uncomfortable, but it does seem to cheapen a stylish product. And however uncool it makes me to point that out, I’m perfectly fine with it, because these are my reasoned reactions to watching the show with my full attention, an activity I plan to continue for all thirteen episodes, because it’s otherwise just that goddamned interesting. Call it a compromise between my dominant and submissive responses to less-than-perfect entertainment, if you will.