All posts by ElectricV01

Daniel is a writer, part time artist in training, avid game player, and pop culture analyst... nice guy too. He has been an anime fan since 1999 and currently resides in Los Angeles, California. You can follow him on twitter at http://twitter.com/electricv01.

Anime Expo 2013 – Interview: Yaya Han

In a follow up to our 2012 interview, we were lucky enough to talk to the amazing Yaya Han again this year at Anime Expo 2013!

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Wearing her strikingly beautiful Chun-Li costume, Yaya discussed with us not only some fun tidbits about her history with costuming, but also her thoughts on some of the recent cosplay controversies that have popped up over the past couple years, including harassment, appropriate boundaries, and respect for women.

So what are you waiting for?  You can check out our exclusive Anime Diet interview right here!

 

Wanna learn more about Yaya and her awesome costumes?  You can find out more here at her website, Twitter, Facebook, and DeviantArt page!

I got those post-convention blues…

If you are of the geek/otaku persuasion, July is a busy month here in Southern California.  The beginning of the month brings along Anime Expo, the biggest anime convention this side of the pacific, and it is quickly followed by the granddaddy of all cons, San Diego Comic Con.  Each event has their own individual perks and problems, the least of which are the logistics of actually attending.

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Let’s begin with Anime Expo.  As the biggest Anime Con in the US, it easily takes up nearly all the Los Angeles convention center.  From the sales floor, to the (cosplay-filled) lobby, to the jam-packed panels and events, to the gaming area, you would be hard-pressed not to find something to like about the convention.  Even people who’s only anime experience is watching an episode of Sailor Moon 15 years ago, can attend and enjoy a tutorial on origami, take pictures of outrageous costumes, or learn about new video games.  The main issues stem from actually trying to do those things.  If you don’t line up more than an hour before your My Little Pony: Origami is Magic panel, chances are you won’t get in.  And it doesn’t help that the panel is in a room that fits 200 people, while there are nearly 400 people in pony ears waiting in line.  That’s a lot of pissed off Bronies.

However, in a way, that’s a good thing for the growth  of the con.  When different fandoms can share the same space and all attending are able to find something to enjoy, it opens up new experiences and cultures to learn about.  If the big cheeses then say, “Hey, we put the Skullgirls panel in this teeny tiny theater that holds 150, but the turnout was 500… next year we need to put them in one of the bigger spaces,” then that is a win of sorts.  Maybe it will also help them think and examine what the current hot commodity is before room assignments are dished out.  Research, then assign, people.  Also, letting their staffers know when to cut off a line could help too.  It’s a thankless job for those poor red vest workers, having angry fans in blue hair giving them the stink eye, but you would feel the same way after waiting in line 30 minutes, just to find out you can’t get into the panel.

For San Diego, it truly gives you a unique experience like no other, where you can bump elbows with your favorite movie star, get a sketch from your favorite artist, or even catch a sneak peek of the next big thing before it becomes the current big thing.  That is, of course, if you can get in the front door.  Due to its astounding popularity, which grows exponentially each year, it gets more difficult just to enter the hallowed halls of geek Mecca.  Registration for your badge has become such a chore in itself, soon the show runners will need to resort to a Hunger Games style lottery system to determine who can attend. Picture a dystopian future where every fandom must send two representatives into a death battle royale, and the winner’s group will have first privilege to buy badges to that year’s Comic Con.  Just imagine Trekkies versus Bronies, Marvel Zombies versus Johnny DCs, and Anime Otaku versus Twihards all duking it out for the right to stand in a line, to stand in another line, to wait 5 hours for a free t-shirt and then shake Seth Green’s hand.

Once you are inside, you can stare in awe at the elaborate setup of the convention floor.  Many companies spare no expense just so that they can have the biggest and best booth that is able to be seen anywhere from Hall A to Hall H.  Each is planned down to the smallest detail, so to be 100% accurate to whatever pop culture phenomenon they happen to be peddling. Of course, you can’t help but notice all these details and gaze at the decorative arrangements, since you won’t be able to move.  People pack into the San Diego so tightly, it might just be some titan’s plot to create the perfect can of human sardines.  If you wanted to eliminate 90% of the nerd population on earth, this would be good place to start.

Despite all this, once both conventions are over and done with, the realization sets in that you are going to have to wait another year for July to pop back around.  You begin to forget all the bad things and focus on the good stuff.  You think about that great limited edition toy you have been searching for, the one you just happened to find at a corner booth at the end of the show floor, and for a reasonable price.  Or that time you shared an elevator with Neil Gaiman, but you were too terrified to talk to him and tell him what an inspiration he has been to you.  And when you asked  the art director for Stand Alone Complex to sketch a picture of Major Kusanagi for you, and he wrote Happy Birthday over the top just because you mentioned it was your birthday.  These are all experiences that could only happen at a convention, and once it’s over you suddenly feel like something is missing from your life.  Something you had for the briefest of moments, but you didn’t appreciate it at the time, then it was gone.  So you sit and you wait for the next year roll around, wondering who you will meet or what rare trinket you will find.  This waiting, my friends, is what we call the post-convention blues.  And I got it bad right now.

Anime Expo 2013 – Cosplay Round-Up

One of the best parts of going to any anime convention is seeing all the great cosplay, and this year’s Anime Expo was no different.  I can only imagine all the hours of hard work and dedication that went into making many of these amazing costumes.

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One thing of note, it seemed that there was much more non-anime inspired cosplay this year.  Disney, Portal, and American Comic Book inspired costumes were aplenty, more so than I can recall seeing in previous years.

That said, here are just a few of the characters that were on parade this past weekend.

 

Also, for your viewing enjoyment: An Eva trying to fit through a door.

Sony Entertainment rocks E3, declared the winner by the Internet

Editorial

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After Microsoft’s spectacular blunder of a press conference last month, people were already saying that the PlayStation 4 was going to blow away the Xbox One.  And even after Microsoft tried to claw its way back from the hole they dug themselves into, with a decent showing of new games earlier today, Sony took full advantage of their competition’s previous stumble and blasted even further ahead, leaving Microsoft to eat their dust… Gran Turismo style.

And all with just three simple announcements.

1)      PlayStation 4 will play used games with no restrictions.

2)      PlayStation 4 does not have to be online.  Ever.

3)      PlayStation 4 will be $399.99.

It was the first two of these announcements where Microsoft epically opened their mouth and inserted their foot last month.  At today’s conference, they tiptoed around these issues and (smartly) focused on games to try not to raise the ire of the blogosphere.  Sony, on the other hand, while not giving a perfect conference, unveiled the PS4 and ended it with a three punch TKO sending Xbox One to the mat.

The conference started slow, with CEO Jack Tretton pushing the PSVita and PS3. While I appreciate that the PS3 is not being flatlined right away, I found it odd there was no announced price cut for the Vita.  Sony’s handheld is really suffering in sales at the moment, and a price cut would be a push in the right direction.  Also, for a system that has no killer app, the new games announced for it just didn’t excite me, or anyone else in the audience from what I could tell.  Instead, we are told how great Skype looks on Vita.  I don’t want to buy a handheld game system to use Skype.  My phone, laptop, PC, and toaster oven all have Skype on it.  I want killer games. I loved my PSP. I want to love Vita too. Give me a reason to love it, Sony.

After Vita, we were treated to a few fun announcements for PS3.  Puppeteer looks great.  Rain’s design has me intrigued.  And Gran Turismo 6? It’s for PS3, not PS4? Ok. Looks pretty, I suppose.

On to the meat and potatoes of the conference, where we finally got to meet the new Sony Parallelogram… er PS4.  First impressions (other than the parallelogram gag) were it looks kind of like the Xbox One.  It’s a black box.  Maybe the designers of both systems went to the same screening of 2001: A Space Odyssey before they went to the drawing board?  Also did you know the PS4 will play movies, does networking apps, and will do other movie things and blah, blah, blah, blah… SHOW ME GAMES!

Then the clouds parted and a beam of light shined through.  Someone was listening to me.  First out of the gate was what appeared to be a Steampunk infused Zombie/Monster game called The Order 1886.  Just the trailer was shown, not gameplay, but I definitely got a “Left 4 Dead in a Steampunk Victorian Era” vibe from it.  Also, airships.  Airships are cool.  The Order 1886 is part of a reported 20 new Sony IPs to be released within the first year of the PS4’s lifespan.  Some others include Killzone, Driveclub, Infamous, and Knack.

Moving on to the independent scene, Sony smartly announced that indie developers will be able to self-publish their games on PSN. They then proceeded to knock it out of the park showcasing a ton of these smaller titles, each with its own individual quirks and eye catching gimmicks. I will definitely be keeping my eyes on these, in particular Transistor and Mercenary Kings.

Now for third parties, where better to start off than with the current kings of disappointment, Square-Enix.  Director Tetsuya Nomura appears on screen to talk about Final Fantasy Versus 13, yet again.  How many years has it been since they announced this?  I mean seriously, Square.  Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.  Fool me three times… wow, that game looks amazing.  Is that actual game play footage?  Holy shit, is that Leviathan!?  No, no, no, there is no way it’s going to be this good.  It’s too good to be true.  Wait, what?! It’s not Final Fantasy Versus 13 anymore?  It’s Final Fantasy 15?!

Ahem.  Sorry about that.  Slight geek-out.  I promise it won’t happen again– Holy shit, Kingdom Hearts 3?!

And that’s when I blacked out for a few minutes.  I have been a die-hard Final Fantasy fan since I began gaming as a wee little Daniel, but it’s no secret Square’s recent endeavors have left me cold.  These trailers awakened my sleeping inner Square fan and made me feel all tingly and strange, as I’m sure it did to many of my fellow disenchanted FF franchise lovers.

After this, things were kind of a euphoric blur.  There was something about Assassin’s Creed, Watch Dog, and Mad Max I think.   All very exciting, especially Watch Dog.  Then Jack Tretton returned to the stage with his “Eat it, Microsoft” speech.  PS4 will have no DRM and fully supports used and rent/lent games.  The PS4 does not have to be online at all in order to work properly.  There was one minor hiccup, where it was implied that you would have to subscribe to PlayStation Plus to play multi-player games online, but I think we can forgive that.  Besides, Microsoft has done that from day one on the Xbox360, but still, it’s a small step backwards for Sony.

The speech was followed by a long-ish demo detour through Bungie’s new game, Destiny, and then they announced the PS4 price. $399.99. And internet exploded. It was the final KO punch of E3, with Sony knocking Microsoft (who had earlier announced an Xbox One price of $499.99) down for the count.

And that was it.  The execs dropped the mic and left the stage.  Sony was declared the winner of E3 by… pretty much everyone.

But wait… hey guys come back. You didn’t say when the system was coming out?  Later this year, but when exactly?  Guys?  Hey guys?

Oh well, I’m sure we will find that out soon enough.

So, fellow otaku and gamers, what do you think?  Decisive win for Sony?  Or is it still up in the air?  Let us know.  Anime Diet wants to hear your impressions so far.

 

Daniel is also very excited about the announced sequel to Mirror’s Edge, but since it wasn’t part of the Sony Press conference there was nowhere to mention it.

Anime Expo 2012: Yaya Han Interview

We talked to professional costume designer and cosplayer Yaya Han at the Exhibit Hall of Anime Expo 2012! Dressed as Psylocke for the day, she was generous enough to speak to us for a few minutes about her early career, her favorite costumes, why she likes cat girls so much, and what the differences are between cosplaying at an anime vs a comic convention.

You can find out more about Yaya at her website, Twitter, Facebook, and DeviantArt page. Give her some love!

The Fujiko Telegrams: Lupin III Fujiko Mine 8

Continuing ElectricV01 & Wintermuted’s discussions regarding the new Lupin III television series event (Lupin III: Fujiko Mine), The Fujiko Telegrams is an in-the-moment blog/chatfest that’ll hopefully grant new and fun perspectives on the splashy return of one of anime/manga’s most enduring creations. Reaching the second half, it looks like things are ready to be brought to a full boil. How did it fare this time?

Wintermuted: Hoo boy. Where to start with this one? What begins as a suspiciously Fujiko-free episode becomes a crucial one, when Lupin enlists the help of Jigen to track down a fortune teller who has a knack of accurately calling the death days of many of the master thief’s previous hits. And now with the source of his power in Fujiko’s hands, and the cops closer to the trio than ever, things gel into an intriguing mix of character shadowplay, unexpected alliances, and one really cool finale. I truly love when mythologies like this straddle the absurdity of the source material, and add a big dose of plot suspension to make it work. As much as I would rather have far more Fujiko in this series, this is a fairly well constructed alternative at the midpoint.

ElectricV01: And it seems we are getting to the main, overarching plot of this series. Obviously, we have the introduction of the “big bad” as he has made his first (blatant) move on Fujiko and Lupin. I liked how we also started getting more inklings of how this group is finally gonna come together later in the series, most likely united against this common foe.

That said though, I’m still not enjoying this series as much as I should be. The inconsistency is bugging me. Also, I’m still not sold that a Lupin series needs to have this much darkness and death. Lots of dead cops in this episode, all done by some of our favorite characters.

In a plot not too far off from the crazier Lupin works (ala Mamo—think about it. A lot of that film is certifiably insane, not to mention morbid), this one is still very much in line with the era in which it was made, which leaves me feeling like this is precisely where the crew wants to be. With “fortune teller” Shitoto, we have a lucky loser who has rubbed elbows with some truly dangerous people. And now with his one claim to fame in the hands of our title character, the myth of knowing when one is to die comes into question. (Again, a conceit that is deeply entrenched in manga of the seventies—death is never far in this era, as Go Nagai continued to break taboos, and Takao Saito made death practically a character in his works.) One of the most inviting elements in this episode for me, was the sheer intimacy of location, and the same said about how closely this binds our leads. Leave it up so something this sinister to keep them from busting out of Dodge, and making a break for it.

Well, it sure looked like Shitoto stole Mamo’s wig and glued it to his own head. It’s interesting that the character designers for this show seem to be lifting quite a few older designs or pieces of designs for new characters. I’ve noticed this a few times throughout the series so far, not just with Shitoto/Mamo. Another example was the set designer/phantom character for episode four, who look exactly like the villain in episode 5 (Gold Smuggling 101 if you have the English DVDs) of the red jacket series. Yes, I’m that much of a Lupin otaku that I noticed that…

I’ll have to take your word for it on the whole death thing though. You are much more knowledgeable in such things than I am. I’m not not sure I felt this episode was as claustrophobic as you imply though. It seemed all over the place to me. Sometimes we are with Jigen, then Lupin, then Oscar, then Lupin and Jigen, then Fujiko…and so on.

I guess what I mean by intimacy is that for the first time in the series, all the events affect the main characters in a far more direct fashion. Keeping it all within city limits was also interesting. By keeping all the action within cars & buildings, there was a bit of a fresh action film feeling that had been largely absent throughout the whole series. It was really nice to see how the story made sure there was little way out for anyone, especially with Oscar and cops so blazing hot on their trail.

And yes, those visual callbacks were a lot of fun. And yeah, the tone here has largely been that of more recent dramatic television. It has largely been about taking a period piece and giving it the teeth that earlier works simply were not capable of. And in the case of “Dying Day,” it’s largely about living up to the danger of such possessions. So when we have the old switcheroo at the finale, what follows is a very eye-opening reveal of what has been haunting the edges of the series thus far. Showing one’s teeth for sure!

I was wondering if this series was going to have an over-arching plot, as that is atypical of previous Lupin series. Also the visuals of the villain and how it ties to the opening credits is an interesting touch.

I think I have figured out (finally) why I am having a hard time with this show. I don’t like Fujiko in this. They seem to be all over the place with her and I can’t grasp onto to something to like about her. I’ve not had that problem before, I’ve always dug her, even when I didn’t agree with what the writers did with her. And especially because she is the “main” character this time around, there should be something likeable about her… right?

Oh, and we finally get Lupin’s reaction to Fujiko and Zenigata having sex, even though he found that out two episodes ago… Inconsistency strikes again.

I guess I can see some of these issues, but a part of me is enjoying what this seems most aimed at being – which is a nasty melange/tribute to anime of its era, and elder fans. The intent to psycholanalyze Fujiko may seem out of character to what has come before, but that’s exactly why it is interesting to me. It’s much less meant to be a solid narrative, and much more a treasure trove of nods and ideas. More a knowing pastiche, and not any attempt at being an olive branch of a series. It expects us to be familiar, and to be open to dramatic shifts. Very much a closed-circle series with a little there for those looking for a little edge with their throwback.

Meh, they can try and tribute and analyze and wink and nod all they want, but without a good grasp of story and character it falls flat. Also to me “different” does not equal “interesting.” Change is fine, but change should feel organic, it should have a reason. Change for the sake of change or shaking things up is one of my biggest pet peeves. Jarring me with, for example, a drastic unexplained change to Zenigata, doesn’t make me want to watch more because it is different. Rather, it has the opposite effect. If you had told me a year ago that there would be a new Lupin anime that looked this good but I would be so indifferent to it that it would take a me week to make time to watch a new episode rather than being glued to my computer the moment it was released, I would have called you a damn liar.

I guess for me, I find that such a storied and celebrated franchise deserves a bold new angle. It’s definitely not interested in being safe. And while not a narrative juggernaut, it is very much in line with anime of decades past which were often packed with inconsistencies and a hellbent spirit. In the 1970s, anime was so much more about the emotional essence than anything remotely sensible, which is a large part of its attraction to me. It was often like an anarchic punk show, where it was anyone’s guess as to where we could wind up next. We were at the mercy of artists, which was exciting. So crossing this with a hint of contemporary self-dissection is inviting for me.

As an episode, I found myself more involved than I had been previously, so perhaps that speaks to the jaded part of me that enjoys a cracked, wired kaleidoscope vision of a classic. Seriously, I’d love some art from this wild child on my wall. Definitely curious as to how it plays to other old school fans.

The Fujiko Telegrams: Lupin III Fujiko Mine 7

Continuing ElectricV01 & Wintermuted’s discussions regarding the new Lupin III television series event (Lupin III: Fujiko Mine), The Fujiko Telegrams is an in-the-moment blog/chatfest that’ll hopefully grant new and fun perspectives on the splashy return of one of anime/manga’s most enduring creations.

Wintermuted: No sooner do we follow one of the more symbolically ambitious episodes of this series, with one of the more narratively ambitious ones. Taking a wild page from the history books, Fujiko and Goemon are contacted to zero in on, and eventually assassinate, a celebrated Castro-esque leader after his island country’s liberation which has ruffled the feathers of many surrounding nations. We are flung back and forth between time periods before and after the dicey mission, offering us some interesting historical context for the series. And to top it off, the show’s thesis regarding Fujiko, and her motivations continues into some unexpected territory. Just curious as to your impressions this time..

ElectricV01: I enjoyed this episode a bit more than the previous one. I liked the alternate history take on the Cuban Missile Crisis, and it’s always a welcome addition when Goemon is around. Are Fujiko and Goemon out to start World War III or prevent it? Common sense tells you of course they are gonna save the day and probably miss out on their payday, but it was still a fun romp. Though honestly, what was with the weird names for the countries involved? Why couldn’t it just be America and the Soviet Union? Much oddness.

I immediately found the nation name-warping to be quite charming. Much like the way anime began avoiding product placement as money dwindled in the 1990s, it made more sense to turn this into something of a parody planet. And that’s just a smidge of what I dug about this episode, even if the more silly action we come to expect didn’t come into play until late in the game. In fact, a part of me really liked the constant darting back and forth between times before and closer to action day. It offered up a refreshingly believable story pace and sense of place.

Also worth making noise about was the score, specifically the Latin sounds of the mid-1960s, as well as the cultured mind of the would-be revolutionary Philadel, who is also quite charming and is actually capable of perhaps even inspiring Fujiko to act a little out of her usual bounds.

Faux News would say that obviously the director, writers, and animators are all communists for portraying an obvious Castro analog in such a positive light. Lucky for us, I’m fairly certain they aren’t even aware anime exists.

The name thing was weird to me, but I can see your point. I also liked the pacing in this episode. Great tension with the back and forth between the two countries’ war rooms, the fighter jets itching to shoot down the plane with Fujiko and Philadel inside, and the doomsday clock that almost felt like a character in its own right. And you are right, again we see a different side of Fujiko. It just serves as a reminder of how many different roles she really plays throughout the history of the Lupin franchise: lover, thief, antagonist, betrayer, babysitter… I’m not sure you can really pin one moniker on her. Maybe Femme Fatale, and she was the original in the world of anime and manga.

It was just exciting to see her almost flirt with something resembling noble this time. And like you say, it’s fascinating to see Yamamoto and company examine her many faces. I liked the brave approach toward Philadel as this almost suave, rockstar entity with a soul. It offered such a respite from the, dare I say it, selfish, obvious lot she tends to hang around. The little moments before and during the whole affair with the ousted government cronies offered an amount of gravitas that has been lacking throughout much of the series thus far.

But what of Goemon’s role here? Still not completely sure how he fit here.

The problem with Goemon traditionally is he is always used as a deus ex machina, which to be fair, comes with the territory of having a highly trained samurai with a sword that can cut through anything on your team. He’s there for when you get into a tough spot.

But the problem is that this gets boring. He usually doesn’t have anything to do until something needs to be cut. And while this episode sort of falls into that trap, the previous episode (#3) with Goemon wasn’t like that at all…which I think is one of the reasons I liked it so much. I like that Goemon in this series doesn’t know where he belongs yet. He knows he has this awesome sword and he has trained to use it to the pinnacle of his ability, but he is conflicted. He doesn’t know where he fits into the scheme of the world, or what to do with the power he has been given. In episode 3, he tries to be an assassin. That didn’t work and we know he knows that didn’t work from this episode as he doesn’t think killing is his forté. Hopefully when he finally finds his place in this reimagined Lupin world, it won’t be as Mr. Deus Ex Machina.

It’s just funny, imagining him as Fujiko’s “boyfriend”. They never figure out a way to make him work here, which I guess is counterbalanced by everything else. Now if only the episode had enough time to breathe, and drink in the tension as to whether Fujiko and Goemon could actually go through with the plan. As it works out, it feels slight, where one could easily see this being a much larger quandary.

But for what it presented in terms of time period, politics, and ultimately place, this had enough promise to get a pass from me. Now here’s hoping they take a cue from this, and add on more of this mature spin on the JFK era into the proceedings. I’d be excited for an irreverent Mad Men-esque bent to the world. The possibilities!

The style certainly fits. I just want an episode with the entire gang together working as a team. I don’t think I’m going to get that until (best guess) episode 13 though…

 

The Fujiko Telegrams: Lupin III Fujiko Mine 6

Continuing ElectricV01 & Wintermuted’s discussions regarding the new Lupin III television series event (Lupin III: Fujiko Mine), The Fujiko Telegrams is an in-the-moment blog/chatfest that’ll hopefully grant new and fun perspectives on the splashy return of one of anime/manga’s most enduring creations.

Wintermuted: After a relatively bumpy first half, the series up and pulls what seems to be the show’s true manifesto in this, unexpected and ultimately fascinating midpoint. Fujiko is suddenly a teacher at an idyllic all-girls private school which serves up a series of payoffs that may just make a few die hard fans either swoon, scream, or at the very least, raise some eyebrows. Practically taking charge and twisting up a “yuri” ideal ala Maria-sama Ga Miteru, and then doing a number on the male cast, this is modestly ballsy stuff. Thoughts, Dan?

ElectricV01: I’m surprised you felt that way, because honestly to me the first half of the episode felt like pandering.  By George, we must include some YURI in the show!  Having Fujiko make out with herself in the opening credits is not enough!  True, it turns out some of the yuri wasn’t yuri, and I liked how Lupin and Fujiko team up to outsmart (spoilers) Oscar, but overall this episode did not impress me at all.  It seemed very middle of the road.  Average.

Wintermuted: I had to watch it more than once to come to terms with what had transpired, and can humbly say that what’s going on here is pretty far from average when one considers everything that has come before. At least for me, the backdrop choice, the imagery of the school, and all the cliches that are borne from it (e.g., Fujiko working at the school under her well-worn name, and all the broken hearts in her wake) inevitably carry a unique purpose. To be fair, one could see eyes rolling to the back of my head come the first five minutes. But soon after, and once Zenigata’s bizarrely proficient and potentially imbalanced right hand-dude Oscar comes into the picture, we are suddenly in another thematic universe. In many ways, this is what I was hoping would happen sooner. A full blown solo caper that exists solely to offer counterbalance.

But considering the finale here, as well as some unique use of symbology, this is one ballsy episode that required a certain amount of setup—especially to those familiar with the Lupin world. And lastly, one cannot see the instantly uncharacteristic “yuri” elements to be pandering to any specific niche audience, when such a fandom could not be further from the often too grizzled and manly dimension of Lupin. It’s far too hard left to make work, unless it is meant to make a point—which I opine that it does, perhaps a little too finely though (talk about a flaming pen!).

ElectricV01: Meh. I just don’t see it. As soon as Fujiko was making out with students, it lost me. Maybe like you said there are hidden meanings about all the symbolism, and maybe it was poking fun at all the yuri type shows that the anime factories are pumping out, but if so it didn’t register with me. You and I are coming at this from completely different directions. You know a lot about these creators, their methods, what they have done before, and why they make certain choices. I am just looking at how the overall storytelling and characters are registering with me as a fan of everything Lupin.

And that said, I’m really, really sad how hit or miss this show has been for me. I love Lupin more than any other anime and I really want to love this show, but for me there are parts of it that just aren’t working. For example, last episode Lupin nearly had a conniption fit when it was insinuated (falsely) that Fujiko slept with Jigen, while in this episode he finds out she in fact slept with Zenigata and barely bats an eye at it. What the hell is that? It’s inconsistent.

Wintermuted: It’s possible that the series has in fact been toying with all of us from the getgo. There seems to be little consistency in regards to time with this series in general. There has been enough going on to suggest that none of this is happening in any linear fashion. And the one consistent theme has been of desire, and what many are willing to do for it. As the opening credits continuously suggests, it is asking itself, and its title character about her wishes, compulsions, and demons. And in choosing to use the world of feminine love as an opposing backdrop, the rest of the episode functions to isolate Fujiko as a being that cannot be satiated by mere notions of love and even material.

In this episode, the most popular student harbors a hopeless crush on Mine-sensei, which of course becomes the center of a caper involving the girl’s famous brother and a valuable thesis he has written. All the while Fujiko quotes Goethe regarding male vanity, and the depths of desire women covet. So when the tables are turned, and Oscar comes into the picture, the potential sexism of the whole series is turned upon its head. This is Fujiko’s world. And it’s one where the men are merely pawns to be played at will. It even goes so far as to boldly turn Lupin into a fallen example of a previously male-dominant world.

It’s so much less about story, and more about visualized nuance, which is extremely non-commercial. So yeah, new fans? Not likely to happen.

ElectricV01: I want story though DAMMIT! Story is important. Give me good story, or give me death! And, unfortunately, new fans is something a franchise like Lupin desperately needs. He is one of the most recognizable characters in Japan, yet I think the median age of his fans are like 40 to 50. I remember when I watched the first episode of this new series I thought this show was exactly what Lupin needed to bring new fans to the series. Give the visual style a much needed shot in the arm, while keeping the fun stories, and throw in a little bit more sexy time. You keep the old fans happy and bring in the new fans with the stunning visuals and fun adventure. Episode 1 is a perfect example of this.

Wintermuted: I can see that for sure. But in retrospect, that was mere prelude to what the show is actually interested in doing. And while the first episode featuring Jigen made me ready for a more visually unique spin on matters, a lot of repeat uses of motifs, lines, and images began to suggest something else in the cards. And even as I cringed at the jarring fourth episode, the suggestion there was enough to make me wonder what Yamamoto and crew were really looking to do. And this episode pretty much confirms my suspicions. The yuri elements are a forced means of conveying that this is not so much about Fujiko’s need to use men, or even be evil, but rather that she has no compunctions about doing this to ANYONE.

And what transpires from this revelation on, is consistent with the way the opening credits work, which is more akin to the characters of Lupin trapped in this dreamspace that questions their motivations. Motivations that lead to one simple conclusion—their reasoning pales to that of the desires of Fujiko. Why? Because Fujiko IS desire. And it’s something that knows no foreseen limits. The rest of the series is likely to continue working at this thesis not unlike an essay. The story work here is wonky, that’s for sure, but it’s very much an impressionistic take on character psychology that isn’t afraid to take chances.

Catch the Cagliostro take-down near the finale? If that isn’t manifesto, I don’t know what is!

ElectricV01: I’m not sure what you mean, I didn’t catch any obvious references to Cagliostro.  I’ll tell you one thing I did like about the episode was the scene where Lupin was running from the machine gun totting school girls while carrying “Isolde”. It pushed all the right nostalgic buttons. Also I still love the musical choices in this show. But yeah… other than that, this episode gets a distinct “meh” from me.

Wintermuted: On a story level, I guess I can see where you’re coming from. But once I caught myself saying “Is Fujiko pulling off what I think she is?” during the radio call, it hit me that I was on track with what is being done here. It’s a funny payoff to what I initially cringed at. Again, a long way to go for a punch to the ribs like that.The Cagliostro gag comes upon his rescue of “Isolde”, and his quiet moment with “her”. He begins his “I want no rewards” spiel, which eventually ends with a chase leading to him being gassed unconscious.(in a silhouette image that is very bold, not to mention distressing) Now a part of me feels like this audacious moment has two distinct reasons for being here:

a) To praise Monkey Punch, and give a kick to the pants of a certain Ghibli icon..

or

b) To render the general idea of the unstoppable male ideal of Lupin, impotent.

That’s right. If this entire series is happening within Fujiko’s mind, this imagery makes some truly confrontational sense. Yamamoto and company seem ready to turn the whole world of Lupin upside down in the name of both paying tribute to cinema, and even criticizing mores & gender notions of the past. While it may not be weaving a tight narrative, I do have to comment that this is something of a rarity to anime. (with possibly Casshern Sins as a unique exception)

ElectricV01: Umm… ok. I’m sorry man, I just don’t see it. That scene reminded me nothing of Cagliostro.  And I really don’t see anything different here in this series than in any previous ones where Fujiko or some other femme would outsmart Lupin from time to time. Lupin doesn’t always win. In fact in his old series, he barely ever escaped with the treasure and women always seemed to get the better of him.Because of this, I’ve never seen him as an unstoppable male ideal.

Doesn’t mean it’s not there, I just don’t see it.  Maybe the next episode will be different.

The Fujiko Telegrams: Lupin III Fujiko Mine 5

Continuing ElectricV01 & Wintermuted’s discussions regarding the new Lupin III television series event (Lupin III: Fujiko Mine), The Fujiko Telegrams is an in-the-moment blog/chatfest that’ll hopefully grant new and fun perspectives on the splashy return of one of anime/manga’s most enduring creations.

Now this is a little more like it. After what was almost a reason for me to consider dropping the series, up comes this nifty little story which at last pitts Magnum versus Walther while in search of a treasure within a newly found Egyptian pyramid. We also get a little more insight into Lupin’s personality regarding Fujiko, and to what absurd heights he will go for his “quarry”. More in tune with classic adventure/cliffhanger tales, this one’s light on story, but is at least told well enough to not be terribly offensive.

Agreed. Truth be told after last weeks… affair, it took me a while to want to jump back into the show. (My apologies to our readers for the late update on this. Completely my fault). While this episode was much better, having much more Lupin than any previous episode plus the return of Jigen, I still felt the taint of episode 4 and I had a hard time enjoying this adventure. For a first meeting between cast members, it does a decent job, but really not anything we haven’t seen before in previous stories. Of course Lupin and Jigen are gonna fight the first time they meet, and of course Fujiko is pulling the strings.

So one of the initial things I heard regarding the episode prior to my watching it was the absurd amount of frontal nudity. Twitter was flickering like a suburb during the Christmas season about this, which admittedly caused some concern on my part. If viewers had been paying attention to the series prior, this is not necessarily something to be surprised about. Was this to be more contemporary levels of service than has ever been for this franchise? So I jumped into matters with no shortage of trepidation.

Thankfully, my concerns were dashed after the initial scene, because for all the noise, it really all just takes place during one scene, but it is in “service” of the overall tone of the discussion between Lupin & Fujiko. It essentially emphasizes the master thief’s desire (ahem—commitment) toward attaining his objective, and it renders him something of an antiquated little pervert of a guy. Long & short, no matter the stakes, he will capture her. It’s a hopelessly retro moment, and she plays along knowingly, as if making sure he remains involved. Is it gratuitous & sexist? Yes. Is it cause for concern in regards to the Lupin franchise? Not at all.

This episode in particular? Have they not been watching this show? I didn’t feel this episode had any more or less nudity than any other so far in the series, with the possible exception of episode 3, which had next to none. And it did set the tone for the intro of a very typical/traditional Lupin story. Lupin steals something to try and get Fujiko’s affections, but she wants something bigger and steers him toward a mythical lost treasure—which, through odd circumstances and coincidences, Jigen is also after. I thought for sure Fujiko was going to be the one who hired Jigen to find the treasure as well, just so she could play the master thief against the master gunman and make off with the goods herself. But if that was the case it was never flat out said.

Overall, this was something of a standard episode punctuated by some very cool visuals. Leading on both men, Fujiko seems to have taken in what she has learned about both Lupin & Jigen, and woven an at-times silly scheme involving their best internal strategies. Lupin is good at getting in, while Jigen counterbalances to help them all escape. It’s amusing to see Jigen attempt to merely live the rest of his life far away from his past, only to get sucked back in and shacked up with a guy he could only imagine disliking. I did enjoy their interplay, and how Fujiko eventually plays them directly against one another just enough to help her attain a jewel peacock. And yet, they can’t keep themselves from drawing guns on each other!

This is also the first episode we see Fujiko fall into one of her more traditional roles from the old anime series: namely, the antagonist. She is the villain of this story. Part of her plot to get the peacock is supposed to involve the death of either Lupin or Jigen, as blood is needed to open the seal to the treasure. This is also probably the first episode where Fujiko’s greed makes her thoroughly unlikable, which again, is typical in any episode/story where she is cast as the bad guy…er girl. In episodes where she is bad, they don’t ever show her softer side unless it is her putting up a facade. So again, this is the creators playing with traditional Lupin tropes.

Yeah, there was a clear aim being taken with Fujiko’s role as manipulator and outright villain. It’s actually pretty amusing to see the boys essentially react to her greedy actions. One wonders if their enmity towards each other is really just leftover resentment toward her. In some respects, it explains quite a bit about what eventually happens with these guys.

Visually, it’s fascinating to see play out here as the crew is having to deal with a desert environment. And seeing this done as a hybrid old school work, we get some fascinating fire and sand work. It’s a wild jumble between eras that made me long for some old episodes again. Had a hard time deciding on screenshots this time.

And again, Egypt is another traditional Lupin locale. Also it was interesting to see Lupin get jealous at the thought of Fujiko possibly sleeping with Jigen. Which never happened, so I’m not sure where the whole “itsy bitsy” thing came from. I don’t remember her calling him that from episode 2. Still, if Lupin was that jealous of Jigen, he will probably flip out if he learns she “boinked” Zenigata…I think that is a discussion maybe for episode 6 though.

::laughs:: Oh man, IF ONLY. But yeah, that “itsy bitsy” thing came out of the blue. It felt not unlike calling Marty McFly “yellow”. When it comes down to it, it seems to have had a desired effect on both “professionals”.

Overall, this was a fun return to form, albeit still pretty lightweight as the series seems to be playing more on the many faces of Fujiko. While I wish the show offered more complexity, and less old-school gender politics, there was much to be enjoyed, scales and all. Now if only the sins of this show can help open up some truly unexpected treasure down the line.

The Fujiko Telegrams: Lupin III Fujiko Mine 4

Continuing ElectricV01 & Wintermuted’s discussions regarding the new Lupin III television series event (Lupin III: Fujiko Mine), The Fujiko Telegrams is an in-the-moment blog/chatfest that’ll hopefully grant new and fun perspectives on the splashy return of one of anime/manga’s most enduring creations.

Wintermuted: Now before we get into this, it might be good for me to make clear that I often encourage, and enjoy reinterpreting popular characters for future generations. One era’s character traits speak for their time, while others are more than ripe for reinvention.

So when we jump in here and share thoughts on an episode featuring the dogged Inspector Zenigata, as he plots to manipulate Fujiko, capture Lupin, all while attempting to snatch a priceless mask from the face of a famously scarred opera singer, what passes for a bold character alteration is perhaps the least of our worries.

So…you saw this first. Thoughts?

DCBebop: Hmmmmmmmm…

Well…

I didn’t completely hate the episode, but I really disliked it. So far we have had faithful yet modern reinterpretations of the main cast, but this was such a drastic change for Inspector Zenigata. He was misogynistic, crass, ruthless, and thoroughly unlikeable. It seemed his intent is killing Lupin, not capturing him. And the opening scene with him and Fujiko in this episode is something I never ever thought I would ever see, nor did I want too.

In one of our previous articles I mentioned that I was hoping the creators would make ole Pops more of a threat to Lupin and his gang, and to be fair he was a bit more ruthless in the original manga, but I really think they went too far.  They might as well have created a brand new detective character to chase Lupin, because this is not Zenigata…at all.

Yes. Seriously, this is a classic case of overzealous role reversal. It feels as if the writers were looking for a way to make Zenigata into something less boy scout-like, and much more like a man with a grudge. The problem here for me, is that it’s as if they underestimated another character’s potential in the process. While we have what is looking to be something of a more convoluted plot regarding Zenigata’s plan set amidst this opera drama. But the issue out of the gate is that the writers couldn’t decide what made for a compelling change. And considering his young charge, Oscar, this seems like a crucial creative mistake. Especially since it affects virtually everything else that’s to come in the show. It’s a bit of a hard left to deliver here when the show up to this point, has been vacillating between reinterpretation, and loving tribute. What this does feel like, is something of a troll to old fans—or perhaps even a dare..

Possibly. But you are right that this affects everything from here on out.  Part of the dynamic of the cast, particularly between the gang and Zenigata, has always been a game of “gotcha” without malicious intent.  Zenigata wants to capture Lupin because it’s his sworn duty and the honor of his family name is on the line, plus there is the fun of the chase, but he doesn’t want to kill him. This is always something the gang recognizes.  Now the gloves are off, and what would prevent Jigen or Goemon from killing Zenigata now that the detective is not bound by his duty and honor, but more seemingly some form of revenge?  It just doesn’t work for me at all.  Zenigata here is not honorable, he is the kind of man who tries to burn women with cigarettes.

And you mention Oscar, who is obviously in love with Zenigata in some form… which seems unnecessary… at least at this point.

Calling it: Oscar is the “worse” element that renders Zenigata into a less aggressive role. But the problem here, is that everything that happens in this episode seems forced, and unclear- which does nothing for the police end of the game that’s being set up. I guess where I’m coming from, is that without some manner of counterbalance, all we’re left with are the criminals. And while that’s fine and good, what made classic Lupin so much fun was the interplay between character morality, and the often gray humor to come from it. It also didn’t help that so many elements of the caper were laid out before the heist in a very haphazard fashion. It’s the kind of plot that required a bit more finesse in the setup and execution, and neither seem well thought out. Beginning to wonder if what I noticed last time has impacted the rest of the show.  I have another beef, which I’ll get into in a few.

Is it that this felt like an unfinished plot or story? Because that was my biggest beef with this episode other than the butchering of Zenigata’s character.  The episode just sort of ended abruptly.  There was no closure, no character wrap up, nothing.  I was like “That’s it?  What the hell?” Didn’t help I was already grumpy seeing Pops not be Pops. Also Lupin in this episode felt like a plot device and not a character. That bugged me. And I also can’t remember anything significant Fujiko did in the episode aside from “boinking” faux-Zenigata.  *shudders*

::laughs:: Exactly. It was as if the planning had fallen behind, that they hoped that it would get by on the “shock”, and the means by which the truth behind the mask would be revealed. And every other resolution to the episode relied so heavily on serendipity that it felt wasteful to even show us the varied wings of the opera house. The callback to the bees was also very clumsy. And all of this, as you say, more or less trivializes Lupin’s role in the episode.

But as I mentioned before, I can see Oscar becoming a betrayer-type as the series goes on. But it hardly matters as the balance has been shifted so dramatically in the name of mere shock. There needs to be a clearly thought-out reason this has happened, and as of now I can’t fathom why aside from two reasons: a) to “surprise” the viewers, and the big one in b) to link all of our characters by way of Fujiko as a crack in the moral armor of men in general. It also implies a “destiny” angle, which is questionable at best.

I hate “shock-value” plotting.  Comics do that too.  Bugs the hell out of me.  Boring, boring, boring, BIG SHOCKING THING YOU WEREN’T EXPECTING, boring, boring boring. It’s not good storytelling.  The only thing I can hope comes of this is Zenigata grows and learns to become the more honorable detective we have come to know.  Which I suppose is possible since this is a prequel, reimagining whatever you want to call it.

But yeah, overall, huge disappointment.  But I suppose every series has at least one stinker episode…right?

Yeah. At this point, I’m beginning to wonder just how much input Yamamoto has in this series, as I’m really worried that it’s almost completely mercenary. Granted the series is decidedly retro, even in its sexual politics, but by taking this option, the series has continued to view Fujiko as less a real character, and more a vessel for the weaker elements of men. While we get some amazing visuals from time to time, it’s hard to even say what audience this is being geared toward. This episode felt rushed and possibly even angrily put together, and that’s a spirit that really has little place being “jokey.” Tone is important, and the plot mechanics don’t seem there enough to warrant a functional episode. I really wanted to like Zenigata here, but this seems to be the last thing on anyone’s mind. Again, I don’t mind being shocking, but thematic reasoning needs to be put in place, and it needs to be told with enough efficiency. We don’t get much of that here. And that’s a damn shame as the setting seemed rife with possibility. (Oh, and it didn’t help that the denouement was essentially a “women are only happy when shacking up” screed.) Argh. What happened?

I don’t know but it’s irritating me just to think about it, so that is my cue to not think about it anymore.  Let’s just hope the next episode is better.

Kinda sad I went from being “I can’t wait for the next episode!” last time too “let’s hope the next one is better…” What a difference one lousy episode (and character interpretation) can make.

It is a hard thing to take back, too.  As a departure, it throws fans into some seriously strange territory. And as a character interpretation, it just seems lazily considered. But I was still able to attempt to parse out the issues that continued to dog it all. Change can be good, and heck, in more careful hands, this could have flirted with a darker rendition of the unflappable cop. But as it stands, it feels cheap—something the world of Lupin has no real room for. Let’s continue on, and just hope for the best. And at the very least, I’ll stick around for the package.

The Fujiko Telegrams: Lupin III Fujiko Mine, Episode 3

Continuing DCBebop & Wintermuted’s discussions regarding the new Lupin III television series event (Lupin III: Fujiko Mine), The Fujiko Telegrams is an in-the-moment blog/chatfest that’ll hopefully grant new and fun perspectives on the splashy return of one of anime/manga’s most enduring creations.

Wintermuted: So with the third episode, we are now transported to a more open European setting, as we are introduced to stoic but secretly soft-hearted samurai Goemon Ishikawaa. He stands between an assassination plot on Georg Trunk, an elderly king with a fight for an heir beginning to heat up, and some seriously valuable train cargo. Goemon, seemingly originally sent to pull off this assassination himself, eventually catches wind of a deeper plot, and unknowingly rubs elbows with Trunk’s grandchildren’s governess, Maria—who only just happens to be another false identity for you-know-who.

Something of an expansion and change of pace for the show, this episode attempts to do quite a bit for the atypical 22-minute running time. This Goemon episode was a bit sudden, and yet, as visually rich as expected for a fan tribute. Was wondering where you landed on it.

DCBebop: Personally I liked this episode quite a bit, and I really think that it felt like a complete throwback/homage to one of the earlier series. The plot in this episode is one I would have expected to see in the original green jacket or late in the red jacket series. That’s not a bad thing, but I agree it was a change of pace from what we had been seeing from this new series. Not as dark, and much more playful than the first two episodes.

What this does, actually, is it just makes me eager to see what the tone of the next episode will be like. I am still loving the animation of this series too, as it plays well in both the more dark gritty episodes like the Jigen one, and the opposite end of the spectrum like this most recent affair.

Wholly agreed on the visual palette on display here. There is so much experimentation and nuance in action, even in what is ostensibly a one-shot caper episode. The animation is in many ways more evocative of Russian techniques of the past, intermingled with anime techniques of the 1970s. And in that sense, this is a bit of a triumph. Being that the majority of this one is in daylight, or within the confines of a moving train, the lighting and speedline work is simply thrilling in places.

I suppose my main issues with this one is one of economy of storytelling. There were a number of nagging problems stemming likely from a need to maintain length. And even if I could just enjoy the general presentation, these issues nagged at me a great deal, particularly toward the end.

But yes, Goemon frightening children is something I had long been hoping to see..

And again, like the rest of the series, we get a perfect characterization for Goemon. Honorable, quickly frustrated, slightly confused and awkward around women, and a badass sword that can cut through anything. I also liked that we got to see another softer side of Fujiko in this episode that is usually reserved for only the more… Cagliostro-ish Lupin stories. It’s rare when this alternate aspect of her character surfaces. True, she always has an ulterior motive and something she wants to steal or take use to her advantage, but still you can’t help but wonder how much is an act and how much isn’t.

Another thing about these episodes so far is that they are actively reintroducing us to these characters one by one. We had one focused on Lupin, one on Jigen and this most recent one on Goemon. Will the next be about Zenigata? He had a brief appearance in episode one, and to me it looks like the bumbling incompetent cop he turned into over the years is gone and the character is back to to being the hard nosed badass detective he was originally.

I guess my biggest concern over this episode is that motivations are often glossed over in favor of just getting the episode in the can. Especially with Goemon’s confession of his presence to the targets: I can’t imagine anyone being so relaxed about it. And to make matters worse, Goemon’s first act as a hitman is such a doomed affair from the outset, one cannot help but wonder if there is any real reason as to why he even took up the option. For a series supposedly interested in something a little more character-driven, there is almost too much story here for one episode. One can’t help but wonder if this was initially meant to be a two-parter. This is also most evident in the episode’s final moment. It really does come out of nowhere.

I can see what you are saying, but in all honesty, while I was watching the episode none of those thoughts occurred to me. For example, when Goemon’s confessing “I’m the assassin hired to kill you,” there also happens to be a runaway train that seems to be a bit more of a pressing concern. Plus, even then it’s not like the guards were automatically trusting of the samurai…it’s just their guns happened to get cut in half so they couldn’t really do anything anyway. Like I said, I can see where you are coming from on that, but I kinda let it go as it was more or less the formula of a classic Lupin episode.

Something tells me that this was not a simple matter of budgetary or era-based limitations though. We do have two previous episodes that are pretty lean in story that they do not allow for such gaps to happen. But as I’ve previously said, it’s very possible that more was on the planning table before the episode went to production. While I had fun with it in places, I seemed much more in tune with the package than I was with the character work. Perhaps I was hoping that Goemon would have had a much more well-established start into the show, as opposed to a light romp.

That said, I love several moments of his here. (He and Duke Togo still compete for Spock status in my warped mind.) And I still feel like that need to make sure (true to old traditions of course) that Fujiko winding up naked somewhere didn’t come off as forced this time.

But as you said, they are lining up all the Lupin regulars. I guess another wish of mine would have been to see a solo Fujiko mission this early in the game as opposed to merely tagging us along for a nostalgia-fest. Though I am very excited about how Zenigata will make his impression with all soon.

It is worth noting that the nudity content was very toned down this episode. And I don’t think this episode is perfect either, but it was fun. As an introduction to Goemon, it does its job with an enjoyable and interesting story, though part of me kind of wishes we would have gotten a new adaptation on his first story in the manga. Though I shouldn’t be surprised, as this series is more or less starting a new history for these characters, and that’s fine too.

And you never know, maybe episode four will be all Fujiko, all the time. Or maybe reintroduce a classic Lupin villain like Pycal or, if we want Fujiko-centric, her old partner Pun.

This is very true. Should they opt for what I hope comes to pass—a Fujiko-centric episode that perhaps shows us new dimensions to her character, and in turn displays her abilities without any interference from the guys—I’ll definitely be engaged. From where I’m watching this, a show of this type is a golden opportunity to take what has worked in the past, and accent it with the storytelling techniques of now. And seeing as how I find Miss Mine to be one of the more intriguing turning points for women in manga, I guess one can only hope that the “retro-manly” world that is being built here gets thrown for a few unexpected loops..

Well, I think we will find out in the coming weeks if that is the case or not.  So far, I think this has been a real stand out series. I can’t wait for the next episode.

 

The Fujiko Telegrams: Lupin III Fujiko Mine, Episode 2

Continuing ElectricV01 & Wintermuted’s discussions regarding the new Lupin III television series event (Lupin III: Fujiko Mine), The Fujiko Telegrams is an in-the-moment blog/chatfest that’ll hopefully grant new and fun perspectives on the splashy return of one of anime/manga’s most enduring creations.

Episode Two: .357 Magnum

Wintermuted: Talk about unexpected wonderment. The second episode wastes no time in offering what is both a clever nod to the classic Bond films, as well as the colorfully cool movies of one Seijun Suzuki, in what is a smooth, moody way to introduce master marksman, Daisuke Jigen. If there was ever a moment that screamed Dai Sato (Bebop co-writer) to me, this episode was it. Not as comedic and overt in the action realm as the previous, it does a pretty solid job in setting up another famous rivalry. It’s always cool when these stories take a little extra time to explore what are ostensibly archetypes. But in pitting Fujiko against the often stone-cold Jigen, who starts as an implicated bodyguard for a troubled crime syndicate’s leader, this was an almost tonal about face.

ElectricV01: And again a perfect interpretation of the character. Jigen has long been one of my favorite anime characters, and this episode really focused on what pre-Lupin Jigen is like. Like in all past incarnations of his character, before he meets Lupin, he is as you put it “stone cold.”  He doesn’t really loosen up and let himself have fun until after partnering up with the master thief. Jigen in every previous version also has had an intense distrust in women, especially Fujiko, and it is quite nice to see where this distrust may had stemmed from. This episode had a nice film noir-ish feeling to it I really liked. It was only missing the classic detective narration. Less on the funny action as you said, but again that fit the story this week.

It’s especially fun, as we get a glimpse into each character’s internal politics prior to meeting Fujiko, who seems to fly in the face of these, with varying results..

 

Exactly, and each character so far has emerged from the encounter with this femme fatale changed in some way. Lupin finding something new worth chasing to relieve his boredom and Jigen some closure to his past. I’m curious to how Goemon is going to factor into this dynamic. In the original manga and green jacket series, the group first meets Goemon when Fujiko is posing as his fiance, and I’m curious if we will see a new interpretation of that classic story at some point in this new series .

 

 

Judging from the latest episode, we’re getting a peek at some new rendition of this meeting for sure. But when I continue thinking about the Jigen episode, I love how it again reinforces the dynamic that women in the world of Lupin often have to resort to their cunning, and sense of gall in the face of a so-called “man’s world”. Ciccolina makes for an interesting precursor/counterpoint to Fujiko, in that she perhaps commits far worse things in the name of desperately altering her fate. She remains relatable, but only in a sense that roles for women in the era the show is portraying…are very limited. Fujiko is a new brand of woman to this universe, and as such, comes off as something perhaps an “old fashioned” guy like Jigen cannot fathom. He’s super cool in this episode, but it’s clear he’s cornered into making some manner of evaluation. The life of a yojimbo just wasn’t going to cut it anymore..Especially after that.

Yep, and we should mention Kiyoshi Kobayashi, who has been voicing Jigen since the very first Lupin anime. In fact he is the only remaining original cast member, and he’s as good as ever. Also I am really digging Miyuki Sawashiro as the new voice of Fujiko. She is doing a great job so far.

Was wondering if it was still Kobayashi! It all seemed too perfect an impersonation. I also adore Kanchi Kurita’s take on the legendary Yasuo Yamada. Yes, the performances thus far have been more than a little faithful to the original cast. And the new members have done quite a lovely job of retaining the essence of the world, as well as the characters. Sawashiro is most definitely the most impressive addition in the title role. So far, just about every element, down to the audio mix of the series has impressed me thus far.

Also wanted to reiterate that the general presentation of the series has been a most exciting one that takes full advantage of techniques that have only altered the visual vernacular of anime recently. This mixed with some good writing, and performances, and you have a really cool start to what is promising to be a welcome ride.

Agreed!

 

 

 

So what of the recently released third episode? The beans have been spilled. What of our favorite stoic swordsman? I guess you’ll have to tune in to find out!

 

 

I have cut an unworthy object… I hope he says that!

 

 

::finger gun-er, sword::

Until Next….

Wish to catch up with the conversation? Watch Lupin III: Fujiko Mine here! (US only and members only.) Keep watching the letter stream!