Many people are falling prey to a suspicious new religion. Lupin III infiltrates this group, hoping to steal the treasure their leader keeps hidden. There he lays eyes on the beautiful, bewitching woman who has the leader enthralled. This is the story of how fashionable female thief Fujiko Mine first met Lupin III, the greatest thief of his generation.
A bit uneven, but the ending of the show saved itself from what I feared would be awfulness. Primarily, the idea that a fantastically complex character like Fujiko Mine would be motivated in life by something as simple and cliche as childhood trauma and torture.
Thankfully, this was not the case in a really intelligent move. Specifically, this scene made the show for me.
Disaster averted. The best part about this show and Fujiko herself is that she is a strong, independent woman who does WHATEVER SHE WANTS. That has always been the appeal to the character, and I was SO worried that they were going to whittle down her character to someone with childhood issues.
Sexuality is handled so well in its frankness here. Having Fujiko as a protagonist allows director Sayo Yamamoto to do stuff you'd rarely see in other Lupin adaptions. Nudity galore, it's just so much fun watching a strong female character do everything she wants. Even with the huge amount of nudity, it never feels overly fan-servicey, which I feel would happen in a male-directed production of the same show.
The rest of the Lupin crew are portrayed pitch perfect for the most part. Goemon kinda steals the show, but Lupin is still fabulous as usual, and Jigen is still great and gruff. Watching Lupin and Jigen's friendship slowly develop is gratifying. I was disappointed that Lupin never met Goemon, but that's okay. Lupin managed to keep Fujiko in the spotlight, but still be awesome in how whimsical and yet caring he is. Again, pitch perfect.
I only had TWO gripes regarding characters. One minor gripe was I thought Zenigata felt a little off. Koichi Yamadera did a great job delivery-wise, but I thought the way the character was written felt too stiff? What I like about Zenigata is that while he IS competent at his job, he is still a very humorous character, but this rendition of the character felt too serious. Yes, he was bad-ass, but where's the goofiness? I also found the scene with him and Fujiko having sex a little out of character. This version of Zenigata was just sorta all over the place.
Another more major gripe was the character of Oscar, who I personally thought felt out of place and really not that well developed. There was no real payoff for the character. He even fake-dies at one point, and I was like, okay, that's an okay resolution for the charact-HE'S BACK AND HE'S CRAZY. His only real character traits were that he was really loopy and also gay for Zenigata. I think the character definitely needed some fleshing out or shouldn't have been included in the first place. Definitely felt unnecessary to me.
Anyways, the style of the show is gorgeous. Redline director Takeshi Koike helped out with some really fantastic character designs, but there is just some fantastic art direction going on here with backgrounds and especially some stuff in the final episodes, that are astoundingly creepy in design.
And the music is STELLAR. Wow, what a soundtrack.
The only other complaint I'd have about the show is the episode quality is uneven. If you're going to do an episodic show, then you really need to make sure episodes can really stand out on their own. There were a few episodes (primarily the opera singer one) that I thought were really weak. I understand not every episode can be a home run out of the park, but I did feel that the first half of the show dragged a little because of some of the weaker episodes.
All in all, it's a dazzling Lupin adaption in terms of style. Fujiko is wonderful, and the ending of the show is what saves it. Whether you're a Lupin fan or not, it's definitely worth a viewing if only for its fantastic art direction.
Here's the NSFW opening: