Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine is one of the few anime that is perfect in every way – but has all that perfection destroyed by a single decision at the very end. Spoilers, by the way. Also, content warnings: child abuse and sexual violence are discussed in this post.
The Lupin the Third franchise is a mostly age-appropriate episodic adventure anime series where you can pretty much start anywhere, which is why it has experienced such longevity over literally decades with multiple incarnations of the timeless characters.
Personally, if you asked me where to start, I would say The Castle of Cagliostro, directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Because it’s a classic, eat your anime vegetables. I would also say that the latest film, its first 100% CGI venture, Lupin III: The First is also another good place to start.
However, these are not where I started.
Way before Yuri on Ice came out as the most significant anime ever, the work of Sayo Yamamoto quite took me. I had just finished watching Michiko and Hatchin and decided right there and then that I had to watch her other series. This left me one series, The Woman Called Fujiko Mine.
And it’s so good. Despite the ending, I still kind of recommend it but with the warning that the end may ruin everything you watch in it. Just watch it anyway and ignore the ending, is what I am saying.
Unlike the rest of the Lupin franchise, this entry focuses on Fujiko Mine, treating Lupin and everyone else as supporting characters. It’s also a lot more adult taking on a psychological genre and sexuality being prominent. And the visual direction is so far removed from, well, most anime. And it is pretty beautiful.
And up until the ending, I considered it better than Michiko and Hatchin.
Unlike most of the Lupin franchise, which tends to have its episodes, OVAs, and movies be as stand-alone as possible, The Woman Called Fujiko Mine follows an episodic model but with an overarching plot that frames it all together. Through the episodic heists and hi-jinx of Fujiko Mine, our heroine starts to recall repressed memories of childhood trauma where she was in a cult, experimented on and sexually abused by a…