Hello everyone, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time. Today I am eager to return to The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, which most recently offered one of its most fascinating episodes so far. The tale of the woman who’d become a tattooed piece of art clearly had a special resonance for Fujiko. Fujiko spent her childhood in the captivity of Count Armeid, and has since then seems to have defined herself in opposition to that captivity: where Armeid prized delicacy, obedience, and chastity, Fujiko has defined herself as an embodiment of independence and proud sexual agency.
Of course, Fujiko would undoubtedly hate to be told that her identity is still defined by a man’s influence, even if only through opposition to that influence. But when presented with the tattooed woman, Fujiko couldn’t help but see herself – and thus strove manically to kill this girl, almost destroying herself in the process. Some traumas are too painful to confront directly, but Fujiko has never been one to back down from a challenge. If she truly wants to untangle herself from Armeid’s influence, she will likely have to confront her nemesis, and prove to herself that the shadows of the past can never reclaim her. But however today’s adventure goes, I’m eager to spend more time with Fujiko and the rest of these rapscallions. Let’s get to it!
I feel like this show’s OP must have been even more impactful for the broadcast release, where it’d cut from a commercial to Fujiko directly addressing the audience
“Just like Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, a life dedicated to stealing brings about the ultimate sensuality.” Every episode I wonder about this line, and precisely what parallel she’s drawing with Heathcliff’s life. Heathcliff is a rough-edged outsider in the world of nobility, a boy who falls in love with a girl outside his station, and thus dooms them both to elegant, sensual self-destruction. The actions of Wuthering Heights’ leads are far from rational – in fact, it often seems like they’re courting destruction, embracing oblivion because it is more beautiful and romantic than the strictures of duty. You can see a lot of Fujiko in that narrative – her proud status as an outsider, her fascination with beautiful self-destruction, her gleeful flouting of the social order, and her preference for death over a life decided for her. Heathcliff is a spark of human passion that ignites an inferno of social discord, and Fujiko likely sees that as a model to strive for
“The act of stealing keeps everything at a safe distance, and lets her escape her memories.” A shield that is rapidly deteriorating
“You have nothing left to steal, silly boy. You’ve long since been empty, like me.” Not only does stealing allow her to assert power, it also allows her to bring her imagined enemies low, rendering them as hopeless as she feels. Stealing is her therapy, but it’s not productive therapy – she starts from a position of assuming she can’t be made whole, and only seeks to either distract herself or reduce others to a similar state
A butterfly alights on Lupin in a dream, then is shattered by his hand as he wakes. A lovely articulation of waking from a beautiful dream
Lupin awakes in a cold grey medical examination room, with blood on the floor. Outside, the muted greys and blues are accentuated by a blustering snowfall. This show is always very good about establishing specific color palettes for each of its episodes, which in turn each evoke a specific emotional tone
Outside, a set of life-size human dolls are abandoned in the snowdrift, all of them possessing feminine forms. This far into Fujiko Mine, the cultural assumption of women as disposable possessions is inescapable, no matter where you turn. It seems we’re getting closer to the root of Fujiko’s nightmares
“Fraulein Eule,” a mysterious voice intones. I’m extremely game for a horror episode!
And the butterfly returns to signal a wipe transition. With the butterfly seemingly interacting with both Lupin and the production’s shot transitions, we are left uncertain as to what is real and what is fabricated or imagined
Lupin awakes again, this time with the Count (well, one of his representatives) behind him, asking him to steal Fujiko. The colors of this chamber’s walls echo the purples and blues of Fujiko’s memories
Lupin refuses, but gets a tracker on the Count
Zenigata is heading to the villa of “Count Almeida of the Glaucus Pharmaceuticals.” This show has more concerned itself with gender than class, but given Fujiko was likely held in the clutches of the international owner class, it’s hard to avoid a slight undertone of “holy shit capitalism enables unspeakable evil”
Lupin arrives as well. Looks like they’re setting up a haunted villa episode, though I don’t expect Fujiko Mine to do anything so obvious as a straight genre riff. Presumably we’ll just be adorning Fujiko’s story with the aesthetic touchstones of a ghost story
Fraulein Eule is “a cult with a facility containing a narcotics production factory.” Three months ago, the Count tasked Lupin with stealing Fujiko from this facility – meaning Lupin was sent on his first mission of this series by the Count himself
“Is the renowned Count ready to confess to his association with dirty thieves!?” As ever, Oscar couches his underlying revulsion at “feminine impurity” in the language of black-and-white righteousness. One of society’s most approved methods of sanitizing your hatred of women is saying that you’re doing things “for their own good”
“Owls are servants of Minerva. She is known as the goddess of wisdom that governs medicine.”
The cult was using a drug the pharmaceutical company wanted tested, a drug that instigates personality changes in person. Unsurprisingly, this drug was initially developed by the CIA
Certainly fitting that the Count wants a drug that can rewrite personalities, given his fondness for gaslighting and otherwise manipulating Fujiko. And as we see, he has a control chamber where he’s been watching her all this time, making explicit his patriarchal dominance of her life
The Count enters the room, bearing flowers that lack all color – the flowers from the OP. This detail may well reframe the OP as directed straight towards the Count – or perhaps as a vision the Count intentionally programmed into Fujiko
“When Hegel saw the Weltgeist in Napoleon at the height of his career, he sensed the decline of an age.” So does the Count see Fujiko as a Weitgeist in her own right, a spirit in tune with and directing the world itself? Or is he just talking about himself
Zenigata journeys on to “Eulenspiegel,” a dead town that’s presumably connected to this Fraulein Eule
Once again, the butterflies provide an ambiguous transition back to Lupin in the present, still dazed from the drug as he awakens in what must be the Eulenspiegel facility. This episode’s time skips are doing their best to mess with me, but I think I’ve got the chronology at this point!
Lupin meets a Dr. Fritz Kaiser, who was left in the abandoned town
The research facility was “built to produce the fear of death”
While the drug usually produced euphoria, some subjects began perceiving others as owls, or repeatedly shouting “Fraulein Eule!” as their bodies fell apart
In German, it means “Miss Owl.” Of course
Kaiser claims he is looking for his daughter, Fujiko Mine
Thirteen years earlier, the doctor is being congratulated for his birthday, which he had forgotten
“I took my daughter’s birthday away from her. And now you want to celebrate mine?” So it’s true – he outright donated his daughter to the Count’s processes
“There is no particular difference between life and death. What is important is the fear of death”
As Lupin inspects a photo, the doctor himself disappears, replaced by a scattering of greyscale photos and flowers. Lupin’s clearly still in the sway of the drug, though this initial meeting is basically inexplicable, given the doctor couldn’t possibly have survived here alone all this time. Echoes of the past, and of the dead – as the doctor said, there is no particular difference between life and death. Both the doctor and Fujiko herself seem to be defined as memento moris, icons of the fragility of life. It seems that Fujiko’s preoccupation with self-destruction was born here, in the laboratories of her youth
Zenigata already knew everything Oscar is currently discovering
Zenigata and Lupin are attacked by what seem to be illusions brought on by the drug? This episode is really stretching the distinction between fantasy and reality, which is both thematically appropriate and somewhat infuriating
Lovely, forbidding backgrounds as Lupin emerges from a hatch in the floor with maybe-the-Doctor
At last, he directly confronts the memory of child-Fujiko. “I’ll be fine when I wake up.” “I’m not so sure about that. There are people who lose sight of the exit and get stuck in a story all their life.” An ominous extension of this show’s “memento mori as living memories” conceit, and also a fine description of Fujiko’s subsequent life
“Make use of something linked to reality to catch me”
“A story cannot bring salvation. The moment you lay your hands on it, butterflies will soar and everything will collapse.” It feels like this is the Count’s impression of Fujiko – an ephemeral narrative of a person who cannot be touched without destroying the illusion. He turned her into a person that does not exist, a narrative of his own design; given that, of course his version of her cannot survive contact with the genuine article
Goddamnit, Fujiko Mine! Well, that was a surreal nightmare of an episode, quite literally framed as a nightmare the Count had sent to Lupin. As a result, it’s tough to say how much of its narrative we can trust; the encounters between Lupin, Zenigata, and the Doctor in Eulenspiegel were physically impossible for a variety of reasons, and much of what Lupin “discovered” might just be what the Count wanted him to see. Nonetheless, we still received a harrowing portrait of Fujiko’s childhood, and Lupin’s journey through memory was a generous and inventive visual spectacle. Now please, let us check back in on Fujiko herself!
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