Hello everyone, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time. Today we’ll be diving into The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, as we continue the last act of this fascinating production. Last episode saw the self-hating Oscar meet a tragic end, as he found himself impossibly stretched between who he truly was and the person his idol Zenigata thought him to be. Forced to choose between a disappointing reality and a perfect ideal, Oscar embraced the ideal, and sacrificed himself to preserve Zenigata’s image of him as the spotless subordinate.
Oscar’s story serves as a fitting complement to Fujiko’s, as each of them suffer abuse for their inalterable nature, and each of them cloak themselves in the expectations of society in order to hide in plain sight. It is clear enough that Oscar harbored romantic feelings for Zenigata, but felt incapable of admitting to those feelings. As a result, he projected his self-hatred outward as anger at all women, and in particular anger at the woman who had claimed what he could not. As someone whose guiding light embodied civil order and the default expectations of his society, Oscar was doomed to be torn apart, his every step towards Zenigata demanding a further denial of self.
Fujiko, at least, has embraced the option of saying fuck-all to society’s expectations, and living precisely how she pleases. Social expectations are not inarguable guidelines to be minded, but simply limitations that society inflicts on itself; useful for manipulating others, but possessing no greater moral authority. The only restraints binding Fujiko lie within her own mind: the terror of her past, and the fear that her current existence is still defined by that past, if only in reaction to it. As someone who has used every reductive feminine persona in the book to manipulate her prey, I’d consider it somewhat unfortunate if this production ended on the predictable “her personality is a product of her trauma,” but I’ve learned never to underestimate Sayo Yamamoto. Let’s return to the climax of Fujiko Mine!
“The act of stealing lets her forget everything, and keep her memories at a safe distance.” I suppose even the opening has been implying this ending all along, framing her stealing as an act of rebellion against her own memories. It seems like it’s ultimately about power – by expressing her full and unquestionable power over others, by winning their hearts and then callously stealing their riches, she asserts her strength and independence from the horrors of the past. Of course, as long as it’s all done simply to block out or challenge her self-doubt and trauma, she’s not really escaping from those memories. The truest escape is not a protracted war with her memories, but the confidence to let them rest
“Save me. But you have nothing left to steal, silly boy.” It seems like part of the power of her seduction is that she draws on genuinely heartfelt emotions when she presents herself as a damsel to be saved, but is able to twist out of that mode on a dime in order to conduct her business
“You’re empty, just like me.” By stealing, she finds kinship, echoing the inner void she still feels as a result of her abuse
We open on a confrontation from her past, as the Count dangles a stuffed bear in front of Fujiko. She begs him to spare it, as it’s “a present from my mama and papa,” but the Count replies that he is her papa now
“If you misbehave, your precious treasures will be burned.” So now all she does is misbehave, and gather treasures in the process. Also like how this scene mirrors the dreamscapes of Lupin’s investigation into her past – he found child Fujiko sleeping on a mountain of similar stuffed animals, the victory she could only claim in dreams
We open with Zenigata, who’s now the laughingstock of the police force. He heads out for lunch, where he runs into a Fujiko who’s not at all surprised to see him
“Why did he imitate you?” Ah, such tragedy. Zenigata knew all along, and presumably didn’t really care, but Oscar was too bound by his own self-hatred to admit the truth. And to be honest, Oscar’s feelings in the first place felt more like a deep psychological desperation than an honest love; he seemed to love Zenigata for the purity of justice his “black diamond” represented, and might have been devastated to see a Zenigata that was happy to embrace what Oscar saw as a “fallen” reality. That’s part of why he hated Fujiko so much – her having sex with Zenigata was a strike against his mental image of his idol
He’s planning to bring her in, but she offers something juicier: a connection between seemingly disconnected abductions of women, all tied back to the Count. A change for true revenge, something he values more than stuffy justice
Lupin calls Fujiko “a puppet of infinite craftsmanship,” still framing her as a treasure to be possessed. It’s the language basically all of this show’s thieves and villains share – as Zenigata attested in the previous scene, there are no true partnerships, just temporary alliances of positioning
The confrontation takes place at “Glaucus Park,” a vast and intimidating fairground, set in ominous colors by the twilight sky. Window lights pierce a grand darkness in the distance, while in the foreground, the buildings are lit up in the blues and purples of Fujiko’s memories. These colors fuse with the childish fairground music to present the whole scene as a journey back into her childhood
Inside, they arrive at the “House of Fujiko”
It’s a boat ride, taking them first through a tunnel that simulates Fujiko’s birth, and then across the dead town she was raised in
A demented room of animatronic girls signals her brief time among the other test subjects, before she was “taken to the castle in the sky” by the Count. At this point, even the outer world is echoing her fancified interpretations of her childhood trauma
“This is your story, Fujiko.” The Count insists on his right to tell Fujiko’s story
Fun series of transitions as Lupin details the investigation so far, with doors opening and curtains parting to reveal each new stage in the Count’s operation. Animation is already so far removed from realism that leaning into the potential theatricality of the format works far more naturally in this medium than film; accordingly, the ability to embrace ornate theatrical framing is one of the medium’s greatest signature tools, and I tend to appreciate whenever a production embraces it. Use what your medium is good at!
“The thief named “Fujiko Mine” had her whole life, the story named “Fujiko Mine” stolen away.” Born in secrecy and erased from record books, Fujiko has never once been able to lay claim to her own identity. It’s an exaggerated articulation of a common patriarchal instinct, to see women as extensions of the men who claim them, and thus perfect for this story
Lupin succinctly explains the thematic significance of Fujiko’s battle with the tattooed woman. He’s not a bad literary critic himself
Even this fairground is a uniquely anime-appropriate venue, with its rollercoasters stretching for impossible lengths across the course of its terrain
The Count tasks Lupin with killing Fujiko Mine
Fantastic mix of wild camera movement, exaggerated foreshortening, and personality-rich character acting as Lupin dances across the coaster to avoid gunfire. This show rarely feels like “classic Lupin,” but its moments to the contrary are delightful
Meanwhile, our Samurai Friend has been captured by the Count, and it looks like they’re going to… put lipstick on him?
Fujiko and Zenigata escape into another room filled with full-grown Fujiko dolls. Fujiko begins firing, still detesting the sight of all these doppelgangers, these reminders of her own captivity
“If I covered myself in finery, I could hide the wounds of the past”
“You locked your past away. That is why, in order to open your heart, I’ve provided many keys.” You mean you’ve set up like fifty different attractions to trigger her trauma
More great Lupinisms as he leaps off the coaster, chasing his opponent downward by first swimming through the air, then attempting to outrun gravity along the support struts
Goemon escapes, but not before being Fujiko-fied himself
One of the failed Fujikos turns out to be Oscar! Still alive, still trapped in Fujiko’s shadow
And at last, Fujiko confronts the Count
What an action-packed episode that was! Frankly, that made things a bit easier for me, as this episode was mostly too concerned with chases and getting the characters into place to offer too much ambiguous thematic content. What we’re seeing now is essentially the fulfillment of everything that came before; Fujiko’s desperate avoidance of her past, Oscar’s attempts to change his fundamental identity, and the Count’s intricate plan to trap Fujiko within her own memories. With Fujiko having mostly spent this episode running, and the Count already exulting in his victory, I’m chomping at the bit to see Fujiko rally and shatter this man. Running from the past can only achieve so much; by facing and destroying her oppressor, Fujiko just might escape her prison.
This article was made possible by reader support. Thank you all for all that you do.