The Other Side of Animation 198: Lupin the 3rd: Fujiko’s Lie Review

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Parental Warning/Heads Up: There is brief nudity and some heavy violence in this movie. Viewer’s discretion is advised.

Yes, it’s once again time that we set our eyes on the Lupin the 3rd franchise. I have stated my opinions on the franchise as a whole in the past, and today, I’m going to talk about the last special from the A Woman Called Fujiko Mine series. As a fan of Lupin the 3rd, Fujiko Mine has been one of the more interesting and more infuriating characters to watch over the decades she has been around. While most of the main cast has changed very little, Fujiko seems to become more wildly inconsistent with who she is as a character, depending on what show, special, or film in which she appears. At some points, she’s nothing more than the token sexy female character, sometimes she’s incredibly competent like in Castle of Cagliostro, sometimes she is just crazy for Lupin, and sometimes, she doesn’t have much of a character outside of sex appeal. Now, I’m not saying she has to constantly evolve and be fleshed out in every film, special, and show, and whatnot, but at times, she becomes the least interesting character out of the entire core cast. So, since this is the last special from the A Woman Called Fujiko Mine series, where do I stand on Lupin the 3rd: Fujiko’s Lie

Once again, it’s directed by Takeshi Koike, written by Yuuya Takahashi, and animated by Telecom Animation Film and North Star Studio. The special was originally released in May 2019 in Japan, and was then shown in the US in July 2019. Discotek Media then released the Blu-ray in March 2020. It got pretty positive reviews, but it seemed to go by the wayside, unlike the previous specials Jigen’s Gravestone and Goemon’s Blood Spray. It was interesting to see this one go under the radar, especially since these last few specials have been pretty unique in the Lupin the 3rd franchise. Did it deserve to fly under the radar, or were we distracted by Fujiko’s charms and wits to miss something great? 

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So, even though this is a Lupin the 3rd special, the main story focuses on the femme fatal of the gang, Fujiko Mine, dubbed by Cristina Vee. She is currently working with a scientist and his son as a maid. Unfortunately, this scientist is being targeted by a major company for apparently taking $500 million from the company. Usually, when you steal money, they tend to care about that. So, that means Fujiko, the scientist, and the kid are targeted by an assassin named Bincam, dubbed by Billy Kametz. Can Fujiko avoid Bincam’s cursed ability, or will she fall under his spell and end up in a grave? 

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So, the first special focused on Jigen. The second special focused on Goemon. If it wasn’t obvious, this one focuses on Fujiko and her task of taking care of the kid and avoiding Bincam. When Fujiko was at her best, she was manipulative, using her ways to get an upper hand against the scumbags and even her own teammates. Now then, with all of her tricks in play, what happens when she is pushed to her upper limits of pulling the kid’s leg, wanting the money, and wanting to make sure the kid is okay? Well, it’s an entertaining, if slower-paced watch. It’s not as action-packed as the previous specials, and it’s more about how Fujiko adapts to the situation as she flows in and out of actually caring about the kid. 

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I’ll admit when I first saw this special, I did not like it. I found the pacing too slow, the villains weren’t interesting, Fujiko wasn’t consistent as a character, and the kid was an annoying individual. After I watched it a second time, I started to notice the more intricate story beats with Fujiko. To be clear, Lupin does show up in the film, but even then, he and Jigen take a backseat while Goemon and Zenigata don’t show up at all. It’s interesting to see Fujiko grapple with being who she is, but also letting down her guard. Sure, there are scenes of her using her promiscuous ways, some nudity, and a scene with her in a bathtub, but it’s more like cat-and-mouse, as Fujiko tries to get the location of the cash first before the villains get it back, while Lupin pops in here and there to help her out. I liked seeing Fujiko take the spotlight for a story and have some substance to her. Like I mentioned above, it always seems like she’s there to just screw Lupin over for her own personal gain. It’s a wild guess on whether you will see her be more nuanced or not, depending on who’s directing and how she fits into the overall story. Luckily, unlike Jigen’s Gravestone, Fujiko does have some pretty sweet action sequences and is the one to take down Bincam in the end. As for villains, you get fairly generic corrupt business individuals, so a lot of the quirkier Lupin villain shenanigans end up falling on Bincam. In terms of the cast, Bincam has the more interesting aura surrounding him. His lean lanky design, his snake-like looks, and his ability to hypnotize people by eating special nut-like seeds, and supposedly being able to summon sandstorms make him the stand-out character outside of Lupin and the gang in the film. In terms of themes that I noticed, I only caught a few, but I could have easily missed some. To me, the film tackles themes of love, personal and intimate connection, and growing up with love, and growing up with abuse. You can see this throughout the film when Fujiko is with the kid, and when Bincam is being pulled around by a chain and a Hannibal-style mask. While I think films like The Boy and the Beast handle these topics better, I’m always down when the Lupin franchise decides to go a little deeper into the development of their characters. 

Animation-wise, it’s kind of hard to talk about this one and offer something new, because it’s as well animated as the previous specials. You can tell they added in a bit more money to the budget for these films, with their striking dark-lined designs and more fluid movements. It’s maybe a bit more expressive at points than the others, but it’s nothing new overall in the visual presentation. The voice cast is also as good as the previous specials. Again, while I prefer the Geneon dub of the gang, I have warmed up to this cast. Cristina Vee is quite good as Fujiko, and I have always enjoyed her performances. Billy Kametz is also an enjoyable addition, and it’s amazing to see his range when you have seen him in other roles like in Promare as the lead. The rest of the cast is quite good with Keith Silverstein, Dan Woren, Rick Zieff, Erika Harlacher, Katelyn Gault, and Jake Eberle to name a few who put in solid performances. 

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Now, in terms of criticisms, I do have a few. I don’t hate this film as much as I previously did, but I still stand by my criticism of the villains being weak. They are simply corrupt business people, nothing more, and nothing less. Bincam is the most interesting of the villains, but he is easily the weakest of the villains seen in the special. I think I wanted to see where and how he came to be who he is. It also leaves on a major cliffhanger, and so far, there hasn’t been any talk of a fourth special, so this cliffhanger ending is way more annoying to me than it should be. Don’t build all of this up on where the assassins came from, tease the return of Lupin’s first major film villain Mamo, and then, well, not announce that a final special will wrap it all up. It leaves a bunch of dangling wires all out in the open, and that’s a real shame. 

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Still, while it might not be my favorite of the specials, I think it’s still better than something like Green vs Red or Bye Bye, Lady Liberty. If you have loved this iteration of the iconic thief, and want to complete it for now, I recommend getting this one, or at the very least, giving Fujiko’s Lie a rent. I originally wasn’t going to talk about this film, but since I needed something to review between my next film and Over the Moon, I wanted to finish my time with the current specials of this particular Lupin timeline. Now then, next time, we will be traveling to the Philippines as we tackle their first adult animated film with the help of Netflix called Hayop Ka! 

Thanks for reading the review! I hope you all enjoyed reading it! If you would like to support my work, make sure to share it out, and if you want to become a Patreon supporter, then you can go to patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time! 

Rating: Go See It!

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