With a family struggle over the wealth and power of a king in full swing in a small European country best known for its casinos, it's almost inevitable that you'll find some undesirable sorts in the employ of those looking to accelerate their opportunity to snatch those riches for themselves. So goes this third episode of Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna.
While our titular femme fatale is very much in the frame here, she isn't the only one with a part to play in this particular piece of family drama - while Fujiko's role on this occasion is that of the tutor of the children of the king of Astria, we're also introduced to a samurai and would-be assassin named Goemon Ishikawa who is tasked with offing the king during a train journey home after picking up untold amounts of expensive artwork in Paris.
Rather than posit this episode as an outright "race" between Fujiko and Ishikawa to complete their objectives before escaping into the night, instead we find a far more subtle treatment given to the entire affair - both individuals seem to take a shine to the king's children, which is largely responsible for this softening of their relative stances, but there's a hesitant nature to these two individuals who you'd otherwise expect to ruthlessly take what they want or do whatever necessary to complete their objective. Ultimately, this hesitation sees both of their plans usurped by another party which pushes both of their plans off the rails (with every pun intended) - or does it?
After the mastery of last week's instalment, I suppose this week's Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna was also going to struggle a little and so it proved, with this episode only proving to be great instead of absolutely stained-glass fantastic. Annoying kids aside (are there any other kind?), this was a smartly told story that allowed characterisation to take priority over action or the episode's central plot, and for the most part it worked well right the way through to Fujiko's twist at the end which brought the veil of mystery as to her emotional drive back over her again after an instalment which seemed to suggest she has a soft centre underneath her calculating exterior. Admittedly, the show's animation style and quality isn't at its best when the episode did turn towards action, but this is small fry against the backdrop of another well delivered episode that suggests that this series still has plenty of legs in it - and no, I don't just mean Fujiko's.