Thursday, 21 June 2012

Lupin III: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna - Episode 12

It's time for Lupin IIIto reach its end game, as its final arc promises to reveal the real story of the woman named Fujiko Mine - but is it a story we can believe in, or simply another layer of untruths and falsehoods?

Following the disappearance of Oscar, Detective Zenigata has himself a new assistant, but more importantly it seems that he has little time for messing around in the wake of recent events, arresting Fujiko with ridiculous ease.  Although his primary task is still her capture however, Zenigata's interest lays elsewhere, and as attention turns towards Glaucus Pharmaceutical and Luis Yu Almeida so Fujiko turns from captive to partner as both herself and Zenigata head off towards Glaucus Park.

This derelict amusement park proves to be a suitable discomfiting and surreal setting for what is to follow, as our unlikely duo find themselves drawn towards the park's "House of Fujiko" - a ride which threatens to strip bare the truth of Fujiko Mine's story, life and purpose which inevitably sends her into a paranoid tailspin while the mastermind behind it all, Fujiko's "Papa", pulls the strings.  It isn't just Zenigata and Fujiko herself who are here however, as the rest of the main cast also assemble at the park for various reasons as they themselves realise their place in Fujiko's story.  But are they too simply puppets whose strings have been pulled throughout, and if so can any of them break free from this control to effect change upon their circumstances?  It's this question which hangs heavily over all and sundry as this penultimate instalment comes to an end.

If I had any concerns over this series falling flat towards the finishing line (and I'm not sure that I did to be honest), they were quashed by yet another superb instalment of Lupin III.  Okay, so the surreal, menacing theme park idea is far from a fresh, new one but it's still user excellently here to bring us some literal roller-coaster action scenes while simultaneously providing the unsettling sense that all is not right with this world.  As we reach the climax of the series, the narrative also becomes playfully meta in its delivery, treating Fujiko's life and the role of its other players as a "story" abstracted from the series itself - a concept which works surprisingly well at adding a thoughtful tint to everything that has gone before within the series.  This leaves us with another episode that has been utterly compelling as it makes use of both its characters and art style to deliver what it intends to with maximum effect - if it can just bring us a finale to match, this will undoubtedly be one of the animated triumphs of 2012.

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