Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Anime Review The Woman Called Fujiko Mine (Redeux, Last Time I Promise, Oh and This Is An Actual Close Reading with Spoilers and Quotes Because I Was Stupid Last Time Around)

Okay so yesterday I sat down and watched a The Woman Called Fujiko Mine. Over the course of a whopping 4 blog posts my thoughts evolved. Hot damn! The show was smarter than me.

In a perfect world you little stinkers would read everything I have to say and witness in real time me trying to puzzle this stuff out over the course of about 15 hours. You're not though. Most of you will read the first post and take it a face value and that's not fair to the show which now feel is absolutely brilliant so I'm going to watch it again, re-read everything I've already written and try to cobble this bad boy together into something cohesive.

My mistake the first time around was treating this as just another swingin' Lupin joint but it's not. It's really a metatextual statement of one of it's key characters, Fujikio Mine, whom for the first time in the series long history is being primarily written and directed by women so let me take a moment explain what Lupin The 3rd is and Fujiko's typical role in it.

Lupin The 3rd is a loooooooong running Japanese franchise that chronicles the misadventures of Arsene Lupin III the grandson of yes that Arsene Lupin, trying to do his granddad proud. I am most familiar with it through the second television series from 1977 which I still watch when I'm bored and just want something fun to do for a half hour.

It holds up pretty well but Lupin has been around the block.

This show markets itself as being closer in tone to the original manga but I wouldn't know since I haven't really read it so I'm going to just ignore that aspect of it, against my better judgement. The show really delves into the nature of long running fiction and legacy characters, and gender politics by making metatextual comments about, Lupin the 3rd mainstay Fujiko Mine.

And thus we enter the problem of Fujiko Mine. In just about every version of Lupin III she's a little different.  Though there are some constants. The most obvious is that she's almost always Lupin's sort of kind of love interest.

In the series, think of their dynamic as Mr. and Mrs. Smith during the second act right around that big fight.

She's normally is working on the same job as the boys and is trying to use them to get the goods. Of course Lupin knows this and is trying to outwit her, all the while being blatantly attracted to her. Both being aware of this attraction try to use it to their best interest in a sort of spy vs spy type of thing.

On Fujiko's Sexuality
Because of the nature of her character Fujiko is one of anime's earliest sex symbols. That's important.

Gone are the wink wink nudge nudge "if you know what mean" jabs of other adaptions. This Fujiko is a sexual creature.

Before I made the mistake of thinking that that was for the benefit of the audience without thinking about the implications.

In most other adaptations to Fujiko sex or rather sexuality is a means to an end. Her character is flirty and fanservicey because that has a tendency to distract whoever she's planning on thieving from, at least in the text.

Here, on the other hand it's clear the character actually enjoys that stuff to a degree and feels no qualms about it. Despite everything old Fujiko in a way was chaste willing to use her sexuality for everything except sex. Everything but her own physical pleasure. This one doesn't have that problem. In previous adaptions Fujiko's virgin-whore thing was  penned by male writers in order control of her sexuality. Here she and by extension her female writer aren't bound by that crap.

If it makes narrative and character sense for her to have sex with a Zenigata of all people  she's going to have sex with him and might even enjoy the experience. We seeing a Fujiko without a lot of the rules around her.

Same goes for violence, but I'll get to that.

In my first review I said some of the sex was uncomfortable. I'll get to the main scene I was talking about in a bit, but what I never considered is that it was meant to be.

Again the show is a metatextual statement on Fujiko, and you can't talk about Fujiko Mine without mentioning her sex appeal.  But that sex appeal can exist independently from the audience.  The character was designed to "turn on" her voyeurs.

But she can enjoy her sexuality and sensuality independently of her audience. And that an interesting notion made all the more remarkable because that line in the show is so subtle. It doesn't feel the need to condemn all enjoyment of Fujiko's sexuality just take the control of it away from the audience so we know what's happening on screen isn't "for" us.  I will revisit this.

The Mystery That is Woman
Fujiko is one of the oldest regular characters of the franchise, but it is "Lupin The 3rd" in most adaptations we experience Fujiko from the perspective of a bemused Lupin.  What attracted to me to this show was the idea of a perspective flip, seeing that dynamic and these characters from perspective of Fujiko. What does she really think about everybody?

On a literal, superficial level in that respect the story fails. We don't know much more than we would have otherwise by the end of it. But on a deeper level not so much. The story is about metaphorically telling the story of Ur-Fujiko, the Fujiko that exists outside of individual episodes and movies but within the consciousness of media.

That's not just the story of Fujiko, that's the story of the feminine image. Remember Fujiko is the "Mae West" of anime. She's been around long enough to have weathered the changing cultural ideas regarding these issues giving the character the authenticity especially when written by a female screen writer to speak on them.

And because the nature of a fictional character requires constant adaptation she's not just speaking retrospectively. She's forced by media to be a creature constantly in flux, able to speak about the 1960's with just as much interest and authority as she can the 1990s, because she was there.

Let's Talk Style for a Moment
All of that was leading me up to talking about the opening which in my first watching I mostly ignored. Stupid. Stupid. But I want to take a moment to talk about the animation style and tone of the show in general.

Lupin the 3rd has been in the shadow of the Castle of Cagliogostro for a long time. This show is trying to and succeeding to make a clean break from that interpretation of the material. And the biggest clue is it's art style which even in my original review I loved.

The show is trying to go for a 1960's french vibe mixed in with some old fashioned Edo stuff which complements the story roots and history. And also just looks damn cool. The same goes for its music. Before my brain started working I said that that fans should watch the show because "it's not uninteresting or unoriginal enough to invalidate its own existence"

This is what I was talking about.

The art style alone is worth the price of admission.

That Opening
The opening is really really really surreal. But now that brain's turned back on, and I've seen the entire show I think... think I get it. And describing in detail will help me describe the show. Also note that I'm going with the dub on this. It might be a little unfaithful but my brain is already straining.

The opening should have been a clue to me not to take things too literally and what this thing was about. I am stupid. Okay let's break this into two parts the imagery, and and the poetry.

The poetry

The opening is Fujiko's voice actress

Cease what you are doing and gaze at me. Stop everything save for the thrumming of your heart. 
Theft, it is an especially sweet vice more elegant than vandalism and more complex than simple robbery. A beautiful blend of secrets and crime and mischief and fear, like dear Heathcliff (of Wuthuring Heights) I am defined by my all consuming passion. Stealing is my greatest carnal pleasure, a pleasure for which I will risk my life, a sexy prison from which there is no escape. Why am I this way? Who can know? Who is the slave and who is the master? Do divine eyes fall upon me any longer, or have they given up? The rush of the theft allows me to forget all and yet distantly remember all as well.

Run and speak not; Hide and run not.  When you've found me, punish me when you've punished me kill me. Save me. Little boy there is nothing left to steal from you. You've long been an empty shell, just as I have. So if you would gaze at me cease what you are doing, stop everything, save for the thrumming of your heart.

How the hell did I ignore that.

There are a lot of relevant themes running through there but before we do let's talk about who is speaking.

This is before the show proper starts. So in a way the story's Fujiko doesn't exist yet, though it is her "voice" that's speaking.  The who is speaking question changes a lot of how you read this passage.  Is it someone outside the the text in our world? Is it this story's Fujiko? Is it one of her doppelgangers? Is it a Fujiko from a previous adaptation?

My reading is that it's all of them. This right here is the Ur-Fujiko reflecting on her own existence outside of the text Something something theory of forms something.

Since yeah she's a thief you're inclined to take all of this talk of thievery literally. Except there is the line "simple robery". She's not talking about literal thievery. This Fujiko is an abstract concept, an idea, and adaptation are all by definition the reuse or "theft" of old ideas, taking something that belong to someone else and making it your own.

But the theft of every idea involving Fujiko in a way is a theft of the Ur Fujiko. And her feeling towards that theft aren't vengeful but are her, "greatest carnal pleasure." She sees herself doing the same stealing those ideas and incorporating them into herself.

"The theft allows me to forget all and yet distantly remember all as well." Again a reference to the nature of adaptation.

At the same time Ur-Fugiko is aware of how little control she has over herself.  Her life is, "a sexy prison from which there is no escape."

"Do divine eyes fall upon me any longer..."

From this point she seems to be pleaing to the writers. Don't put your words in my mouth. Destroy the versions of me that have been tarnished by that but let me speak for myself.

Then there is the "Little Boy there is nothing left to steal from you" bit. Again this is the first female written version of this character. She's flat out telling the guys we have nothing left to add.

Beyond that I might as well talk about all the sensual imagery there.  This is her talking. This the ultimate authority of the character speaking in that voice. That says something. That the Ur-Fujiko independent of male writers would speak that way.

Furthermore the first and second lines are subtly different. Suggesting that Ur-Fujiko can change. She is not abosolute and that change involves the gaze, i.e. the male gaze. She goes from demanding it to moving beyond it.

Let's move on to the imagery shall we.


Again this isn't the story's Fujiko, this is but rather Ur-Fujiko, the abstract concept of Fujiko. The imagry is a metaphor for history of her as a concept.

I'm going to talk about the shot through I think sixth shots which show a naked Fujiko bound in roses. Dispite the fact that we have no real context of those shots her body is still displayed sensuously. Being bound by roses is a pretty heavy yet ambiguous visual metaphor. All the more so when we see a male hand tweak a nipple.

The imagery does not go so far as to straight up say the character has been raped.  The shot of her screaming could be read that way but its like a half second long.  We don't know how Ur-Fujiko truly feels about her sexuality. We know she is sexual and sensual but we don't know much more than that.

There is also the fact that in this these images we often see more than one Fujiko. Because well there is more than one Fujiko. And this story is about that.

At the little boy part I mentioned earlier we see Fujiko surrounded by classical statues. Who was most notably obsessed with perfecting the visage of the human form in stone?

Lupin and Co.
The first few episodes are MOSTLY standard fare, albeit a bit more serious than usual, but just as much as Fujiko is an adaptation, so is Lupin and everybody else. And this show takes subtle barbs of their depictions elsewhere. Nothing so far as to be disrespectful. But enough to lampshade parts of their characters elsewhere played down.

Lupin for instance is horndog and always has been but here there are places where it's not played for laughs.  And one of the great charming rogues loses that charm.

Goemon's honor thing pretty much gives him a madonna complex as his image of Fujiko is shattered by the reality of her when she's not playing a bit for a job. And, Jigen's ability to see past the sexy is portrayed as mild misogyny. "I just hate women." It's not thick enough so the characters feel like caricatures or even out of character but it is strong enough to make a statement about the premise and history of the show.

In both cases the story frames their inability to engage with feminine sensuality as emasculating. That's an interesting statement. Especially in Jigen's case as he is pretty much the male macho gangster archetype right out of a noir. That says something.

TheN there is the fact that Fujiko stole Jigen's gun.

Everybody is Fujiko
Again my greatest failure when watching this the first time was taking everything at face value, viewing the story literally without accounting for it's context.  This show is designed to comment on Fujiko's role and define her as character by communicating and understanding the journey her character has taken metatexually.

Nearly every female character represents a historical aspect of the character's portrayal, and many of them end up getting killed by this Fujiko. Or at least she has a part in their death. For the record whenever I say, "this Fujiko" I mean the literal textual Fujiko of this story, not Ur-Fujiko or any sort of metaphorical Fujiko.

This parallel is subtle early in the story and gets more and more blatent until she literally let's her past identity die in the last episode. Which I will talk about later as will I get into the implications of some of these "metaphorical" Fujikos

But I want to really get into the show's concept of multiple identities.  After many of the arc there will be a scene where Fujiko says she related to the departed. That she saw something of herself in them.

Well let's go back to adaptation.  This Fujiko is not ur-Fujiko.  The show seems to have an awareness of this. No, the show seems to be about this. Apart from the opening we the audience have never seen or interacted with Ur-Fujiko. All we have done is interacted with incarnations of her, with this Fujiko only being the latest (unless some new Lupin Special came out when I wasn't looking)

Despite that, because this Fujiko is written and directed by women she has the authenticity to speak on the behalf of Ur-Fujuko. To comment on her past selves, which are represented  by these "Metaphorical Fujikos"

I will delve into what her comments are, in a bit, but that setup is brilliant.

The Image, Art and The Audience
At least two episodes involve cases the idea of art being divorced from image. The second one is about issues I want to talk about indepth later so let's talk about the first and its "Metaphorical Fujiko" Aiyan.

Aiyan  is a masked Oprah singer who Fujiko fills in for, in one of Zenigata's bids for Lupin, who is planning to steal the jewel encrusted mask. Everybody is Fujiko.

Is it the mask, Aiyan's image that makes her who she is?  Or is her identity intact independent from it.

The big twist is that the real Aiyan engineered the entire mask thing so she could retire in peace while nobody noticed in effect making a new Aiyan. Adaptation.

Aiyan speaks directly to the idea that no Fujiko on Tv or in film is the original Fujiko, nor can claim to be.

They are all including this Fujiko just wearing the mask.

Oscar and Catholic School Girl Sex Scene
I love Lupin the Third. I'm not a super fan or anything but I have an affection for the franchise. The thing that really made me turn off my brain, really just dismiss this series, was the catholic school girl sex scene.

With that rolling around in my head I can never ever EVER watch Fujiko flirt and think it's sexy or even harmless again. This scene his retroactively ruined every other piece of Lupin the Third media out there for me!

I wanted to ignore it! I wanted to just move on! I wanted to lock in the cabinet of things I pretend didn't happen in my favorite franchises.

It took me a while to get over that. I hadn't loved this version but I felt it was harmless thus far.




After I calmed down. After I thought about it, I see it exists for a reason. I see that it's trying to say something. And succeeding at saying it.

"Fujuko's sexuality exists outside of the voyeuristic audience." I dislike that scene but I can't think of any other way of taking back her sexuality from the audience.

If you turn her into a Madonna she's no longer Fujiko.  She has to be,  no is sexual. There had to be a way of maintaining her sensuality but doing it in a way where it's clear this is not for the audience.

They constructed a sensual voyeuristic sex scene that no guy wants to enjoy.They turned Lupin The 3rd into (literary) Lolita lesbian fetish porn.

And to get into genius of this I have to fast forward. It's revealed that the "student" is actually Oscar, a character I had previously written off.

Okay last time around I said I was getting a Silence of the Lambs vibe from this guy. And  in a few later episodes I was. I have conflicting feelings about Buffalo Bill or any character ... influenced by him. He is the nightmare of anybody icked out by transgendered themes. An embodiment of all that fear.

He's creepy as all hell though so eh...good villain?. But I groan a little anytime I see anybody wanting to do it again. You have to earn your lady-skin coat damn it! And in retrospect this show (and Monster) does earn it.

So early in the series Fujiko has sex with Zenigata, whom Oscar had a crush on. Oscar goes a little nutty and starts posing as Fujiko.

But metatexually a dude posing as Fujiko has some implications. Writers try to fit into "the skin" of their characters all the time and he is basically the walking representation of the male impersonation of Fujiko and women in general throughout fiction. He is a "metaphorical Fujiko"

And that Lolita sex scene is with him, linking it to the male impersonation to the character as if to say, how is this different from what's been going on in the past.

Furthermore he doesn't just pose as Fujiko making this bit more than about just her character.

God damn it, that's smart.

Brilliant but because the sex scene comes first none of that was running through my head when I first watched it. No. I was thinking,  GREAT, FUJIKO THE PEDIPHILE RAPIST!

Well now that my brain back is on and I can notice things I didn't the first time, the show is ripe with reoccurring visual metaphor. Particularly owls and butterflies.

Both of these probably have deeper implications but I'm pretty sure represent voyeurism. The ever watchful audience. When the show wants to make a statement about how the character interacts with the audience you'll find one of those two hanging around.   My general impression is that owls represent the male audience, while butterflies represent how they desire the female Galatea that is Fujiko to behave And I've got more to say on that so let's move on.

The Painted Lady
This show isn't about this Fujiko Mine or even A Fujiko Mine but THE FUJIKO MINE, the Ur-Fujiko Mine.

And by thinking too literally I missed the biggest, most obvious, sledgehammer to the face ohhhhhh that's what we're talking about version they could have given.  The painted lady.

So let's talk about her.

So episode, 9 is the episode that kicks off the Fujiko is maybe not who you think she is plot. And I should have been paying more attention.

So the "score" here is a painted woman, a living canvas.  A work of art that "exists only for the pleasure of its audience" at those words my eyes should have been opened.

She exists only as a canvas for her male artist, auctioned off to the highest bidder. He even painted her tongue obsessed with her beauty robbing her of her ability to speak and in some fundamental way interact with the world.

Through out the episode Fujiko is on a mission to seemingly steal the thing but 2/3 of the way in we realize it's deeper than that. She relates a bit too much to the living canvas and wants to destroy it, and she's doing all of that without really understanding why. It's just instinctual for her.

Fujiko, the Ur-Fujiko exists independent of the text, independent of of her image, independent of the art...or does she? On one level she is a brand, a piece of IP, a painting worth millions, often bought and sold as intellectual properties are.

And the show is clear we, the audience are scum for treating her like that, as are all the, "artists" who facilitate it. She's lives and breathes as all good characters do, and how dare we turn her into nothing more than a painting to be bought and sold for her beauty

Of course this Fujiko doesn't actually say all that prefering to adher to the Terminator school of identity reconciliation in this episode. Oddly enough it's Lupin who gives the big speech on this one. Which seems like it might have been an inner monologue of the writer at one point.
Lupin: We're surrounded by extremely volatile natural gas. One spark from this baby and we're all crispy critters. What do you want from this lady anyway?

Fujiko: Think about it why do I steal (adapt) anything, I can sell her to the highest bidder for a ton of cash.

Lupin: If that were your game you'd want her in pristine condition. Wouldn't want to scratch her, any damage tanks the price and you know it. So what are you really after Fujiko? You want to kill the poor girl. No that's not it. That's not it all. It's yourself you want to kill.  Your life has been manipulated by strangers. When you steal, when you eat even when you breath everything you do is a part of somebody else's plan. People you don't even know threw your destiny off course. But you have to go on living powerless and pathetic. You see yourself when you look at her and you can't take it. Isn't that right Fujiko Mine.

Fujiko: And if it is what then?What am I supposed to do?

Lupin: Do you think I (male writers or/and the past versions of the franchise) am the best one to ask?

And it's wierd that this revelation isn't coming from Fujiko but Lupin. Because it's his franchise and because he's always been two furry ears short of being a modern trickster god himself he can deliver that monologue Coyote style, invoking that's it's not "this" Lupin talking, but Ur-Lupin (who in this show most often seems to be speaking for/as the author), looking beyond the text, beyond the audience, beyond the writers, who really wants to see a fully realized Fujiko, a fully actualized Fujiko.

Fujiko and characters like her present a problem. She has a well deserved place in culture. And not all of that is due to her bra size.  Yet  all of that stuff has become so untangled into the character that you can't say screw it, we're starting from scratch because you would in fact be doing just that. Starting from scratch and doing away with that cultural icon.

God that is an important passage. Just selling the lady for the money won't do  Keeping her the same isn't right. And killing her to put her out of her misery won't work either. This entire thing is about trying to give the character of Fujiko Mine back control of her life. To allow her to subvert the expectations of the audience and even her writers. To blank the canvas and make her a woman again.

This show is trying to thoughtfully get Fujiko Mine and by extension every meaningful female character written by men into a place where it's okay to talk about and write them, all the while dealing with and acknowledging the yes sometimes negative influence male writers have had over them.

Lupin doesn't know how to do it. That part is up to Fujiko herself.

The Ur-Universe
This part is going to get complicated, because from here on out the series is done with pretending like it's a normal Lupin the 3rd series.  And on first watching I didn't get that this is instead about trying to save, "Ur-Fugiko".

To allow this to make sense it my head I have to think about it sort of sideways. The ending of episode 9 is where "this Fujiko" stops being "this Fujiko" and begins to speak for and act as as "Ur-Fujiko" and really the last 5 episodes are a giant drug fueled (seriously there are drugs in this show that's not a statement on the visuals though it could be) metaphor for her journey.

What threw me off is that episode 10 takes place almost entirely in a drug hallucination. That should have a a big blinking light but I was an idiot. Nothing there is literal. Even within the story everything is a fiction. I was waiting for the story to tell me what it all means. When the story can't without breaking itself.

The drugs allow the tale to explode the fourth wall. Letting the story take place in an realm beyond the text without fully escaping it.

The drugs allow "this Lupin" to travel to to the Ur-Lupin world, which is a dead barren wasteland and learn the metaphorical story of Ur-Fujiko Mine.

Furthermore all of these characters act subtly differently then they had for the rest of the series. Zenigata who everywhere else is his most Zenigata here breaking up with his this story only partner to do things on his own.

This is the space of the idea of Lupin the 3rd. Explaining how it all went wrong, why these characters are in danger, and how to save them.

Remember how I said owls represent the audience. Guess who the villians of this thing are? The owls engage in mind control, and in the realm beyond the text what does that mean? The male audience and the fear of that audience are controlling these characters THESE characters that exist beyond the text. The audience is controlling the very idea of Ur-Lupin, Ur-Zenigata, Ur-Jigin and Ur-Fujiko who should exist as fully realized characters not puppets of the audience.

Next up we meet Fujiko's (father) and it gets weird.  He speaks as a detached jaded creator who lost the thrill of creation and through that lost the one thing that mattered to him. His daughter. And there are so many ways to read that. Lost the franchise, authorial control, the character of Fujiko, all of it.

We even see the image of him butchering a fake Lupin.

After that see a childlike Fujiko. We've basically been taken back in time to a "young" Ur-Fujiko explaining the story of her creation and god is she breakin' the wall.

Lupin: Doctor where are you?

Ur-Young Fujiko He's not here anymore. There's no reason for him to be this is my tale.

Lupin: No these are the affects of the drug thats all when I wake up things will be back to normal

Ur-Young Fujiko: Are you sure some people get lost here. They don't know where the exit is and they get stuck here forever.

Lupin: So how do I find the exit.

Ur Young Fujiko: You just have to find something connected to reality to capture me like maybe... like pain.

Lupin: Wait, why are you here? 
Ur-Young Fujiko Don't be silly I already told you this is my tale.

Fujiko Mine,  the creative writing professor ladies and gentlemen. How do you create characters that feel real, that breath?

Also I didn't touch upon earlier metaphors but I should have the method that makes all of this work is the fear of death. The fear that if these characters don't do what the owls(the audience) want, don't submit to their will, they will die.

The story frames that fear as unnatural. That these characters have lives and all life comes to an end even fictional ones. Eventually the franchise will die but these characters did well at least they lived good lives.

Let's Talk About Dudes
So after that... we're back in the normal story though we will drift in and out of it. Drugs. We're catching up with "this Fujiko" after that breaking speech Lupin gave.

But this really is the episode where Mari Okada really talks about the series independent of Fujiko as she's mostly out of the picture of this one.

I already gave one reading of the importance of Oscar, but as I rewatch this I'm finding another and I have to admit my own guilt.

Beyond all the Fujiko stuff Oscars primary sin is his possessiveness of Zenigata. It's framed as romantic thing but how did it start. Because Zenigata was his idealized version of masculinity. How many pieces of media have stagnated out of fear of feminizing the masculine. Refusing to male characters more complex because that complexity would be confused for weakness.

This isn't just about female characters and this is all about that. The effects of misogyny in fiction on men.

Look let's face it not every female character is going to be written by women and vice-versa but guys have we no pride in our creations? Does the fear of gender politics drain the soul out of the the collective fiction. Do those fears limit us from creating breathing characters?

The Woman Called Fujiko Mine
So as I've said this show has the ambitious goals of

  1. Acknowledging the influences, both the negative and positive, males have had in informing the character. 
  2. Acknowledging the lack of power said character has over her image.
  3. Acknowledge that despite all of that Fujiko as a character has meaning.
  4. Get everybody in a place where we are willing to admit all the above but still feel safe engaging with, enjoying, and continuing the legacy of this character.
  5. And tying that to every other meaningful fictional female character written by men in existence.  

First of we have to deal with the image of Fujiko. In the finale we get a whole mess of dopplegangers. At first they're just visages but then we realize they're actual people, brainwashed and forced into the role of Fujiko Mine culminating in one being oscar (what did I say before)

How many characters, stories and ideas could have been brilliant but have been pushed into blandness by being forced to be knockoffs of some original work.

Through out this thing I can feel the writer struggling with that fear, Dream Lupin turning down the offer to steal Fujiko. And the whole second half seems to be a giant critism of the first for sticking to closely to the classic idea of the character. Keeping the painted lady pristine.

"This Fujiko" needs an out. A metaphorical way to both condemn and celebrate Ur-Fujiko.

"This Fujiko" isn't completely herself.  But she's no one's puppet either.  This is going to get trippy.

Up until this point the plot has been hinting that Fujiko has been brainwashed. That everything she's ever done has been the result of some puppet master.  In the end though show splits the difference.

She has implanted memories but blocked them out...and more or less was the same person before being implanted anyway. I don't think that works. It creates all sorts of dissonance. But it's the later twists that keep me hanging on.

The person orchestrating the let's face it mindfuckery, was the person's who's memories "this Fujiko" had.  The person causing her torment was a restrained older version of her. A version of her that couldn't be Fujiko.  We have another metaphorical Fujiko.

Beyond that there is also the twist that her broken-Fujiko's, Aisha's accomplice was her "mother". Her female mother who felt guilty and indebted to her.

That is just cracking the DVD case right there.  But "this Fujiko" condemns the mother/metaphorical
writer for this behavior.

Aiesha dies and we're in freedom and we're just left with this woman called Fujiko Mine.

P.S. The Dissonance
Nope not doing another one. I said this was the last and it will be.


The ending is too happy.

I finally worked through that dissonance from the ending, and the revelation woke me up at 2 in the morning bringing me to tears. This whole thing is a metatextual tragedy.

This whole thing, this whole 13 episode thing has been about explaining through Fujiko Mine that legacy characters and female legacy characters in particular are vulnerable to non-diegetic factors and that Fujiko has for most of her existence has been a slave to those factors.

At first glance the ending seems to be about giving her back her life. Giving her an identity beyond all the fan service.


The "liberated" Fujiko shoots and rebukes the story's mother figure, a possible metaphor for the female writer of this story, who she feels has been a complicit accomplice in the breaking of Aisha who is a metaphor for Fujiko herself.

Remember all the metaphors about Fujiko's identity being a fabrication...being a lie.


That ending is too clean, absolving the audience, contradicting everything that came before. This show broke Fujiko and is doing its damnedest to put her back together, to take her backwards to pretend like it hadn't said or done any of the stuff it had over the 11 episodes prior to the 2 part finale.

But it had. That cat is out of the bag. But the story needed to end in a place where we all felt safe and comfortable.

Fujiko kills the shows mother/ female writer figure.

With the themes of story the ending that seems to make the most sense, the ending that seems to feel the most true is Fujiko's mental breakdown in episode 9 at the realization that she's a fabrication, "a painted lady".

Remember "this Fujiko" is more or less out of the picture for the next 2 episodes, in a series bearing her name.

"This Fujiko's" story has been told.

If I ignore the "false ending" of the last two episodes and go with that reading I'm right back where I was at my second venom filled blog post about the retroactive rape of Fujiko except the writers were aware of it. The writers knew what they were saying, and were solemnly admitting their failure to "salvage" Fujiko this time around. To find the Fujiko beyond the text.

It makes you reconsider every appearance of Fujiko in the franchise, including the ones earlier in this series. The character is a puppet of the narrative as she sexes it up this series. And in one of the most convoluted endings I've ever seen denies that even though that was what this whole series was about explaining.

There are subtle hints that the writers even regret taking the money to make the attempt to save her. Both Goemon and Lupin are offered suitcases of money to take a job and refuse the gig (at least at first). And in Lupin's case the gig is "stealing Fujiko". Remember that metaphor in the opening. Remember how many times Lupin speaks as though he were the author of this thing breaking the fourth wall with his fascination of her character.

Owl: I would like for you to steal (adapt) Fujiko Mine

Lupin: Barging in like this how rude, and I'll pass on the job thanks.

Owl: This is something you already intended to do. I am just asking you to make good your threat promptly

Lupin: (In his head kind of): My threat huh . Oh, that one (Fujiko Mine will be mine.) so they've been watching me all this time the one job where it's not about impulse. This is the woman I want and I don't like to share.

Owl: And here I always thought it was a point of pride that you always stole what you said would

Lupin: I don't care much for owls their night vision is to good, but there are questions I want answered. What do these feathered freaks want with her? Just who is Fujiko Mine?

The scene plays out as a writer refusing to take a jab at writing a character they have loved all their lives even though as a strictly hypothetical they were always planning to make that attempt despite being worried the idiot who actually took the job would botch it.

And then in the end Lupin is forced to take the job through money and mind control.

Remember this was all in that coke fueled 10th episode, after "the true ending" It's like an elaborate explanation of how this all happened, in a metanarrative space. Though I've already been there.

And with the show's opening they must have tried their damnedest to reclaim Ur-Fujiko.

Also they've connected Ur-Fujiko to all female legacy characters.  What happens to all of them when somebody, perhaps a plucky female writer wants to do something with them?  Ms. Marvel? Wonder Woman?


P.P.S. FUJIKO MINE!!!!!! and Goemon in Drag
Open in a dark room facing a starry window an emanciated yet emancipated man wakes up from a dream.

Fujiko... Fujiko...Aisha

He rubs the hollows of his eyes as he reaches for a cigarette lighter in the moonlight of the window pane.


Not again. I need sleep. Four nights now. Four tiresome nights. But still I can't get this woman called Fujiko out of my mind.

And then it hit me like a ton of bricks.

Too literal, always too literal. Miles.

My first reading of Aisha was that she was a metaphor for all of the Fujikos of the past. And the writer's reluctant duty towards them. But questions, so many questions kept me up.

I'm still being too literal.

I'm not a woman. I can't speak for them so fear lept in my heart. Was I wrong? So I looked and read. And guessed and doubted.

And then came the dawn.

Too literal.

Aisha means a lot of things. She means everything.

In a general sense she can represent all of the feminist issues in this series and her relationship to her mother can represent the writer's cruel corrupted duty to them.

She can represent the female audience, the female spectator that feels betrayed yet fascinated by Fujiko's promiscuity especially when as little girls watching the movies and shows they came to slowly realize the world's restrictions on their own sexual identities and came to hate Fujiko.

She can represent the failure of feminism to return freedom to these women, and its lashing out at all female sexuality.

And that ending where "this Fujiko" kills Aisha's mother can represent both the failure to find the Ur-Fujiko the Fujiko independent of all of that, independent of non-diegetic manipulation, and female writer's who reluctantly play into all of that...stuff (if you haven't guessed by the opening its four in the morning and the fourth night I'm running on fumes).

Fujiko's forgiveness and understanding of their tortured souls, all while still being bound within her own constraints. And that puts a new spin on that Catholic school girl scene.

Seductive Fujiko may have been these girls first experience in seeing and engaging with female sensuality. And the idea of it may be uncomfortable but it rings true true. And for some that experience may have been meaningful enough that she shouldn't just be destroyed.

Aisha means everything, and I am still vexed.

On my fourth night of screaming FUJIKO MINE, in my bed in my underwear trying to puzzle out the mystery of this woman all I am left to say is that any show that can do that is important impressive.

Oh and I finally got Goemon in drag as both he and I got over our Madonna complexes towards Fujiko and just learned to accept her as she is. The Woman Called Fujiko Mine.

Ironically the show spends less time setting up the Fujiko/Lupin romance than it does the Goemon/Fujiko relationship. He's the only character she lives with. He's the character to pick up the pieces after Lupin's breaking speech. But he has had a flaw the entire show. His Madonna complex keeps him from engaging with Fujiko on a sexual level. In episode 11 we see a shot of him cleaning/stroking his sword while trying to puzzle out Fujiko's deal an obvious visual reference to the act of masturbation.

I have no clue how the show views that, but again Goemon's fatal flaw is his inability to engage in female sexuality.

In the last episode in drag he makes the declaration that Fujiko is his girlfriend. Again that's a little vague but it does at the very least entail character development as he's gotten over his initial Madonna image of her.

Or maybe I'm just an idiot over thinking everything until I become an oruboros.

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