It starts with naked breasts. It continues on for 24 minutes with about 19 of those featuring more breasts.
But it’s not a new installment of Queen’s Blade. It’s Lupin III, and the breasts are Fujiko’s. In fact, Fujiko’s breasts occupy slightly more screen time than Arsene Lupin III himself. What would Hayao Miyazaki, one of the more famous folks behind Lupin anime adaptations, say? Probably something inscrutable about how Gameboys are like masturbation and how you need to get off his lawn, but I digress.
My first thought is one of American comics, video games, and movies. I’m sure this has happened in anime before as well, but for some reason western properties, spurred by popular titles like Death of Superman and Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, seem exemplary when it comes to “amped-up” reboots. Edgier, meaner, grittier, sexier, more “adult” somehow. Capitalize on the aging fanbase — who haven’t really aged all that much, but don’t have parents censoring their purchases — with something that might tempt their more “adult” tastes. I find it to be a risky proposition that’s become enough of a cliché at this point that it’s been sufficiently parodied. But with the 40-year sexual tension between the main characters of Lupin, “adult reboot” here logically means lots and lots of Fujiko’s breasts. After all, it’s what we’ve all been dying to see for a long time, isn’t it?
And there’s the rub (har har). The tension between Lupin III and Fujiko isn’t the only thing that’s been raging under the surface (of my pants) for 40 years. This is the cork popping on a well-aged otaku fantasy. And that becomes the second potential problem with Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko. I believe it was Cabrera that called Imagawa’s Shin Mazinger Z the ultimate piece of fan-fiction, and that’s good assessment, but if something was going to surpass that, wouldn’t a Lupin III series focusing on a sexed-up, often-nude Fujiko be the perfect candidate?
The crew of huge names behind Woman Called Fujiko (Sayo Yamamoto, Takeshi Koike, Mari Okada, Dai Sato, Shinichiro Watanabe) should be enough to make you think that even the most wank-driven fanfic would have some audio-visual value, but part of the appeal of fans’ fantasy may be in leaving them unfulfilled. It’s the real of our private fantasy to turn the relatively family-friendly (despite what the famous Manga dub that a lot of us are familiar with would have you believe) series into wank fodder. And when I say “our private fantasy,” I mean “yours,” ok, you sickos? For a younger, western parallel, imagine a Ninja Turtles reboot where Donatello walks into a strip bar to find April O’Neil recreating the Jessica Alba dance scene from Sin City movie. Or something. It’s just… a bit off. Not quite “wrong,” but off.
That said, the spirit of Lupin — ridiculous gadgets, a couple truly insane getaway scenes, and of course Lupin’s crazy grin — seems to be intact. Koike’s designs are crazed but very much in touch with what made Monkey Punch’s characters unique and lovable to begin with. I can’t wait to see some Daisuke and Goemon, and of course more foiling of Inspector Zenigata. Regardless of what happens to reinforce or destroy my image of Lupin, it’ll probably be a fun ride, and at the very least a stylish one.