Fujiko is Fujiko is Fujiko

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Jun 272012
 

By simplifying Fujiko’s character, they’ve made her a far more interesting character than any convoluted, dramatic back story.

Turns out that all of those flashbacks and dream sequences weren’t Fujiko’s memories. They’re the memories of another woman who was the subject of Cold War experiments, and they were implanted into Fujiko so that she could become something of a surrogate for this bedridden, broken woman. In a way this woman is living vicariously through Fujiko, believing that her mental suggestions are causing Fujiko to live the life she wants to live. At the same time, this woman is still carrying out the demented schemes of the scientists who “created” her. This experiment was created to somehow stop the Cold War, and Fujiko’s actions seem to have had far-reaching consequences (The whole US/Cuba thing, for one.). I’m sure Violence Jill have more to say about that particular character and her connection to all that Gothic lit from the 1800s, especially with how the mother/daughter relationship pans out. That’s not my realm of literary expertise, and that dynamic wasn’t what interested me the most about this ending, so I’ll just leave it at that.

What really struck me is what this says about Fujiko herself. We’ve been led to believe that she’s at the center of this grandiose, convoluted conspiracy. Not only did it seem like she was some kind of Frankenstein created to not only bring an end to the tension between Communist and Capitalist nations, the series also seemed to be creating this elaborate mythology behind her existence. Lupin and Goemon have literary equivalents, and that prior fictional baggage carries some weight on the way their characters are portrayed. By crafting this Cold War fairy tale origin story for Fujiko, I thought the series was giving Fujiko such an elaborate history to be used for future reference.

Instead, we learn that Fujiko is Fujiko. As far as we know, there’s no myth behind her beyond the very mythical mystery of her persona. She’s not a construct of history. she’s simply a thief who’s really good at what she does and loves doing it. But what makes this cool is that, by having her face all of these false memories, she’s able to reaffirm that, yeah, being Fujiko is fucking awesome. She doesn’t need a tragic past and an elaborate history in order to be a complete character. All that matters is that she’s Fujiko. She isn’t defined by what’s happened to her or what others deem to be her destiny, she’s defined by what she does and who she is.

It may make her a less “complex” character, but that affirmation permanently puts her on par with his c0-stars. She doesn’t need to explain herself. She doesn’t have to feel bad for doing what she does. She isn’t just some sex object to ogle. That’s what I got out of that ending: Fujiko giving the audience the proverbial finger for ever doubting her as a complete character.

What I’m not totally sure about is Oscar. As in, what’s his place in the larger Lupin mythos?

Is he someone who can be slotted into the cast in a future series? Even with the revelation made at the end of the series, I doubt his grudge against Fujiko is going away. If anything, knowing that it’s Fujiko’s inherent nature to be “like that” may make Oscar hate her even more. Everything that she did, including sleeping with Zenigata, is exactly what she would do regardless of who is in control.

But would Oscar make an interesting recurring antagonist like Zenigata? Would it be cool to see him in a more lighthearted adventure like those from the second Lupin TV series or the more recent specials? Would he only work in certain types of stories? Should he remain Zenigata’s assistant, or should he be used as an independent nemesis? Basically, should Oscar become a part of the greater picture, or is his role too specific to this particular series?

I think he would. The guy seems to be capable of more than brooding and the like. He didn’t get to show it much, but based on those dream sequences of his with the shadow puppets and whatnot, there seems to be enough fancifulness and “fun” within him to play to the different styles of the Lupin franchise. If they can make Zenigata more hardboiled for this series, they can pull Oscar in the opposite direction if need be.

Yeah, I really hope he ends up being used in future Lupin stories.

But all that said, my favorite part of the last few episodes has to be the showdown between Jigen and Goemon. Those guys didn’t get to do that much in the series, so it was awesome to see them facing down. It hit all the right ridiculous buttons, what with Jigen going full on gunkata and Goemon slicing up ever bullet coming his way. I guess you’d have to call their fight something of a consolation prize, but it was a hell of one at that.

So yeah, when’s the next Lupin series?

Birdo Bomb

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Jun 152012
 

One conspiracy theory (probably) debunked. Oscar is (was) a dude (maybe).

My initial gut reaction was that Oscar loathed Fujiko due to the latter giving women a bad reputation. Fujiko represents all these negative stereotypes in Oscar’s eyes, and I was thinking this was why the rivalry was born. I was thinking there would be this duality between the two of them– yin/yang and all that shit– and that this would play into some final showdown.

Nope. Oscar was most likely a dude, and his hatred for Fujiko is based purely in jealousy. Oscar’s infatuated with Zenigata due to your classic “you rescued me and I want to be like you” moment. Very Utena-esque. Oscar wants to reciprocate the favor Zenigata extended to him when he was a child, he wants that affection returned, and he wants to protect Zenigata from the seemingly-corrupting forces of Fujiko. Oscar wants to be the white knight and the princess all wrapped into one package. Again, this is all Utena’d up.

So it’s interesting to see how Oscar effectively becomes the very deceitful, corrupting force that he so loathes. He doesn’t just adopt Fujiko’s deceptive tactics, framing her for a series of crimes that don’t even fit her modus operandi. He doesn’t even stop at masquerading as his nemesis. He’s willing to become worse than Fujiko in order to prove himself her better when he murders a cop in cold blood to protect his ruse.

But that isn’t what’s particularly interesting about this episode. Seeing the would-be hero fall further than his nemesis is cool and all, but it isn’t new shit. What’s awesome about Oscar’s story is the final moment..

Oscar places a bomb on a bridge. This bomb is intended to be the ultimate set-up to show that Fujiko has gone too far. Before the bomb goes off, Oscar learns that Zenigata is effectively incapable of corruption. We learn that Zenigata has turned down promotions and the like because he refused to live the life of a crooked cop. We the viewers can’t take that proclamation completely seriously, since we’ve seen more of Zenitaga’s inner workings than Oscar, but that speech causes Oscar to see Zenigata in a new light. He’s learned that Zenigata doesn’t need saving. Whatever was going on between Zenigata and Fujiko behind closed doors, it wasn’t something that Zenigata couldn’t handle on his own. Oscar still has his intense love for Zenigata, but he’s realized he doesn’t need to be that white knight protecting him from the “spittoon woman.” That’s what I got from that moment at least.

So that leads to Oscar’s sacrifice. Realizing there’s no time to disarm the bomb, he leaps into the river and goes down with the bomb to ensure his scheme doesn’t claim anyone’s life but his own. It’s the sort of noble sacrifice that usually redeems the character in question.

But does the series allow Oscar to redeem himself? He seems to be having one of those pre-death dream sequences where the character gets to realize all of their sins and enjoy a moment of blissful, delusional peace before they die, and in his case he gets to imagine himself as Zenigata’s bride.

And just as Oscar is about to join Zenigata in a loving embrace, a bird swoops in and attacks Oscar, wrecking the fantasy and ending the episode.

Is this bird representing Oscar’s subconscious refusing to allow himself a moment of self-redemption? Is his dream shifting to a nightmare, and his final moments is nothing but regret and punishment?

Is the bird simply the explosion taking his life, his brain interpreting the shock as a bird swooping in and wrecking the dream? The bomb was cast in the form of an owl, so this might be his dream interpreting it in such a literal manner.

Or maybe Oscar isn’t dead. Maybe that bird is one of the owl men that have been hounding the cast the past few episodes. Maybe we’ll see Oscar resurface in the finale, being used by these men as a weapon to take down Fujiko.

It’s probably none of that. Or we’ll probably never find out. But it’s an interesting call back to that one episode of the third TV series, which also ends with a jarring bird screech and an ambiguous ending caused by said bird’s appearance.

Shoot

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Jun 132012
 

Zetman’s ending is shaping out to be my sort of thing. Everyone’s kinda fucked regardless of what moral choices they make. That makes me all kinds of happy.

But yeah, one certain moment in the second to last episode was perfect.

It’s one of those classic, overplayed scenarios. The hero is about to shoot someone. He wants to do it. The audience probably wants to see it happen. Regardless, deep down inside the hero and the audience knows that the hero is better than that. He’s acting out of rage and there’s a far more rational solution that will resolve things with far less baggage and repercussions. That rage blinds the hero just long enough for him to fire, but his hesitance gives someone else the initiative to step in the way and take the brunt of the attack. In the end, the hero has innocent blood on his hands and whomever was the target of his rage has gone unscathed.

ALPHAS is prepared to murder his father. His father may be an amoral, treacherous madman, but putting a bullet between his eyes won’t solve anything. Alphas knows better, but he lets his anger rule his actions and he fires after a few moments of hesitation. This gives ALPHAS’ mother just enough time to step in the way of the bullet and protect her husband.

In almost every other similar scenario, this would lead to the hero realizing the error of his ways. Letting an innocent die (or at least get grievously wounded) due to his anger usually calms the hero so that he can defeat the villain without becoming just as bad as the villain.

Nope. ALPHAS doesn’t even think twice. He doesn’t cry out for his fallen mother. As soon as the first shot has met its unintended target, he fires again and puts that bullet between his father’s eyes.

This ties into everything else that I’ve been digging about this series. It isn’t playing with easy to define morals. None of the heroes are straight-laced white knight types. No one’s world view is idealized. Even the anti-heroes and villains play by sets of rules that are far more nuanced than usual. ALPHAS may want to be that idealized sentai hero from TV, but he’s all too eager to pull the trigger and allow a few innocents to fall if the greater good is served. After all of his angst over this very issue, ALPHAS is the one willing to let the mother die if the rest of the family may live.

The same goes for the Players who are on the rampage. To us humans they seem to be mindless destroyers who don’t give a damn about laws and the like, but to them they see us as the proverbial Satan. Humans created the Players and forced them into this monstrous lot only to enslave them and try to eradicate them when they were an inconvenience. To the Players, we humans are like the malevolent, uncaring gods of myth. In our myths we treasure the sort of heroes that go against the gods and carve a place in the cosmos for humanity, and these Players see themselves in that sort of light. They’re the downtrodden overthrowing the obsolete, evil gods– the very sort of thing we love when said downtrodden share out genetics.

The closest we have to a genuine, “pure” hero is Zetman himself, and given what went down in this episode he’s going to be forced into a moral quandary that has no right answer. He’ll have to make a choice, and either answer is fucked up.

Yeah man, I love this shit.

Retro Spoiler Iffic

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Jun 122012
 

Spoiler.

I said SPOILER!

 

Oh hey, you see those two embedded videos up there? The first one is the OP from season 2 of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. The second one is from season 3.

Oh hey, isn’t it interesting that you see a whole bunch of organs and body parts in that first one?

Oh, and that second one had the girls all turn into Kafuka for some reason. I guess she’s the main girl we associate with the series.

Then there’s the whole body parts thing in general, but that’s just random or something. Maybe.

Anyway, here’s the spoiler.

Superman vs The Elite

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Jun 102012
 

I’m writing this here ’cause technically, this is anime. In that anime is animation aaaaaand that a big chunk of the production staff for this movie are Japanese anyway. But really, this isn’t anime, I just wanna continue to corrupt Mecha Guignol. If I put in a tokusatsu article here, it means I’m being off topic. But if I go so far as to put a Superman movie review here, you can’t say nuthin’ about it.

Anyway, the short of it is that it’s a pretty decent movie, so you might as well at least rent it (although since you guys are all just THIEVES who PIRATE unofficial subtitled shows anyway, you’ll probably just STEAL this movie).

For those of youse who don’t know, Superman vs the Elite is your typical “Anti ’90s Anti-Heroes” movie. It has all the clichés you’d expect from this genre. Which is understandable, since the comic this was based on was released in 2001.

Art-wise, it’s a weird mix of DC Animated, modern Young Justice style and just crappy yet charming mid-90s low-budget animation. I like it but I kinda also just ignore it. The only times the art has a sense of cool are the parts where Supes cuts loose here and there.

Story and dialogue-wise, the story’s a cliché for the most part, but it actually manages to paint the Elite in fairly reasonable light. The big difference between the Elite and Magog from Kingdom Come (another Anti-Anti-Heroes comic) is that the Elite get their showdown with Supes at the end. Otherwise, it’s the exact same thing where the anti-heroes are loved by the public and for no particular reason, suddenly want to have a showdown with Supes.

The dialogue’s dreadful by the way, but it’s so camp in its attempt to be rude (‘eck, I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets redubbed for the English (the British) market) that it ends up being, well, camp.

What makes this flick work is how Supes was portrayed at the end. We all expect Supes to just overpower the Elite at the end, but he doesn’t. He’s obviously become super overpowered compare to how he usually does things, but in the end, he takes each member of the Elite out in quick and effective fashion.

Why this works is that Supes wasn’t acting like a psychopath, but a sociopath. He wasn’t trying so much to show what happens when you start letting might make right or how violence and killing was wrong. What made the scene work was Superman was showing the public what would happen if Superman (that’s him) were to cross that line. He wasn’t scaring the Elite or the regular Joe Public with the idea of superheroes crossing the line, he was scaring them with the idea of HIM specifically turning bad. He was reminding everyone that he was the goddamn Superman, and that you don’t want HIM being evil. Batman can kill the Joker and become the Dark Knight and be chased down by the cops, but he’s not the goddamn Superman. Batman’s like a Schmidt Small Frame .22 LR Pistol while Supes is a nuke. It’s fine if the former were to be used willy nilly, but the latter is actually dangerous to humanity as a whole.

So basically, Supes wins the day by doing what Luthor does at least once a series/reboot. Which is to ruin Superman’s reputation as a benign benefactor of man.

Oh, spoilers, this entire review has spoilers.