Episode 02, "Magnum .357"
Synopsis: After losing a bet to Cicciolina, the owner of a casino and a mob boss, Fujiko is tasked with stealing the gun of a mob bodyguard, Daisuke Jigen. Fujiko infiltrates the rival faction as the girlfriend of Jigen's boss, to get closer to Jigen. However, she has difficulty due to Jigen's distrust of women. Fujiko drugs him and is able to takes his weapon. In the past, Jigen had an affair with Cicciolina and her husband found out. When he threatens to kill Jigen, the two struggle and her husband's gun goes off, killing him. Jigen takes the blame for what happened. In the present, Jigen meets Cicciolina in a church where he's ambushed, but takes down every gunman. She points his magnum at him and he shoots her, but it turns out the magnum was empty. It was all a set up so he could kill her. Jigen decides to give up being a killer.
An episode of Lupin III without Lupin III! I guess Fujiko really is the main character. Although, that, too, comes into question, because she barely plays a role in this episode herself, and is more of a plot device than anything else. We do get some insight on her in the last scene though. She talks about outrunning her past. Are their some secrets about Fujiko's past that are yet to be revealed? Interesting.
The main focus of this episode is the bearded shootist, Jigen. And more specifically, his relationship with the woman, Cicciolina. Anyone familiar with the franchise knows that Jigen has trust problems when it comes to women, especially Fujiko. But it looks like he may just be trying to distance himself as to not get too attached to anyone. With Fujiko, though, he can sense she's trouble and takes an immediate dislike to her.
I really enjoy the short shoot-out at the church. It reminds me of hardboiled noir fiction or maybe a little bit of "heroic bloodshed" movies. I love the movement, and Jigen hiding in the dust. It lends a sharp contrast to the earlier flashback where he has sex with Cicciolina in the coffin at the same church. I think the haunting organ music used in the scene fits perfectly with both the setting and mood.
There was no doubt that from the beginning, Cicciolina was seeking death, the way she lived her life. Maybe she always expected to be killed. What she didn't expect was falling for Jigen. She reminds me of the character Tracy from On Her Majesty's Secret Service, but with a twist.
What's with Fujiko's constant hair color change in this episode? She's a brunette, she's blond, she's black-haired. Is she wearing wigs or did she really color her hair between scenes? One thought is that the scenes don't happen right after each other. From the scene where Jigen finds Fujiko's knife to the one where she's pouring tea, perhaps a few days passed. It's not clear.
I'm loving the use of those sketchy lines as shadows. It especially works in the scene where Cicciolina was struggling for the gun her husband was holding. Another scene where it works well is the conversation between Fujiko and Jigen at the end. There's just a very mangaish aesthetic to the whole thing that I enjoy.
Just like in the previous episode, we get the firing of a gun at the end. Only this time it's a real one.
Another good episode. It had a dark, gloomy, tragic feel to it, but didn't feel maudlin. It felt very real, very palpable. According to my research, Fujiko will be meeting Goemon in the next episode. I can't wait to see his swordplay.
4.5 out of 5