Vrai, Caitlin, and Dee take a look back at Sayo Yamamoto and Mari Okada’s Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine! The team discusses the show’s unique place as the only Lupin property with a woman in the director or head writer’s chair, Fujiko’s uneven portrayals across time, and how the series pulls no punches in discussing sexuality, identity, and who controls women’s stories. Caitlin extols a straight relationship based on mutual respect, Vrai has a lot of feelings about their (really awful, really tragic) son, and Dee brings the thoughtful questions.
Sayo Yamamoto became a household name in anime fandom in 2017 after Yuri!!! on ICE became an international phenomenon. However, even before that, she had an impressive career with series such as Michiko and Hatchin and The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, earning her a cult following for their stories about complicated, sexy women and feminist themes. AniFem staffer Caitlin sat down with her at AnimeFest 2017 to talk about Yuri on Ice, her themes, and her career.
The year is 1976. Dashing and romantic art thief Dorian Red Gloria, codename Eroica, rescues the young supergenius psychic Caesar Gabriel (who is desperately in love with him, of course) from NATO. He’s pursued by the dogged agent Major Klaus Heinz von dem Eberbach to the frozen edges of the earth, where the newfound rivals find themselves stranded and at a stalemate. Forced to bunker down together while waiting for rescue, Dorian realizes that he has far better chemistry with the prickly Major than his unspeakably bland love interest. And thus 40 years of unresolved sexual tension begins in earnest.
Yuri!!! On ICE might’ve been one of the best things about 2016. I know that’s is a low bar, but roll with me. It engaged viewers inside and outside anime fandom alike, it offered one of the most positive portrayals of a queer relationship I’ve ever seen in anime, and – most importantly – it’s offered me a chance to talk about Sayo Yamamoto, a director whose works have until now struggled to gain attention despite their high quality. While Mitsurou Kubo has gotten a completely earned bevvy of praise for her hard work writing the story for Yuri!!! on ICE (thanks in no small part, I would suspect, to her availability on social media), any familiarity with Yamamoto’s past works makes it clear that this is very much a joint effort. While many anime directors might not have the same recognizable stamp on their work as the western conception of a (usually film, usually auteur) director, there are exceptions. And Yamomoto, now with three full series under her belt, is proving herself to be as easy to spot as Kon, Watanabe, or Ikuhara.
Inspired by currently airing Girlish Number, some of the team decided to take a feminist look at “trash characters” like Chitose. What makes a trash character? What’s the connection between trash characters and other anime archetypes, like moe or chuunibyou? How are male and female trash characters portrayed differently? Read our takes below then get involved with your thoughts in the comments!