Lupin III (Lupin the Third, not Lupin 3) is an anime and manga series originally created by manga artist Katou Kazuhiko under the pen name Monkey Punch (モンキーパンチ) in 1967 as a part of Manga Action Weekly. It began as a parody of a series of novels by Maurice Leblanc featuring a French gentleman thief named Arsène Lupin. Arsène's grandson, however, is far from a gentleman.
In Monkey Punch's original manga series, Lupin is a lunatic with an extreme lust for women that can never be satisfied; yet, he somehow remains a likeable character. This parody of the Lupin character was inspired by MAD Magazine; in fact, the art style of the early manga has a very striking resemblance. The manga has since spawned three TV series (episodes of the second series now appear in English on DVD and air on Cartoon Network), and many movies and TV specials which continue to this day. It is also the inspiration for other anime and manga series, perhaps most notably Cowboy Bebop. Some episodes and movies were even directed by Miyazaki Hayao, one of the most well-known anime directors.
The name Lupin III caused a legal problem for the series. Monkey Punch did not seek permission to use the Lupin name from the estate of Maurice LeBlanc. The estate agreed not to pursue any legal action, provided that the usage of the name remained within Japan. Therefore, when Lupin material was licensed for overseas usage, the name had to be changed. Streamline Pictures renamed Lupin "Wolf." Animeigo went with "Rupan III," which is how Lupin's name is actually pronounced in Japanese (in English it is usually pronouced LOO-pahn, but not LOO-pin). The Lupin name passed into the public domain in the 1990s, but NTV had continued to offer licensing for the Lupin TV specials first under the name "Cliff Hanger," (based on the laserdisc game of the same name, which used footage from Lupin Vs. the Clones and The Castle of Cagliostro) and later under the name "Chase Tracer."
The second series began distribution and translation in America in 2003 by Pioneer, and included a very tongue-in-cheek English dub, which included modern popular culture references (such as Ebay and Shaquille O'Neal and spicier more comedic dialogue, which received ambivalent feedback from cult fans. The first 28 episodes have been translated, and enjoyed a series of DVD volumes and multiple runs on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, but do to lackluster popularity, the show's American future remains ambiguous
|Table of contents|
1.1 Arsène Lupin III2 Recurring Themes
1.2 Jigen Daisuke
1.3 Ishikawa Goemon XII
1.4 Mine Fujiko
1.5 Inspector Zenigata
3 Television Series
5 TV specials and OVAs
6 External links
Cast of Characters
Arsène Lupin III
Lupin the Third (ルパン三世; Rupan sansei) is the grandson of Arsène Lupin. He is the world's most skillful and most wanted thief. Sometimes he just steals whatever he wants, and at other times he prefers to steal from disrespectable people. He often appears incompetent, but it is clearly mostly an act: after all, he is not in jail. He also has a fondness for fancy gadgets from time to time, and is infatuated with Mine Fujiko.
Jigen Daisuke (次元大介) is Lupin's marksman. (Note: This article uses the convention of giving the Japanese surname first; his given name is Daisuke, not Jigen.) He can perform a 0.3-second quick-draw and his shooting has amazing accuracy. He prefers to conceal his eyes using his hat, as it gives him a more enigmatic appearance. Despite having a Japanese name, his nationality is uncertain. He was a Chicago mobster, but eventually escaped to Japan and changed his name. (Jigen is not a native Japanese surname; it is a word meaning "dimension".) Jigen is extremely loyal to Lupin (however this was not true in the original manga), and almost always partners up with him for a given mission. He is also a chain smoker and so is often seen with a cigarette in his mouth.
Ishikawa Goemon XII
Ishikawa Goemon (石川五ェ門) is the thirteenth generation of renegade samurai, beginning with the real-life historical figure Ishikawa Gouemon (石川五右衛門). He has a sword called Zantetsuken (斬鉄剣), meaning roughly "sword that can cut iron", which can cut through anything. To Goemon's dismay, Zantetsuken is usually used to cut inanimate objects rather than human flesh, which Goemon considers unworthy of his blade. He is usually quiet and participates in Lupin's exploits less frequently than Jigen.
Mine Fujiko (峰不二子) is Lupin's love (or lust) interest. She was named after Mt. Fuji, which is fitting, since mine means "mountain peak". She is not really part of Lupin's gang, but often participates in Lupin's exploits. However, as a grifter par excellence she often works to serve her own interests, which often conflict with Lupin's ("the last time she brought us a good deal was never", Jigen has once remarked), and which of the two will prevail in such a situation is anybody's guess.
Inspector Zenigata Kouichi has made it his mission in life to arrest Lupin. He would love to arrest the other members of Lupin's gang, but Zenigata is really after the mastermind himself. Lupin and Zenigata appear to be the worst of enemies, but they are, in a manner of speaking, friends; something Lupin shows openly (often by greeting Zenigata with mock affection), but it is an idea Zenigata is extremely reluctant to entertain. Similarly, he is often awed by Lupin's genius, but refuses to show it. Despite his lack of success in capturing Lupin, he is a highly skilled and intelligent police detective whom other criminals underestimate at their peril. Lupin often refers to Zenigata as tottsan (とっつぁん), a form of address that is usually translated as "Old Man" or "Pops". He is named after a figure of Japanese legend, Zenigata Heiji. In Japanese, the title of inspector is keibu (警部).
Each Lupin series can be easily identified by the color of Lupin's jacket, which changes each series. The later movies and specials also use this color scheme, so it is possible to determine approximately where these specials fall in Lupin's career.
TV specials and OVAs