• Nolan Schmidt

FILM CORNER - Lupin the 3rd: Anime's Popular (and Long-Running) Thief



For this month, I'm going to attempt to tackle some big anime-related content, and to make it interesting, I'm going to aim at anime that is targeted for a more older audience. From a long-running series featuring the numerous adventures of a thief and his gang, a very well-known anime film that was a game-changer at the time of its release in both Japan and America, a trilogy of animated films aimed for adults that was produced by an animation company that was founded by the "Walt Disney of Japan," and finally, a discussion on schlocky anime titles that are considered "so bad they're good" (either they be subbed or dubbed).


First, let's go with the thief.


Lupin the 3rd is a long-running media series about the character of the same name. The series was created by Kazuhiko Kato (under the pen name Monkey Punch) in 1967 when the manga first premiered in Weekly Manga Action. Lupin (pronounced as lu-paun since the name is French), in the series, is the grandson of Maurice Leblanc's gentleman thief, Arsene Lupin. Like his grandfather, he is a very talented and clever thief, but another aspect about the character is that he is a huge womanizer. Lupin himself doesn't work alone, and most of the time, he is assisted by a cast of colorful characters.


There is Daisuke Jigen, who is a skilled marksman and mostly travels with Lupin in most of his adventures. The series also has Goemon Ishikawa XIII, a very honorable samurai who is a descendant of the legendary Japanese outlaw hero, Goemon Ishikawa. Then there is Fujiko Mine, a professional thief who is also Lupin's off-and-on again love interest.


The only other character who is a part of the Lupin series is Inspector Koichi Zenigata of Interpol. He is always determined to capture Lupin in any way possible, and he tends to serve as a comic relief along with Lupin himself, making the characters pretty equal at their successes and failures.


For the anime, Lupin has been on both the small and big screen since 1969. Lupin first debuted in a Pilot Film before appearing on TV in 1971 in the first television series (known today as Lupin the 3rd Part I). After the release of the Part II television series, Lupin began to gain more traction. He eventually was featured in (as of this post) 6 television series, 11 animated feature films, 2 live-action films, 5 direct to video titles, and 27 television specials.


As much as I can talk about Lupin the 3rd, there is too much as not everything in the series is completely canon with each other, but more or less, (to me) the series is a fun watch with its storytelling, humor, and at some points, drama.


So far, the majority of Lupin the 3rd media has been licensed and released here in the States by Discotek Media. The only title not licensed by them here so far the recent (and first CGI) animated film, The First, which that film got licensed by GKIDS.


I highly recommend any of the Lupin the 3rd titles. For a starter, I do recommend the first two anime films, The Mystery of Mamo and Castle of Cagliostro. Mamo presents Lupin in a more adult tone while Cagliostro is a very well done film (and its also the feature debut of famed anime director Hayao Miyazaki).