Lupin the Third 50th Anniversary Night Thread

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the anime debut of Lupin the Third on TV in Japan. The anime was adapted from the manga created by Monkey Punch in 1967.

Lupin III is the grandson of Arsène Lupin, gentleman thief of France. Like him, Lupin is also a master thief with his own crew. Jigen is his trusted partner, who is also a master marksman. He is especially good with his revolver. Goemon is a master samurai who brandishes an sword that can cut through practically anything. Fujiko is a master thief as well, and can drive or fly most any vehicle. Sometimes she is at odds with the crew, but most of the time she is a part of their schemes. Lupin is very much in love with “Fuji-cakes”, as he affectionately calls her, but the feeling is rarely reciprocated. Fujiko uses this fact to her advantage quite often. Finally there is Zenigata, agent of Interpol, who obsessed with arresting Lupin for his many crimes. He is relentlessly on the trail of the crew, trying to capture them.

Zenigata, Goemon, Lupin, Jigen and Fujiko

For an series that has been ongoing for 50 years, there is a LOT of Lupin the Third out there. In addition to the original manga, there are 6 series, over a dozen theatrical movies, and well over 2 dozen TV specials. Even though the amount of Lupin anime may seem daunting, it’s not hard to get into. There is not a strong continuity that needs to be followed. The characters are mostly the same throughout the many iterations, with some exception with Fujiko, depending on whether she is working with or against Lupin and his crew. Most people are probably familiar with The Castle of Cagliostro, the 2nd Lupin movie, which is Hayao Miyazaki’s film directing debut. It’s a fun place to start.

Jigen and Lupin in action, from The Castle of Cagliostro

Of the TV series, there are 6 parts, including The Woman Called Fujiko Mine. Each series can be identified by the color of Lupin’s jacket. 1 is green, 2 is red, 3 is pink, 4&5 are both blue, and in the newest series, part 6, he returns to the green jacket. My introduction to the world of Lupin II was several years ago when Adult Swim started showing part 2, the Red jacket series. It’s from the late 70s and is a lot of fun. Not the best animation, but it has a lot of humor. Parts 4 and 5, Blue jacket, are much more recent are are really good. The animation is of high quality and the stories are really exciting. These series are a great place to get into the show. Green Jacket is a bit cruder, showing the darker start of the show, but it gets better as it goes along. Later episodes of part 1 were directed by Miyazaki, some of his earliest work. Part 3, Pink jacket is from the mid 80s and is not very good. the animation is low budget, and the character designs are a bit too much off-model. Do not start here, Finally there The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, which does includes all 5 main characters, but focuses on Fujiko. It’s set prior the the Green jacket series. Highly stylized design and animation, it’s a series to watch only after getting familiar with these characters beforehand. Also, it is very adult in content, with quite a bit of nudity, and more violence than any of the other series.

The multi-colored jackets of Lupin III

Starting with Part 2, Lupin got the iconic theme song that has been adapted for most of the following series. Part 2 ran for 4 years and this YouTube clip has all 4 iterations. My favorite is still the original version. Super groovy song.

Lupin the Thiiiiiird!!!

There are a ton of movies/TV specials. I wont go into those as there are just too many to cover. Once you are familiar with Lupin, check some them out. Quality is all over the place though. Part 6 just dropped a few weeks ago, and from the episodes I’ve seen, it might just be the best Lupin series yet. The world of Lupin is a lot of fun, Here’s to 50 more years of that master thief.