Anime Greats: Lupin III

Welcome! This will be the third post in a series of posts I call “Anime Greats”. There’s a few anime that sit in a weird place in my life; while they’re popular, I’ve met very few fellow fans of the series or none at all. That being said, I’ll do my public duty and give it a bit of exposure.

Those those of you with kids, Lupin III is not a kids show. In American ratings, it would be mostly R rated.

I forget the exact time when I discovered this series.. I believe a few years ago? Anyways, this heist comedy is written by a man named Kazuhiko Katou, more popularly known as Monkey Punch. Lupin III follows the antics of Arsene Lupin III, grandson of the master of disguise Arsene Lupin (written by Maurice Leblanc and is now in the public domain). The series has consistently included his companions Daisuke Jigen, a hitman who hates Lupin’s perverted attitude, Goemon Ishikawa, one of the last samurai, Fujiko Mine, a thief who is often Lupin’s love interest, and finally Koichi Zenigata, an Inspector who is hellbent on capturing Lupin.

The story rarely follows a plot (the movies, 2015 anime and The Woman Called Fujiko Mine are an exception). While the series has a good mix of action and comedy, the different series each have a different balance. The characters rarely have any development, and what does occur sometimes contradicts itself later. However, that’s a good thing. The series has stayed strong over the nearly fifty years of existence partly because the characters don’t have too much information. You don’t need to remember a plot detail in an episode in 1986 to appreciate the 2015 anime, or vice versa.

With fifty years of new stories, the series has several art styles, but the characters are always recognizable in every iteration. The scenery is usually well detailed as well. The scene below is from one of the more popular movies, The Castle of Cagliostro, which Hayao Miyazaki himself directed.

The film was released in 1979. The year 2015 brought us another anime series, complete with it’s own story line and art style.

Lupin III has yet to disappoint me with anything I’ve seen from the series (though I hear that the new live action is terrible). This series is a prime example of what can be done with just a simple idea, and there’s plenty of legal ways to watch the series such as Crunchyroll and Hulu. Personally, I’d suggest the 2015 anime or finding a copy of The Count of Cagliostro.

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