Lupin III

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The cast of Lupin III, as seen in the first anime TV series. From left to right: Jigen, Lupin, Fujiko, and Goemon.

Lupin III or Lupin the 3rd (ルパン三世, Lupin the 3rd, not Lupin 3) is an anime and manga series originally created by manga artist Kazuhiko Katō (加藤一彦) under the pen name Monkey Punch (モンキーパンチ) in 1967 as a part of Weekly Manga Action . It began as a parody of a series of novels by Maurice Leblanc featuring a French gentleman thief named Arsène Lupin. Arsène's grandson 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 aired 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 Hayao Miyazaki, 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 pronounced LOO-pahn, but not LOO-pin). The Lupin name passed into the public domain in the 1990s, but Nippon Television 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 United States 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 due to the lackluster popularity, the show's American future remains ambiguous. In the summer of 2004, however, Lupin III's popularity seems to be on the rise, perhaps due to additional exposure on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim line up. Geneon Animation (formerly Pioneer) has already obtained 52 more Lupin the 3rd: The Red Jacket Series episodes, bringing the count of US licensed episodes to 89. Geneon plans on releasing these episodes on DVD in the next few years, but there is little word, however, on whether Adult Swim plans on acquiring the rights for more episodes, even though Lupin III's ratings have been good compared to other shows that aired on the rather unfavorable 1:30 am time slot. As for the Lupin movies, FUNimation has the rights to ten of them, four of which have already been released, the theatrical feature, Lupin III: Dead or Alive, was released on February 22, 2005, while the five others will be released throughout 2005 and 2006 with a period of two months in between each release. The manga is published in English by TokyoPop.

Lupin III was parodied by FLCL, where Kamon Nandaba, Naota's father, dresses up as Lupin and tries to impress Haruko Haruhara. He was also parodied in Excel Saga, where Nabeshin (director self insert) dressed up as Lupin.


Cast of characters

Arsène Lupin III
Arsène Lupin III

The names are in Western order, with the given name before the surname.

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. Often in his adventures, he will take it upon himself and his gang to foil other criminals engaged in more serious crimes. 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. His infatuation with Fujiko Mine is perhaps his biggest fault, as it lands him in unsavory situations most of the time.


  • Age: Unknown
  • Nationality: French/Japanese
  • Height: 179 cm.
  • Weight: 63 kg.
  • Preferred Weapon: Walther P38
  • Preferred Cigarette: Gitanes Caporal


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Daisuke Jigen

Daisuke Jigen

Daisuke Jigen (次元大介 Jigen Daisuke) is Lupin's marksman. 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. In the anime series, it is revealed that he uses a notch of the hat to aim. 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.



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Goemon Ishikawa XIII

Goemon Ishikawa XIII

Goemon Ishikawa (石川五ェ門 Ishikawa Goemon) is the thirteenth generation of renegade samurai, beginning with the real-life historical figure Ishikawa Goemon (石川五右衛門). He has a sword called Zantetsu-Ken (斬鉄剣), meaning roughly "sword that can cut iron", which can cut through anything. It is said in the anime series that Zantetsu-Ken cannot cut tofu which is very, very soft. To Goemon's dismay, Zantetsu-Ken is usually used to cut inanimate objects, which Goemon considers unworthy of his blade, rather than human flesh. He is usually quiet and participates in Lupin's exploits less frequently than Jigen.


  • Age: Unknown
  • Nationality: Japanese
  • Height: 180 cm.
  • Weight: 63 kg.
  • Preferred Weapon: Zantetsuken (katana)


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Fujiko Mine

Fujiko Mine

Fujiko Mine (峰不二子 Mine Fujiko) is Lupin's love (or lust) interest. Lupin and Fujiko were never really lovers although occasionally Lupin scored with Fujiko, especially when the latter is dying to find out about a particular detail that Lupin knows. It should be noted that Fujiko does exhibit feelings of love for Lupin, but only during a near-death experience. She was named after Mt. Fuji, which is fitting, since mine means "mountain peak", and that Fujiko has a large bosom. 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.


  • Age: Unknown
  • Nationality: Japanese
  • Height: 167 cm.
  • Weight: 50 kg.
  • Three Sizes: B99.9, W55.5, H88.8
  • Preferred Weapon: Browning M1910
  • Preferred Cigarette: Moa menthol


  • Vanessa (Mexico)
  • Patricia (Spain)
  • Magali (France)
  • Margot (only in some series) (Italy)
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Inspector Koichi Zenigata

Inspector Zenigata

Inspector Zenigata (銭形警部 Zenigata-keibu), full name Koichi Zenigata (銭形幸一 Zenigata Kōichi) 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, 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).


  • Age: Unknown
  • Nationality: Japanese
  • Height: 181 cm.
  • Weight: 73 kg.
  • Preferred Weapon: Colt 1911A1 government
  • Preferred Cigarette: Shinsei


  • Zuñiga (Mexico)
  • Basilio (Spain)
  • Inspecteur Gaston Lacogne (France)

Recurring themes

  • Often Lupin has an opportunity to kill Zenigata, which he always passes up. As an example, once Lupin nearly ran over Zenigata with a race car, but made it jump over him after Zenigata ducked down. Because of this generosity (and for another reason; see below), Zenigata refuses to kill Lupin.
  • Zenigata, like a good old-fashioned police officer, is interested in the capture, not the killing of Lupin. When Lupin tricked the world by getting "killed" in an episode, Zenigata was openly crying as he considered this a tragedy even on a criminal.
  • Zenigata cannot stand going without chasing Lupin for an extended period. For instance, Zenigata arrested Lupin in the fourth episode of the first TV series (which was based on the second chapter of the manga), and Zenigata nervously waited a year for Lupin to escape so the chase could continue. Lupin, deciding to toy with him, waited until he was to be led to his execution to escape.
  • Zenigata often finds himself arresting more dangerous criminals, after Lupin and his gang thwart them. Logically, this would give Zenigata an impressive performance record, which would explain why he is still allowed to pursue Lupin despite his lack of success in capturing the thief.
  • In the various movies and OVAs, Zenigata will often join in full alliance with Lupin's gang against some menace demeed more dangerous, such as the Count in The Castle of Cagliostro or the terrorist group in Orders to Assassinate Lupin. After the day is won, Zenigata will show his gratitude by allowing the gang a few minutes' head start before he begins chasing them again.
  • Another recurring theme is the appearance of descendants of famous historical and literary figures. For example, Lawrence of Arabia the Third, and Nezumi Kozo the Fourth.
  • Fujiko reciprocates Lupin's love when he's in trouble or one is near death. Demonstrated in "Tutankhamen's 3,000 Year-Old Curse" (English title: "Cursed Case Scenario;" Series 2, episode 7) and a few others, Fujiko shows another side of her relationship with Lupin, not only business but also deep feeling of affection and care.

Television series

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.

  • Series 1 - 23 episodes (1971) (Green jacket)
  • Series 2 - 155 episodes (1977-1980) (Red jacket)
  • Series 3 - 50 episodes (1984) (Pink jacket)


TV specials and OVAs

Note: most of them can be considered movies as well

Video games

The anime has also spawned various games based on the show.

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