Goemon Ishikawa XIII

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Goemon Ishikawa XIII
Lupin III character
Goemon wielding his Zantetsuken
First appearance Lupin III chapter 28: "Appearance of Goemon"
Created by Monkey Punch
Voiced by Osamu Kobayashi/Gorō Naya (1969)
Chikao Ōtsuka (1971-1972)
Makio Inoue (1977-1985, 1989-2010)
Kaneto Shiozawa (1987)
Daisuke Namikawa (2011-present)
William Ross (Toho/Frontier)
Steve Kramer (Streamline)
Mark Franklin (AnimEigo)
Kirk Thornton (Streamline)
Garrick Hagon (Manga UK)
Richard Epcar (Animaze/Manga)
Mike McFarland (FUNimation)
Lex Lang (Phuuz/Pioneer/Geneon)
Portrayed by Go Ayano (2014)
Aliases Samurai (Most international dubs)
Relatives Goemon Ishikawa
Nationality Japanese

Goemon Ishikawa XIII (十三代目 石川 五ェ門 Jūsan-daime Ishikawa Goemon?) is a fictional character created by Monkey Punch for his manga series Lupin III, which debuted in Weekly Manga Action on August 10, 1967. Goemon is the thirteenth generation of renegade samurai, a descendant of the historical figure Ishikawa Goemon. He famous for a reticent personality coupled by apparent unlimited skill in martial arts; a partner with Arsène Lupin III and Daisuke Jigen he tends to join their exploits only on a when-interested basis.


Lupin's gang[edit]

In the original manga, Goemon first appears as a very dangerous enemy of Lupin in chapter 28. Lupin attempts to steal Goemon's master's alchemic formula through infiltration of Goemon's clan, but his cover is blown by Fujiko Mine, who is Goemon's girlfriend at the time. Goemon makes many attempts to kill Lupin over the next several installments, making attempts ranging from hiring assassins as skilled as Daisuke Jigen himself, to entering the service of three martial arts masters, to planting bombs in Lupin's belongings. However, he later decides that he could learn more working for Lupin than against him, and rather abruptly switches his allegiance. His position at Lupin's side is cemented when Lupin ruins the government's case against the man who killed Goemon's uncle, allowing Goemon to take his revenge as brutally and publicly as he wants without having to break into prison to do so.

By the events of the second manga series, Lupin trusts Goemon implicitly, and Goemon reciprocates. When a rival of Lupin's captures and hideously tortures Goemon, Goemon refuses to even respond to his interrogation, except to say that Lupin would find him and allow him to take revenge. Lupin then captures and seduces his rival's wife, and uses the information gleaned thereof to release Goemon, who slays his captor with Jigen's help.

In the original anime Goemon's relationship to Lupin starts off more professional than close friendship. By the second anime series, Goemon has developed a true loyalty to Lupin. However, he easily gets annoyed by Lupin's antics, especially Lupin's infatuation with women, Fujiko Mine in particular. He will occasionally oppose Lupin directly when Lupin's jobs or actions do not agree with his morals. He has even promised that the last act he will take with Lupin is delivering his deathblow. However, Goemon doesn't hesitate to help Lupin in serious situations, and readily assists him any time Lupin works for a just cause. However, in 1978's The Mystery of Mamo (originally titled simply Lupin III), he claims that he helps Lupin simply so he can keep his vow to kill him himself.

Goemon has a much more amicable relationship with Jigen. Goemon sees Jigen as a fellow honorable warrior, while Jigen sees Goemon as a trustworthy "foxhole buddy", and the two are frequently paired together during jobs, and usually help keep Lupin in check. On the odd occasion and increasingly in recent years, Goemon will ally himself with Fujiko, in spite of his distrust of her.

Other relationships[edit]

In 1987's The Plot of the Fuma Clan, Goemon nearly marries into the Suminawa clan via engagement to Murasaki Suminawa, the daughter of one of his instructors. The wedding eventually is called off because Goemon feels he is unworthy of being her husband, though he and Murasaki part on friendly terms.

In 1994's Burn, Zantetsuken!, Kikyo a childhood friend of Goemon's returns to aid him. She eventually becomes his love interest in the movie and travels with him to get the dragon figurine, which Lupin found from what's left of the Titanic. Later, Kikyo fakes her death so she can turn on Goemon, steal the dragon figurine and side with Chen Zhenzhong. Kikyo helps Chen to uncover the secret of the dragon figurine, and uses its alloy to make an unstoppable stealth fighter. However, Goemon uses his sword and skills to slice the fighter three times in the same spot. It is destroyed and Kikyo falls into the very same spot the Titanic sunk, resting with her grandfather, who stole the dragon figurine in the first place.

Sadachiyo the Scorpion appears in 1996's The Secret of Twilight Gemini. He is a highly trained assassin who was hired by a rogue faction within the Geltic tribe. Causing problems for both Lupin and Goemon, Sadachiyo duels with Goemon to the death in the end. Sadachiyo's sword broke the tip of Goemon's Zantetsuken, only for the tip to land in Sadachiyo's back and pierce his heart.


Goemon Ishikawa XIII is a lifelong adherent of a number of Koryū Japanese martial arts, particularly kenjutsu, karate, jujutsu, and iaidō. His training gives him many extraordinary talents, i.e. underwater breath control for diving without an aqualung, and a limited understanding of the supernatural. He can easily best several trained thugs in unarmed combat and catch an arrow or thrown dagger with his bare hands. His trademark skill is near-superhuman speed, enabling him to slice bullets in half before they make contact. It should be mentioned that, despite the deadliness of his weapon, Goemon will never take a human life unless challenged to a duel, and even then only if the opponent reveals a dishonorable nature. Although his sword Zantetsu, which is able to cut through anything including metal, gives him a virtually unbeatable advantage, it is Goemon's skill with the weapon that proves more valuable in a battle. Goemon, like all the Lupin gang, is also talented at disguises and impersonation, speaks several languages, and is a trained driver and pilot, although he prefers being a passenger rather than taking the driver seat.

Goemon's sword[edit]

Goemon is an incredibly gifted martial artist, both in hand-to-hand and melee combat. However, he is best known and usually employed for his skills in iaidō and the famous katana (in a shirasaya) that he uses. His sword goes by the name of Ryusei シューティングスター ("shooting star") in the manga, but it is better known as its animated incarnation, Zantetsuken (斬鉄剣?) ("iron-cutting sword").

The katana can cut anything and everything: airplanes, cars, tanks, skyscrapers, and even lightning and a meteorite have been sliced apart by the blade. Its keenness has never been so proven than in the surreal moment when Goemon cut the "film" his animated world was drawn upon, effectively slashing his entire universe in twain. Objects cut by Goemon will fall apart a couple of seconds after he rends them, usually after he has snapped Zantetsuken completely into its sheath. Goemon's speed and skill are such that he can block machine gun fire with the blade. To Goemon's distaste, most occasions require Zantetsuken to cut unworthy inanimate objects, rather than his using the sword for its designed purpose, namely in battle against a suitably talented opponent.

Several origin stories have been attributed to Zantetsuken, including having been made from the metal of a fallen meteor, or made from a special alloy passed down through Goemon's clan. The sword has described as being forged from three famous or mystical Japanese swords.[1] Zantetsuken has also been known to chip or break when applied to a particularly tenacious surface; usually its failure indicates circumstances are the worst possible for Goemon and the rest of Lupin's gang. It is revealed in the second anime series that Zantetsuken has at least one known weakness; it cannot cut konnyaku gel because it keeps getting stuck in it.[2]

The second series also gives Zantetsuken a more mystical ability; on a few occasions, the blade acquires a shadow, showing death lurks nearby for Lupin and his gang. Likewise, when the shadow disappears, it shows that the danger has passed. In one episode the sword lost its cutting power, something that happens every 100 years. The only way to return the power to the sword is to make a kind of wedding celebration with the "female" version of Zantetsuken. This "female" sword is smaller than the "male" one, but with the same cutting power. At the end of the ritual celebration, Zantetsuken regained its power. Unfortunately the female sword fell into a pool of magma.

Zantetsuken is also the source of Goemon's most famous catchphrase, "Once again I have cut a worthless object," which he says whenever he uses Zantetsuken to do something spectacular that he nonetheless considers mundane. This has been referenced many times in other manga and anime, and has become something of a joke within Lupin itself. In Da Capo of Love: Fujiko's Unlucky Days, Lupin even tells Goemon, "No one is better at cutting worthless objects than you!"


Goemon has an extreme sense of pride in his abilities, and when he cannot accomplish a task, feels shame and remorse afterward. Breaking Zantetsuken, as he did in a battle with Flinch in Lupin vs. the Clone, is a common cause of shame. He will also show chagrin when he succumbs to his weaknesses, as when a woman ran off with his sword in 1998's Memories of the Flame: Tokyo Crisis. On many of these occasions, Goemon will leave to meditate or further train to rid himself of his weak points.

Goemon shows allegiance to Japanese culture as strictly as his traveling and unique lifestyle can allow. He dresses in a hakama and fundoshi, and prefers wearing his hair long and somewhat unevenly cut. He is a firm believer in Buddhism and Shinto. Although he may toast with champagne, his drink of choice is sake. In the manga, he occassionally uses a kiseru. He has been seen multiple times wearing a sandogasa.

Goemon's most often seen pastime is meditation. Even under threat or when locked up, he is typically seated on the floor in a state of mental seclusion so deep he cannot be budged from his position. Other activities Goemon favors include fishing, attending noh theater, and participating in martial arts competitions.

Although typically a person of mellow aloofness, Goemon has been seen exploding with frustration, as well as admiring beautiful women and (very rarely) screaming in fright. Such out of character moments are usually treated as humorous takes. If Goemon has a true weakness, it is that he's a sucker for women, even more than Lupin. He readily trusts any woman who seems superficially trustworthy or innocent, often landing him in much trouble. At the same time, he fears sultry women will distract him from his training, and tends to blush or flee when any woman puts him in a less than modest situation.

Goemon also is very bad with money as well as falling for any scam that states will show the path of enlightenment, and constantly charges Lupin for his services in some fashion. In $1 Money Wars he gives it to the female leader of a cult, who promptly runs off with it.

Commonly thought to be just a samurai, an episode of the second TV series ("Goemon's Revenge") has Goemon visiting his Iga ninja sensei. This episode depicts him as having had the training of a master ninja, perhaps giving some reason behind his willingness to find thievery as an acceptable practice, in spite of his samurai ways.[3]


Goemon is unique to the series as he was the only character not there from the beginning. Monkey Punch, in an interview featured on the American Dead or Alive DVD release, mentioned he added Goemon later as he felt the manga needed a more Japanese character. As such, Goemon was primarily based on the character Kyūzō, the master swordsman of Akira Kurosawa's film Shichinin no Samurai (The Seven Samurai). From the role came Goemon's strict demeanor and fast draw blade, as well as the long-faced appearance of actor Seiji Miyaguchi.

In the original manga, Goemon is targeted by Lupin to steal the secrets of how to make his sword, or in the American release, how to make gold. In later issues, Goemon is sent by his masters to kill Lupin, but after failing many times, he decides Lupin can teach him more and joins his side.

In episode five of the first anime series, Goemon is tricked into going against Lupin by Old Man Momochi, who wants them both out of the way so he can claim the title of world's greatest assassin. The two both outwit him and survive. Two episodes later, Lupin attempts to steal the sword formula; after being outsmarted, Goemon gets revenge by slicing Lupin's car in half. After both break down into homeric laughter over the situation, Goemon decides to join the gang. The two episodes pull in several elements from the manga stories.

In the 2002 TV special "Episode 0: First Contact", Goemon met Lupin when he was searching for the Zantetsuken, the only sword he felt worthy of his abilities. Lupin, Jigen, and Fujiko all served as adversaries until being forced to work together to survive. There are hints that parts of the story may be made up at the end of the special, however, so not everything can be taken as definite.


In 2007, Oricon magazine polled readers on which characters they would most like to see in their own series.[4] Goemon appeared in the number eight position on the female readers polls, and seventh place in the combined poll.


  1. ^ "The Coming of Goemon the Thirteenth". Lupin III. 1971-11-21. YTV.
  2. ^ "The Flying Zantetsuken (The Yam is Mighter Than the Sword)". Shin Lupin III. 1978-12-04. NTV.
  3. ^ "Goemon's Revenge (The Last Mastery)". Shin Lupin III. 1978-02-27. NTV.
  4. ^ "Oricon: Fans Want L, Char Aznable Spinoffs". Anime News Network. 2007-01-08. Retrieved 2007-07-01. 

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