Lupin III (character)

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Lupin III
Lupin III character
Lupin drawn by Monkey Punch
First appearanceLupin III chapter 1: "The Dashing Entrance of Lupin III"
Created byMonkey Punch
Portrayed byYūki Meguro (1974: Strange Psychokinetic Strategy)
Shun Oguri (2014: Lupin the 3rd)
Voiced byJapanese
Taichirō Hirokawa (1969: Pilot Film; CinemaScope version)
Nachi Nozawa (1970: Pilot Film; TV version)
Yasuo Yamada (1971–94)
Toshio Furukawa (1987: The Fuma Conspiracy)
Kanichi Kurita (1995–present)
Keiichi Nanba (1998: Lupin III D2 Manga)
Tasuku Hatanaka (2022: Lupin Zero)
Tom Clark (1979: The Mystery of Mamo Frontier/Toho dub)
Bob Bergen (1992–5: Streamline dubs)
Robin Robertson (1995: The Fuma Conspiracy AnimEigo dub)
William Dufris (1996: Manga UK dubs)
David Hayter (2000: The Castle of Cagliostro Animaze/Manga dub)
Sonny Strait (2002–13: Funimation dubs)
Tony Oliver (2002–present: most media)
Keith Silverstein (2014–2019: Lupin the IIIrd Bang Zoom!/Discotek dubs)
In-universe information
AliasCliff (Cliff Hanger)
The Wolf (Streamline dub of The Castle of Cagliostro)
Rupan III (AnimEigo dub of The Fuma Conspiracy and subtitled print of Legend of the Gold of Babylon)
Wolf III (Manga UK dubs of The Mystery of Mamo and Goodbye Lady Liberty)
NicknameBoss (used by Daisuke Jigen in Streamline and Funimation dubs)
OccupationGentleman thief
WeaponWalther P38
SpouseRebecca Rossellini (Parts IV and V)
Significant otherFujiko Mine
RelativesArsène Lupin I (grandfather)
Lupin II (father)
Lupin Jr. (son)[1]

Lupin III (Japanese: ルパン三世, Hepburn: Rupan Sansei), referred to in some English adaptations as Arsène Lupin III,[a] is a fictional character created by Kazuhiko Kato aka Monkey Punch as the protagonist for his manga series Lupin the Third, which debuted in Weekly Manga Action on August 10, 1967.

Lupin is the grandson of fictional gentleman thief Arsène Lupin, created by Maurice Leblanc. Acknowledged across the globe as the world's number one thief, Lupin is a master of disguise and deduction, marksmanship, and inventor of numerous handy gadgets. His fun-loving, foolhardy incongruity covers a brilliant mind always extemporizing and re-evaluating. As such, he has been responsible for heists no right-minded individual would believe possible. While occasionally arrested and jailed, typically by his ICPO nemesis Inspector Koichi Zenigata, he always succeeds in escaping unharmed. The original manga differs significantly compared to the family-friendly anime incarnations through its explicit depictions of sex and violence, with Lupin's character also differing as a result. For example, he and his famous gang, beautiful Fujiko Mine, cool triggerman Daisuke Jigen and incomparable samurai Goemon Ishikawa XIII, occasionally try to kill each other in the manga version, but are nonetheless an inseparable team in various anime productions.

Conception and creation[edit]

The aim of Lupin III was to produce a comedy adventure series that reflected the traits of Leblanc's Arsène Lupin character. Originally, the intention was to keep the blood ties between the two fictional characters secret. However, Monkey Punch was convinced by others not to do so.[3] He combined elements of Arsène Lupin with James Bond to develop the character of Lupin III and made him a "carefree fellow".[3][4][5]

In the original manga, Lupin and his team typically work individually for their own goals. Monkey Punch explained it is only in the anime that they frequently operate together, suspecting some unwritten rule that all five main characters have to appear in every episode.[5] He believed that Lupin and Fujiko were similar to the characters of D'Artagnan and Milady de Winter, and described them as "Not necessarily lovers, not necessarily husband and wife, but more just having fun as man and woman with each other".[6] Inspector Zenigata was conceived as Lupin's archrival to create a "human Tom and Jerry".[5]

Monkey Punch described the appeal of drawing Lupin coming from the character being able to go anywhere without obstacles and being able to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants. However, this is contrasted by the appeal of Zenigata's strict personality.[6] Monkey Punch said that he believed the Lupin III story could never end but that if he had to, both Zenigata and Lupin would end up as equals. They would either both fail, both win or both get very old.[7]


Monkey Punch did not gain permission to use the Arsène Lupin name and, at the time, Japan did not enforce trade copyrights. By the time Leblanc's estate launched legal action in Japan, the name was considered to have entered into common use.[3] However, this was not the case in North America and Europe, and several foreign releases of Lupin III media were obliged to drop the Lupin III title; the character himself was renamed to "Rupan" or "Wolf". In France, the series was known as Edgar, Detective Cambrioleur (Edgar, Detective Burglar) with Lupin himself renamed "Edgar de la Cambriole" (Edgar of Burglary).[8] In 2012, Leblanc's original Arsène Lupin entered the public domain in France due to 70 years passing since his death in 1941, and is in the public domain for any country that enforces the rule of the shorter term.[9]

In Japanese media, the character is referred to by the mononym "Lupin III", excluding a first name even when other characters are given their full names. Translation notes for The Castle of Cagliostro offer that Japan does not use western generational "Jr." or "III" naming conventions that necessitate sharing the first name, asserting that "official [Japanese] animation dialogue and comic text never explicitly call him 'Arsène Lupin the Third.'"[2][b] The name "Arsène Lupin III" continues to occasionally appear in English localizations.[11]



Lupin as seen in Episode 0: The First Contact.

Lupin III has black (or occasionally dark brown) hair with what is variously depicted as cut short with a widow's peak or plastered flat with a V-shaped bang. His trademark sideburns extend from ear to nearly the chin.

Lupin typically dresses fashionably, wearing a button-down shirt, squared-off necktie fastened with a clip, chinos, and a brightly colored sports jacket. Though exclusively red in the manga, in animation his jackets are various colors which are often used to color-code the TV series (green for Part I, red for Part II, pink for Part III, blue for Parts IV and V, etc.).[12]


In Monkey Punch's original manga, Lupin is cocky, quite crude, and for the most part remorseless. He is very much the ladies' man, often using them for his own gains, and is not beyond forcing himself upon women who resist his advances. Mike Toole of Anime News Network referred to the character as a "rough, drunken, lecherous crook."[8] This is in stark contrast to his better-known anime self, who although a skilled thief, occasionally comes off as a chivalrous goofball who enjoys helping those less fortunate than he. Furthermore, Lupin often takes it upon himself and his gang to stop criminals engaged in more violent crimes and leave them for Zenigata to arrest. In the anime, while he fancies himself a Casanova, his actual success with women is erratic, appearing to fluctuate with the writer.

Even though his gang's loyalty has been an issue, with Fujiko willing to betray and cohort Goemon promising to eventually kill him, Lupin will still drop everything to come to their aid in a helpless moment; further the team would rather face torture than to betray Lupin (or he betray them) to a third party. This rule of loyalty curiously extends as well to Inspector Zenigata, whom Lupin considers a respected friend and opposition. The Inspector reciprocates this regard and out of gratitude has vowed never to attempt to kill Lupin. Lupin's vendetta against the Tarantula Gang in In Memory of the Walther P-38 was partly settling of past betrayal and mostly vengeful payback for their shooting and nearly killing Zenigata.

It seems Lupin loves to steal more than actually having the treasure he sought. Lupin relishes more in the challenge of stealing and, as long as he succeeds in the heist, is usually not that upset when he ends up empty-handed; there have been times he has lost the object or intentionally thrown it away.[13] There have also been times when Lupin stole an object only to give it to someone else, such as if it rightfully belonged to them or they needed it more than he did.

When not involved in criminal activities, Lupin usually spends his time dating beautiful girls, fishing, race car driving, attending formal dinners, playing pool, casino gambling, and participating in café society. His favorite foods seem to be mostly French cuisine, sushi, and seafood; when on a job he may settle with ramen noodles. In Lupin the Third Part V, he is shown with an affection for galettes. He also smokes cigarettes and occasionally cigars and kreteks; in the manga, he's seen smoking a briar pipe. His preferred cigarette is the famous French brand Gitanes. Lupin is a celebrated race car driver, competing in several international events when time allows. He's also a skilled sleight of hand artist who loves to befuddle his opponents with various gimmicks: i.e., a cigarette which explodes into confetti, a gun with a spring-loaded boxing glove that clobbers the shooter, and bubble gum that becomes plastique after brief chewing.


Physically, Lupin is a man of average strength, but he can throw a surprisingly good punch. He is incredibly flexible and fast, and his manual dexterity is cat-like in precision and quickness. His talent in the art of disguise borders on the superhuman, with him able to flawlessly impersonate any man or woman in face, voice and costume after minimal observation. This skill is so complete that he can even fool close friends and family members of the subject. His skinny body enables him to easily impersonate larger individuals by use of oversized outfits, with attack paraphernalia usually making up the disguise's bulk. His favorite disguise has always been that of Inspector Zenigata, which incenses his adversary to no end. Lupin possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of various topics, such as history, the different sciences, fluency in multiple languages, etc. He shows amazing intuition and quick awareness of his surroundings.

Lupin favors the long outdated Walther P38 as his principal firearm. He is shown to be an excellent marksman, having on at least one occasion fired directly into the barrel of another gun, although not quite on a par with Jigen.

Despite the criminal nature of his activities, Lupin has a strict code that he follows in order to not taint his reputation. Lupin dislikes killing and takes care to use non lethal means to achieve his goals. When Lupin believes he has an illness causing him to become a compulsive killer he asks Jigen to kill him to save the lives of any potential victims. While killing is against his nature, he is willing to fire upon any enemy who threatens his friends or allies.

Lupin is a talented driver, motorcyclist and pilot. His favorite automobiles seem to be either the Mercedes-Benz SSK or a souped up 1965 Fiat 500 F, most famously seen in Castle of Cagliostro. Also worth mentioning is the Alfa Romeo 6C 1750. In the case of the SSK, one of the rarest cars in the world, one problem or another seems to cause the car's destruction in virtually every episode it's featured. Lupin either has several SSK models in possession, owns a selection of counterfeit models, or is talented to the extreme at auto repair and reconstruction.

Lupin is a formidable escape artist, capable of cracking any safe or escaping from shackles in moments. He can even use his restraints to entrap his would-be captor before making his departure.[14] Seemingly prepared for all contingencies, he can break free of confinement even when surrounded.

In spite of his facade of reckless childlike antics, i.e., taunts, silly faces, and leaving notes of his next caper, Lupin's brilliance for tactics and originality belies any underestimations his behavior may have implied. In the Lupin III vs Detective Conan special, not only did he figure out Conan was far more intelligent than he appeared, but had also discerned his identity as Shinichi Kudo.


Lupin's ethnic origins have been occasionally specified as half-Japanese and half-French,[15][16] befitting his claimed heritage as grandson of Frenchman Arsène Lupin. In the first TV series, episode 13 ("Beware the Time Machine!"), Lupin impersonates a feudal Japanese ancestor of his, claiming he would like to marry a girl by the name of Mylene Lupin from France someday.

In the 2008 OVA Green Vs. Red, a dossier held by Zenigata indicates his place of birth as "unknown". Recent productions, such as Part V, occasionally cast doubt as to whether he truly is related to the original Arsène Lupin or if "Lupin" is simply a title or false alias. However, numerous Part 1 and Part 2 episodes make it clear that the famed French thief is indeed his grandfather, with some stories having flashbacks to the top-hatted ancestor having been somehow involved in Lupin's current heists. As well, Lupin often speaks of both his grandfather and his father, both of whom were thieves. He occasionally quotes his grandfather's advice and has attempted to complete or repeat heists attempted by his ancestors with good or bad luck.




Lupin III was first voiced by Taichirō Hirokawa in the CinemaScope version of the 1969 pilot film for the first anime, while Nachi Nozawa voiced him in the pilot's TV version.[17] However, Yasuo Yamada was given the role when the first anime was actually produced (1971–72) and continued to voice Lupin until his death in 1995, with one exception.[18][19] Due to budget concerns, TMS decided not to employ the regular voice cast for the 1987 original video animation The Fuma Conspiracy,[20] with Toshio Furukawa voicing Lupin.[19] Kanichi Kurita took over the role after Yamada's death and he continues to voice Lupin III to this day.[8][21] In the Lupin Zero prequel ONA series, the teenaged Lupin is voiced by Tasuku Hatanaka.[22]


Due to a lack of localization credits on any known prints, Lupin's English voice actor in the 1979 Toho/Frontier Enterprises dub of The Mystery of Mamo remained unverified[23] until 2018, when a chance discovery by fans revealed the voice actor to be Tom Clark.[24] From 1991 to 1995, Bob Bergen voiced Lupin in Streamline Pictures' dubs of The Castle of Cagliostro (in which the character was renamed "The Wolf" to avoid legal complications with Maurice Leblanc's estate), episodes 145 and 155 of the second anime (collectively released as Lupin III: Tales of the Wolf and later Lupin III's Greatest Capers) and The Mystery of Mamo. For AnimEigo's 1995 release of The Fuma Conspiracy, Lupin, named "Rupan" in the dub, was voiced by Robin Robertson. In Manga Entertainment's 1996 dubs of The Mystery of Mamo and Bye Bye, Lady Liberty (retitled Secret of Mamo and Goodbye Lady Liberty respectively) for the UK market, Bill Dufris provided Lupin's voice, where the character was renamed "Wolf III". In Manga's 2000 dub of The Castle of Cagliostro, produced in cooperation with Animaze, David Hayter provides Lupin's voice; due to the non-union nature of the project, Hayter was initially credited as "Sean Barker". Hayter was also involved in the production of Discotek Media's re-release of the film, and re-voiced several of his lines for a "family-friendly" edit of the Animaze/Manga dub produced exclusively for Discotek.[25]

Sonny Strait voiced Lupin in Funimation Entertainment's dubs of several TV specials and theatrical films between 2002 and 2005, and in their 2013 dub of The Woman Called Fujiko Mine.[26] Keith Silverstein voices the character in the Bang Zoom! Entertainment/Discotek dubs for the Lupin the IIIrd films that serve as a "continuation spin-off" of the series.

Tony Oliver voiced Lupin in the Phuuz dub of the second anime and The Mystery of Mamo for Pioneer/Geneon, as well as the video game Treasure of the Sorcerer King, between 2002 and 2007. Beginning with the Discotek dub of Lupin the 3rd Part IV, Oliver reprised the role (alongside several Part II co-stars)[27] and has continued to be the primary voice actor for the character across animated shows and films.


Lupin was portrayed by Yūki Meguro in the 1974 film and by Shun Oguri in the 2014 film. In the 2015 musical adaptation of Lupin III performed by the all-female troupe Takarazuka Revue, Lupin was portrayed by Seina Sagiri.[28]

Appearances in other media[edit]

Lupin makes an appearance as a guest character in the 2012 game Girls RPG Cinderelife developed by Level-5 for the Nintendo 3DS.[29] The character has also been used in television advertising for motorcycles, gasoline, razors, fast food companies, etc.


Allen Divers of Anime News Network (ANN) called Lupin "one of the most recognized figures in Japan" with many homages and references in other series.[30] Similarly, Crunchyroll's Kara Dennison said that even if someone has not seen a Lupin III title, they have "almost certainly experienced something either inspired by or paying tribute to him and his gang."[31] Lupin was voted the eighth most iconic anime hero by[32] IGN ranked Lupin as the fifteenth best anime character of all time in 2009,[33] placing him on the 16th spot in 2014.[34]

After completing his involvement with the Lupin III franchise in 1980, Hayao Miyazaki wrote an article in Animage where he discussed his view of the series and the character. He stated that Lupin was "truly a character of his era" but that as the franchise progressed he had been overtaken by the real world. Despite this, Miyazaki still thought fondly of Lupin's early days.[35] For the video game Persona 5, its creative team originally asked themselves how a character like Lupin III might win appeal in modern society.[36]

Anime director and voice actor Shinichi Watanabe is known for dressing like Lupin in his daily life, a trait which is extended to his avatar character in Excel Saga, Nabeshin.[31]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Arsène" is not considered as part of the character's name in Japanese media.[2]
  2. ^ The first name "Arsène" would later appear briefly on a wanted poster in Part V,[10] though dialogue throughout the show still only identified the character as "Lupin III".


  1. ^ Morrissy, Kim (2019-04-22). "Little-Known Monkey Punch Manga From 1975 Reveals Lupin III, Fujiko's Son". Anime News Network. Archived from the original on 2022-08-12. Retrieved 2022-08-12.
  2. ^ a b Oono, Shoko; Nelson, Reed (2015). "Translation Notes". Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro. Discotek Media.
  3. ^ a b c "Manga Mania". Manga Mania. No. 20. Manga Publishing. March 1995. pp. 6–9. ISSN 0968-9575.
  4. ^ "Poster Magazine Insert". Manga Mania. No. 34. Manga Publishing. May 1996. Poster Magazine Insert. ISSN 0968-9575.
  5. ^ a b c Interview with Monkey Punch. Lupin the 3rd: Dead or Alive (DVD). Funimation.
  6. ^ a b Divers, Allen (November 13, 2003). "Interview: Monkey Punch". Anime News Network. Retrieved July 2, 2007.
  7. ^ Yadao, Jason S. (2009). The Rough Guide to Manga. Rough Guides. pp. 154–155. ISBN 978-1-85828-561-0.
  8. ^ a b c "The Lupin Tapes - The Mike Toole Show". Anime News Network. June 6, 2010. Retrieved August 27, 2013.
  9. ^ "Original Lupin Character Enters Public Domain in 2012". Crunchyroll. Retrieved August 28, 2013.
  10. ^ Oyamada, Keiko; Ōkouchi, Ichirō (April 2018). "The Girl in the Twin Towers". Lupin the 3rd Part V: Misadventures in France. Event occurs at 0:35.
  11. ^ "This Is When LUPIN THE 3RD PART 3 Premieres on HIDIVE". HIDIVE. 16 September 2022. Retrieved 21 March 2023. Arsène Lupin III, the grandson of the late, great phantom thief Arsène Lupin, is back at it again...
  12. ^ Nelson, Reed (2022). 50 Animated Years of LUPIN THE 3rd. Magnetic Press. pp. 9–11. ISBN 9781951719449.
  13. ^ "Detective Hanshichi's Ten year Promise". Lupin III Part II. Episode 54. Event occurs at 06:20.
  14. ^ "Is Lupin burning.....?!". Lupin III. Episode 1 (in Japanese). October 24, 1971. Event occurs at 21:29.
  15. ^ Zutter, Natalie (2021-01-20). "From Lupin III to Inspector Gadget: Examining the Heirs of Arsène Lupin". Den of Geek. Archived from the original on 2021-01-21. Retrieved 2021-09-08.
  16. ^ "The Southern Cross Looked Like Diamonds". Lupin the Third Part II. Season 4. Episode 15 (in Japanese). 1980-01-14. Nippon TV.
  17. ^ Reed Nelson. Lupin the 3rd The Complete First TV Series (Disc 4) (DVD). Discotek Media.
  18. ^ Reed Nelson. Lupin the 3rd The Complete First TV Series (Disc 1) (DVD). Discotek Media.
  19. ^ a b "Rupan III: The Fuma Conspiracy - Review". Anime News Network. May 4, 2003. Retrieved January 29, 2017.
  20. ^ "So, Which Lupin the Third Anime Should You Watch Next?". Otaku USA. Sovereign Media. Retrieved January 28, 2017.
  21. ^ "Lupin III's Voice Cast Changed for 1st Time in 16 Years". Anime News Network. October 8, 2011. Retrieved January 28, 2017.
  22. ^ Mateo, Alex (November 18, 2022). "Lupin Zero Net Anime Casts Tasuku Hatanaka as Lupin, Shunsuke Takeuchi as Jigen". Anime News Network. Retrieved November 18, 2022.
  23. ^ A History of Mamo in English. The Mystery of Mamo. Discotek Media. 2012.
  24. ^ "トム・クラーク". FreeWave (Japanese). Retrieved February 8, 2018.
  25. ^ Bertschy, Zac (26 June 2015). "ANNCastle of Cagliostro". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2 July 2015.
  26. ^ "Funimation Reveals Dub Casts for Fujiko Mine, Eureka 7 AO, Michiko & Hatchin Anime". Anime News Network. May 16, 2013. Retrieved January 29, 2017.
  27. ^ "Discotek Licenses Lupin III: Part IV for 2017 Release With English Dub". Anime News Network. November 1, 2016. Retrieved January 29, 2017.
  28. ^ "New Lupin III Stage Play Travels to 18th-Century France". Archived from the original on September 9, 2017.
  29. ^ Loo, Egan (2011-10-16). "Sailor Moon's Tuxedo Mask/Kamen Joins Level-5's Girls RPG". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2017-01-05.
  30. ^ Divers, Allen (July 2, 2003). "A New Beginning — Tankobon Tower". Anime News Network. Retrieved July 14, 2018.
  31. ^ a b Dennison, Kara (May 16, 2018). "He's a Superhero: The Legacy of Lupin the 3rd". Crunchyroll. Retrieved July 14, 2018.
  32. ^ Zoth, Thomas (12 January 2010). "10 Most Iconic Anime Heroes". Archived from the original on 17 October 2013. Retrieved 3 July 2016.
  33. ^ Mackenzie, Chris (20 October 2009). "Top 25 Anime Characters of All Time". IGN. p. 3. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
  34. ^ Isler, Ramsey (February 4, 2014). "Top 25 Greatest Anime Characters". IGN. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
  35. ^ Miyazaki, Hayao (4 August 2009). Starting Point 1979~1996. Viz Media. pp. 277–282. ISBN 978-1-4215-0594-7.
  36. ^ James, Thomas (2015-02-05). "Persona 5 director discusses characters, themes, and development". Gematsu. Archived from the original on 2016-03-25. Retrieved 2015-02-06.