Arsène Lupin III

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Arsène Lupin III
Lupin III character
Lupin drawn by Monkey Punch
First appearance Lupin III chapter 1: "Dashing Appearance of Lupin III"
Created by Monkey Punch
Voiced by See Voice actors
Portrayed by Yūki Meguro (1974)
Shun Oguri (2014)
Aliases Cliff (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)
Relatives Arsène Lupin (grandfather)
Arsène Lupin II (father)
Nationality French-Japanese (original)
French (some versions)

Arsène Lupin III (Japanese: ルパン三世, Hepburn: Rupan Sansei, pronounced /luːpɨn/ or /luˈpɑːn/) is a fictional character created by Monkey Punch as the protagonist for his manga series Lupin III, which debuted in Weekly Manga Action on August 10, 1967. According to his creator, Lupin is the grandson of Maurice Leblanc's Arsène Lupin.

Acknowledged across the globe as the world's number one thief, Lupin is a master of disguise, deductive reasoning, marksman, prime mover, mission engineer, 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 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. Additionally, he and his famous gang, beautiful Fujiko Mine, cool triggerman Daisuke Jigen and uber-samurai Goemon Ishikawa XIII, while they rarely work together in the manga version, are nonetheless an inseparable team in the anime television and the various films and OVAs.


The aim of the Lupin III series 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.[1] He combined elements of Arsène Lupin with James Bond to develop the character of Lupin III and made him a "carefree fellow."[1][2][3]

In the original manga, Lupin and his team typically work individually for their own goals. The author 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.[3] He believes that Lupin and Fujiko are similar to the characters of D'Artagnan and Milady de Winter, and describes them as "Not necessarily lovers, not necessarily husband and wife, but more just having fun as man and woman with each other".[4] Inspector Zenigata was conceived as Lupin's archrival to create a "human Tom and Jerry".[3] Monkey Punch said the appeal of drawing Lupin comes 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.[4] The creator has said that he believes the Lupin III story can never end but that if he had to, both Zenigata and Lupin would have to end as equals. They would either both fail, both win or both get very old.[5]

In typical anime style, Lupin's appearance is racially ambiguous and tend to oblique his origins. He has black hair plastered flat with what is either a widow's peak or a V-shaped bang on the forehead. His trademark sideburns extend from ear to nearly the chin. Outside his preference for large and rather plain Doc Marten boots, Lupin is a sharp dresser. He typically wears a blue shirt, yellow tie, khaki pants and a brightly colored sports jacket - red in the manga, while in animation his jackets are various colors which tend to color-code his TV series (green for the first and fourth series and a few OVAs, red for the second series and most films and television specials, pink for the third series, and blue for the fifth series).


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, but is not beyond forcing himself upon women who resist him. Mike Toole of Anime News Network referred to the character as a "rough, drunken, lecherous crook."[6] This is in stark contrast to his better-known anime self, who despite being a skilled thief, comes off as a goofball and will go to great lengths to right injustice, who also shows a chivalrous streak that compels him to help 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 Cassanova, 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. Curiously, this rule of loyalty extends also to Inspector Zenigata, who 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.[7] 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.


Lupin as seen in a TV special

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 principle 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 uses non lethal means to achieve his goals. When an imposter uses the Lupin name to commit cruel crimes, Lupin believes he has an illness that has caused him to become a murderer and becomes depressed. First he asks Jigen to kill him to save the lives of any potential victims, then he tries to commit suicide before the truth is uncovered.[8]

Lupin is a talented driver, motorcyclist and pilot. His favorite automobiles seem to be either the Mercedes Benz SSK or Duesenberg SSJ, as well as a souped up 1957 Fiat 500, most famously seen in Castle of Cagliostro. 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 its featured. Lupin either has several SSK models in possession, owns a seletion 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 freeing himself from shackles in moments. He can even use his restraints to entrap his would-be captor before making his escape.[9] Seemingly prepared for all contingencies, he can break free of confinement even when surrounded. Despite his skills at escaping, he once waited a year to escape from prison after being caught by Zenigata. He could have escaped at any time but his pride was hurt because Zenigata had used a tranquilliser dart to capture him and he wanted Zenigata to feel the same humiliation.[10]

In spite of his facade of reckless childlike antics, most notably his taunting enemies with 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 described himself to an Imperial soldier as being mixed heritage Japanese. Goemon immediately countered by saying Lupin wasn't Japanese, but still worthy of respect.

Lupin's ethnic origins haven't been specified; in the 2008 OVA Green Vs. Red, a dossier held by Zenigata indicates his place of birth as "unknown". He admits being French like his grandfather, but apparently lives in Japan. Inspector Zenigata has called him Japanese and Lupin himself once referred to himself as "half-Japanese, half-French" (2nd TV series, episode 118).

In the first TV series, episode 13 ("Beware The Time Machine!"), Lupin tricks Mamo Kyosuke by dressing as a Japanese peasant and acting as though they are in feudal Japan. Lupin specifically states to Mamo that the ancestor whose face he most resembles was Japanese. When Mamo "meets" this ancestor (Lupin in disguise), Lupin states that he would like to marry some girl by the name of Marianne Lupin from France someday.

Lupin often speaks of both his famous 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.

Voice actors[edit]

Arsène 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.[11] 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.[12][13] Due to budget concerns, TMS decided not to employ the regular voice cast for the 1987 original video animation The Plot of the Fuma Clan,[14] with Toshio Furukawa voicing Lupin.[13] Kanichi Kurita took over the role after Yamada's death and he continues to voice Lupin III to this day.[6][15]

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 remains unverified.[16] From 1992 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 Lupin the Third Part II (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 Plot of the Fuma Clan (retitled 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 heavily 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.[17]

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.[18] Tony Oliver voiced Lupin in the Phuuz dub of Lupin the Third Part II and The Mystery of Mamo for Pioneer/Geneon, as well as the video game Treasure of the Sorcerer King between 2003 and 2006; Oliver will reprise the role for Discotek Media's upcoming dub of the fifth anime.[19] Keith Silverstein voiced the character in the Bang Zoom! Entertainment dub for Discotek's 2015 release of the Jigen's Gravestone film.


Lupin was voted the eighth most iconic anime hero by[20] IGN ranked Lupin as the fifteenth best anime character of all time in 2009,[21] placing him on the 16th spot in 2014.[22]

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. However Miyazaki still thought fondly of Lupin's early days despite this.[23] For the video game Persona 5, its creative team originally asked themselves how a character like Arsène Lupin III might win appeal in modern society.[24]


  1. ^ a b "Manga Mania" (20). Manga Publishing. March 1995: 6–9. ISSN 0968-9575. 
  2. ^ "Manga Mania" (34). Manga Publishing. May 1996. Poster Magazine Insert. ISSN 0968-9575. 
  3. ^ a b c Interview with Monkey Punch. Lupin the 3rd: Dead or Alive (DVD). Funimation. 
  4. ^ a b Divers, Allen (November 13, 2003). "Interview: Monkey Punch". Anime News Network. Retrieved July 2, 2007. 
  5. ^ Yadao, Jason S. The Rough Guide to Manga. Rough Guides. pp. 154–155. ISBN 978-1-85828-561-0. 
  6. ^ a b "The Lupin Tapes - The Mike Toole Show". Anime News Network. June 6, 2010. Retrieved August 27, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Detective Hanshichi's Ten year Promise". Lupin III Part II. Event occurs at 06:20. 
  8. ^ "The Two Faces of Lupin!". Lupin III Part II. Episode 16 (in Japanese). October 24, 1971. 
  9. ^ "Is Lupin burning.....?!". Lupin III. Episode 1 (in Japanese). October 24, 1971. Event occurs at 21:29. 
  10. ^ "One Chance for a Prison Break". Lupin III. Episode 4 (in Japanese). November 14, 1971. Event occurs at 21:28. 
  11. ^ Reed Nelson. Lupin the 3rd The Complete First TV Series (Disc 4) (DVD). Discotek Media. 
  12. ^ Reed Nelson. Lupin the 3rd The Complete First TV Series (Disc 1) (DVD). Discotek Media. 
  13. ^ a b "Rupan III: The Fuma Conspiracy - Review". Anime News Network. May 4, 2003. Retrieved January 29, 2017. 
  14. ^ "So, Which Lupin the Third Anime Should You Watch Next?". Otaku USA. Sovereign Media. Retrieved January 28, 2017. 
  15. ^ "Lupin III's Voice Cast Changed for 1st Time in 16 Years". Anime News Network. October 8, 2011. Retrieved January 28, 2017. 
  16. ^ A History of Mamo in English. The Mystery of Mamo. Discotek Media. 2012. 
  17. ^ Bertschy, Zac (26 June 2015). "ANNCastle of Cagliostro". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2 July 2015. 
  18. ^ "Funimation Reveals Dub Casts for Fujiko Mine, Eureka 7 AO, Michiko & Hatchin Anime". Anime News Network. May 16, 2013. Retrieved January 29, 2017. 
  19. ^ "Discotek Licenses Lupin III: Part IV for 2017 Release With English Dub". Anime News Network. November 1, 2016. Retrieved January 29, 2017. 
  20. ^ Zoth, Thomas (12 January 2010). "10 Most Iconic Anime Heroes". Archived from the original on 17 October 2013. Retrieved 3 July 2016. 
  21. ^ Mackenzie, Chris (20 October 2009). "Top 25 Anime Characters of All Time". IGN. IGN Entertainment. p. 3. Retrieved 14 June 2012. 
  22. ^ Isler, Ramsey (February 4, 2014). "Top 25 Greatest Anime Characters". IGN. Retrieved March 13, 2014. 
  23. ^ Miyazaki, Hayao. Starting Point 1979~1996. Viz Media. pp. 277–282. ISBN 978-1-4215-0594-7. 
  24. ^ 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.