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 Taichirō Hirokawa/Nachi Nozawa (1969)
Yasuo Yamada (1971-1994)
Toshio Furukawa (The Plot of the Fuma Clan)
Kanichi Kurita (1995-present)
Unconfirmed (1979, Toho/Frontier)
Bob Bergen (1992-5, Streamline)
Robin Robertson (1995, AnimEigo)
Bill Dufris (1996, Manga UK)
David Hayter (2000, Animaze/Manga)
Sonny Strait (2002-5, 2013, FUNimation)
Tony Oliver (2003-6, Phuuz/Pioneer/Geneon; 2017, Discotek)
Keith Silverstein (2015, Bang Zoom!/Discotek)
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)
Nationality French-Japanese (original)
French (some versions)

Arsène Lupin III (ルパン三世 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 virtually world-wide as the world's number one thief, Lupin and his colleagues Fujiko Mine, Daisuke Jigen and Goemon Ishikawa XIII, will take it upon themselves to foil other criminals engaged in more violent crimes. While first glance may imply Lupin as fun-loving, flighty, perhaps even "goofy", this facade overcoats a brilliant imagination and a thorough knowledge of a hundred varying sciences. Forever extemporizing and re-evaluating, Lupin 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. He has a fondness for fancy gadgets from time to time plus hands-on experience in many skills a thief would find useful. His infatuation with Fujiko is perhaps his most significant weakness, as it lands him in undesirable situations most of the time.


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. 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.[1] 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 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. Though his features, in typical anime style, are racially ambiguous and tend to oblique his origins, his grandfather solidly hails from France; Lupin himself confirms his Parisian background, saying once he took his first bath "in the Seine". Lupin's is described as having 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. Lupin is a sharp dresser, usually wearing a blue shirt, yellow tie, khaki pants and a brightly colored jacket as his typical outfit. In the manga his jacket is almost always red, while in animation his jackets are various colors, which tend to color-code his TV series: green (first and fourth series and the color used in a few OVAs), red (the second series; also the color chosen for most films and television specials), pink (third series), or blue (fifth series).


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.[2]

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.

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.[3] 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.[4]

Despite 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'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.


Lupin was voted the eighth most iconic anime hero by[5] IGN ranked Lupin as the fifteenth best anime character of all time in 2009,[6] placing him on the 16th spot in 2014.[7]

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.[8] For the video game Persona 5, the team in charge of making originally asked in that regard was how a character like Arsène Lupin III might win appeal in modern society.[9]


  1. ^ "Detective Hanshichi's Ten year Promise". Lupin III Part II. Event occurs at 06:20. 
  2. ^ "The Two Faces of Lupin!". Lupin III Part II. Episode 16 (in Japanese). October 24, 1971. 
  3. ^ "Is Lupin burning.....?!". Lupin III. Episode 1 (in Japanese). October 24, 1971. Event occurs at 21:29. 
  4. ^ "One Chance for a Prison Break". Lupin III. Episode 4 (in Japanese). November 14, 1971. Event occurs at 21:28. 
  5. ^ Zoth, Thomas (12 January 2010). "10 Most Iconic Anime Heroes". Archived from the original on 17 October 2013. Retrieved 3 July 2016. 
  6. ^ Mackenzie, Chris (20 October 2009). "Top 25 Anime Characters of All Time". IGN. IGN Entertainment. p. 3. Retrieved 14 June 2012. 
  7. ^ Isler, Ramsey (February 4, 2014). "Top 25 Greatest Anime Characters". IGN. Retrieved March 13, 2014. 
  8. ^ Miyazaki, Hayao. Starting Point 1979~1996. Viz Media. pp. 277–282. ISBN 978-1-4215-0594-7. 
  9. ^ 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.