Lupin the Third: Pilot Film

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Lupin the Third: Pilot Film
Directed by Masaaki Ōsumi
Produced by Yutaka Fujioka
Written by Gisaburō Sugii
Yasuo Otsuka
Tsutomu Shibayama
Jiro Saito
Toshiaki Imaizumi
Screenplay by Osamu Kobayashi
Based on Lupin III
by Monkey Punch
Starring Taichirō Hirokawa
Kiyoshi Kobayashi
Eiko Masuyama
Shinsuke Chikaishi
Gorō Naya
Hitoshi Takagi
Narrated by Nobuo Tanaka
Music by Norio Maeda
Distributed by Toho
Running time
12 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese

Lupin the Third: Pilot Film (Japanese: ルパン三世〈PILOT FILM〉, Hepburn: Rupan Sansei (Pirotto Firumu)) is a Japanese animated short film directed by Masaaki Ōsumi. It is the first animated adaptation of the Lupin III manga series, created by Monkey Punch in 1967. The 12-minute film was created by Tokyo Movie and intended to generate interest and secure funding for a larger production. Around 1971 it was reworked as a television pilot with new voice actors and the series was picked up by Yomiuri Television, leading to Lupin the Third Part I.


The pilot film is mainly an introduction to the five major characters as well as a retired detective named Kogoro Akechi. Each character is introduced to the viewer through several vignettes with narration. The overarching story sees Lupin III, Daisuke Jigen and Fujiko Mine in a house surrounded by police led by Inspector Zenigata and Akechi. Goemon Ishikawa offers to help the police by entering the house to kill Lupin. However, Lupin has already exited the building in disguise as Akechi and facilitates Jigen and Fujiko's escape.

Voice cast[edit]

Character Japanese
(CinemaScope Pilot)
(TV Pilot)
Lupin III Taichirō Hirokawa Nachi Nozawa
Daisuke Jigen Kiyoshi Kobayashi
Fujiko Mine Eiko Masuyama
Inspector Zenigata Shinsuke Chikaishi Chikao Ōtsuka
Goemon Ishikawa Gorō Naya Osamu Kobayashi
Kogoro Akechi Hitoshi Takagi Kōichi Kitamura


Adapting Monkey Punch's Lupin III manga into animation was first suggested by animator Gisaburō Sugii to Yutaka Fujioka, the founder of Tokyo Movie (now TMS Entertainment). Although Fujioka was interested in the idea, Tokyo Movie lacked the financial resources to produce such a project on its own. This led to the creation of a CinemaScope Pilot Film, which was intended to generate interest in the project and secure funding from potential producers. The Pilot Film, consisting of narrated introductions to the five lead characters of the manga, was scripted and animated by Sugii, Yasuo Otsuka, Tsutomu Shibayama and Osamu Kobayashi, with supervision by Masaaki Ōsumi and background art by Reiji Koyama.[1] The music soundtrack was composed by Norio Maeda, while the narration dialogue was written by Jiro Saito and Toshiaki Imaizumi.[2] Yasuo Otsuka had left Toei Animation to join Tokyo Movie, as working on Lupin would allow him to use his knowledge and lifelong interest in guns and transport in his animation. The team studied Monkey Punch's style in detail, including the influence of American cartoonist Mort Drucker on the manga, and analysed the characters from all angles; they were initially assisted by Monkey Punch himself until he felt the project was too much for him.[3][4] Scripts and treatments were also written for a feature film adaptation, one of which depicted Lupin before the start of his thieving career as a hippie in Shinjuku, and explained how he came to be pursued by the police and other criminals.[5]

Although the animation quality of the Pilot Film was high for the time in which it was made, few financial backers were interested in the project due to its adult themes of violence and sexuality. With the project still unsold over a year later, the Pilot Film was adapted for television. The animation of the TV version was mostly identical to the CinemaScope version, but featured a largely different voice cast - the only voices who were retained for both versions were those of Kiyoshi Kobayashi (as Jigen) and Eiko Masuyama (as Fujiko).[2] In 1971, Yomiuri Television agreed to produce a TV adaptation of the manga.[6] By this time, only Otsuka and Ōsumi were still at Tokyo Movie. Ōsumi was assigned as director, and Otsuka became the character designer; Osamu Kobayashi provided key animation on several episodes. The series was originally planned for 26 episodes, with synopsis created for each one.[7] Kiyoshi Kobayashi was retained as Jigen for the TV series (and continues to voice the role as of 2018), while Gorō Naya and Chikao Ōtsuka, who voiced Goemon in the CinemaScope version of the Pilot Film and Zenigata in the TV version respectively, were assigned the opposite of each other's roles for the series. Yasuo Yamada and Yukiko Nikaido, neither of whom were involved in the Pilot Film, were cast as Lupin and Fujiko. Yamada, known for his dubbing of Clint Eastwood, continues to be widely acclaimed for his serious and humorous portrayals of Lupin, and became synonymous with the role even after his death in 1995. Masuyama played the one-time character of Catherine in an episode of the series, and eventually replaced Nikaido as Fujiko from the second anime series onward until her retirement in 2010.[8]

The Pilot Film was broadcast on Yomiuri TV on August 17, 1988, and both versions were included on the Lupin III Secret Files (シークレットファイル, Rupan Sansei — Shīkuretto Fairu) VHS in 1989.[9] However, animation from the TV version of the Pilot Film was recycled for several of the series' opening credits sequences, despite Lupin wearing a red jacket in these sequences (it was changed to green for the series at Otsuka's insistence).[10] Both versions of the Pilot Film were released in North America by Discotek Media in their 2012 DVD set of Lupin the Third Part I.[11]


  1. ^ Reed Nelson. Lupin The 3rd The Complete First Tv Series (Disc 1) (DVD). Discotek Media.
  2. ^ a b Reed Nelson. Lupin The 3rd The Complete First Tv Series (Disc 4) (DVD). Discotek Media.
  3. ^ 大塚康生の動かす喜び [Yasuo Otsuka's Joy in Motion] (DVD) (in Japanese). Japan: Studio Ghibli. 2003. 50 minutes in.
  4. ^ 大塚康生の動かす喜び [Yasuo Otsuka's Joy in Motion] (DVD) (in Japanese). Japan: Studio Ghibli. 2003. 53:40 minutes in.
  5. ^ Reed Nelson. Lupin The 3rd The Complete First Tv Series (Disc 1) (DVD). Discotek Media.
  6. ^ Reed Nelson. Lupin The 3rd The Complete First Tv Series (Disc 1) (DVD). Discotek Media.
  7. ^ Reed Nelson. Lupin The 3rd The Complete First Tv Series (Disc 1) (DVD). Discotek Media.
  8. ^ Reed Nelson. Lupin The 3rd The Complete First Tv Series (Disc 1) (DVD). Discotek Media.
  9. ^ Anime UK. 1 ("New Series"). AUK Press. March 1995. p. 44.
  10. ^ Reed Nelson. Lupin The 3rd The Complete First Tv Series (Disc 1) (DVD). Discotek Media.
  11. ^ Beveridge, Chris (July 6, 2012). "Lupin the 3rd: First TV Series Complete Collection Anime DVD Review". The Fandom Post. Retrieved July 15, 2018.

External links[edit]