|“||See you, Pops !||”|
— Lupin III to Inspector Zenigata
Lupin III is the world's most wanted gentleman thief and the grandson of Arsène Lupin. He sometimes appears incompetent, but mostly as a charade to catch his opponents off guard. While he has been arrested and thrown in jail on a number of occasions, he has always managed to break out. He also has a fondness for fancy gadgets from time to time, such as in The Castle of Cagliostro where his belt features many small gadgets. His infatuation with women, and Fujiko Mine in particular, is perhaps his biggest weakness, as it often lands him in undesirable situations. He continues his grandfather's legacy of thievery.
Lupin is acknowledged by virtually every law agency on earth as the world's number one thief. Often in his adventures, he and his colleagues, 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", his surface façade overcoats a brilliant imagination and a thorough knowledge of a hundred varying sciences. Forever extemporizing and reevaluating, Lupin has been responsible for heists no right-minded individual would believe possible. While arrested and jailed on numerous occasions, typically by his nemesis Inspector Zenigata, he has always managed to escape. 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 Mine is perhaps his most significant weakness, as it lands him in undesirable situations most of the time.
His personality & reputation are drastically different in the original manga, where Lupin is the 3rd generation leader of the Lupin Clan, an underworld criminal mastermind with henchmen all over the globe, a professor of the arts of theft & assassination, & is wanted for substantially more serious crimes, such as murder, spree killing, sexual assault, and rape.
Lupin's ethnic origins haven't been specified. Officially in modern media, his origin is unknown such as Green vs. Red where a dossier held by the Inspector Zenigata indicates his place of birth as "unknown" and his profile in Part 5. This also also listed as unknown on the Lupin World website. In older media, it is different. He admits being French like his grandfather, but apparently lives in Japan. Inspector Zenigata often calls him Japanese, at one point a "Japanese womanizing cheapskate" and Lupin himself once called himself "half-Japanese, half-French". 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. Also in Part II, Lupin speaks in gratuitous French.
In both the manga and Part I, Lupin tricks Kyosuke Mamo 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 Mylène Lupin from France someday. This statement implies that Lupin was either aware of the family's history stemming from a Japanese ancestor marrying a French woman . He is using that information to further convince Mamo that he has gone back in time OR it could be Lupin making up something untrue to confuse Mamo.
Lupin speaks often of both his famous grandfather and his father, both of whom were thieves. He's forever quoting his grandfather's advice and has attempted to complete or repeat heists attempted by his ancestors with good or bad luck.
In the manga and early episodes of Part I, Lupin is shown to be remorseless and psychotic with a twisted sense of humor. He has murdered people, decapitated a guard dog, his relationship with people are on business terms and regularly sexually assaulted or blackmailed women for sexual favors to get what he wants. He rarely steals items or plans to steal them but doesn't follow them through and is more of an assassin or just wants to screw around with people. The only woman that he was kind to was Linda. His most common killing methods usually stabbing his victims right in the spine or using bombs, with the occasional lynching with a rope.
In the early original manga, Lupin was a lone wolf with no true friends. He was a party animal, a popular employer and teacher none the less. He is also very much the ladies' man, though Fujiko is frequently beyond his grasp. Zenigata despised him with every fiber of his being. He rarely did things as a team with Jigen, as the two didn't get along that well. Concerning Goemon, he was still a rival. Fujiko was a sex object and there was no romantic chemistry between her and Lupin.
The Gentleman Thief
His personality was drastically altered for the anime from the second episode of the Part I to make him more appealing. While Lupin is a thief, he will go to great lengths to right injustice. While he sees nothing wrong with his chosen profession, he reminds anyone who asks that the people from whom he steals are people who can take the loss and that there are worse people than he in this world. He also shows a chivalrous streak that compels him to help those less fortunate than he (especially attractive women). 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. He fancies himself a ladies' man, although his actual success with women is erratic. His abilities with the opposite sex tend to fluctuate with the writer. In The First, Lupin has somewhat toned down his usual lust for women, as he did not flirt as often with Laetitia.
In all, Lupin can best be defined as an intelligent guy with a child's fun-loving demeanor, laughing and quipping in the face of opposition with a handy trick always available to maintain an upper hand.
It appears Lupin loves to steal more than actually having the treasure he sought. There have been times he has had what he has stolen lost or he intentionally threw it away. It appears Lupin relishes more of the challenge of stealing and thus is usually not that upset when he ends up empty-handed as long as he beat the security and stole the object of his desire away. There also have been times when Lupin only stole the object in question to give to someone else, such as if it rightfully belonged to them or they needed it more than he did.
When not seeking fortune from his adventures, Lupin unwinds by a variety of pastimes. His most-witnessed hobbies are fishing, nightclubbing, gambling, playing pool, watching TV, being part of cafe society, and dating beautiful women. He's a connoisseur of international food and wine, drinks liquor, enjoys beer, tea, and coffee. In Part 5, he is known to love eating galettes. He also smokes cigarettes and occasionally cigars and kreteks; in the manga, he's seen smoking a briar pipe occasionally. 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.
While Lupin is often presented without any weaknesses and having the upper hand, there were times that others mentioned them. In Part I, Goemon mentions that Lupin has a weakness for extreme curiosity and mischief. According to Inspector Zenigata in Part II and the Official Lupin Website, Lupin's weakness is beautiful women and is often shown as in many occasions they have distracted him. An other Lupin's weakness is being tickled, a weakness that Fujiko also has. Another weakness that Lupin has is that he is not very good at video games. Fujiko beat him in Pong, Jigen had to take over in Space Invaders and Goemon has the top score in Xevious while Lupin has the lowest score.
- Further information: Lupin III/Gallery
Lupin has historically described himself as of mixed heritage, Japanese and French. His features, like most characters in manga/anime, are racially ambiguous and tend to oblique which ethnic side of the family he favors. His dark brown-to-black hair is 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 snappy dresser with a blue shirt, cream-colored tie, khaki pants and a brightly colored jacket as his typical running-around gear. He is often seen wearing various colors (notably jackets), which tend to color-code his anime seasons: green (Part I and the color used in a few OVAs and films), red (the pilot, Part II; also the color chosen for most films and television specials but wearing a yellow tie), pink (Part III) or blue (Part IV and Part 5). Curiously, Lupin is often depicted as being cross-eyed and occasionally monkey-like, although these may be comic flourishes rather than actual characteristics. The red jacket suit is worn with extremely pale pink pants & a matching tie.
Outside of his usual jackets, Lupin has had different types of clothing that according to the 1969 Pilot Film for any time, place and occasion. In Goodbye Partner he wore a black jacket, in the manga he had a yellow jacket as well as variations of the red jacket and in Strange Psychokinetic Strategy, he has a white jacket. Lupin also wears disguises, casual clothing, formal clothing such as his suit in The Plot of the Fuma Clan and even just wearing boxers. In some scenarios, Lupin has no clothes on at all.
Lupin only has an average level of physical strength, but he can throw a good punch when he needs to. His years of stealth and sabotage have made him an expert in acrobatics and sneaking. He also possesses an almost absurd mastery of the art of disguise. This skill is so complete that he can even fool close friends and family members of the impersonated party. His skinny body enables him to easily impersonate heavier subjects by wearing padding that's usually filled with a variety of gadgets. He can even throw his voice to imitate others. His favorite disguise has always been that of his archnemesis, Inspector Koichi Zenigata, which annoys Zenigata to no end. Another of Lupin's abilities is his encyclopedic knowledge of various topics, such as history, the different sciences, fluency in multiple languages, etc. He also shows amazing intuition and awareness of his surroundings. For unknown reasons, Lupin favors the Walther P38 as his principle firearm. He is shown to be an excellent marksman, but will not kill unless his life, or the lives of those close to him, are threatened.
Lupin is a terrific stunt driver, motorcyclist, and pilot. His favorite automobiles seem to be the Mercedes Benz SSK typically painted yellow (he apparently has many since several SSK's have been destroyed during his encounters) and a souped-up 1957 Fiat 500, most famously seen in The 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. Seemingly prepared for all contingencies, he can make his escape even when surrounded.
Despite his facade of reckless child-like 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 Edogawa was far more intelligent than he appeared, but in Lupin III vs. Detective Conan: The Movie he had discerned his identity as Shinichi Kudō.
Lupin has an excellent sense of smell. On several occasions across different series identified women in disguises by their perfume.
Lupin was voted the eighth most iconic anime hero by Mania.com. IGN ranked Lupin as the fifteenth best anime character of all time in 2009, placing him on the 16th spot in 2014.
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. 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.
- Further information: Lupin III/Voice Actors
- He was never named "Arsène" in Japanese media with only one partial exception. The Girl in the Twin Towers from Lupin the Third Part 5 where the name appears as a profile in the episode, however, said profile was also written in English.
- Before the Arsène Lupin copyright expired, most English dubs renamed him "Wolf" or "Rupan" with the exception of the Frontier dub of The Mystery of Mamo who kept Lupin but renamed everyone else. If Lupin III was ever used, it had to be referenced as an alias on the packaging. In Germany, he was renamed to Hardyman. This did not affect Spain or Italy who kept his original name outside of one occasion. For the Italian dub of Lupin the Third Part II, Lupin could not be linked to Arsène Lupin. His grandfather had different names (outside of The Secret of the Mystery Painting, The First Supper), his full name was Arsenico detto Lupin and Zenigata at one point called him "Arsenico e vecchi merletti", a reference to the Cary Grant film Arsenic and Old Lace.
- In France, he's called Edgar de la Cambriole (Literally “Edgar of Burglary”) as Arsène was still under copyright in France due to the longer copyright law. For the same reasons as above, he was also known as Vidocq, "Wolf", "Lupan" or "Rupan". The Woman Called Fujiko Mine was the first series in France to use the Lupin III name as the copyright lapsed in 2012. While the Lupin III name is used in France, the Edgar de la Cambriole name is also used for re-releases of older series or as an alias.
- According to The Castle of Cagliostro Dictionary Book, Lupin's birthday is on February 10. This is the only time when a date for his birthday was given.  Japanese fans however celebrate Lupin day on March 3 despite no significant reason outside of being 3/3.
- In the manga, he was nicknamed "三世" (sansei) by his father and Arsène Lupin.
- Lupin's English voice actor, Tony Oliver, also voices Robert Dawson from Golgo 13: The Professional in the 1992 Streamline Pictures dub. Robert sounds similar to Lupin when he speaks in his calm voice.
- Lupin III: Jigen's Gravestone & Lupin III: Goodbye Partner both imply that Lupin's right eye is bionic.
- A character much resembling Lupin can be seen making a cameo in the Ducktales 2017 episode, Astro B.O.Y.D, where what looks like a Ducktales-verse version of him, complete with his green jacket outfit, briefly appears in the streets of Tokyolk.