|“||Catch ya later, 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 movie 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 III, along with the manga, was created by mangaka Kazuhiko Kato in 1967 as Futabasha, the Japanese publisher that had hired Kato as a staff artist, gave him the opportunity to create a new limited manga series for their upcoming magazine Weekly Manga Action. Kato, going under the moniker Monkey Punch, drew inspiration from French author Maurice Leblanc's gentleman thief Arsène Lupin for his new manga series, even going so far as to make the very protagonist his grandson.
Monkey Punch originally wanted to keep the blood ties between the two fictional characters a secret, but he was convinced not to do so. This caused problems when eventually releasing Lupin outside of Japan, as the Leblanc estate still had Arsène Lupin under copyright, which resulted in Lupin III being given a whole slew of alternate names.
Monkey Punch also gave Lupin some of James Bond's characteristics to make him a more carefree person, and had originally given Lupin a red jacket because Monkey Punch believed it was a flashy, sexy color.
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 infamy has its inevitable pitfalls. Over his career, though he is guilty of many crimes, he has been framed for crimes he didn't commit by impostors, copycats and other such unsavory types committing crimes in his name, and even once had a near-exact clone produced of himself, which seriously unnerved him to the point of him wondering whether he was his actual self.
His personality and reputation are drastically different in the original manga. Lupin is shown being 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 and assassination, and he 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 in the OVA Green vs. Red where a dossier held by the Inspector Zenigata indicates his place of birth as "unknown", same with Lupin the 3rd Part 5 which also lists his place of birth as "unknown" in his profile. This is also listed as unknown on the Lupin World website. In older media, it is a different case; he admits being French like his grandfather, but apparently lives in Japan. At one occasion, Lupin claimed to have taken his first bath in the River Seine. 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, Lupin can speak in gratuitous French. In Part 6 it's hinted that he grew up in Mahiko Village.
In both the manga and Lupin the 3rd Part 1, 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 Lupin the 3rd Part 1, Lupin is shown to be remorseless and psychotic with a twisted sense of humor. He has murdered people, decapitated a guard dog in Lupin III Chapter 51, and nailed another dog to a ceiling, 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. His most common killing methods usually stabbing his victims right in the spine or using bombs, with the occasional lynching with a rope. He did have a soft spot for children, however, and in one chapter broke into a tower to rescue a little boy whose father was murdered for a secret vault he was hiding. His other redeeming quality was that he loved his parents.
In the early original manga, Lupin was a lone wolf with no true friends. He was a party animal, a popular employer and teacher nonetheless. 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 Part 2 Episode 2 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. Lupin had adopted a policy where he stays away from murder and honest money. He particularly doesn't kill women, even saying himself that he can't stand by and be silent when a woman is being hurt, with the exceptions of Zaclyne and Tomoe. He also shows a chivalrous streak that compels him to help those less fortunate than he (especially attractive women). The first hints of this were shown as far back as Part 1 Episode 3, and Part 2 expanded on this more. 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 movie 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 man 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.
Part 2 balances the different aspects of his character, combining the rogue from Ōsumi's episodes of Part 1 with MIyazaki's gentleman to form a fast-talking charmer. Parts 4, 5 and 6 mix his violence and love of fighting with a genuine selflessness.
In the Geneon dub of The Mystery of Mamo, he is a self-proclaimed "idiot savant". This means he thinks of himself as a genius with the mind of a child, but his claim is backed up by various things: the fact that, despite caring for his friends, he doesn't show empathy for them when he fakes his demise in Part 1 Episode 13 and Part 2 Episode 32; his surprisingly poor sense of direction, as shown in The Mystery of Mamo when he doesn't know how far their other hideout is; his tendency to perform sensory experiments on himself such as in Part 2 Episode 89. Tomoe describes him as having had a "unique thought pattern".
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.
He's something of a big eater with a voracious appetite, a common trait shounen protagonists share but not so often with seinen protagonists. He even competes with Jigen (and at one point, Zenigata) for food, such as in Cagliostro and in Part 6's opening.
One interesting quirk Lupin has is that he does not dream. When Mamo tried to view his inner subconsciousness to truly show Fujiko his pure character in Mystery of Mamo, he was extremely shocked to find out it is merely a void, meaning he doesn't dream when he sleeps; to his credit, the subconscious generally is a void, and dreams happen in an REM state. It even breaks the machine Mamo is using. Jigen and Goemon are somewhat aware of this facet too; in Part 4 Episode 12, while Lupin is talking to a personification of the scientist Ko Uraga using an invention Uraga made to contain his memories, Jigen and Goemon are both surprised Lupin hasn't woken up yet, openly noting that he doesn't ever dream; nothing out of the ordinary as he can be something of a heavy sleeper, but they're surprised that he was talking in his sleep; however, this was not commented in in Part 2 Episode 133 when he was knocked out for hours by a tranquilizer and dreaming of Claudia. Furthermore, his general lack of dreams is a metaphor for the fact that he's not bound by ambition the way the likes of Mamo are.
It's not commented on, but over time some of Fujiko's habits and techniques rub off on him, such as his tendency to use a perfume bottle to incapacitate his opponents.
At times, he uses humor as a defense mechanism, and has the occasional habit of pretending things are fine when they're not. In Part 1 Episode 13 he laughs off Kyosuke Mamo's threats to hide the fact that he's frightened out of his wits, although Jigen and Goemon aren't fooled. In Part 2 Episode 66 , when Beauty announces he's going to kill him, Lupin jokes that Beauty is going to poke a hole in his side and make his body "nice and breezy", to hide the fact that the assassin makes him nervous.
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 Lupin the 3rd 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 are times that prove that he still does have a few weaknesses. In Lupin the 3rd Part 1, Goemon mentions that Lupin has a weakness for extreme curiosity and mischief. According to Inspector Zenigata in Lupin the 3rd Part 2 and the Official Lupin Website, Lupin's weakness is beautiful women and is often shown as in many occasions they have distracted him. Fujiko exploits this weakness a lot, allowing her to double-cross Lupin whenever she wants to. Mattea also uses this to her advantage in Part 6 to get Lupin on her side while she kills people unnoticed. He sees the good in most women he meets, including his apparent mother Tomoe until he learned the truth about her. Another of Lupin's weaknesses 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. Yet another weakness he has is that he loves to perform. In Part 2 Episode 28 he infiltrates a police station disguised as an officer, and when the chief insults him, Lupin gets carried away and starts overacting, which causes Melon to reveal his identity with a polaroid laser camera. In Part 2 Episode 143 he disguises himself as a woman in a changing room to hide from Zenigata, but he gets carried away and starts talking at length, which causes the Inspector to find out that the offended woman is Lupin in a wig.
Although Lupin is generally a good judge of character, he can be a little on the gullible side. He was gaslit into believing he committed a string of murders, almost tricked into believing he was his own clone and nearly manipulated into drinking poisoned water by a scientist in a chameleon suit who killed the suit's inventor. He also believed Mattea was innocent and may or may not have been lied to about his childhood by Tomoe. He almost thought Tomoe was his biological mother, but remembered the time he spent with his friends and learnt the truth about her.
- 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. His eyes are usually brown or gray. He is usually compared to a monkey, although some designs, such as in the manga and The Mystery of Mamo, have him look more like a horse.
His physique varies between animations. In some he's rather scrawny, and in others he's fairly muscular.
Lupin is a snappy dresser. His wardrobe in most if not all of his appearances consists of a brightly colored jacket & tie, a typically dark-colored shirt, sleek-looking pants and shoes. The colors of his clothing vary depending on the media (notably jackets and tie), which tend to color-code the first three parts: green (Lupin the 3rd Part 1 and the color used in a few OVAs and films), red (the pilot, Lupin the 3rd Part 2; also the color chosen for most films and television specials but wearing a yellow tie), and pink (Lupin the 3rd Part III). For Lupin the 3rd Part 4 and Part 5 , he wears a blue jacket and in Lupin the 3rd Part 6, he wears again his famous green jacket. 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 and a matching tie.
Outside of his usual jackets, Lupin has had different types of clothing that according to the 1969 Pilot Film was for any time, place and occasion. In the TV Special Goodbye Partner he dons a black jacket in lieu of his Part 2 red jacket after Jigen betrays him. In the manga he had a yellow jacket as well as variations of the red jacket and in the live-action Strange Psychokinetic Strategy, he has a white jacket. Lupin also wears casual clothing, formal clothing such as his suit in the OVA The Plot of the Fuma Clan and even just wearing boxers, aside of his innumerable amount of disguises.
He's bow-legged, like a lot of male characters, though this may typically be a result of Monkey Punch's art style. This is poked fun of twice in Part III: in Episode 23 he is very sensitive about this characteristic, and in Episode 18 this is part of the reason he has trouble keeping up with Jenny when he dances with her.
Part 5 depicts his regular face as a mask, although his real face is suggested to be near identical to his regular one; this plot twist is both a nod to a manga chapter, and a metaphor for himself as a performer who only shows his true self to those most important to him. Other anime seems to suggest that the face we see is his own.
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, 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, however like Jigen 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 movie 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 TV Special Lupin III vs. Detective Conan, not only did he figure out Conan Edogawa was far more intelligent than he appeared, but in the movie 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. In Part 1 Episode 3 he recognised Linda's scent, and in Part 2 Episode 1 he recognized that the letter he received which is allegedly from Fujiko was a fake because it did not reek of her 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.
- His appearance was inspired by that of Jean-Paul Belmondo.
- He was never named "Arsène" in Japanese media. The only one partial exception is in Part 5 Episode 1 where his name appears in his profile on Hito-log Beta as "Arsene". In the English dub of In Memory of the Walther P38, Zenigata says Lupin's full name when he's reading aloud a newspaper article on his shooting.
- Before the Arsène Lupin copyright expired, Lupin underwent a number of name changes outside of Japan:
- Most English dubs renamed him "Wolf" or "Rupan" with the exception of the Frontier dub of the movie 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 3rd Part 2 Lupin could not be linked to Arsène Lupin. His grandfather had different names (outside of Part 2 Episode 114), he was appointed as Arsenico detto "Lupin" and and Zenigata at one point called him "Arsenico e vecchi merletti": the latter is a reference to the Cary Grant film Arsenic and Old Lace, and both are a joke based on the similarity between the name "Arsenio" (which is how Arsène Lupin is named in Italian) and the word "arsenico" (arsenic).
- 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.
- Despite these changes in the 90s, the Spanish-language series and the TV specials were referred and marketed as Cliffhanger (to evade Copyright issues), despite the cast changing from Part 1 (Dubbed in Los Angeles California) and for the FilmZone TV Specials (Dubbed in Mexico).
- For a full list of alternate names given to Lupin, see Name variants; Lupin III#Renamed due to Copyight.
- In Latin America the name, along with the pronunciation has been the source of controversy. In Part 1 his name is pronounced as in most common media as "Lupan", though in the series he mostly referred by his first name "Aramis" (a re-adaptation of the name Arsene, instead of the more common translated, Arsenio). In the TV specials from Filmzone he is mostly reffered as "Lupin" in a similar manner to the Funimation dubs. where as in the CG film and most recent work, he is again referred as "Lupan" like the original. (See Name variants:Lupin III#Pronunciation.)
- 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.
- Part 2 Episode 53 reveals that he likes soap operas. The beginning shows that up to this point he hadn't missed an episode of Housewives Theater in fifteen years.
- Lupin has a lot of cameo appearances in other media and has also been referenced quite a lot.
- 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.
- He and Jigen have a cameo in Isao Takahata's Panda Go Panda. He's wearing a dark blue suit and sunglasses.
- For a full list of Lupin references, see Lupin in multimedia.
- His voice actor in the rebooted version of the pilot film was Taichiro Hirokawa, who would star alongside Yasuo Yamada and Toshio Furukawa in the Japanese dub of the 'Monty Python' franchise. Hirokawa and Yamada have also dubbed Jean-Paul Belmondo.
- Green vs. Red implies that at some point, he retired, took on the disguise of an old bookshop owner and passed his name and title onto a successor.