Lupine III: the evolution of the gentleman thief in the anime series

Who does not know the gentleman thief? They have passed over 50 years since its debut in the Futabasha weekly magazine, Weekly Manga Action, from the manga Lupin III (original name Rupan Sansei). Born from the mind of the cartoonist Monkey Punch, pseudonym of Kazuhiko Kato, the manga was to last only three months of publication, but given its popularity the author decided to continue for almost 10 years, enjoying success both in Japan and in America, not fully understanding why the American public loved the narrative universe so much. , but above all the personalities he had created.

They are undoubtedly i protagonists, unique and iconic, to have most impressed the public. But so who is the main protagonist, who is Lupine? A jacket that is filled with crazy but brilliant ideologies and countless thief skills, dressed as a fanatic bewitched by the famous French thief Arsène Lupin, enough to imitate it, or its true nephew who decides to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather?

The Adventures of Lupine III

We have already told you the story of The Adventures of Lupine III and why it is a cult anime. Initially, Lupine himself was also more similar to his paper counterpart, that is, cynical, arrogant, sometimes vindictive enough to remember an anti-hero. With the 1971 TV series, however, he stops driving the famous one Mercedes-Benz SSK, a machine at the time that represented the political right, to choose the Fiat 500, symbol of the proletariat. This just to understand how much Miyazaki and Takahata (who took over the production of the project, as is known) had changed the anime: not only for the tones and characterization of the characters, certainly sweeter and more vulgar, but also for a calmer and positive.

The most da imaginary is born gentleman of the thief with the jacket, defined by many, including the famous mangaka Naoki Urasawa, as the “real Lupine”, further developed by Miyazaki especially in the masterpiece “Lupine III – The castle of Cagliostro” of 1979. Although Monkey Punch was in total disagreement with the ideas of Hayao, the mangaka defined the first animated production as the best adaptation of Lupine III, especially referring to the first episodes, for the excellent direction and the visual fidelity to the ‘Opera.

The new adventures of Lupine III

After the green jacket follows the red jacket, the second series. One of the most appreciated and remembered adaptations by fans, which counts 155 episodes transmitted between ’77 and ’80, universally considered as a cross between the two main visions of Lupine. With frequent references to pop culture, it differs from the previous one for the use of self-contained episodes and for the change of atmosphere, less tense and violent, more carefree, playful supported by an avant-garde technical sector. Unfortunately the most important defects are certainly caused by the enormous amount of episodes and the various changes of direction due to the numerous directors who have followed one another, including still Miyazaki, fresh from the success of his feature film based on the thief.

This series is even closer to themes related to the ideology and nature of the co-founder Ghibli, including anti-militarism e respect for the environment. One of the most impactful elements is certainly the soundtrack entirely edited by the master Yuji Ohno, who managed to perfectly embody the anime’s jazz crime vibe.

Lupine, the incorreggibile Lupine

In 1984, after the failure of a project called “Lupine VIII”, which had Rintaro the direction and character design of Shingo Araki, Lupine in pink jacket for the third series, one version anarchic and insane.

You immediately notice how the design wants to recall that of the original work, even if the very raw nature of the style of Monkey Punch did not adapt well to the fluidity that the animators of the TV series had conceived for the product. Here too the episodes are self-contained, while following a linear plot. However, the characters remain the backbone of the product, also supported by music as always exceptional, again composed by the perfect Ohno.

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Lupine the Third – The woman named Fujiko Mine

After the third they were almost there 28 years of serial absence of the character, until 2012: it arrived “Lupine the Third – The Woman Called Fujiko Mine”, a television series spin-off . Composed of just thirteen episodes, it was directed by Sayo Yamamoto, the first woman to direct the franchise, who was entrusted with full creative control of the production: the artist was therefore able to form a staff of people with whom she had already worked in the past, including Shinichiro Watanabe (author of Cowboy Bebop, among whose influences there has always been Lupine III).

According to the director herself, the intention was to propose themes more than adults come eroticism, thus departing from the previous series and approaching the first version produced by Osumi. In addition, the technical sector of the series offers a style that perfectly recalls that of the manga, thus highlighting darker shades. The arduous task of character design was entrusted to the skilled hands of Takeshi Koike. Koike himself felt this narrative universe very much in its strings, so much so that he wanted to continue this spin-off in one sequence of feature films, from pulp and cinematic stories and a technically exceptional graphic style, that is “Lupine III – Jigen Daisuke’s tombstone”, “Lupine III – A blood sketch for Goemon Ishikawa” e “Lupine III – Fujiko Mine’s Lie”.

Lupine III – The Italian adventure

In 2015 the fourth series of Lupine, consisting of 26 episodes, supervised by Kazuhide Tomonaga and call “The Italian Adventure” obviously because the setting chosen for this new adventure is the Bel Paese, together with San Marino and France. Here Tomonaga tried to make the protagonist more mature but even more contradictory, making him dress one for the first time blue jacket: the result is always an anti-hero cheerful but also cynical and calculating, a characterization that almost tries to pay tribute to all aspects of Lupin’s psyche. Moreover, a tribute that can also be seen in a more vintage and classic graphic style.

This adventure therefore presents itself with a formula of self-contained episodes that focus on specific characters, tributes to the original narrative universe and some episodes that connect together to form a sort of horizontal plot. Certainly a successful celebration, appreciated by both long-time fans and newbies alike, amidst various quotations and a postcard Italy as a backdrop.

Lupine III – Return to the origins

Born to celebrate the 50th anniversary, in 2018 the fifth and last television series broadcast so far. Set in the Transalpine France, the plot is divided into four story arcs broken up by various exquisitely commemorative episodes. In addition, there are various themes that are treated throughout history, including the pervasive use of technology and above all the relationship of trust between Lupine and the rest of his gang.

The characterization of the characters, old and new, and the relationships between them are increasingly detailed and meticulous; the technical sector is also excellent, with graphics in a suggestive watercolor style and a Lupine deeper and deeper, but also clearer. A profile that makes the public understand that every character, including Lupine himself, sees him differently, as if he always wore a different mask that conceals its true identity.


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