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Manga / Lupin III

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Volume One of the first Manga series
In 1967, Monkey Punch was tasked to create an adult-oriented manga character. For inspiration, he drew from James Bond, MAD Magazine, and Arsène Lupin. It later became a multimedia franchise.

Lupin III (Japanese: ルパン三世) was first printed as a serial Manga, published in the magazine Weekly Manga Action (which began in July), on August 10, 1967. It lasted for 94 issues, ending in May 22, 1969. Monkey Punch recontinued the story two years later,note  with the title of Lupin III: The New Adventures. Those two sets of stories were later collected together into the first 14 manga volume series. Later stories of Lupin are also released in Weekly Manga Action, until the fifth series, which was printed in the Lupin III Official Magazine. The Lupin III Official Magazine is a quarterly magazine that is published by the same people who make Weekly Manga Action, and it includes information on upcoming and recent Lupin III information and merchandise.

  • Lupin III ~ Licensed in America by Tokyo Pop. 14 volumes.
  • Lupin III – World's Most Wanted ~ Also written by Monkey Punch, beginning in June 23, 1977. Released in Japan in 21 volumes, and planned to be released in 17 in English, but only nine were released.
  • Lupin III S ~ This story was written by Satosumi Takaguchi and illustrated by Shusay, note  in January 1997. 1 volume. No English release.
  • Lupin III Y ~ Written by Monkey Punch and illustrated by Masatsuki Yamakami, this serial began in 1998, and halted in 2003. It restarted in the Summer 2009 Lupin III Official Magazine release as Shin Lupin III; but those chapters were not collected into volumes. 20 volumes. No English release.
  • Lupin III M ~ Written by Monkey Punch and illustrated by Yukio Miyama. It began in 2004, serialized by Lupin III Official Magazine. 8 volumes of it and 7 volumes of Lupin III M Neo have been published. No English release.
  • Lupin III H ~ Written by Monkey Punch and illustrated by Naoya Hayakawa. Nine volumes, no English release.
  • Lupin III B ~ Written by Monkey Punch and illustrated by Tamio Baba. 1 volume, no English release.
  • Spin offs: Captain Zenigata was first released on September 12, 2011. M.F.C (Mine Fujiko Company) was published as two volumes on September 28, 2009. Goemon Ishikawa XIII by Kazuo Hoshi was released on September 27, 2014.

In addition to the above, some of the Lupin anime has been re-adapted back into color manga.

Tropes of the Lupin the Third Manga:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Goemon wields a katana called Nagareboshi ("Falling Star") in the manga. Exactly why the sword has such incredible cutting power varies, due to Broad Strokes continuity. If the sword is unable to cut something, it becomes a plot point. It is said to be made of a rare steel alloy produced from meteoric iron that is almost indestructible, though apparently the metal can cut itself.
  • And the Adventure Continues: A lot of Lupin III stuff ends like this. The very final chapter of the original manga ends with Lupin destroying his hideout and mentioning that he's hard at work on his next adventure.
  • Animesque: The Inverted Trope! The original manga was heavily influenced by MAD, and the art style definitely shows. The subsequent anime adaptations... not so much. They're not significantly more western-like than most other anime products, but still good!
  • Art Evolution: The original series is actually a fascinating look at how Monkey Punch's style changed over the years. In the beginning, characters were drawn with a more abstract style, with the MAD influence obvious. By the time of the hiatus, his characters were somewhat more realistic, while still retaining their cartoonishness. After the hiatus, he began to exaggerate more, which the character designs becoming more refined into the second series.
  • Aside Glance: Lupin does this often, for the manga.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Averted; genitalia is instead drawn as the male and female gender symbols.
  • Book Ends: The first and final chapters of the second series both feature everyone gathering on an explosive island built by Zenigata. Sadly, Lupin and the gang aren't as lucky as they were in the beginning.
  • Berserk Button: Framing Lupin for a crime he didn't commit really, really pisses him off.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The manga, especially, has a Semipermeable Fourth Wall. Some of the Manga stories have turned Monkey Punch and/or the audience into a main character for the story. One chapter consisted of Lupin showing off his hideout, and explaining everything he had in it.
  • Cerebus Rollercoaster: The first series has stories like Lupin giving Monkey Punch a tour of his hideout or being talked into robbing a safe while completely the same volume as stories about a artist getting revenge on the man who kidnapped him as a child, or a young man and his sister learning the hard way what Lupin's lifestyle can do to someone.
  • Characterization Marches On: an enforced example of this trope. When the first manga started, Fujiko Mine was an arbitrary name given to the Girl of the Week. She could be an Action Girl one week, and a Damsel in Distress the next. When Monkey Punch decided to make her a consistent character, the idea that she worked with Lupin one week, and against him the next, retroactively gave her Chronic Backstabbing Disorder. This trait has been kept across the franchise.
    • Applies to some of the other characters as well. The first chapter had Lupin acting like a modern version of his grandfather, with his cocky, womanizing personality appearing in Chapter 2. An early chapter featured Lupin killing some police officers as part of a heist, and one had him murdering the Manipulative Bastard and his accomplice for playing him, despite the accomplice being a woman. Later on in the series, Lupin proudly mentions that he doesn't "kill kids, women or cops".
    • Early on, Jigen's an occasional sidekick to Lupin, but has no qualms with turning on him if needed. This is a stark contrast to later in the manga, where he's loyal to a fault. He's also shown to be just as interested in women as Lupin is at times, before his "women can't be trusted" belief sets in.
    • Goemon, at one point in the original series, is showing off with his sword to impress a girl, and even tries to seduce a woman as part of a heist. By the second series, he's apparently commited to abstinence, and despite being visibly aroused, turns down sex with a cute girl before going for a cold swim.
    • Zenigata's somewhat of a Dirty Cop for most of the original series, breaking laws and lying in his pursuit of Lupin. Later on, he's shown as being more uptight and moral, even shedding Manly Tears when forced by his chief to rape a woman in an attempt to frame Lupin.
  • Chased Off into the Sunset: Frequently, to the point where Monkey Punch lampshaded it an interview with Go Nagai, admitting that he often tells himself "time for 'em to run!" when realizing he was running out of pages for the story.
  • Contract on the Hitman: Lupin once paid a hitman to take a contract out on himself, literally. Turns out the hitman has split personality issues. One personality was hired to kill the other, and neither knew about each other.
  • Costume Copycat: One M chapter involves a new female thief who poses as Fujiko in order to get her to take the fall for a jewelry heist. The situation backfires when Lupin springs Fujiko from jail and helps her turn the tables on the new girl.
  • Crossover: Lupin and his gang appeared in Super Kochikame, a special manga volume for Kochi's 30th anniversary in 2006. The Lupin segment was co-authored by Osami Akimoto and Monkey Punch.
  • Crying Wolf: Exploited by Lupin in a manga chapter and the Lupin III: Part 1 episode (One Chance to Breakout) based on that chapter, in which Lupin intentionally causes this effect. While he's in prison, he keeps claiming that he isn't really Lupin, until everyone gets sick of it and stops listening. On the day of his execution, he switches places with a guard, who gets dragged off protesting that he isn't Lupin – and, of course, no one believes him.
  • Darker and Edgier: The manga series establishes itself as a series with sex, violent death, and occasional Gorn. This can come as quite a shock to those who start reading the comics after being intrigued by the Lighter and Softer Yearly specials.
  • Dear Negative Reader: This trope is parodied in a chapter of the original manga. A sex scene is interrupted by a (fake) fan's letter (complaining about the "bleeps" censoring the dialogue), followed by the author telling them to "Bleep off".
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: As mentioned above, the original manga is a lot more violent and sexual than any of the Animated Adaptations (save for The Woman Called Fujiko Mine), and the protagonists were way more violent and devious to boot.
  • Fanservice: Hoo boy.
  • First-Episode Twist: Averted by way of Art Evolution. Both people new to the franchise and fans who saw the anime first might be led to believe that the womanizing thief who beds the two sisters in search of some microfilm is Lupin, since, aside from the hair, he looks just like him (the hair could be part of the disguise)...then he's killed by a nerdy-looking guy with black hair and long sideburns, who turns out to be Lupin. It's not until the second chapter that Lupin starts to look more like he traditionally does.
  • Gag Censor: Infamously so, with the use of the Mars (♂) and Venus (♀) symbols.
  • Groin Attack: An early chapter in the second series has Lupin "teaching" a young woman to defend herself from attack by slapping her hands together on top of the... male sex symbol. (The manga's replacement for genitalia)
    • The "San Francisco" story arc has Lupin throwing a knife through the penis of a would-be rapist.
  • The Hero Dies: The second manga series ends with Zenigata trapping Lupin, Jigen, Goemon, and Fujiko on an island, then detonating it as he escapes via boat.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: We have a literal example of the phrase, as Lupin hires an assassin to kill a Yakuza boss ( who is a split personality of the assassin ) and the boss has set bombs all over his house.
  • Identical Stranger: One of the chapters from the M series revolves around a bespectacled civilian worker who happens to look almost exactly like Fujiko.
  • Infernal Retaliation: One of the story elements consistent across the franchise is Lupin's encounter with Goemon. Lupin claims he knows of a weapon more powerful than the katana. Goemon, who believes that Katanas Are Just Better, brags that he will cut anything with his sword. Thats when Lupin throws special rocket fuel onto the samurai that bursts into flames when Goemon slashes it, because it comes into contact with the air. Not content to let Lupin get away with this, Goemon tosses a rope at Lupin, which carries the flames over to light him on fire as well. As it's Lupin, they recover.
  • Inverse Law of Sharpness and Accuracy: Averted; the manga has characters hitting pretty much everyone.
  • Later-Installment Weirdness: While the original series certainly incorporated some fantastical elements at times, it's noting on the Post-Script Season volumes, which include curing Lupin's vampirism with farts, a Mad Scientist who hypnotizes corpses, and an invisible sea captain.
    • Monkey Punch seems to like this trope, since the same happens with later volumes of the second series. We get stories about a hundred Lupin clones, a "Freaky Friday" Flip, the gang being turned to babies, and even an Alien Invasion of a small island.
  • Long Runner: There's a lot of stop-and-go with the manga, but the Lupin III Official Magazine isn't going to stop any decade soon, even if it stops including new Lupin III serials.
  • Magic from Technology: The villain Pycal, who was impervious to bullets and fire, could walk on air, and shoot fire from his fingertips. Lupin found a way to replicate these tricks: (he walked on air via carefully placed glass panes, shot fire from his fingertips with a small, hidden flamethrower and was impervious thanks to a hard liquid chemical that shielded his body when covered by the liquid.) It was never explicitly confirmed that Pycal really wasn't using magic, however, the animated versions of the character are explicit about it.
  • Mars Needs Women: Partway through the "Yap Land" story in World's Most Wanted, the gang has to deal with a group of small space aliens who are trying to mate with Fujiko, and she has to keep fending off their advances, even launching one into a wall with the waistband of her panties at one point.
  • Medium Awareness: This trope is used due to the franchise's Semipermeable Fourth Wall nature. It is usually Lupin interacting with whatever element of the work is on our side of the Fourth Wall, but any of the cast can do it for a gag.
    • Monkey Punch turned part of a panel over to show how upset he was when Zenigata had a Leaning on the Fourth Wall line, claiming the current case was as simple as a comic book.
    • In "Impression Impossible", Lupin has paid someone to roll a panel aside and declare that Lupin III is handsome.
  • Metallicar Syndrome: Despite being an internationally-wanted criminal, Lupin often drives the very rare Mercedes-Benz SSK. Probably a Justified Trope though, as his desire to show off is at least as powerful a motive as the money from his more spectacular capers.
  • Named Weapon: Goemon has a legendary sword named Nagareboshi, which translates to "falling star". The metal came from the heavens.
  • No-Dialogue Episode: Chapter 89 of the original manga series went entirely without dialogue until the final page (possibly as a homage to cartoons like Tom and Jerry, which the author admits to being a fan of). The sequel series also did it, but in a much more serious way.
  • No Fourth Wall: One of the ways the manga differs from subsequent adaptations is the shameless lack of a fourth wall. From Lupin's quip in chapter 6 that "This manga is very thrilling!" to some stories involving the author as a character (one was just a chapter of Lupin criticizing and abusing the author, the other has Lupin giving the manga-ka a tour of his hideout), to a chapter starring the reader herself.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: Late in the run of the original manga series, Lupin encounters a scientist whose secrets he intends to steal. So, he invites him to dinner to discuss it.
  • Old Cop, Young Cop: Akechi Kogoro is the old cop to Zenigata Koichi's much younger cop. In some adaptations, Zenigata is paired with an older or younger counterpart to serve as a relationship character.
  • Pet the Dog: Despite being more edgy than his anime counterpart, every now and then Lupin will show a softer side, like letting a teenage girl tag along with him for a few days because she's terminally ill and wants to have some fun before she dies. Or doing long-distance surgery on Fujiko to save her life, saving a woman from being raped, or reuniting a man with his kidnapped child.
  • Parody Episode: Frequently. The original manga stories simply used the Arsene Lupin III character as a vehicle to drive a story, through whatever tale Monkey Punch wanted to tell, such as one chapter being a parody of Mission: Impossible.
  • Rated M for Manly: Lupin wants you to believe he is the manliest guy you'd ever find. The Manga fits very well; it is full of Author Appeal for killing and seducing.
  • Recruiting the Criminal: Lupin was hired by the Japanese government to rescue a captured spy and recover the intel said spy was after in return for amnesty for all his crimes up to that point. Here, the reason was simply that Lupin's Impossible Thief talents made him the perfect man for the job; if anyone could covertly steal a prisoner and information from under the nose of somebody who'd already caught a spy and was thus on alert, it would be him.
  • Rogues Gallery:
    • If you look at the series from a law-enforcement perspective, then Lupin, Jigen, Goemon and Fujiko are a recurring Rogues Gallery for Inspector Zenigata. Well, they are criminals, so...
    • On Lupin's end, he has his own list of recurring adversaries across the franchise. These include Zenigata (of course), Rebecca Rossellini, Agent Nyx, Leonardo da Vinci (really), Mr. X, Kyosuke Mamo, and Pycal.
  • Sound-Effect Bleep: A sex scene near the end of the original manga series had various words bleeped out. The scene was interrupted by a fan letter saying, "What the bleep is up with all the bleeps?", with a similarly censored reply.
  • Spin-Offspring: Lupin III Jr., a short-lived manga by Monkey Punch about Lupin's illegitimate son. (And yes, the kid is actually named "Lupin III Jr.", not "Lupin IV")
  • Sdrawkcab Alias: The Grand Finale of the original Lupin III manga series featured the Musical Assassin Ataginez. Of course, it's Inspector Zenigata in disguise.
  • Whole Episode Flashback:
    • Volumes 4 & 5 for one of the Lupin III manga has a few stories starring a teenage Lupin.
    • There's also a story arc about Lupin attending college.

Alternative Title(s): Lupin The Third