When ranking iconic manga and anime characters, Lupin the Third will make the list without question. The gentleman thief has been getting into outrageous capers for 50 years, and inspiring generations of fans and creators with them. But, appropriate for a criminal man of mystery, we still don't know much about Lupin himself. Aside from his storied heritage and penchant for skirt-chasing, Lupin plays things close to the vest. But just because those facts are hidden, doesn't mean you can't find them if you look. And looked we have.
Here are 10 Facts You Never Knew About Lupin
10 His Literary Influences
Original manga author Monkey Punch drew on a lot of different influences in creating Lupin the Third. The obvious one is Maurice Leblanc's infamous gentleman thief Arséne Lupin, whose novels were hugely popular in Japan. Our Lupin is meant to be the French rogue's grandson.
But Monkey Punch pulled from another classic French tale too, The Three Musketeers. He's said in interviews that he based Lupin and Fujiko Mine's relationship on D'Artagnan and Milady De Winter from Dumas' adventure story. Throw in some James Bond, and out comes Lupin.
9 Lupin And Zenigata Went To College Together
Lupin and Zenigata's ongoing game of Cat & Mouse (literally, Monkey Punch based their rivalry on Tom & Jerry) began before either started their professional careers. One panel of the original manga showed that the two went to the same university together.
It isn't stated which college the two attended, but Zenigata is three years older than Lupin. So he would have been a senior the year Lupin started. Their rivalry wouldn't begin for several years though, so how much their college years played into it isn't clear.
8 The First English Dubs Couldn't Use His Name
If Lupin has a more persistent enemy than Zenigata, it's copyright law. See while Monkey Punch named Lupin after Maurice Leblanc's Arséne Lupin character, and made him his grandson, he didn't ask permission from Leblanc's estate.
This created huge problems whenever Lupin was exported to a country where Leblanc's work was still under copyright. This is why early Lupin dubs called the character either Wolf, the English meaning of his French name, or Rupan, based on romanization of his Japanese name. Some of those dubs are still widely circulated, creating confusion to this day.
7 No One Ever Calls Him By His First Name
As established, Lupin is the grandson of infamous French master thief Arséne Lupin. It's what his name means. He's Arséne Lupin the Third. Yet in Japanese, no one refers to him by his first name. Ever.
In fact, there's only one instance where he's named as Arséne Lupin the Third and it's not even spoken. In the episode "The Girl in the Twin Towers" from Lupin the Third Part V, the most current Lupin series, Lupin's file is shown showing his full name. Even then it's written in English.
6 His Name Is Never Pronounced Correctly
Funimation got some grief from the anime fan community over their dubs of the Lupin TV Specials. For some reason, they had the actors pronouncing Lupin as "Loo-pin", not "Loo-pahn" as is common from previous dubs by Geneon and Discotek. But while the second pronunciation sounds more accurate, it turns out neither one is.
The actual French pronunciation would be "Lieu-pehgn", with the N barely pronounced. Yeah, this is what happens when you translate something from French into Japanese, and then translate it again into English.
5 His Car, Gun, And Smokes Are Real
While some manga and anime characters make do with fictitious equipment, Lupin is not among them. All of his accoutrement are things one could actually find in the real world. His car is a no-brainer. The yellow 1957 Fiat 500, first seen in Castle of Cagliostro, is of course a real car, though pretty rare nowadays.
Lupin's favored gun is a Walther P38, though why he favors it is unknown. But even his cigarettes are a real brand; Gitanes, a French import. That last one backfired on him though as Zenigata used the smokes to track Lupin down once. Notably, all these items fit the character's 1960s creation and retro flair.
4 He's Afraid Of Octopuses
Lupin the Third is a man who willingly throws himself into a lot of dangerous situations. Thanks to careful scheming, nothing much seems to make him afraid. Except for one thing: Octopi. It's not referred to often, and it's never been explained why, but Lupin's fear of octopuses goes back a long way in the character's history. His fear was first established in the first Lupin the Third anime's second episode and has come up a few times since. Oddly, he seems to have no trouble with squid.
3 He Had Long Hair Originally
Lupin's hairdo, especially his trademark monkey-like sideburns, has remained consistent over his entire 50-year career. But originally, he would have looked way different. In the early plans for the manga, creator Monkey Punch drew Lupin with long hair to fit the times, the late 60s. But to give himself less work when drawing, he ended up giving Lupin a shorter cut. A Lupin fansite gave the change greater significance, saying that it showed Lupin as a man not bound by cultural norms.
2 The Manga And Anime Versions Of Lupin Are Way Different
While most anime fans know Lupin as the scoundrel with a heart of gold, his original manga personality was more... adult. In Monkey Punch's manga, Lupin shamelessly hit on and harassed women and was far more callous about the victims of his thefts. In short, a bigger crook.
We can thank Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata for the changes. While working on the first Lupin anime, the future Studio Ghibli founders softened up his personality and made him a more chivalrous guy to appeal to a wider audience.
1 He's Accidentally Responsible For Inspector Gadget's Creation
Here's a wild story. In 1982, TMS Entertainment the company behind the Lupin anime tried teaming up with American cartoon studio DiC, who would later bring Sailor Moon to the States, to create a Lupin the Third spinoff. It would have been called Lupin the Eighth, following Lupin's descendant in the far future and aimed at younger audiences.
The Leblanc estate stepped in over copyright issues (again) and the project fell through. But DiC needed something to come out of the deal, they'd invested too much capital, and so created Inspector Gadget with TMS doing animation. Guess Zenigata isn't enough to catch Lupin.