Though not nearly as popular as Dragon Ball, Pokémon or One Piece, the Lupin series is still one of the longest-running franchises in anime. Originally created by Monkey Punch, the manga was about a genius gentleman thief named Lupin, the grandson of the infamous Arsene Lupin. The series stands out by giving us a morally ambiguous protagonist who steals for fun, flouting both the rules and the law, but never quite becoming frustrating enough to hate.
Though the manga first launched in 1967, the first television series wouldn’t come until 1971. Since then, the character has had no less than six television series, over a dozen films, and multiple OVAs and television specials. This list looks at all of the character’s TV series and shows how they rank, according to the popular website IMDb.
6 LUPIN THE III PART IV – Score 7.7
Subtitled “The Italian Adventure”, this Lupin series came about in the Fall of 2015 in Japan, though it actually aired earlier in Italy, releasing that summer. Brought to life by Telecom Animation Film, the series was directed by Kazuhide Tomonaga, who brought his familiarity with Lupin to the job, as he was best known for Lupin the III: Part II, along with Yuichiro Yano, who’d done work on The Daughter of 20 Faces.
This series is best known for introducing Rebecca Rossellini to the series, a wealthy heiress who becomes Lupin’s wife while also committing thefts not unlike Lupin himself, for the sake of bringing some excitement into her life of upper-class drudgery. The Italian Adventure only ranks a 7.7, which isn’t surprising considering how it tries to add a new character to a decades old cast and immediately grants her top tier importance. In the end, this was our first look at a Lupin series with a focus on the entire cast in the modern era, setting the stage for a much better series later.
5 LUPIN THE III PART V – Score 7.7
The second series in the so-called “Blue Jacket” era, Lupin the III Part V is a far better series than Part IV, though the IMDb score doesn’t seem to reflect that. TMS Entertainment once again returned in the Spring of 2018 to bring us Lupin the III Part 5. The series kept Lupin global, as this time the character found himself in France, attempting to steal digital currency from Marco Polo, a special site existing on the dark web.
Much like the last series, Part 5 introduces a new character in Ami Enan, a genius hacker who was initially locked away while working for Marco Polo, until Lupin helps her escape. Though unlike Part 4, Ami isn’t especially intrusive, spending much of her time in the series serving as help to Lupin and the others.
This series stands out not only because of it’s unique formatting—splitting the 24 episode run into neat arcs interspersed with random stories from prior Lupin eras but also because it delves deep into the relationship of Lupin and Fujiko. It also brings the story into the modern era by talking about how a gentleman thief remains free in the era of Big Brother watching.
4 THE WOMAN CALLED FUJIKO MINE - Score 7.8
The first time Lupin made it back to being a television series in decades...actually wasn’t a series about Lupin at all. Instead, director Sayo Yamamoto (also known for Mitchiko & Hatchin and Yuri on Ice) had her sophomore debut with a series focused entirely on Fujiko. The series premiered in the Spring of 2012, and delved into the First Lady of Anime’s backstory.
The Woman Called Fujiko Mine almost feels like it belongs to an entirely different universe than Lupin however, as it takes on a much darker tone both in terms of art design as well as storytelling. The series is also far more sexually charged, meant to emphasize the natural sexiness of Fujiko and to emulate the original manga series. This is definitely all Fujiko’s show, as the other members of the cast barely appear at all. Experimental as it is, it’s unsurprising that it ranks slightly higher than either of the other Lupin series.
3 LUPIN THE III PART III – Score 7.8
It’s actually pretty surprising the third series rated so well, considering it’s the one thought about the least outside of Japan. The first one at least has the honor of being the original and being a series Hayao Miyazaki worked on. The second is the one that aired on Adult Swim, while Part 4 and Part 5 both aired in the digital, post-Crunchyroll era.
Part III, on the other hand, was an immediate follow up to Part II’s incredible success, but it ran for only a year and had issues because it tried to combine the darker elements of Part I with the more light-hearted bits of Part II, once again trying to lighten the series up in the latter half. Nonetheless, the so-called Pink Jacket era has snagged an impressive 7.8 and serves as a fun snapshot of the early ’80s for Japan.
2 LUPIN THE III PART I – Score 8.0
The Lupin series that started them all. An adaptation of creator Monkey Punch’s popular manga, the series premiered in October of 1971 and ran for 23 episodes. It was directed by Masaaki Osumi, Isao Takahata of Anne of Green Gables fame, and Hayao Miyazaki. Yes, that Miyazaki.
While the series is short, it wasted no time introducing us to everyone: we meet Lupin, grandson of the legendary thief Arsene Lupin, we meet expert crackshot Jigan, and even Lupin’s on-again and (mostly) off-again love interest, Fujiko. We’re also introuced to Goemon, though in this series he’s more of an antagonist to Lupin before joining the gang later on. And of course, we get to meet Inspector Zenigata and watch as he chases his white whale, Lupin, all across the world. Unsurprisingly, the series gets an 8.0 rating, one of the highest of any of the Lupin series.
1 LUPIN THE III PART II – Score 8.1
This series first premiered in 1977 and ran for a much longer 155 episodes, reaching its end in 1980. Bringing us into the “Red Jacket” era and set five years after the original, this series, much like the second half of the original, ignored some of the darker themes Monkey Punch put into his manga but did actually try to adapt several stories out of the manga nonetheless.
The series everyone is the most familiar with, it’s not really surprising that this rates higher than all of the rest. If nothing else, the nostalgia for the early 2000’s Adult Swim block is pretty incredible, which is why the show garners an 8.1, placing it above all the others.