OK, so he's not James Bond, but he's got just as many tricks up his sleeve (probably more), and an anime fan like myself would rather watch Lupin than James Bond any day (except for You Only Live Twice). Like the Bond movies, the Lupin anime go way back, and Lupin animated features come out in Japan on an almost yearly basis. Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro (1979) is probably the best-known Lupin film, having been directed by Hayao Miyazaki, Japan's most widely-known anime director.
The original Lupin crime/detective stories were written by Maurice LeBlanc. The Lupin III character, the grandson of the original Lupin as written by LeBlanc, was created by manga artist Monkey Punch. Lupin is the world's greatest thief, but he's also... "sooo awesome" according to our president James. What I think he meant to say is that Lupin sometimes finds himself being quite the dashing hero, which belies his thin, green-jacketed frame and chain smoking tendencies. Lupin is armed with unfaltering charm, quick wits, ungodly dexterity, lots of luck, and "anime main character power." He also has mighty friends to aid him in his heists. They include:
Jigen: The sharpshooter in black. He likes to smoke.
Hot on their tails is:
Zenigata: Dogged and relentless Interpol detective sworn to capture Lupin at
This Lupin feature has a unique Miyazaki flavor to it, containing scenes of flight, beautiful shots of the European countryside, and a princess who looks like Nausicaš. The Lupin character in Cagliostro is a bit more warm-hearted than the Lupin in other features, where Lupin carries a gun, shoots people, and is significantly more hard-edged. The green-jacketed Lupin is generally the "nicer" one, whereas the red-jacketed Lupin is generally harsher. As such, Monkey Punch has expressed discontent with the fact that The Castle of Cagliostro, with its "nice" Lupin, is such a well-known movie compared to the other Lupin movies. Nonetheless, The Castle of Cagliostro is a great Lupin film in my opinion, and even if it's relatively simple compared to the later (and weirder) Lupin films, it is well-written and lots of fun.
And finally, I can't end this article without asking the traditional question: "What's with the goats?" [To understand that, see newsletter Volume 3, Issue 14]
[12/2/04 Update: For further articles by Lawrence Eng, see his anime page.]