Lupin actually began as a series of stories written by French author Maurice LeBlanc. An aristocrat, yet a thief, the original Lupin would send warning notes to his proposed victims telling them when he would strike and also including a list of what he would steal. The inevitably inept police officers were always notified, yet Lupin somehow always managed to successfully complete his mission. The Japanese manga was actually written by Katou Kazuhiko (a.k.a. Monkey Punch) and first appeared in 1967. It was racy and had lots of allusions to sex, drinking, shooting, and violence -- the works. The first animated TV series was actually closer to the original manga in form and showed a much more ruthless Lupin who had no compunctions about blowing up lots of innocent bystanders to get what he wanted. The later TV series began portraying Lupin as a nicer bad guy who doesn't kill without really good reason, and someone with a big streak of compassion in him. The first TV series and manga showed how Lupin met the others in the series -- Jigen Daisuke, Ishigawa Goemon, Mine Fujiko, and of course, Zenigata Keibu. Here is a short background on these main characters:
Lupin III: He is supposedly the grandson of the original Arsene Lupin and obviously the third in a line of thieves with the same name. He wears his hideously colorful clothes at all times, complete with tie and sports jacket, and always seems to have some random gadget up his sleeve. Infatuated with Fujiko, he is unendingly frustrated by the fact that he seldom ever manages to lure her into bed.
Jigen Daisuke: A dead shot with his trusty little gun, Jigen is pretty much a loner who hangs out with Lupin occasionally. Like Lupin, he always wears his trademark dark suit and hat, and he is so easily recognizable by his beard and the smoking cigarette between his teeth. You rarely ever get to see his eyes, as they are usually hidden either by the rim of his hat or his shaggy hair.
Ishigawa Goemon: Even more of a loner than Jigen, Goemon has a pretty hideous sense of fashion, too. Well, outdated sense of fashion, actually. He always wears his old samurai clothes, complete with straw sandals (and straw hat when traveling). A master swordsman, he uses a katana that can cut through steel and was reputedly forged from the metal of a meteor. His character is (very) loosely based upon a Japanese historic figure of the same name who lived back in the 1600's and was also something of a Robin Hood. Goemon is always in control of himself, and it was amusing to see him very flustered in a previous movie where his katana was stolen. His katana, Zantetsuken, is basically his life.
Heiji Zenigata: No Lupin show would ever be complete without this lovable, loud, incompetent fool of an inspector. This man is seriously obsessed with the dream (impossible though it may be) of arresting Lupin and putting him, or more like keeping him, behind bars. Affiliated with Interpol so that he can chase Lupin all over the world, Zenigata is forever just one step behind. Obsessed, incompetent, surprisingly scrupulous about some ethics and completely uncaring about others, he is one hell of an amazing character. Usually known as Zenigata Keibu (Police Inspector Zenigata), he is supposedly (again, very) loosely based upon a legendary crime-fighter character of the same name whose trademark weapon was throwing old Chinese coins, the round kinds with square holes in them. Supposedly, these coins would hit so hard that they would leave a mark on the victim's forehead, identifying who had brought them down. Unfortunately, the Zenigata in Lupin seems unable to do the same.
Mine Fujiko: An impossibly voluptuous woman who uses everything (I mean everything) she has to get what she wants. Also a thief, she often finds herself chasing the same treasure as Lupin. She often leads Lupin around by the nose to get what she needs (usually information) and dumps him whenever it is convenient. Probably the only recurring character in Lupin who doesn't have a signature outfit, Fujiko is far more successful than the scruffy Lupin gang in going undercover and uses her charm even to occasionally save herself from arrest by Zenigata.
Tonight, you will be seeing the latest in a long series of TV movies that come out every summer: Walther P-38. The title refers to a gun that Lupin used to use a while back, and as with all Lupin movies, this one starts off with a bang. The story revolves around a secret guild of assassins, the Tarantulas, who live on a protected island and are sponsored by big political figures all over the world. For several reasons, the Lupin gang become involved with the assassins, one of which having something to do with Lupin's past. However, the more we learn of the Tarantulas, and of the beautiful assassin Elen, the more there seems to discover. There are many subtle hints in the movie, some of them explained only towards the end, and many masterful twists in the story. It is a superbly well done Lupin movie, and I think I would put it up there with my favorites. So buckle up as you follow Lupin & Co. into the heart of the Tarantula's stronghold.