The glorious glut of content at the average person’s disposal is staggering, to the point where everyone, even myself, need to prioritize. I don’t have the time or resources to get to everything right as it comes out, often things get shuffled into a rotating mental queue and I get to them when I can. Only a few shows/properties shoot to the top of my must watch list no matter what else is going on in my life and one of those is without a doubt anything Lupin The 3rd.
I am an unabashed fan of the Lupin The 3rd franchise, ever since episodes of Part 2 (1977-1980) started showing on Adult Swim back in 2003. Starting back with the original manga by Monkey Punch in 1967, Lupin the 3rd is one of the most popular and internationally recognized bits of Japanese pop culture today with multiple movies, comics, video games, and television series starring Lupin the 3rd (suggested to be the grandson of turn of the classic French novelist Maurice Leblanc’s famous thief, Arsène Lupin) and his globetrotting gang as they pull elaborate heists. It’s all the cool heist and espionage entertainment flavor of the 60’s and 70’s blended together and then put through a filter of the Looney Tunes and Mad Magazine. Let me put it another way, if you love James Bond movies, even when they get more than a little goofy and weird, then the adventures of Lupin and his cohorts are your jam.
The first episode has already aired on Japanese TV and is available over on Crunchyroll for legal streaming with subtitles. I’m sure once a full dub is done it will make its way over to other sites like Funimation and then over to Adult Swim for a proper US TV run, but I’ll be damned if I want to wait that long. One of the main themes of this run, one I couldn’t be more excited about, is how modern technology has impacted what Lupin does and our world at large. The first ep is all about getting to a top level hacker so that they can rob a massive drug cartel’s bitcoin account. To strike back the cartel uses social media to gamify hunting down Lupin. What does the flashy gentleman thief do when every person with mobile devise leaves him one step closer to a jail cell or a bullet?
Not everything about this series is perfect though. TMS, as always, is on hand to do the animation and said animation on the episodes themselves looks amazing, but the opening credits sequence (see above) leaves me cold. Given this part is to be primarily based in France I understand why they went with a more static and painted style this time around, but it undersells the animation of the episodes and feels stale and dated. The arrangement of the classic Lupin theme, a snappy jazz tune that I rank as perhaps the greatest TV theme of all time, does just enough to keep with the French vibe, but that about it. To have a lackluster title sequence, a spot in most shows that usually has a higher level of animation and music production then the actual episodes is a weird state of affairs, but there you go. I’m not telling you to go and search out all the crazy good openings and theme arrangements for this series so you can see and hear for yourself… no,wait, that is in fact exactly what I’m doing. Happy hunting!
Intro aside, I couldn’t be more on board with Lupin being back. I am ecstatic to once again strap myself in to go on the roller coaster that is Lupin The 3rd and go for a ride.
Lupin The 3rd © Monkey Punch
All Images © TMS