a.k.a. Rupan Sansei
The grandson of notorious gentleman-thief Arsène Lupin may not have the self-control and elegance of his ancestor but he makes up for that in spades with cunning, ingenious gadgets and the Devil’s luck. On top of that, his friend and partner in crime, Jigen, packs some heavy artillery and knows how to use it. However, Lupin III’s soft spot for woman, and particularly the dazzling Fujiko, will often cost him the treasures he so swiftly seizes from his pre-warned victims. Try as he might, Zenigata, an inspector who dedicates his life to the capture of Lupin III, has tricks of his own… but is always one step behind.
summary by Kjeldoran
Highs: Fun-factor at an all-time high; crafty escapes and burglary; interesting plot devices
Lows: Repetitive and grating soundtrack; predictable at times
The mother of all Lupin anime. Excluding its pilot film, this is the oldest Lupin you can find and has an important place amongst the most influential anime in history. Being accustomed to movie-length features, this series was a welcomed change of pace and superseded my high expectations.
Most episodes are based on the same premise of Lupin stealing a precious artifact right under the nose of the ever-vigilant Zenigata, only to be double-crossed by Fujiko, who in turn must be incredibly rich by the end of the series. Yet, the fact that this anime was divided between 13 screenwriters made every episode as unique as it is fun. However, the more familiar you get with characters, the easier it is to predict their next move or which side they are on. Surprises outweigh predictions, thankfully. It is not a matter of who will win, but how they will pull it off.
A few changes came to pass when Miyazaki Hayao and Takahata Isao replaced Osumi Masaki as directors for fifteen of the 23 episodes: Fujiko seemed to get her clothes ripped off less often and Lupin must have gotten a more flame-retardant jacket. Both approaches have their highs and lows, but I tend to prefer the legendary duo’s style because of the animation being a cut above. Nothing close to Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro, of course, but satisfactory, especially when considering it was made in 1971. Where the age was perhaps an influential factor was in the music. Not always fitting or agreeable, the same songs are used constantly throughout the series. After watching anime like Cowboy Bebop and Hellsing where songs outmatch episodes three to one, hearing the same tunes over and over can get irritating.
Basically, if you were never fond of the Lupin formula in the first place, this one will most likely not change your mind. It is, however, a must-see for fans of the maladroit thief or any of his associates… not only because of its historical significance but also because of its quality, which is still up to par after over three decades.
Lupin III can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.