I have a confession: I have never seen Lupin The 3rd. More accurately, I have never seen the late Monkey Punch’s Lupin The 3rd. I have watched The Castle of Cagliostro (really fun with an all-time third act), but in interviews, Monkey Punch would say it was a good Lupin but not his Lupin. So what does his Lupin look like? It was something that intrigued me, along with my love for the caper genre. I promised myself I would watch the anime and pray for the manga to come stateside. It was like Lupin had written a personal letter to me, saying he would steal my free time. Then and there, I proceeded to… get distracted by the One Piece manga. But Lupin was just playing the long con. Since then, Seven Seas has published Lupin the 3rd: Greatest Heists. After my prayers were finally answered, I decided to pick it up. Now my free time is stolen away. The Greatest Heists is a fun introduction to Lupin proper that has (mostly) aged well.
This manga collection was published in memory of Monkey Punch’s passing. To commemorate his life’s work, the manga publishers put together this collection of past stories. It was meant not just to show his best stories, but also to showcase Lupin The 3rd as a whole. We get a wide buffet of stories. In one story, Lupin could be on an Indiana Jones-style treasure hunt, and in another, he is pulling off a heist during a car race. It keeps you on your toes, as Lupin never does anything the same twice. Monkey Punch packs more twists and turns than a Mission Impossible movie. Certainly lots more unmaskings.
These stories also serve as an excellent introduction to the characters. Monkey Punch was right in saying his Lupin is very different from Cagliostro. Here, Lupin is more conniving and self-centered, especially in his early stories. As a gentleman thief, Lupin emphasizes the thief and not the gentleman. But he is intriguing, as are his methods. When those methods backfire, as they often do, the resulting chaos is hilarious. Zenigata, who I always thought of as a buffoon, is shown as a competent detective who actually succeeds sometimes. Fujioka, Goemon, and Jigen are here, of course, and they are how I always thought of them. Some of the characters in this book are ones I didn’t know existed. One of my favorite stories is about Lupin the Brat, the supposed child of Lupin and Fujiko—as Lupin the Brat tells it; Fujiko thinks differently.
To my surprise, the art is far more cartoony than I was expecting. The characters have exaggerated expressions, more so than in Cagliostro. Jigen, who I always thought of as stoic, is a prime example. I didn’t know he had eyes, but he does, and you see them a lot. He goes bug-eyed when scared or surprised, and he’s not portrayed as the cold-as-ice figure I thought of him as. Even Fukjioka, the confident and self-assured femme fatale, gets the bug-eye expression every once in a while.
Seeing how Monkey Punch’s art evolved over the series was also interesting. The earlier stories are drawn using thin lines and detailed backgrounds. It helps convey the seedy-noir atmosphere that Monkey Punch is clearly going for. There is a story set in a mansion, and the night drawings Money Punch creates set the mood for the dark mystery to come. In stories drawn later in the series, the lines are much thicker and we see more cartoony character expressions. It is cool to see how Monkey Punch changed his style and what aspects he gravitated towards.
As this manga was written back in the 1970s and 80s, there are parts of this manga that haven’t aged well. Namely, the manga’s portrayal of women. They’re objectified to a large degree, and the male characters womanize them. While the situations are similar to what you’d see in an old Bond film, they are much more explicit, exploitive, and edgy for the sake of edginess. These scenes stick out like a sore thumb in otherwise compelling stories. Luckily, these scenes are a rare occurrence.
I am happy that I know what Lupin The 3rd was to Monkey Punch. They are fun caper adventures filled with hilarious cartoon action and memorable characters. They were entertaining and engrossing stories, even with the poorly aged bits. Knowing the basis of Lupin The 3rd gets me excited about all the other interpretations that were built upon it. I want to see the Miyazaki and Takahata-directed episodes in Part 1 and the return to the darker aspects in The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, and everything else. Lupin III, you’ve done it again; you’ve stolen the free time of another fan.
Lupin the 3rd: Greatest Heists -The Classic Manga Collection features story and art by Monkey Punch in this hardcover compilation of some of the finest Lupin III manga ever published.
Master thief Arsène Lupin III, the charming grandson of Arsène Lupin, has been stealing treasures and hearts since Monkey Punch’s original manga series in the 1960s. The capers and adventures of Lupin III—along with his trusted sidekicks and hot-in-pursuit rivals—have turned him into one of the most beloved manga characters of all time. Lupin III’s exploits have been immortalized through decades of multimedia incarnations, including Hayao Miyazaki’s animated film directorial debut, The Castle of Cagliostro, and the stunning 2019 CG animated film Lupin III: The First, newly available in English from GKids.
This special collection of Monkey Punch’s original manga, published in Japan as a tribute to his legacy after his passing in 2019, includes some of the greatest Lupin III manga tales pulled from years of this influential work. Seven Seas will be releasing this one-of-a-kind tome as a beautiful large-trim hardcover for Lupin III’s English-speaking fans.Add to CartLearn More