So I finished all the Lupin III Movies

I'm a big fan of the Lupin the 3rd series and movies. Created by Monkey Punch (this is a person), Lupin is a legendary thief that often times fall on the righteous side of the story (sort of like Robin Hood). Immediately larger than life, Lupin is almost always prepared, having planned ahead, and sometimes even expecting the most unexpected outcome; only to get away in uncanny fashion from either gangsters, cultists, magicians, demons, or the usual, Zenigata. Zenigata is Lupin's archnemesis, originally part of the Tokyo Police Inspector, he followed his mentor to the ICPO and is dedicated to capture Lupin.

This dynamic is pretty common, but it's only similar on the surface to comparisons like the Pink Panther and inspector Clouseau. Zenigata is very clever, and sometimes almost a worthy adversary, many times having captured Lupin only to be stuck in the same situation; thus having to work together to escape whatever situation they're in.

Recently, I finished all the Lupin the 3rd movies, prompting me to put together a post on my website. To this date, there's (I think) 31 Lupin III movies. Although technically, some of them aren't released as "Movies" (made for TV), and some are directly released to physical media, they're close enough to being movies as most anime goes: it's feature length, it's broadcasted as such even if it wasn't opened in a theatre. Anyways, it's been over a decade and a half that covers what I remember watching Lupin and the Lupin movies (mostly because the availability of some movies are scarce), so there's lots of things I'm sure I don't remember, but the movies are more or less long episodes; some much better than others, some seemed to have gone on for too long (better suited for a 23-ish minute long episode) and some could have gone on for longer.

I've kept some very subjective ratings of all the shows I've watched over the years. Going down to the L's, you'll find the Lupin III movies:

It says there's 32, but the Pilot and "Secret Files" are pretty much the same thing, one a compilation of the other. This covers over 40 years worth of Lupin the 3rd, starting from the Pilot film (1969, 2 years after the start of the manga) to the most recent "The Last Job" (2010). Throughout the course of these movies, 5 manga series, 3 long running TV series, 3 live action adaptations, and a spin-off, the dynamics between the different characters has changed but the personalities of the main characters haven't. Arsene Lupin III is always the smooth mastermind thief with all the tricks, Daisuke Jigen is always the loyal pragmatic crack shot, Goemon Ishikawa XIII is always the quiet perfectionist renegade samurai (a descendant of Ishikawa Goemon), Koichi Zenigata is always the obsessive yet mutually respectful inspector, and finally, there's Lupin's lust interest, Fujiko Mine.

Fujiko Mine's character is probably the one that has the most changes, though her relationship with Lupin has always remained selfishly complicated and one-sided. She's able to get away with it because of her qualities and assets, such as having a nice rack. In a lot of ways, she's similar to a Bond girl and often quite smart and resourceful. Another thing that changes all the time is what Fujiko looks like, her character design has changed drastically when everyone else looks unchanged over the 40+ years. Here's a quick look at the design changes:

Starting from the 1969 Pilot:


To the famous Miyazaki directed 1979, The Castle of Cagliostro


To the 1985, The Legend of the Gold of Babylon


To the 1989, Bye Bye Lady Liberty


To the 1991, Napolean's Dictionary


To the 1998, Tokyo Crisis


To the 2002, First Contact


To the 2007, Elusive Fog


And finally, the 2010, The Last Job


Dumbstruck facial expressions aside, the busty temptress has changed her hairstyles and hair colors; understandable for someone as fashionable as Fujiko. The designs from the Pilot film look the most different but was actually not that far off from the 1967 manga (right). In fact, Fujiko's designs coincide relatively closely to the changes in the manga by the time "World's Most Wanted" manga series was run in 1977, the "Lupin III S and Y" in 1997 and 1998, and "Lupin III M" in 2004. Ok, maybe not M, but other publications such as "Lupin III H" or "Omnibus" (2010, which is actually drawn by a bunch of different artists). In comparison, the male characters have remained largely unchanged; they always look kind of like monkeys with large joints (shoulders/elbows/knees/etc.). That's not a bad thing, it's iconic and it's consistent.

Also to be expected, Fujiko always has a wide variety of attire, and best of all, sometimes no attire at all. It's probably safe to say that every movie has Fujiko naked with strategic "placement" of objects or hands. If not, at the very least we'll see her in her undergarments. On a few occasions, we get to see some frontal nudity, unfortunately, those movies (Secret of Mamo, Secret of Twilight Gemini) aren't very good. She's a typical candidate and fullfils the quota for ecchi fanservice. Though, the more iconic of the outfits are probably her black jumpsuit:

Speaking of good and bad movies, I think I prefer the movies when Fujiko isn't being too self-centered and conniving. Fujiko's personality is hardly a good measure of a good Lupin movie, but she sometimes plays a pretty integral role in the plot and it's a little harder to enjoy the movie when one of its characters gets on your nerves. The Secret of Mamo is a good example of her going overboard. Although it's not uncommon for Fujiko to work with the enemy for her own ends, it seems flat if it constantly happens even at the continual insistence of Jigen and Goemon that he's being used and is going to be betrayed. To make matters worse, she acts mostly like a helpless girl the whole time. There's a lot of good Fujiko movies, though. The Castle of Cagliostro, considered by some the best Lupin movie, and Tokyo Crisis has great Fujiko parts which are meshed into a compelling plot. She's smart, independent, not to be crossed, and although she's after the same thing Lupin is after and sometimes betrays his trust, her motives are usually on a moral high-ground. Fujiko isn't always integral to the plot, though, but the movie can still be good, like The Alcatraz Connection where she's more just along for the ride and Zenigata plays a heavier role.

Overall, I can easily recommend the movies that I gave 8's and 9's to. Tokyo Crisis, Harimao's Treasure, The Fuma Conspiracy, Alcatraz Connection, Sweet Lost Night, Stolen Lupin, Angel Tactics, First Contact, Operation Return the Treasure, Farewell to Nostradamus, Dead or Alive, Red vs. Green, and of course The Castle of Cagliostro, should be enjoyable to any Lupin fan. Recently, The Last Job (2010), and the much anticipated Lupin III vs Detective Conan (2009, a crossover with the also very popular Case Closed franchise) were both a bit disappointing. But I'd highly recommend the Sweet Lost Night (2008) and Red vs Green (2008), the latter having one of the most unique premises for a Lupin movie.

On a side note, there's a new anime series expected this fall.