The Adventures of Lupine III – the 1971 animated series
The anime television series “The Adventures of Lupine III” is based on the manga “Lupine III” by Monkey Punch and was first broadcast in Japan in 1971. The main character, Arsenius Lupine III, is a wanted international thief, flanked by his right-hand man Daisuke Jigen and the beautiful manipulator Fujiko Mine. After numerous clashes with the samurai Goemon Ishikawa XIII, the latter becomes part of the gang. The protagonists are constantly pursued by Inspector Koichi Zenigata of Interpol.
The series was directed by Masaaki Ōsumi, Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, and stands out for its attention to detail, both graphic and in the stories. It was the first anime series aimed at an adult audience, with complex characters and stories and realism.
In Italy, the series was broadcast for the first time in 1979 on various local television stations and subsequently replicated, also with the title "Lupin, the incorrigible Lupine". It was dubbed in both 1979 and 1987, with variations in the cast and translation, but only in 2021 was it fully replicated and remastered on Italia 2.
The series features several theme songs, both Japanese and Italian, written and composed by different authors and sung by various artists. Home video editions have also been released in several formats, including VHS, DVD and Blu-ray Disc.
The story of Lupine III
The animated series “The Adventures of Lupine III” is a fascinating blend of action, comedy and adventure, which has captured the imagination of viewers of all ages. Based on the Monkey Punch manga, the series follows the story of Arsenius Lupine III, the charismatic and cunning nephew of the famous gentleman thief Arsenius Lupine.
The Protagonists: Lupine and his Gang
Arsenio Lupine III is the undisputed protagonist of the series: an internationally renowned thief, known for his intelligence, his charisma and his skill in theft. Alongside him, we find a cast of equally fascinating characters. Daisuke Jigen, his right-hand man, is a sharpshooter with an unerring aim, famous for his ability to empty the magazine in an instant. The beautiful and mysterious Fujiko Mine is often at the center of the plots, manipulating the situations of her and Lupine, who is madly in love with her.
Goemon's Entrance and Rivalry with Zenigata
The gang is enriched with the entry of Goemon Ishikawa XIII, a samurai with superhuman speed and unparalleled mastery with the Zantetsuken katana. Initially an adversary, Goemon becomes a valuable ally for Lupine and his group. In constant pursuit of the gang is Inspector Koichi Zenigata of Interpol, whose main objective is to capture Lupine and his accomplices.
The Plot: A Balance between Comedy and Action
The series is characterized by a perfect balance between comic elements and breathtaking action scenes. Each episode is a new adventure, often centering on a daring heist or an intricate heist plan. The dynamics between the characters, especially the relationship between Lupine and Fujiko, add depth to the narrative, mixing romance, betrayal and loyalty.
The animated series “Lupine III”, based on the Monkey Punch manga, has become an icon of Japanese pop culture and a point of reference in the world of animation. His production, full of twists and innovations, tells a fascinating story of creativity, challenges and revolutionary changes in the animation landscape.
The Dawn: The Pilot Film and Sugii's Vision
The idea of adapting the manga “Lupine III” into an animated format was suggested by Gisaburō Sugii to Yutaka Fujioka, founder of Tokyo Movie Shinsha. To finance the project, a theatrical pilot film was created by Sugii, Yasuo Ōtsuka, Tsutomu Shibayama, and Osamu Kobayashi, under the supervision of Masaaki Ōsumi. This pilot film was intended to generate interest and obtain funding for the series.
Ōtsuka's Contribution and Drucker's Influence
Yasuo Ōtsuka, after leaving Toei Animation to join A Production, played a crucial role in the development of the project. His experience in weapons and transportation was fundamental to the animation. The production team extensively studied Monkey Punch's work and the influence of American cartoonist Mort Drucker, analyzing the characters from all angles.
The Transition to TV and the Financing of Yomiuri TV
A year after the still unsold pilot film, the project was adapted for television. In 1971, Yomiuri TV financed the series, which was initially planned for 26 episodes. At this point, only Ōtsuka and Ōsumi were still at TMS, with Ōsumi directing and Ōtsuka serving as character designer.
The Change of Directors: The Entrance of Miyazaki and Takahata
After the second episode aired, Ōsumi was fired due to his refusal to edit the series. Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, who had recently moved to A Production, were chosen as his replacements. However, their direction was not officially credited, and many episodes were a mix of influences between Ōsumi, Takahata and Miyazaki.
Revolutionizing Lupine III: The Touch of Miyazaki and Takahata
Miyazaki and Takahata made numerous changes to the series, removing Fujiko's "cheap" eroticism and giving the characters a more positive outlook. Lupine became carefree and optimistic, while Jigen was transformed into a cheerful companion. These changes led to a duality in graphics and a lack of visual unity, but they helped define the series' unique style.
A Pioneer of Adult Animation
“Lupine III” was the first anime series aimed at an adult audience, presenting complex characters and complex stories, with a strong focus on realism. The series paid particular attention to the details of vehicles, weapons, and consumables, which were only approximated in the manga.
The production of “Lupine III” represents a significant chapter in the history of Japanese animation. The series not only introduced a new level of realism and complexity to the world of anime, but also marked the beginning of the careers of legendary figures such as Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. “Lupine III” remains an emblematic example of how creative vision and the courage to innovate can transform a project into a lasting cultural phenomenon. In conclusion, “The Adventures of Lupine III” is a highly successful anime series, appreciated for its originality, realism and attention to detail, in addition to its ability to entertain audiences of all ages.
- Original title: The Adventures of Lupine III
- Original Broadcast Period: October 24, 1971 - March 26, 1972
- Number of Episodes: 23 (Complete Series)
- Duration per Episode: About 22 minutes
- Format: 4:3
- Directed by:
- Masaaki Ōsumi (episodes 1-7, 9, 12)
- Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata (episodes 8, 10-11, 13-23)
- Manufacturers: Yutaka Fujioka, Hisashichi Sano
- Subject: Sōji Yoshikawa
- Character Design: Yasuo Ōtsuka
- Artistic direction:
- Hideo Chiba (episodes 1-6)
- Masato Itō (episodes 7-23)
- Music: Takeo Yamashita
- Animation Studio: tokyo movie
- Original Transmission Network: Yomiuri Telecasting Corporation
Distribution in Italy
- Italian network: Local televisions
- First TV in Italy: 1979
- Number of Episodes in Italy: 23 (Complete Series)
- Italian Dubbing Studio: Tecnosound
- Italian Dubbing Directorate: Amerigo Latini
“The Adventures of Lupine III” is a Japanese animated series that follows the adventures of the gentleman thief Arsenius Lupine III, nephew of the famous Arsenius Lupine. The series is known for its blend of action, adventure and comedy, and for its iconic characters. The direction passed from Masaaki Ōsumi to Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, two key figures in Japanese animation, who contributed to giving a distinctive imprint to the series. The series was broadcast for the first time in Italy in 1979, becoming a classic loved by several generations of viewers.