Lupin III: A Dream of His Life

It’s unfairly hard to dislike Lupin III. He’s one of the most appealing staples of the anime industry, and perhaps that’s due to his inspirations. Manga author Monkey Punch stole the whole idea from Maurice LeBlanc’s Arsene Lupin novels, but the comic-book Lupin III is as much the creation of ‘60s spy noir and MAD Magazine doodles as he is the grandson of the original Lupin. And this gives him an undeniable edge throughout many movies and TV series. Even in the midst of a mediocre Lupin outing (and there are a lot of those), it’s fun just to watch the heroic thief slink around, grin like a moron, help some plucky heroine who he'll never meet again, and perhaps end up saving the world.

Tokyo Movie Shinsha realized Lupin III’s wide promise as he slipped out into North America’s anime market in the 1990s. Even though American anime releases were haphazard back then, many English-speaking fans were introduced to Lupin through his best films: Soji Yoshikawa's cynical, chaotic Mystery of Mamo and Hayao Miyazaki’s endearing Castle of Cagliostro. But there’s much more to the Lupin III franchise than two films, and TMS wanted everyone to know that.

The following is a pamphlet that TMS presumably put together for the Tokyo International Anime Fair and other such gatherings. I can’t be sure when it was printed, but I suspect it was drawn up before FUNimation and Geneon licensed large pieces of the Lupin III pie. It shills the first three Lupin III TV series, providing a good look at the character’s evolution. The text…well, it could’ve used some editing. Yet it captures the charm of a Lupin III caper in an odd little way.

The pitch begins with a nice collage that shows Jigen, Goemon, and Fujiko clustered under Lupin III, the “Greatest Thief of Century.” Of note is the comparatively reserved Fujiko. Most Lupin promos put her front and center in some revealing attire, but perhaps TMS didn’t want to scare off skittish foreign investors.