Lupin III

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Gold: Lupin, Red: Fujiko, Purple: Goemon, Green: Zenigata, Blue: Jigen

Lupin III is a direct descendant of the Gentleman Thief Arsène Lupin, hero of a series of French novels by Maurice LeBlanc. Like his famous grandfather, he's a cunning, lady-killing master thief who's never been caught. He has a lot less finesse than his ancestor, with a penchant for such over-the-top crimes as stealing valuable art under high security, or even entire national landmarks. His occasional lack of subtlety even extends to his dealings with the ladies, where he's more of a Handsome Lech than Casanova.

Lupin pulls off an array of capers with Jigen Daisuke, his sly gunman partner, that constantly baffle Inspector Zenigata, an Interpol agent who has dedicated himself to tracking down Lupin and his gang. Failing that, Zenigata is willing to settle in the meantime for the various other criminals who either find Lupin meddling in their schemes, or are after the same prize as our anti-hero. This string of successful high profile arrests could in turn explain why the detective is still on Lupin's case.

Depending on the story, Lupin may be the head of a four-man "gang" consisting of sharpshooter Jigen, master swordsman Goemon Ishikawa XIII (a descendant of the famous Japanese folk-hero of the same name) and Fujiko Mine, infamously overstacked femme fatale (her name means "Twin Peaks") Lupin's sometime-ally, sometime-rival, and sometime-love interest. Even after the gang breaks up (which happens frequently), Lupin and Jigen always stick together, and the other two are usually shoehorned into any adventures that crop up.

Lupin III is something of an Anime icon. The franchise started with the manga by Kazuhiko Katō (who goes by the pen name "Monkey Punch") in the 1960s. The character first appeared on August 10, 1967. The original series ended in 1972, but several subsequent ones followed. Lupin and company have gone to star in three television series (with, for the first time in twenty-seven years, a fourth on the way) and countless movies, including The Castle of Cagliostro, the directorial film debut of the legendary Hayao Miyazaki. If Dragon Ball is the classic Shonen, this is the classic Seinen.

For some time (since 1989), it has been a standing tradition on Japanese TV for a new Lupin Made for TV Movie to premiere annually. A new series called The Woman Named Fujiko Mine began in 2012, the first one in 27 years.

An ongoing attempt to recap the series can be found here.

Either accidentally or intentionally, the delightfully campy American Bruce Willis (no, really!) vehicle Hudson Hawk has a number of similarities to Lupin III.

Has nothing to do with the Harry Potter character, or Dennis Moore.

Tropes used in Lupin III include:
  • Abridged Series: KaiserNeko's brilliant but sadly short-lived one, which tackled eight episodes from Shin Lupin III, including the infamous Nazi one. Episodes can be found scattered around YouTube.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Goemon's traditionally-made katana, Zantetsuken. Various explanations are given as to why it is so sharp, but generally it's just assumed to be due to the unusual metal of the sword.
  • Action Girl: Fujiko, although it varies. Early on, she was often a Damsel in Distress, but later works have made her the Action Girl to contrast with the Girl of the Week that Lupin is chasing.
  • Adaptation Distillation:
    • The otherwise awesome manga often implied Lupin was a rapist. This was changed in the anime.
    • The Lupin of The Castle of Cagliostro has even less resemblance to the Lupin of Monkey Punch's comics. It is still a great movie in its own right.
    • The anime also isn't as wacky as the manga, although whether or not this is bad depends on the viewer.
  • Affectionate Parody: Of Arsène Lupin, obviously. The manga also spoofs Mission: Impossible in one chapter, while the anime has parodied the Pink Panther movies, Superman, The F.B.I, and many others throughout its run.
  • The Alleged Car: Averted, given that the yellow Fiat 500 which appears now and then as the gang's vehicle of choice proves to be utterly dependable, and thanks to its compact size allows some spectacular detours where pursuing police cruisers just can't go. In contrast, Lupin's other standard car, a Mercedes SSK, gets blown up. A lot. Especially hilarious when you consider how they're now one of the rarest cars in the world.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Goemon and Zenigata, on and off, in the early manga, TV series, and movies.
  • Animation Bump:
    • Several episodes of series 2 (72, 77, 82, 84, 99, 105, 143, 145, 151, 153, 155), three movies (Recap, The Castle of Cagliostro and Farewell To Nostradamus), The Fuma Conspiracy, and three specials (Elusiveness Of The Fog, Play The Lupin (a batch of music videos that were released on DVD and Blu-Ray) and Blood Seal Eternal Mermaid) were done by Telecom Animation Film.
    • Telecom has also worked on The Legend Of The Gold Of Babylon (Backgrounds, Key, In-Between and Finish Animation), Seven Days Rhapsody (Key Animation by Toshihiko Masuda) and Sweet Lost Night (Backgrounds) as well.
    • The Oh! Production episodes of the 2nd series that (pre Telecom) Kazuhide Tomonaga did Key Animation on (which are episodes 4, 8, 14, 20, 25, 31 and 63, he was also stationed at Oh! Production for Mystery Of Mamo as well) and Hayao Miyazaki's stuff (manly series 2 episodes 145 and 155 and The Castle Of Cagliostro, he also worked on the first series as well).
    • Secret of Twilight Gemini has noticeably smooth animation as well.
    • The Pursuit of Harimao's Treasure may have the smoothest animation in the series, to date.
  • Antagonist in Mourning: Zenigata, on occasion.
    • Lupin himself does this in the second anime, when he believes that Zenigata has drowned, and in the 2010 TV special The Last Job in which Zenigata was apparently killed by the Big Bad in the first ten minutes of the show.
    • In Mystery of the Fuma Clan, Zenigata has actually quit his job and become a Buddhist monk because he believes Lupin to be dead. When asked why, he says that if he prays enough, Lupin may be reincarnated as a law-abiding man.
  • Anti-Hero: Lupin and the gang are still thieves, even though they are fundamentally decent people. The villains they face are more often than not Complete Monsters that make their comparatively harmless thefts seem benign in comparison, or they can more than afford what he steals, especially if it's insured. In one case in particular Lupin reasoned that he was actually doing the victim a favor, since the insurance payout would be greater than the worth of the object stolen.
  • Art Evolution: Between series, Fujiko often gets a redesign. Sometimes even within series! By the middle of series 3, the designs for all of the main cast has significantly changed from the squarer-jaws in the opening credits to a thinner, more angular face. Whether this is actual evolution, devolution, or just Off-Model is left as an exercise to the viewer.
  • Asshole Victim: Related to Lupin's desire for challenge, he limits himself to stealing from "people who can afford the loss", "Dangerous killers", and "jerks" (frequently, he claims to only rob from people who are all three of the above). Zenigata has used this as a clue to sniff around the client whom Lupin has forewarned.
  • Author Filibuster: The 2008 special Recap, targeted at nuclear weapons, bizarrely.
  • Badass: Pretty much all five main characters.
  • Bad Bad Acting: Zenigata at the end of The Castle of Cagliostro, complete with Lampshade Hanging from the head of the ICPO, who is watching the events live on TV.
  • Battle Butler: Jodo in The Castle of Cagliostro. He is head of the nation's ninja-expies.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy:
    • The manga averts this one by replacing genitalia with gender symbols. However, the anime, especially the second series, uses it quite a bit. Especially when Fujiko is involved.
    • Finally averted in The Secret of Twilight Gemini, of which there is a censored and uncensored version. The uncut version features several topless scenes, and two discretion shots, but narrowly avoids showing full frontal nudity.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: along with Latex Perfection, and the Indy Ploy this is one of Lupin's favorite gimmicks, sometimes he'll combine them all into a single Crazy Awesome Crowning Moment of Funny.
  • Black Comedy Rape: This happens quite often in the manga.
  • Non Sequitur Scene Episode]]: The second series was especially prone to these. Having to release a new episode every week for three years meant they couldn't all be winners. Such as the one where Lupin wants to steal a cat who eats nothing but pencil shavings. Or the one where he decides to go to the moon using a popcorn-powered rocket. Or the one where he steals a diaper so an old lady can write a newspaper article. No, these are not the results of some random generator somewhere.
  • Blind Without'Em: One episode reveals that Jigen's perfect aim is due to his sighting along the brim of his hat—he's lucky if he can hit the broad side of a barn without it. On the other hand, other episodes have shown him shooting perfectly without his hat.
  • But He Sounds Handsome: Lupin does this whenever he walks through an area where the police are looking for him while in disguise.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Lupin is half French/Japanese, and the manga-exclusive character Melon Cop, whose father was Japanese-American. There is also extensive debate over whether or not Jigen is actually Japanese at all, given his awkward and inconsistent name structure and shady past (even by Lupin's standards).
  • Butt Monkey: Especially in the second series, Zenigata fills this role. This comes from trying to explain why Lupin is never caught, despite all the chances he gets. He tends to switch between "incompetent Idiot Hero" and plain "Overshadowed by Awesome". Most of the post-2000 Lupin films have him learning Lupin's old tricks (showing him to be competent) and Lupin still making a fool out of him by being one more step ahead.
  • By Wall That Is Holey: Operation: Return the Treasures
  • The Caper: Comes into play in every Lupin movie. Frequently an episode plot. Tends to start serious, but switches to comedic quickly.
  • Caper Crew
    • Lupin: The Mastermind + Coordinator of the group's activities, he's also their Gadget Guy, a master Con Artist, and an accomplished Pickpocket. See also: Master of Disguise.
    • Jigen: Lupin's right hand man and lifelong Partner In Crime. Also serves as the Driver and the Muscle.
    • Goemon: The group's other Muscle, though he's an impossibly skilled swordsman rather than a thug.
    • Fujiko: Lupin's on-again/off-again gal pal. Occasional Partner in Crime and a highly skilled Cat Burglar, but has been known to serve as the Distraction or their Inside Woman when the job requires it.
  • Car Skiing: Happens often in car chases. In Elusiveness Of Fog, Lupin manages it on top of a guardrail that had fallen off a cliff.
  • Chained Heat: Lupin and Inspector Zenigata in the series. Almost literally at the end of The Secret of Mamo.
  • Chiaroscuro: The Castle Of Cagliostro uses this extensively around the wedding.
  • Characterization Marches On: Early in the stories (such as the 1969 pilot anime) Goemon—and to a lesser extent, Jigen—had fairly different roles. In the 1969 pilot, Goemon was out to kill Lupin. And in some early stories the only reason why Jigen would get remotely close to Lupin to have the chance to kill him. It's kind of a surprise, looking back, considering how loyal to him they became later on. Now only Fujiko has the disloyal trait.
  • The Charmer: Although Lupin has a love of disguises and fancy gadgets (the more complex, the better) this is his real skill.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Fujiko. To the point where Jigen and Goemon complain whenever she worms her way into the recent heist, warning Lupin that she will betray them somehow. Generally entirely forgiven. If not anticipated.
  • Climb Slip Hang Climb: In Episode Zero, Inspector Zenigata slips on the rocks as he chases Lupin.
  • Cloning Blues: The plot of the first Lupin movie, The Secret of Mamo, involves cloning—including a question about whether it was the dead Lupin in the prologue that was the clone...
  • Cold Sniper: Daisuke Jigen. Outside of battle, however, he's a sardonic Deadpan Snarker - no-one can be completely serious around Lupin, after all.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Pretty much everyone, although Lupin and Fujiko are probably the biggest offenders when it comes to flat-out fightin' dirty.
  • Comic Book Time:
    • Lupin has been active since the 1960s, and doesn't seem to have aged at all. This can easily be explained by a floating timeline, but his grandfather is still canonically Arsene Lupin, who was born in 1874. This is just this side of possible (if we assume his grandfather and father were both well into middle age when they had children, and that Lupin himself is in his forties, and he certainly doesn't look it). And needless to say it gets a little less likely every year. Either one of the Lupins stole the secret to the Fountain of Youth at some point, or he should be Lupin IV or V by now.
    • Gets really complicated when they start referencing past events. Fortunately, Negative Continuity is in play.
  • Completely Different Title:
    • In France, Lupin is called Edgar for legal reasons.
    • And in America, up until the original Arsene Lupin stories went public domain, the show was released under "Rupan III" or "The Wolf".
  • Composite Character: The second manga series introduced a character named "Melon Cop" who had incredible accuracy with throwing handcuffs. This ability was given to Zenigata starting with the second anime series.
  • Conspicuous CG: In the OVA Return of Pycal, pretty much every interior shot of Pycal's hideout was done with mediocre CG.
  • Continuity Nod: The series rarely does these (or has much continuity in the first place), but it's been known to happen. For example, Mamo has Lupin making a passing reference to Pycal's levitation trick.
  • Contract on the Hitman: In the first volume of the Manga, Lupin paid a hitman to literally take out a contract on himself.
  • Cool Airship: The first feature-length TV special, Goodbye Lady Liberty, centers around Lupin stealing the Statue of Liberty, no less, using a giant balloon. The series being what it is, balloons or airships have been used on a number of occasions, such as in The Stolen Lupin.
  • Crazy Prepared: Lupin always seems to have some bizarre escape plan just when he needs it for an escape. In the manga, at least in earlier chapters, it feels more like a reliance on Ass Pulls. It's lampshaded in the second Red Jacket episode:

Fujiko: Lupin, you wouldn't happen to have a backup-backup-plan, would you?
Lupin: Oh, sure, just turn around while I pull it out of the usual place!

  • Crime-Time TV: Lupin fits in the Con Man and Gentleman Thief category, showing it doesn't have to be a one-or-the-other approach. The films tend to focus on the "help the police catch the really bad guys" variant.
  • Crossover:
    • Lupin III vs Detective Conan. Not only works, but also feels like a remake of The Castle of Cagliostro. Go figure.
    • One could argue this is the premise of the series itself: Lupin from Arsène Lupin, Zenigata from "ZENIGATA HEIJI COVERS ALL OF EDO", Jigen from any American Western, Goemon from Japanese folk legends, and Fujiko is your standard Bond Girl.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Many people underestimate Lupin because of his smartass attitude, and come to regret it. Zenigata also gets underestimated by bad guys, only to find out the hard way that he's (sometimes) head inspector of Interpol for a reason (Judo black belt, anyone?).
  • Crying Wolf: Played with in a manga chapter and the first series episode based on it, in which Lupin intentionally causes this effect. While he's in prison, he keeps claiming that he isn't really Lupin, until everyone gets sick of it and stops listening. On the day of his execution, he switches places with a guard, who gets dragged off protesting that he isn't Lupin—and, of course, no one believes him.
  • Cryptid Episode: Fujiko's singing voice attracts the Loch Ness Monster.
  • Darker and Edgier: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine compared to the other recent stories.
  • Delayed Causality: Every time Goemon cuts "a worthless object" with his sword Zantetsuken. The damage is usually shown after Goemon returns the sword to its sheath with a modest click.
  • Denser and Wackier: The third anime series and Legend Of The Gold Of Babylon.
  • Depending on the Writer: Is Lupin a Villain Protagonist or a Charming Anti-Hero? Is Lupin incredibly lecherous, or a gentleman like his grandfather? Is Zenigata a competent officer, or a bumbling buffoon?
  • Depending on the Artist: The character designs vary wildly between iterations.
    • Sometimes Lupin has a Lantern Jaw of Justice, sometimes not.
    • Fujiko is also a big offender. It seems like a lot of artists just draw the hottest female they can think of. Bustiness is the only trait they all have in common.
  • The Determinator: Zenigata. Any criminal other than Lupin would have been caught AGES ago. He's SO determined, just hearing Lupin's name has actually snapped him back to life. Multiple times! Take pity on the people who were around him, as he tends to mistake one of them for Lupin.
  • Disney Acid Sequence:
    • A pretty literal example, as it's a direct homage to decades of Disney animation. In the "Little Princess of Darkness" episode from the second anime, Lupin pursues a little girl who has stolen a stamp from him into a Disneyland-esque theme park. They get on a model train ride and things get trippy; the girl gets onto the Dumbo flying elephant ride, which proceeds to come to life and fly away for real, and then escapes in Cinderella's pumpkin-coach, while Lupin gives chase on one of the merry-go-round horses from Mary Poppins. Zenigata shows up dressed as one of the Indians from Peter Pan, and fires arrows at him. Lupin chases the girl into the castle from Sleeping Beauty, and is confronted with the living cards from Alice in Wonderland. Then reality returns, and it is revealed that they are still on the train, with the whole sequence apparently only happening in the girl's head. Also qualifies as a Non Sequitur Scene.
    • Parodied to hilarious effect in the corresponding Abridged Series episode when part of it is set to "The White Cliffs of Dover" while the girl stares into space.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Jigen goes through this trope fairly often, which has earned him the Fan Nickname of "lounge king".
  • Damsel in Distress: Clarisse, Murasaki, Fujiko (sometimes)... you can pretty much take your pick here. There's one in pretty much every Lupin movie or TV special, in fact; they often start out distrusting Lupin but come over to his side by the end.
  • Double Entendre: Often.

Fujiko Mine: (While undercover and noticing the type of carpet in the room): I just love a good shag.

    • Hell, her very name basically translates to Twin Peaks.
  • Downer Ending: In Memory of the Walther P-38.
  • Dressing as the Enemy:
    • Lupin is a master of disguise, so he engages in this often. His favorite disguise is apparently Zenigata.
    • Fujiko, to a lesser extent, though hers aren't always as successful.
  • Due to the Dead: After he apparently dies in The Last Job, Zenigata is buried with full honors in a police graveside service.
  • Effeminate Misogynistic Guy:
    • The Secret of Twilight Gemini has Sadachiyo "the Scorpion," an effeminate Camp Gay assassin with long black hair, nail polish, and makeup. Lupin even referred to him as "that sissy assassin." Sadachiyo also has neither respect or patience for women, as seen in his treatment of Lara. And again when he confronts, and later tortures, Fujiko.
    • The villain from The Pursuit of Harimao`s Treasure is basically a narcissistic gay Nazi. When Fujiko interacts with him you can clearly see that he treats her with barely contained disgust. She weaponizes this in the climax by kissing him on the lips, causing him to run away screaming in disgust.
  • Enemy Mine: Lupin frequently helps Zenigata catch more malicious criminals.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Zenigata hardly ever comes close to catching Lupin, and when he does, Lupin quickly escapes.
  • Fan Service
    • Fujiko often has her tops or clothing ripped off.
    • And, for the ladies, Goemon likes to wear a Fundoshi and not much else when swimming. Lupin, Jigen, and Zenigata have Shirtless Scenes aplenty themselves.
    • The OVA The Secret of Twilight Gemini is notorious for having the most fanservice in any Lupin III-related media.
    • The new TV series has Fujiko frequently seen topless.
  • Femme Fatale: Fujiko. Manages to be one of the few who are able to resist reforming, or losing to the hero.
  • Friendly Enemy:
    • Lupin and Zenigata in spades. Despite the animosity, they clearly respect each other a lot, and often team up when they prove to have a common enemy. Even when they don't, Lupin will often set things up so that the people he runs afoul of wind up falling into Zenigata's palms specifically.
    • In Voyage to Danger, when Zenigata is taken off Lupin's case because of his constant failure to catch him, the first thing he does is walk by Lupin's hideout and hang out with him and his gang to warn them of a plot to kill them. They then hatch a plan to restore his reputation and thus get him the job of catching Lupin back.
    • The second anime series also has great example in "The Yam is Mightier Than the Sword". After his Zantetsuken is stolen, Lupin allows a suicidal Goemon to be captured by Zenigata so he will not harm himself while Lupin and Jigen track down the missing sword. While Goemon is in prison, Zenigata goes to extra trouble to make sure Goemon is well, even going to the trouble of tracking down Japanese food to try and entice him to eat.
  • Gag Dub: The Geneon dub of the second series. References to Reggie Miller, Steve McQueen, The Simpsons and Amnesty International all appear, definitely not part of the original dialogue. This was necessary however as the original dialogue had dated references from the 70's and 80's that would've be lost on most viewers.
  • Gentleman Thief: Lupin's grandfather Arsène Lupin and Lupin himself with a dash of Lovable Sex Maniac.
  • The Gunslinger: Jigen, obviously, although Lupin and Zenigata have also shown some remarkable gun skills.
  • Handsome Lech: Lupin, though his attractiveness changes wildly depending on the artist.
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: Lupin and Jigen.
  • Hero Antagonist: Inspector Zenigata.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • The trucker that yelled "You maniac, I'll whip your Ass" in one of the episodes.
    • Morgana's fate in The Last Job.
  • Identical Grandson:
    • In addition to Lupin being Arsène Lupin's grandson and Goemon's descendant status, one episode cameos "Sherlock Holmes the Third". However, Holmes III, along with the other 'detectives' on the airship, is revealed to be one of Lupin's teammates in disguise. So perhaps Holmes III never existed. Zenigata may also fall under this category - see Shout-Out below.
    • One of the 1972-series episodes cameos the grandson of Arsène Lupin's Zenigata-equivalent, Inspector Ganimard.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Jigen. Has been known to knock bullets out of the air with other bullets.
  • Implausible Fencing Powers: Goemon provides some of the more extreme examples.
  • Indy Ploy:
    • Lupin always, always has a plan, sometimes he just doesn't know it yet.
    • Subverted in one of the episodes of the 1972 TV series. The police have obtained a supercomputer programmed with Lupin's behavior patterns and it is able to predict every single plan Lupin makes. In the end, Lupin outwits it by discarding all his plans and acting completely on whim.
    • A similar plot plays out in the second (1977) TV series, only this time it's some arrogant rich guy who challenges Lupin to outwit his supercomputer and steal his treasure. Lupin can't outwit it, so he just follows Zenigata, who wants to return a coin he stole before the system was turned on.
  • Instant Dogend: Jigen has this as a characteristic prop, and at least once has lit up a discarded butt from Lupin's car ashtray.
  • Interpol Special Agent: Inspector Zenigata of Lupin III is said to be an agent of Interpol. The local cops seem pretty uncaring of what he asks them to do, though, but sometimes he has police forces under his command. Hell, they may be at the level of paramilitaries—they're seen dropping in on parachutes towards the end of The Castle of Cagliostro.
  • Involuntary Charity Donation: A villain in one episode decided to donate all his money to charity when he was told he was about to die. When he discovered he'd been misdiagnosed, he hatched a plot to pretend Lupin had stolen his money, so he could keep it all to himself. In retaliation, Lupin tricked him into really donating his money.
  • Kaleidoscope Hair: Fujiko, who between three TV series, five feature films, and several Made For TV Movies has gone through various shades of blonde, brunette, and red. Sometimes it's as part of her role as a Master of Disguise, but it usually comes with no explanation other than Depending on the Artist.
  • Karmic Thief: Lupin's schemes mostly focus on him stealing something from someone rich and powerful. It is usually obvious from the beginning that his targets are corrupt, tyrannical, or exploitative. Even when they seem initially seem nice or affable, they will be eventually be unveiled as evil.
  • Keet: Lupin himself is "cute", hyperactive, incredibly loud, and possesses lots of energy.
  • The Kingdom: Cagliostro of the above-mentioned movie. A number of subsequent movies or TV specials take place in similarly small kingdoms (most recently the Lupin III vs. Detective Conan special), probably in homage to Castle of Cagliostro which cast a long shadow across subsequent entries in the franchise.
  • Last-Name Basis:
    • (Arsene) Lupin and (Daisuke) Jigen are almost never referred to by their first names, Neither is Zenigata. On very rare occasions some of Lupin's family members or other contacts will regularly call him by his first name. In some of the English dubs Jigen simply called Lupin "Boss."
    • Bizarrely, the most formal character in the entire series, Ishikawa Goemon, is referred to almost exclusively by his first name.
  • Latex Perfection:
    • Lupin has a habit of disguising himself as a poorly-disguised Fujiko; the disguises work even when "she" undresses.
    • In one film Zenigata yanks on a security guard's face, just to see if it's Lupin in disguise. Later on it turns out it was, but he has switched to using stronger glue to hold his masks on.
  • Lighter and Softer: Not just the anime compared to the original manga. The anime itself has been featuring less violence and fanservice for a while now.
    • The Woman Called Fujiko Mine goes back to the series' darker roots.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Out of the entire cast, Fujiko's the only one who ever changes her looks. The guys change clothes with each series, but that's it.
  • Lovable Traitor: Fujiko. She'll happily work with the Big Bad, betray Lupin to the police, and steal the goods for herself, but she never gets Lupin into more trouble than he can get himself out of, and should it become clear that she has she immediately turns around to save him.
  • Lovable Sex Maniac: Lupin fits this quite well in some versions.
  • Luminescent Blush: Goemon, usually involving women, and especially involving naked ones.
  • Magic From Technology: Pycal, a villain from early on in the manga and anime, appeared to be impervious to bullets and fire, could walk on air, and shoot fire from his fingertips. Lupin found a way to replicate these tricks: he walked on air via carefully placed glass panes, shot fire from his fingertips with a small, hidden flamethrower and was impervious thanks to a hard liquid chemical that shielded his body when covered by the liquid. It was never explicitly confirmed that Pycal really wasn't using magic in the manga version, though in the anime Lupin found Pycal's chemical formula.
  • Market-Based Title: Due to copyright issues with the original Arsène Lupin stories outside of Japan, American licensors in the 90's were forced to use several workarounds: AnimEigo using Rupan the Third, or Streamline Pictures just calling him "The Wolf" in the dub and promotional materials. The issue was resolved when Arsène Lupin lapsed into the Public Domain shortly before the turn of the century. This is why everything Lupin related that came out in North America after the 90's uses the correct name.
  • Master of Disguise: And how!
  • McNinja: Several of Lupin's adversaries have ninja-esque Mooks at their disposal; for example, Count Cagliostro from The Castle of Cagliostro.
  • Medium Awareness:
    • In the TV-Special Alcatraz Connection, one scene has Lupin explain to Fujiko, who is trapped in a submarine that's about to fail under the water pressure, that if she were to be crushed and die, millions of fans would be crying their hearts out.
    • In the Intercontinuity Crossover with Detective Conan, Lupin thinks he's about to get lucky with Fujiko. He turns to the camera and announces "To you 80 million adult viewers: thank you for your patience!" and pounces on her. The same movie mixes this with No Fourth Wall regarding the crossover nature of the story. Zenigata thinks it's odd that Koguro, a professional detective, doesn't know about Lupin. Koguro says that he always just thought that Lupin was a comic book character.
  • Mind Screw:
    • Many fans were confused about just what happened in Green vs Red.
    • Mamo in The Mystery of Mamo enjoys messing with Lupin's head.
  • Monumental Theft: Lupin has stolen the Christ the Redeemer statue, the Statue of Liberty, the entire stock at Tiffany's (by removing the entire first story), a nuclear submarine, a rocket, a satellite full of money...
  • Ms. Fanservice: Fujiko is the inspiration for quite a few modern examples. A couple examples, for the sake of argument:
    • Wearing a bikini while driving a snowmobile.
    • Clothing Damage hits Lupin and Fujiko—Lupin only loses his jacket, Fujiko loses every stitch.
  • Multiple Choice Past: Considering this series runs on zero continuity, any and all "origin stories" of the main cast should be taken with a grain of salt.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Recap was packed with these, from the Lupin impostors drawn in the style of previous character designs at the beginning, to the final battle done in the style of the original manga. During a gathering of Lupin impersonators, one spray-paints "Rupan" on a wall and another says, "Isn't that wrong?" This is a reference to the Market-Based Title "Rupan" that AnimEigo used for its English-language Lupin III releases, and a rare example of inverted Lost in Translation — probably relatively few Japanese viewers would catch the reference.
    • A similar "different styles of Lupin" Mythology Gag occurs in The Plot of the Fuma Clan—when under the influence of a psychedelic gas, a group of mooks see Lupin's face morph into many of the different art styles used during the TV series and films, before morphing into a demon's face.
  • Negative Continuity:
    • Only the essentials are ever kept.. It's part of the reason why the series has worked for so long. The only lasting changes ever made to the story (the additions of Jigen and Goemon to the cast) occurred very early on in the franchise's history, during the original manga. Since then, the cast of characters has not moved forward an inch in over forty years.
    • Recap is either toying with us, or explaining why there's no continuity of events.
  • Nice Hat: Jigen's omnipresent fedora. Also, Zenigata's fedora (occasionally substituted by a snap-brimmed driving cap).
  • No Fourth Wall: The original manga. The very first chapter had a panel peel away revealing an annoyed Monkey Punch after Zenigata compared the sequence of events to that of a comic book. A later chapter was devoted to Lupin giving Monkey Punch a tour of his hideout. Another story had the reader as the main character.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Lupin almost always plays up his immature traits (even to his own gang) to put people off their guard about him. The fact that he gets a kick out of it too is purely coincidental.
  • Off-Model: Occurs every now and then [dead link] throughout the franchise's history.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You:
    • Goemon's original motivation, before he joins the gang. After their first few meetings he rarely brings it up again, and seems content with being shanghai-ed into the current caper for the challenge factor.
    • Zenigata, who has, on occasion, stated this openly. It's one plan Lupin has for escaping less capable pursuers. And see Friendly Enemy above...
  • Parody Episode: Early on, the manga had a chapter spoofing Mission: Impossible. The TV series have indulged in this as well, also parodying The Pink Panther movies, among other things.
  • Phantom Thief
  • Picky Eater: Goemon will eat nothing other than Japanese food, usually to comedic effect when he is in a country where it is difficult or impossible to find. This tends to vary from writer to writer though; sometimes, he seems quite content with the local cuisine.
  • Prequel:
    • The TV special Episode Zero First Contact tells the story of how Lupin and his gang might have met.
    • The Fujiko-centered TV series Lupin III, Mine Fujijo to Iu Onna focuses primarily on how Lupin (and gang) met Fujiko.
  • Proper Lady: Clarisse from The Castle of Cagliostro, the good hearted princess of a dutchy.
  • Psycho for Hire: Several villains employ these. Many of them seem to have a past with Jigen, for some reason.
  • Rated "M" for Manly: Lupin wants you to believe he is the manliest guy you'd ever find. The Manga fits very well; it is full of Author Appeal for killing and seducing. The second and third anime series (and the movies) tends to come off more kid-friendly, though. The Green Jacket series and the Fujiko series, however, comes closer to the mature tone of the manga.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: In recent years, Zenigata's appearances became much more limited due to the Real Life illness of Goro Naya. After his retirement in 2012 and having Zenigata recast with Koichi Yamadera in the role, the good inspector gets to be much more active again.
  • Samurai: Goemon Ishikawa XIII, descendant of the real historical figure/folk hero of the same name. The historical Goemon was closer to a Ninja version of Robin Hood than a Samurai, though he may have been born into a Samurai family.
  • Scenery Porn: Important for setting the tone of the work, and showing us how well-off Lupin is doing at this time. He's varied from abandoned warehouses to ritzy hotels.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Inspector Zenigata is a homage to Zenigata Heiji, the sleuth protagonist of a number of famous Japanese novels, films and TV series set in the Edo period.
    • In Green vs. Red, the Lupin-wannabe protagonist is named "Yasuo" in homage to both Lupin's original voice actor, the late Yasuo Yamada, and the Lupin series's original animation director, Yasuo Ohtsuka. Another Lupin impersonator in the film has an afro, quite possibly a reference to Watanabe Shinichi and his animated alter ego Nabeshin.
    • In S3E25, the victim of the week tells Zenigata that he can become nobility if he captures Lupin. Cut to an Imagine Spot where joins the nobility—accompanied by the fanfare at the beginning of Rose of Versailles.
  • Slipped the Ropes: Lupin can only be handcuffed if he lets you handcuff him. At one point, Fujiko uses this trait to convince Zenigata he's possessed: there's blood on the cuffs, which means he had to fight his way out of them... something the normal Lupin wouldn't have to do.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Fujiko is the only recurring female character in the franchise, any other female characters are so far only one-shots, as a Shout-Out to James Bond, who was also an influence on the character.
  • Spotting the Thread: Zenigata spots Lupin when he calls him Tott-san ("Pops" or "old man") as usual.
  • Steal the Surroundings: If Lupin III can't get the treasure itself, his elaborate scheme frequently becomes stealing what contains the treasure instead. In some variations, he will pretend to steal the container, and when the distracted target goes after him to get it back, it gives him time to double-back and break into the real thing.
  • Stealth Hi Bye: All of the characters get into the Stealth Hi part. Lupin is the most frequent user of the Stealth Bye part, unfortunately for Inspector Zenigata.
  • Stock Ninja Weaponry: There's one episode where our heroes are challenged by a group of four ninjas and a kunoichi (actually a Villainous Crossdresser) who take a great pride in using old-school weapons, including swords, daggers and kusarigama. They also add axes and bows to the lot.
  • Summon to Hand: Goemon has done this via string.
  • Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist: Inspector Zenigata, the former Trope Namer.
  • Thou Shall Not Kill: In the original comics, Lupin didn't have a problem killing. However, most subsequent adaptations have had Lupin taking this stance, and forcing both Jigen and Goemon to comply - which is hard, considering that both are assassins. This is especially noted towards Zenigata - both have mentioned that they have an understood "gentlemen's agreement" that neither will attempt to kill the other, and have, in fact, several times, saved each other's life. Fujiko notably doesn't have a problem killing, but tries not to do so when Lupin's around.
  • Title Theme Tune: Usually, the only words in the theme are the title (Lupin III), although there have been a couple of versions with lyrics added.
  • Toyota Tripwire: A limousine driver does this to Zenigata during the opening chase scene in The Last Job.
  • Tranquilizer Dart: Subverted in the crossover with Detective Conan. Conan uses his dart on Inspector Zenigata, who is so tough that it wears off in no time (though he still goes down quickly). Conan is pretty surprised when it wears off.
  • Universal Adaptor Cast: While the setting never explicitly changes, there can be Genre Shift from episode to episode. The default story is the caper, but it can veer into a vampire/monster story or Film Fic just as easily. A lot comes from who takes the lead in a specific story: Jigen stories can become romantic tragedies, Goemon stories become Samurai tales, Fujiko stories are laden with intrigue and deception, and Zenigata stories become madcap comedies.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Frequently. The more thought and planning we see go into a caper, the less likely the gang will have any loot by the end.
  • Vehicular Sabotage: A favorite trick of Lupin's when he's being pursued. He'll either sabotage them himself or have Goemon slice them to ribbons beforehand.
  • Villain Protagonist: Lupin in the original manga. It was toned down in the anime.