We’ve been hyping up our boy Lupin the Third a lot lately, but with good reason — it’s his 50th anniversary! On TV, anyway. Part 6 is underway, new releases of classic films and episodes are coming, and lots more. If you’re new to it, it looks pretty daunting. But it doesn’t have to be.
The series has a fairly open-ended canon, with more focus on the character interactions than any sort of through-line. So you can dip in wherever you please. But if you’d like some guidance, here you go:
The Castle of Cagliostro
Before Studio Ghibli was a thing, Hayao Miyazaki was hard at work on the original Lupin the Third anime series for TMS entertainment. Its second animated film, The Castle of Cagliostro, landed in 1979. It’s a classic for a lot of reasons — it’s beautiful to look at, it’s full of action, and it’s got an exciting fairy-tale story. But it’s also a great soft intro to the gentleman thief himself.
Miyazaki’s take on the series softened the grittier, more adult aspects of Monkey Punch’s original manga. Cagliostro doesn’t give as much screen time to the gang as a whole, but it does give us a chance to get to know our title character. He’s a lot less… Red Jacket… than usual here. But it’s a good first toe in the water for new viewers.
Lupin the Third exists on a sort of Jeeves & Wooster timeline — we hand-wave the fact that either the timeline stopped working a while back, or our heroes are immortal. Who cares? We’re having a good time. Recent seasons have an interesting solution to this issue. But The First simply cut to the chase and made itself a period piece.
The 3DCG film is contemporary to the original manga, meaning our boy is for sure the grandson of Arséne Lupin and not handing down a name in the 21st century. It gives us a little bit more time with the rest of the gang. More importantly, it roots itself into Maurice Leblanc’s original books. Meaning you not only get a gateway to the anime, you learn about its inspiration.
Anything but The Woman Called Fujiko Mine
To be clear, The Woman Called Fujiko Mine is amazing. The 2012 series ushered in a new series of Lupin the Third films with gorgeous art and closer character focus. And the series itself — directed by Sayo Yamamoto and penned by Mari Okada — is sexy and stunning and intriguing. It is also going to confuse the hell out of you if you don’t know these characters.
Without giving too much away, the series is intentionally unlike just about any Lupin the Third you’ve ever seen. And that dissonance is a plot point with a fantastic payoff. In other words, it’s definitely not one to start with. But it’s absolutely one to come back to once you’ve gotten to know the gang.
Lupin the Third PART 6 is currently streaming on HIDIVE.