When thinking of which piece of media to review for my first official blog post, the first thing that came to mind was Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro. Released in 1979, this film is considered by fans as the best entry in the Lupin III franchise. Furthermore, many anime fans regard it as one of the greatest anime movies of all time, right up there with other classics such as Spirited Away and Ghost in the Shell. Speaking of Spirited Away, Castle of Cagliostro was renowned director Hayao Miyazaki’s theatrical debut. Miyazaki was no stranger to the Lupin III series, as he was the co-director of Lupin’s first anime series. But before we talk about Castle of Cagliostro, let me first inform you of the Lupin series as a whole, as it is somewhat of a hidden gem to the Western world.
To put it simply, Lupin III is like Japan’s Scooby-Doo or Doctor Who: a series that has existed for decades, with several TV series and even more movies and TV specials. Lupin was introduced to Japan in 1967 in the original manga, which was written and illustrated by Monkey Punch, the pen name of Kazuhiko Kato. Despite its cartoonish art style and overall absurdity, the original manga is quite dark, with Lupin often raping women to get information (yikes). While most Lupin installments are relatively child-friendly and a lot of fun, a few retain the original manga’s edgy vibe, specifically the 2012 series Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, which, uh, you probably shouldn’t watch with your parents. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Fans, to avoid confusion, categorize Lupin installments based on what color jacket he is wearing. There is the Green Jacket-era, Red Jacket-era, Blue Jacket-era, and Pink Jacket-era. It is generally accepted among fans that Green and Pink Jacket-era installments are more lighthearted while Red and Blue Jacket-era installments are grittier. Despite its overwhelming amount of content, Lupin III is one of those rare series that you can start watching from practically anywhere. None of the movies or TV specials are interconnected, and only a handful of TV episodes follow the same storyline. Each installment has a similar plot: Arsene Lupin III gets word that there’s treasure he can steal, gunslinger Daisuke Jigen and samurai Goemon Ishikawa XIII accompany him, and the trio’s plans are thwarted in some way by Fujiko Mine, Lupin’s love interest and fellow thief, and Koichi Zenigata, a detective whose sole purpose in life is to capture Lupin. Basically, Lupin III is a lot of fun, and it’s the perfect series to watch if you want to turn off your brain for a while.Continue reading