Lupin III is one of those manga series I have been semi-looking forward to reading as part of this specific comic book challenge. I have seen Hayao Miyazaki’s The Castle of Cagliostro and will be watching the anime series as part of my other list. From the film, I got a certain impression of Lupin as being this slightly goofy and gawky anti-hero that also happened to be a world-class thief that was always on the run from some sort of law enforcement. Now that I have read some of the source material… I can see how much of a liberty Miyazaki took with the character.
To be fair, when reading Lupin III there isn’t a whole lot that is easily available in English translation. Also, we are talking specifically about the version of the comic from the late 1960s, so there is going to be a bunch of problems around content. Like, there is section where there is a needless attempted rape scene – not by Lupin – and just a lot of female nudity because, according to the comic, it’s what you would expect from the author.
You also had a real issue where it would tell and not show. Like Lupin is meant to be this genius thief – fine – but so often he would just get out of a scrape with no explanation other than a deus ex machina or we would have a long explanation of how he did it where a visual of it would have been a lot more satisfying. I also did have the problem of the artwork being so scratchy that it was hard to work out who was who despite being named in an earlier panel.
So, in the end, you had a comic with a not that likeable protagonist, with very outdated attitudes, poor art and not great storytelling. The idea of Lupin himself is really interesting and I can see how just the idea of this anti-hero thief based on the original French books would bubble around until he found a new lease of life in later manga and anime forms. On the whole though this was a massive disappointment.