Lupin III, also written as Lupin the Third or Lupin the 3rd, is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Monkey Punch. It follows the escapades of master thief Arsène Lupin III, the grandson of Arsène Lupin, the gentleman thief of Maurice Leblanc's series of novels.
The Lupin III manga, which first appeared in Weekly Manga Action on August 10, 1967, spawned a media franchise that includes numerous manga, two versions of an animated pilot film, five animated television series, six theatrically-released animated feature films, two live-action films, a two-part animated theatrical short film, five OVA works, twenty-six animated television specials, two musicals, music CDs, and video games. Many different companies have owned the English-language distribution rights to various Lupin III properties at various times, with just the first two animated films having been released by over 10 companies alone. Tokyopop acquired the license to the original manga in 2002, and later the second series in 2004. Funimation Entertainment purchased the rights to several of the television specials and films in 2002, and the fourth television series in 2012. Geneon licensed and dubbed 79 episodes of the second television series, 26 of which were broadcast on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim during 2003. Discotek Media licensed the entire first and second television series and the first live-action film; they also own the rights to several other Lupin titles, including some previously released by other companies.
Nearly fifty years after its creation, Lupin III remains popular, with the fifth anime series airing in Italy and Japan in 2015. Critical reception of the franchise has been largely positive across its various incarnations, with praise in general being aimed at the characterization of its leads and their shared chemistry. The voice acting (in both Japanese and English versions) and soundtracks (especially those composed by Yuji Ohno) of the anime adaptations have also received similar compliments; however, several of the franchise's installments, most specifically the television specials, have been criticized for being formulaic. The manga has also been noted by fans and critics for its darker tone compared to the anime, with its explicit depictions of sex and violence, as well as its black, fourth wall-breaking sense of humor, contrasting with the mostly family-friendly animated versions. For several years, issues relating to the copyright of Maurice Leblanc's intellectual property meant that the Lupin name was removed from its releases outside Japan, usually changed to "Rupan" or "Wolf". However, the copyright has since expired, allowing foreign releases to use the Lupin name.