Lupin Lupin

It’s official: Japan’s favorite gentleman thief is coming to the U.S. and Canada in his first cg outing. GKIDS, which regularly distributes high-profile anime films, will release Lupin The 3rd: The First this year for Oscar qualification, in both Japanese and a new English dub.

The feature is the latest entry in the famed Lupin III franchise created by Kazuhiko Kato, better known by his pen name Monkey Punch. Watch the trailer and read the official synopsis below:

The iconic “gentleman thief” Lupin III returns in an action-packed, continent-spanning adventure, as Lupin III and his colorful underworld companions race to uncover the secrets of the mysterious Bresson Diary, before it falls into the hands of a dark cabal that will stop at nothing to resurrect the Third Reich. The gang undertakes trap-filled tombs, aerial escapades and daring prison escapes with the trademark wit and visual finesse that have made Lupin III one of the most storied animation franchises in the world, in a thrilling new caper that is sure to delight fans old and new.

The director of The First is Takashi Yamazaki, whose other projects include Dragon Quest: Your Story and Stand by Me Doraemon. The film is produced by TMS Entertainment and Marza Animation Planet, which handled the animation. It was released in December in Japan, ranking #2 in its opening weekend and going on to earn $6.73 million (according to Box Office Mojo). Its opening weekend gross was only 37.7% of that of the 2013 crossover film Lupin the Third vs. Detective Conan: The Movie.

The character Lupin III first appeared in a 1967 manga by Monkey Punch. The comic pitted the world-renowned thief against the tireless Inspector Zenigata in various outlandish scenarios; Lupin was conceived as the grandson of Arsène Lupin, star of Maurice Leblanc’s turn-of-the-20th-century crime capers, although Kato was also influenced by action-adventure stories like Ian Fleming’s creation, James Bond.

The manga was a hit, and the first spin-off anime series, Lupin the Third Part I, was broadcast in 1971. Some anime translations preserve the comic’s dark, raunchy spirit, while others tone it down for family audiences, including Hayao Miyazaki’s feature The Castle of Cagliostro and the episodes he directed for Lupin the Third Part I.

Kato died last April, but he saw enough of the new feature to write the following, which is posted on the film’s official website: “I’ve been looking forward to a 3d cg Lupin III for a long time. I’ve taken a look at the characters and story: it looks like this Lupin will come packed with new sensations, and I’m getting excited just thinking about how the film will turn out.”

GKIDS president David Jesteadt said in a statement, “As someone who has been a fan of Lupin III since The Castle of Cagliostro, I was blown away by the quality of animation and storytelling in Lupin the 3rd: The First. Director Takashi Yamazaki has taken such incredible care and detail in creating Lupin’s first adventure in cgi, and I am hopeful that audiences fall in love with the film as much as I have.”

Masami Tokunaga, vice president of TMS Entertainment, added, “Lupin III has been stealing hearts of audiences of all ages for over 50 years, and we’re proud to be able to present the latest evolution of the world’s greatest thief. We are truly excited to be collaborating with GKIDS to bring this amazing film to our fans in North America.”

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