Lupin the First
He’s born as part of a legacy. There was really no getting around it. As soon as his father decided to name him Arsène
– the same name he himself carried – Lupin’s fate might as well have been set in stone.
Arsène Lupin – the gentleman thief. The bane of the French aristocracy and law enforcement, rival to the famed Inspector Ganimard and the even more famous Sherlock Holmes, on occasion. He was the quintessential thief – the ideal to which all other thieves compared themselves.
That’s the name Lupin was saddled with as a baby – and, let’s just say: he’s had a bit of a complicated relationship with it.
His earliest childhood memories are set in Japan – his mother had been Japanese, but she died during childbirth, leaving Lupin the Second in charge of an actual infant, while his only career was as a thief. Lupin the Second was aloof, often serious, and tended to push aside his young son in favor of his plans and projects. Lupin III didn’t resent this, so much as he desperately wanted to please his father. He began studying the ‘art of thievery’ at a young age – learning the techniques passed down from his grandfather. Lupin’s personality very early on began to show a more mischievous side than outright greed or malice. He would often steal things from people just to show he could – and then return them with little fuss. A sort of ‘magic trick’ he liked to test out on anyone and everyone.
Being in hiding – following his father from place to place – it wasn’t the greatest life, but Lupin III was happy.
Then, his father was arrested.
It was a shock – a complete impossibility – but it happened, and suddenly Lupin III was alone in the world. At the police station several rounds of police officers had to struggle with an incredibly stubborn and uncooperative nine-year-old, until, eventually an elderly man by the name of ‘Horace Velmont’ came to pick him up. Supposedly Lupin III’s godfather – or at least he had all the paperwork in order, and, frankly, the police were just happy to get the kid out of their hair.
Of course, this man turned out to be none other than Lupin III’s grandfather – the originator of his name – and before long they were on a plane back to France, where Lupin would spend the remainder of his formative years.
This is where Lupin III really learns the tricks of his trade. His father had been fairly proficient, but – as Grandfather would often say: he lacked a certain sense of humor about things. Keeping up with Grandpère Lupin is a challenge – mentally, physically and emotionally. The old man isn't exactly the caring type, the attention he paid to his grandson almost entirely for the sake of the legacy. Lupin III learns the most there though – the first Lupin is a quick-thinking, witty, sarcastic and whimsical man. Most of Lupin’s excessive skills come from his time spent in France – avoiding the disdainful looks of those who scoffed at his mixed heritage and being a trusted partner on some of his grandfather’s extra ‘jobs’.
You can’t trust anyone but yourself, his grandpa would say – in reference to their shared name.
Lupin III grows into an agile, quick-witted and adventurous young man – filled with the desire to go out and take his fill of the world. It’s around that time, when Lupin III is 19, that his grandfather dies. He doesn’t go out in a rain of bullets or out on the job, but just because he got… old. And just like that, this scrawny teenager inherited the entire Arsène Lupin legacy. Just like that, through the shocking hand of fate, Lupin III had to begin his career as a thief. It was so damn anticlimatic, he hated it. Ignoring the funeral (his grandpère wouldn't be buried under his real name anyway), Lupin III got on the first plane back to Japan to begin his career - to finally (finally) go out into the world on his own. He just hit one small snag he hadn't thought about.
How was he to sign his name?
Technically, at this point, he could just sign the note ‘Arsène Lupin’ – it’s his name, his birthright. But, as much as he admired his grandpère – he wasn’t him, and he had no intention of building his career on name alone. He was a Lupin, and proud of it, but he was also himself. Whoever that was...
So, under the date, time and place he announced his first heist without his grandfather, he signed the card,
Soon after that, people began to talk
. Everyone wanted to know about this ‘new Lupin’ who was sending letter in a similar style to the old legend. There were debates over whether or not he was an actual
blood-relation of the Original Lupin – no doubt spurred on by his mixed looks – but even those willing to believe the relation were skeptical of his abilities. He might have the Lupin name
– but there was no doubt that no one would ever again have the Lupin talent.
Lupin III decided he was going to prove them wrong.
And - despite working alone and being a young, rather cocky teenager – most of his capers went off without a hitch (though his tendency to say that he’s never failed a heist is, let's just say, 'overstated'). Though, unlike his forefather, Lupin III lacked prudence in how he handled his loot. He’d happily rob a bank – or the even more entertaining rich assholes and criminal organizations – of millions, then blow it all away in a week or less. It was never about the money – Lupin had something to prove. He wanted the challenge – the absolute proof that he had what it took to exist in this world.
So, he’d blow his money on gambling, girls, food, cars, safe houses, as well as little gadgets and tricks most people wouldn’t pay a dime for – and a bright green blazer.
He was crafting an identity all his own.
So, the criminal life was treating him well enough – but he was a loner by habit. He would occasionally partner up with other criminals – but, as his grandfather had taught him – you really couldn't trust anyone but yourself. He lost his first Walther P-38 because he forgot that advice, and almost lost his life. He didn't think it bothered him too much. So, people were liars and cheats - so what? So was he. The world was simple like that.
But, that lesson began to blur as he started teaming up more and more often with three individuals in particular... Jigen Daisuke – a hitman/bodyguard, who had the quickest draw he’d ever seen – was originally charged to guard one of Lupin’s targets. Lupin felt a connection immediately – though the bullets exchanged – and knew he had to get this guy to team up with him at least once.
That was years ago – and Jigen has been with him ever since.
It's a relationship Lupin is not entirely sure how to have. They're... business partners? Though, Lupin is a notoriously childish, selfish, egotistical and, frankly, god-awful man to work for. For starters, it's not exactly a walk in the park to work for a man who prioritized his own pride above, essentially, everything else. He felt bad for the guy, sometimes - it wasn't entirely unusual for Lupin to keep certain details of a plan a secret even down to the very last moment, and it often shook his more prudent partner up quite a bit. But, well, that's just how Lupin played the game - if he wasn't up for it, he could leave.
He never did leave though.
The second was Ishikawa Goemon – the 13th descendant of a long line of Japanese highwaymen, and an extraordinarily skilled swordsman with a samurai code of honor - who had hear rumor about the uncatchable thief Lupin and thought that catching and killing him would be the ultimate test of his skill and honor. Several failed assassination attempts later, Lupin suggests Goemon would learn more by teaming up with him. Goemon agrees with that logic – but occasionally reminds Lupin that he does eventually plan to kill him – which Lupin takes as a given. He doesn't doubt such a thing even after the samurai becomes a regularly depended-on member of his team.
And then there’s Mine Fujiko. Lupin had gained a reputation as a bit of a cad over the years – a real love ‘em and leave ‘em type who would flirt and sleep with anyone. He meets his match in Fujiko – a woman that even Lupin doesn’t know the whole story too. Is she a thief? Is she a spy? Is she both? In either case, Fujiko’s charm (and tendency toward betrayal) immediately makes Lupin smitten.
She had his number too: any invocation of his grandfather's legacy. Lupin didn't even realize it was a sore spot until the lovely Fujiko so beautifully jabbed at it. 'What? Too risky? Ah, but I'm sure the great Arsène Lupin could have figured it out. Aren't you his grandson?' Damn it, he didn't need to hear something like that - but he also couldn't back down from a taunt like that. He couldn't stand the thought of being the lesser Lupin - a cheap imitation with no value of his own! And he'd do anything to prove otherwise...
Damn, she got him good. He had to admit he was impressed. For a while, it seemed like it was a match made in heaven - an eternal game of cat and mouse that would never get boring. But, as soon as Fujiko began to get closer to him... Lupin pulled away. He’d always promise monogamy – then immediately go back on it, claiming he couldn't be expected to limit himself to one woman, when there were so many hotties out there. Truthfully, though - as many times as Fujiko betrayed him or lied to him, he knew the real flighty and duplicitous one, was himself.
Oh, yeah, there was actually one more person who Lupin just couldn't seem to shake.
Inspector Zenigata – another legacy holder – quickly rose to the top of the investigators in charge of Lupin’s case. Mostly, because he was the only one who ever came close to catching him for good. The man actually managed to get Lupin to prison, once, but Lupin felt he cheated, so had to teach him a bit of a lesson in playing by the Rules (in this case, as well as all cases, the Rules meant whatever Lupin decided was fair). Lupin, in general, loved taunting the law – but Zenigata was a different beast. In a way, the man himself came to represent the Law – and so opposing him directly became that much more thrilling. Lupin affectionately nicknamed the intense justice-loving detective 'Totsan' or 'Pops'. Humiliating him became something of a game to Lupin (at least, when it wasn't the other way around...).
They were actually sort of settling into a sort of comfortable routine - Lupin calling on his three partners whenever an idea for a heist struck him, then doing the job while avoiding Zenigata and his huge squad of officers. Everything was going great - so, naturally Lupin had to call the whole thing off. They pulled off their last big job - 10 billion yen worth of gold coins - and then they split. He really wasn't one for goodbyes - he just stopped contacting them. They would be alright, he said to himself, as he ditched his green blazer and headed for Hawaii.
He's surprisingly quiet for a five years. People who knew Lupin casually might say that it was impossible for Lupin to remain quiet for that long - to actually go into hiding and stay there.
Admittedly, it wasn't like he was living under a rock - he was very much living it up under an assumed name in America - but, those who had really spent time with Lupin, really
got to know him, also knew that this wasn't unusual at all. Lupin could be incredibly patient when he wanted to be - waiting for the precisely perfect moment to return with a flourish.
He might have been thinking of doing something along those lines, but someone forced his hand a bit early, with a lovingly hand-written letter signed Fujiko from someone who was most certainly not Fujiko. It was a crappy forgery - they even used the wrong fragrance, pathetic - but, it certainly did peak his interest. Plus, who was he to turn down free tickets to a luxury cruise? That would just be wasteful. He buys a new, even more vividly-colored blazer (red, this time) for the occasion.
He knows he's walking into a trap, but he's surprised to find his three old partners (and Zenigata) have waltzed in as well - apparently falling for their own fake letters with his forged signature on them. Resolving the poorly-thought-out revenge attempt by whats-his-name (who he apparently didn't kill well enough??) took a backburner to the real event here, which was that Lupin was actually glad to see his old partners again. The previous year had been so boring and lonely without them milling about - and though he hadn't expected to work with them again like this... he just couldn't help it? He says its for old-times sake.
But, it’s… different now. For one thing, Lupin’s older – in his mid-twenties now, and almost immediately he begins noticing things he just hadn't as a younger man. For instance: how easily the four of them were able to work as a team again, even after the five year separation. In that entire span of time, had he ever met another man as reliable as Jigen? And despite Goemon’s original goals, he turned out to be a dedicated partner, willing to resist torture and face death than to give up Lupin. Fujiko was still Fujiko, of course, but even his infatuation with her gained a new dimension with age. For the first time, Lupin actually began to want to spend time with these people as friends and not just professionals.
But, he's... not quite sure how to do that. His attempts to promote some team-bonding time were not always successful. Jigen, as always, was willing to tolerate his presence daily, but the others needed a bit more... motivation. So, some of the heists he began to plan were less for the challenge and more for the chance to work with these people. Not that he didn't make sure he enjoyed himself thoroughly (and Totsan always brought some sort of challenge to the table in any case).
The dynamic of his relationship with Fujiko changed as well. He still adored her – but she’d given up trying to get with him and instead happily used his infatuation with her to get him to steal her all sorts of diamonds and gems – not to mention some cold hard cash when she caught him off guard. He doesn’t mind it too much though – it was never about the money, and he was always just happy to see her - though Jigen and Goemon did not share that sentiment at all.
Zenigata, meanwhile, was now Interpol’s chief officer assigned to the Lupin case - since he'd gone international - and the obsessive cop now seemed to practically be able to read Lupin’s mind. In a way, it was charming, and Lupin began to rely on the predictable swarm of police and that signature shout of ‘STOP, LUPIN!’
All in all, Lupin began to feel a closer connection to people – his people - they were almost a family, really, and Lupin began to do things just for the sake of keeping his little family happy. Their adventures were no longer contained to heists, but also solving personal issues, going after items of significant importance, or getting back at someone who had personally wronged one of his group. There were even things of a solidly supernatural persuasion that Lupin had to deal with during some of those escapades.
Even more surprisingly, he found himself agreeing to team up with Zenigata on more than one occasion, when the cop found himself without recourse. It was during one of these instances that Lupin discovered (to his overwhelming shock) that he actually respected the man. Just to be clear - Lupin did not respect law enforcement. 1) Because they were usually such idiots, 2) because most of them were such hypocrites perfectly capable of being bought off, and 3) because he does what he wants. But, Totsan really surprised him - for one, he learned. And pretty damn well at that. There were times when Lupin actually was hard-pressed to get away when the old man had foreseen all of his escape routes before Lupin even had a chance to think of them. For another, the old cop really was an honest guy. He'd come to that conclusion, of all places, sitting, defeated, outside Prof. Hunter's impenetrable safe which Zenigata himself had asked him to break into in order to retrieve an old family heirloom. Lupin had known he was lying, but was too intrigued to call him on it. Now though, he was honestly about to give up - just retire, because a safe had finally been able to best him - but then Zenigata said he'd have to do the same, because his honor was tarnished too. Because, you see, he'd already stolen the heirloom back - a single one cent piece his ancestor was famous for throwing. And breaking into this impenetrable safe? It was to put the damn thing back.
Pride was an interesting thing, wasn't it? It was man's one major downfall (and what eventually got Lupin into that safe).
So, in a way, Lupin had finally begun to settle down – but he wasn’t ready to retire just yet.
He picks up a pink jacket in China (though he's on and off about whether he should stick to red) and throws himself headlong into any adventure he finds himself interested in at the moment. He's nearing his thirties now, and he's more comfortable in his identity than he's ever been.
Lupin the Third is more impulsive than his ancestor. He's more childish, more likely to get slapped by a beautiful woman than kissed, and can honestly be a bit of a slob. He loves technology and gadgets, and while he often sticks to the old-fashioned 'send a warning letter' M.O. his grandfather started, he has no problems texting Totsan a few updates to those warning letters, just to make sure everything's clear.
Unlike his grandfather who stole art and money as a way of proving a point, Lupin III steals things for fun, for spite, for justice, for the challenge, for nothing - and also unlike his grandfather, who had several flunkies but no real partners, Lupin III has four very important people to him that he'd be more than willing to die for. And one of them's a cop. Those things were a part of him, even if it didn't mesh well with the 'Arsène Lupin legacy' - even if they were things he was a little bit embarrassed about when he compared himself to his grandfather.
But, he could ignore all that for one very important reason. The Most Important Reason: Lupin the Third was not the grandson of the best thief of the 20th Century. He was the best thief of the 20th Century.
And quite possibly the 21st.
The vivid blue caught his eye in San Marino, Italy – where he’d gone specifically to hatch his little scheme. Rebecca Rossellini – heiress, actress, model, businesswoman, entrepreneur, thrill-seeker – was his target. (Unfortunately that target was nearly blown up by a crazy fan – but Lupin and Zenigata were able to step in and prevent that from happening) All so Lupin could deliver to this woman one of his personal notices.
‘Tonight, I’m going to steal you. – Lupin III’
Indeed, he proposed to her that night.
All as an elaborate scheme to steal the Royal Crown of Liberty – only taken out for certain heiresses weddings – but it was a sweet gesture none the less, right?? (Did Fujiko really have to give him that look?) And it was not made any less so when it turned out Rebecca was using the wedding for the exact same reason – and not for the crown itself, no, but for the thrill of stealing it.
Somehow, Lupin had found a woman in the world as crazy and whimsical as he – and he wasn’t sure he liked it. He especially didn’t like the fact that she took off before he could get her to sign the divorce papers. So, in the end, it was he that got stolen.
And then the girl had the nerve to go around using his name!! Just because they were married.
It was the first time Lupin had to deal with someone who was... like himself? Like a younger (greener) version of himself who was really just a pain in the ass to deal with. ... He might have felt a little twinge of sympathy for his friends then.
His adventure in San Marino didn’t end there, however. From stealing from mob bosses, to angering MI6 and being tortured in some secret British prison, to unwittingly starring in a movie, to facing off against a cloned legendary artist and genius with only his mind in a dreamscape shared by everyone in the city…
It was a wild ride.
Then, at the end of it all, when he manages to save the entire city (though, naturally, he’s blamed for the sudden unconsciousness of the entire population personally, because apparently he has the power to do that??) and specifically Rebecca, he decides it’s time to move on to some other place. Maybe he'd head back 'home' to France for a bit... He spends his last day in Italy speaking with Rebecca one last time – and, finally, consents to let her use the name Mrs. Lupin, as a sort of code between them, despite the fact that they were not, in fact, married at all. He had to admit, she played some pretty good schemes for a little brat. Maybe that was a part of himself he could accept too.
Of course, he couldn't stay for long - Totsan was always right on his tail, and he couldn't very well keep his friends waiting.
It was off to a new adventure!