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, four anime television series, five animated feature films, two live-action films, three OVAs, yearly television specials since 1989, music CDs, video games, and a musical.
Many different companies have owned the English-language distribution rights to various Lupin III properties at various times, with just the first two movies 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 television series and the live-action film, they also own the rights to several other Lupin titles, including some previously released by other companies. Over forty years after its creation, Lupin III remains popular, with several different manga series currently being published, yearly television specials and a fourth anime series which aired in 2012. 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 of Japan, usually changed to “Rupan” or “Wolf”. However, the copyright has since expired, allowing foreign releases to use the Lupin name.