Let me throw another iron into the fire...
|Posted: 23 November 2019 at 6:05pm | IP Logged | 1
(I've had to research some of this and I've been involved in some Lupin III projects)
The ethnicity confusion stems from the somewhat unusual circumstances of the character's creation.
The grandson character was created at a time when Japan didn't respect anyone else's copyrights (mid-late 1960s). Meant to be an 'edgy' manga update to the original French character -- think 'son of Batman, except he's an amoral lecherous arsehole' type of thing***. Lupin the 3rd at this point was considered Japanese and virtually unknown outside of Japan for at least a decade, if not longer until the estate of the original character's creator (Maurice Leblanc) caught wind of the derivative character -- by then the Japanese had produced a slew of comics, two animated TV series, one animated film (with another in production) and a live action film (with a Japanese lead).
This led to a legal tussle which was solved with the Japanese allowed to continue producting material with the grandson character in Japan (and acknowledging the mixed heritage of the character within the narrative). Outside of Japan the Leblanc estate had control over the character and objected to the use of the original French name, so anyone distributing the Japanese material had to use alternative names such as the anglicized 'Wolf' or the phonetically pronounced 'Rupan'. During this period the character was softened from the harder edged comic character into something a little more mainstream palatable. In the last decade and a half, give or take, the name restrictions have been lifted and the character is pretty much known as 'Lupin the 3rd' everywhere.
Back to the ethnicity -- originally concieved as a Japanese comic character he would have been half French-half Japanese (French Father, Japanese Mother) and the grandson of famous thief Arsene Lupin (aka Lupin the 1st). Once the Leblanc estate became involved the Japanese heritage was pushed further back along the family tree, possibly with the Grandfather having a child out of wedlock with a Japanese or mixed heritage woman (thus keeping the original Grandfather character French and diluting the ethnicity of the grandson). Lately it seems they've pushed the Japanese ethnicity back even further and have stated some male ancestor in Edo period Japan (roughly 1700s) is the root of the Japanese ancestory and the Grandfather has partial Japanese heritage.
So the answer really boils down to whatever the current writers want it to be. Confusing is an understatement!
The capper to all of this ersatz plagarism is that Maurice Leblanc himself used Doyle's Sherlock Holmes character without permission in his Arsene Lupin stories though they now skirt around this in reprintings calling him 'Herlock Sholmes'. Apparently it's ok to steal a character from someone else, if it's a good character!
Ironically, a Leblanc Lupin I story (The Secret of 813) was adapted into animation by a rival Japanese studio (Tatsunoko). As far as I know this was never translated into English or distributed outside of Japan.
***maybe not such a good comparison, it seems DC has created their own version of that kind of character, lol
Edited by Rob Ocelot on 24 November 2019 at 8:59am