The manga world mourned the passing of LUPIN III creator Monkey Punch. He succumbed to pneumonia on April 11, 2019 at the age of 81.
LUPIN III originally received a three-month run in Weekly Manga Action, but got so popular that it spawned two feature films, television serials and animated specials, video games, and a musical. Hayao Miyazaki directed one of the feature films (Castle of Cagliostro). Western pop culture influenced the stories, which combined slapstick, hardboiled comedy capers with some sexy elements.
In the manga, red-jacketed master thief Arsène Lupin III and his buddies — Daisuke Jigen, Goemon Ishikawa and Fujiko Mine — steal valuable things. Interpol agent Koichi Zenigata pursues Lupin and his gang across the globe,
Kazuhiko Katō was born in 1937. Katō started drawing manga in junior high and made his professional debut with a serial called Playboy School in 1965. He wrote under the name Eiji Gamuta, but the magazine editor who “discovered” Katō convinced him to change it to Monkey Punch. Katō never really liked the pen name, but after the success of LUPIN III, he was stuck with it.
Katō received the Tokyo Anime Aeard in 2015 and received the Comic Con International Inkpot Award in 1981. In 2017, Weekly Manga Action celebrated with a fiftieth anniversary edition of the manga.
Monkey Punch was also an innovator and early adopter of digital animation. In 2005 he served as professor of Manga Animation at Otemae University. He became a visiting professor at Tokyo University of Technology in 2010.
While Lupin may have had its roots in France, Katō made the character a Japanese institution.
Rest in peace, Monkey Punch.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve always felt that Monkey Punch was influenced by artist Jack Cole, though I’ve never seen that confirmed. It’s certain that many American comics made it into Japan after WWII though G.I.s and their families.

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