Lupin III’s 50th Anniversary Anime Pits Him Against Sherlock Holmes

Lupin III’s 50th Anniversary Anime Pits Him Against Sherlock Holmes
Lupin's on the case... of his own framing for murder! (Screenshot: TMS)

After making a bold leap into 3D CG animation with Lupin III The First last year, Monkey Punch’s iconic gentleman thief is going back to more traditional TV routes this year, with Lupin III Part 6 set to celebrate the character’s 50th anniversary. Bad news for poor Lupin though: he’s celebrating it while being hunted by none other than Sherlock Holmes.

While we’ve known that a new Lupin anime was in the way for a while at this point — and even that Lupin and friends would be heading over to London for their latest adventure. But as part of an announcement by Sentai Filmworks today to licence the series for home and streaming release via HiDive in North America, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as Scandinavia and other Nordic territories, a new plot synopsis revealed just what Lupin’s up to… and good lord, it’s a lot.

“Gentleman thief Lupin III is back and ready for his next caper — unless legendary sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, has anything to say about it! When Holmes’ longtime partner, Dr. Watson, is murdered, none other than Lupin tops the suspects list,” the synopsis, via Crunchyroll, reads in part. “With Holmes fast closing in, Lupin must prove his innocence and bring a shadowy organisation called the Raven to heel if he wants to live to steal another day.”

John Watson is dead! And Lupin, maybe, presumably not, killed him?! Oh dear. Lupin III certainly isn’t unfamiliar with darker material compared to its usual heist capers and fantastical adventures, but having him framed for the murder of half of one of the most iconic sleuthing duos (outside of Gotham) in literary history is kind of wild. But it’s also perfect to celebrate 50 years of Lupin III, given the character’s own literary roots beyond Monkey Punch’s manga.

Maurice LeBlanc’s famous novel hero Arsène Lupin (and Lupin’s grandfather in Lupin III), of course, went up against Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective in a duology of adventures collected in 1908’s Arsène Lupin versus Herlock Sholmès — named as such to avoid legal issues with Conan Doyle at the time. The author was not best pleased that LeBlanc had borrowed Sherlock for his stories, demanding that changes be made for the collection’s future publishing and translations outside of French. As you might have gathered… LeBlanc didn’t exactly change much.

Given how complex the rights around the Conan Doyle estate and usage of Sherlock Holmes are even over a century later, time will tell if Lupin III will be on the run from Sherlock or Herlock. Case in point — the long awaited release of The Great Ace Attorney detective games by Capcom in the West last month was forced to change its version of Sherlock Holmes into Herlock Sholmes for international release, despite the character staying as-intended in the original 2015 Japanese release.

But whether or not Lupin’s up against Holmes or Sholmes, we’re going to be in for a treat when Lupin III Part 6 begins in October.