Arsène Lupin – Gentleman Thief
Recently, I came across a French show called Lupin that’s being shown on Netflix. The show is pretty good, but it’s something that I learned while watching it that prompted this post.
You might be familiar with the name Lupin from the fun Japanese manga and animated series titled Lupin III (Lupin sansei). (You might even remember the arcade game called Cliff Hanger? Ack, I’m aging myself again!) 😛
If you have never seen Lupin III, I recommend it. The movies by Miyazaki are terrific. (Goemon is my favorite character! “I have once more cut a worthless object.” Bwahahaha) Monkey Punch created a fun cast of characters. Lupin himself is a lecherous thief with a heart of gold.
Lots of action and craziness. Booyah!
What I did not know.
What I had not realized before seeing the French show was that Lupin (Aka Lupin III’s Grandfather) came from a series of stories and books started in 1905 by Maurice Leblanc. (I’d heard of the French thief Lupin but had not realized he was actually a fictional character!)
So, supercurious, since the Lupin show talks about the Gentleman Thief’s adventures and popularity as well as his hijinks, I went and found “The Extraordinary Adventures of Arsène Lupin, Gentleman Thief.” It was AWESOME!
(I found a $.99 version at Amazon that was on special, but you can also find it at Project Gutenberg) Sadly, it appears not all of the books are available free or not (I haven’t found the Countess of Cagliostro AKA Memoirs of Arsène Lupin yet for one), and some of these have been given multiple names, so beware!) (Some call him gentleman thief, others gentleman burglar.)
Why is it AWESOME?
There are several reasons and then some surprising ones I did not expect! So let’s start with the first ones.
The writing is charming, tricky, and it pokes fun at everything. Even if you see what’s coming, the execution still keeps you enthralled. There’s wit, smarts, puzzles of all kinds. Totally entertaining!
Then there was this surprise…
What? What does Sherlock Holmes have to do with Arsène Lupin? Why he’s in there! That’s what! ROFL. It knocked me for a loop. French writer, French stories, and then BAM, Sherlock Holmes enters the fray!
Yes! Dispairing of Inspector Ganimard’s inability to figure out how Arsène Lupin managed some thefts, some aristocrats write to Holmes and get him involved. Not just once, either! (I just finished the “Blonde Lady,” and Sherlock was back!)
Throwing in Holmes does several things as well; it expands the social commentary as well as the never-ending back and forth with regards to the French being French and the English being English.
Just when I was sure I couldn’t be surprised anymore, I got my final shock!
Sherlock Holmes vs. Arsène Lupin PC Game!
Bwahahahaha! Frogwares, a software company known for their Sherlock Holmes PC games (I’ve played several), actually did a Sherlock Holmes vs. Arsène Lupin one! (The name was changed for marketing purposes to Sherlock Holmes Nemesis as they recently updated the 2008 game.)
Unlike the books, this one is in England. Arsène Lupin has thrown the gauntlet down and plans to shame the English by stealing several artifacts. He’s given Holmes notice, challenging him to try and stop him! (Heck, I stumbled onto the fact they were doing a Sherlock Holmes Collection Special, so I just cheaply grabbed a bunch of the older Sherlock Holmes games I didn’t already have. Double Booyah! It was like fate!)
Weird and Fun Facts!
- Copyright infringement #1 – First done by Maurice Leblanc on the use of Sherlock Holmes and Watson (That’s why you will see translations done pre-public domain refer to them as Holmlock Shears and Wilson – once Author Conan Doyle and his publishers complained!
- Copyright Infringement #2 – Committed by Monkey Punch on using the name Lupin and the character’s lineage to Arsène Lupin. (This is why in some places, for a time, Lupin was spelled Lopin.)
- Both Maurice Leblanc and Author Conan Doyle were unhappy because readers only wanted fiction from them with their famous characters. Of what they both considered more serious work, no one seemed to care or want.
So had you heard about Arsène Lupin before? Am I just behind everyone else? (I guess living under a rock does that. :P)
Have an awesome week!