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Recently the upcoming live-action Attack on Titan movie made waves by landing a lead actor and filming location, but the giant-fighting tale isn’t the only anime set to leap to the movie screen with a human cast. We’re just four months away from the release of the live-action Lupin III film, and producers have released the first stills of its cast of roughish outlaws.

Despite the name, Lupin III isn’t the last part of a trilogy. Rather, it’s a reference to the gentleman thief Arsène Lupin, the central character in a series of novels written by French author Maurice Leblanc with its last published installment coming in 1939.

When creating the Lupin III comic in 1967, flamboyantly named manga artist Monkey Punch drew inspiration from a variety of international sources. Aside from making his thieving protagonist the grandson of Leblanc’s Lupin, he set many of the series’ capers in European locales, and the artist himself has spoken of how his drawing style has heavily influenced by the art of defunct American humor publication Mad Magazine.

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Lupin III went on to have an immense impact on anime and Japanese pop culture in general. The TV anime version’s jazzy opening is instantly recognizable even to people with no real interest in animation as a medium, and the franchise’s 1979 theatrical feature, The Castle of Cagliostro, was the first movie directing credit for the man who would go on to become the most celebrated figure in Japanese animation, Hayao Miyazaki.

But despite having over 250 episodes of TV animation and more than a dozen anime movies and direct-to-video adventures, Lupin and his gang haven’t been portrayed by live actors in Japan since 1974. All five of the core Lupin III cast is set to appear in the new film. Aside from the titular thief, there’s the sexy and mysterious Fujiko, who flip-flops between being Lupin’s love-interest and adversary, his Abe Lincoln bearded henchman Jigen, taciturn swordsman Goemon (himself the descendent of the feudal-period Japanese outlaw with whom he shares a name), and the man tasked with putting a stop to the crew’s antics, Inspector Zenigata.

For the live-action film, Lupin will be portrayed by multi-talented Shun Oguri, who in addition to movie directing and stage acting also has experience as an actor in live-action anime adaptations including Hana Yori Dango and Great Teacher Onizuka.

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Filling the role of right-hand-man Jigen is Tetsuji Tamayama, the model-turned-actor whose previous anime adaptation credits include Casshern and Nana. Tapped to play Goemon is actor Go Ayano, who’s no stranger to action-packed anime-based films after his work in Gantz and Ruroni Kenshin.

Meanwhile, Meisa Kuroki continues her string of standing in for prominent leading ladies of anime, which started with the 2008 TV drama version of One-Pound Gospel and continued with 2010 Space Battleship Yamato film. Finally, Tadanobu Asano, playing Zenigata, is the most likely to be familiar to mainstream Western audiences, due to his appearances in Battleship and 2013’s 47 Ronin.

The film’s producer, Mataichiro Yamamoto, says the story will focus on how the band of thieves meet and form their avarice-based alliance. “We’ve created a film that anyone can enjoy, regardless of nationality,” he asserted while speaking to the press.

Yamamoto went on to say his dream would be for the live-action Lupin III to be the start of a continuing series of movies. Whether or not the film will be successful to warrant multiple sequels remains to be seen, but the team will behind it will get to make their case when Lupin III opens on August 31 in Japan.

Source: Jin
Top image: Jin
Insert images: Jojoscope, Behind the Voice Actors