A new trailer was released yesterday for Lupin III: The First, an entirely cg version of the iconic franchise, set to open December 6 in Japan. The new film revolves around Lupin partnering with a woman named Leticia to acquire the Bresson Diary, a treasure that guarantees great fortune to anyone who can unravel its secrets.

The Lupin III franchise has been evolving for half a century, outgrowing its manga origins to encompass anime films and series, videogames, and even stage musicals — but this is the character’s first appearance in a computer-animated feature. The character Lupin III first appeared in a 1967 manga by Kazuhiko Kato, better known by his pen name Monkey Punch. The comic pitted the world-renowned thief against the tireless Inspector Zenigata in various outlandish scenarios; Lupin was conceived as the grandson of Arsène Lupin, star of Maurice Leblanc’s turn-of-the-20th-century crime capers, although Kato was also influenced by action-adventure stories like Ian Fleming’s creation, James Bond.

The manga was a hit, and the first spin-off anime series, Lupin the Third Part I, was broadcast in 1971. Some anime translations preserve the comic’s dark, raunchy spirit, while others tone it down for family audiences, including Hayao Miyazaki’s feature The Castle of Cagliostro and the episodes he directed for Lupin the Third Part I.

The director of the new feature is Takashi Yamazaki, the man behind Dragon Quest: Your Story and Stand by Me Doraemon. Marza Animation Planet is handling the animation production.

Kato died in April, but he saw enough of the new feature to write the following, which is posted on the film’s official website: “I’ve been looking forward to a 3d cg Lupin III for a long time. I’ve taken a look at the characters and story: it looks like this Lupin will come packed with new sensations, and I’m getting excited just thinking about how the film will turn out.”

The producers of the film hope that this will be the first in a series of cg versions of Lupin III, and also believe that the film could perform well beyond Japan. “It would make me happy if both enthusiastic Lupin fans and first timers will feel an increasing love for Lupin after seeing the film,” says the film’s producer Takeshi Ito. “I also wish that The First will become a bridge for delivering more stories from Japan to the world.”

The franchise remains a force to be reckoned with in Japan. The latest theatrical installment, the adult-oriented Lupin the IIIrd: Fujiko Mine’s Lie, was released in May, and ranked no. 1 in the mini-theater rankings in Japan in its opening weekend. For newcomers, Anime News Network’s roundup of the character’s various anime outings is a useful guide.

(Amid Amidi contributed to this story.)

Latest News from Cartoon Brew