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Why Some Netflix Fans Are Disappointed With Lupin

What did you expect from a show about a master of disguise?

Apparently the Louvre's security detail, the French authorities, and police captain Romain Laugier (Vincent Londez) aren't the only people who have found themselves thrown off by the hero of Netflix's new French heist series Lupin, Assane Diop (Omar Sy). Judging by the comments on Reddit, plenty of viewers have tuned in –– and perhaps been turned off –– thanks to a case of mistaken identity.

"i thought it was based on the japanese show, lupin III," wrote one commenter in a thread entitled "Lupin (Netflix) is greatly overrated."

"Same. They're both based on the fictional character (kinda), apparently," wrote u/Fakename998. These weren't the only users who got duped, either.

"I thought it was based on the anime and sort of lit up when my wife scrolled passed it," u/Garlicholywater added further down the thread. "Since my wife and I have such different tastes in shows she wanted to watch it with me. I was done after the first episode but she enjoyed it and we watched the first season."

How Netflix's series is inspired by the original Lupin

The fictional character alluded to in one of the above posts is the original Arsène Lupin, the gentleman thief and archetypical hero of French literature created in 1905 by the author Maurice Leblanc. Lupin's adventures have been chronicled in dozens of films, comics, plays, and television shows, including the two in question here. So the two series the Redditors are confusing are each inspired by the same character, but the way he is drawn upon in the Netflix show and the Lupin III anime differs wildly — yet another thing people get wrong about anime.

The Lupin of the Netflix show is much the same as the Lupin of the real world: A fictional character, created around the turn of the century by Leblanc. He remains ensconced in the pages of the books and stories Leblanc wrote, but his example as a charismatic thief inspires Diop to stage complicated heists, and remain one step ahead of the authorities in his quest for revenge against the wealthy family who framed his father decades before. 

Lupin III brings a descendent of the original to life

In Lupin III, on the other hand, the connection is explicit. The title character is the grandson of Arsène Lupin, and has followed in his progenitor's footsteps by becoming the world's greatest thief. In early portrayals both in the manga and the anime, Lupin III was a little more cold-blooded, but soon evolved into more of the traditional gentleman thief that the original Lupin embodied and that the Netflix show takes as its inspiration. Much of the anime features the younger Lupin using his skills as a master criminal to right injustice. He tends to be more interested in the challenge of the heists he and his gang pull than the ill-gotten rewards they yield.

Contributing to the confusion between the two Lupins might be the fact that the Lupin III franchise recently released a new, computer-animated film update, Lupin III: The First. The film debuted in December of 2019 in Japan, but wasn't released in the United States until October 18, 2020. It's currently available for purchase or rent from many of the usual suspects, but does not yet appear to be part of any service's streaming library. If and when it does appear there, expect more cases of mistaken identity between the two properties, just as each of their heroes would have liked it.