Monkey Punch, creator of hit manga Lupin III, dies at age 81

The Lupin III series tracked the exploits of master thief Arsène Lupin III, grandson of Arsène Lupin, the gentleman thief in Maurice Leblanc's detective novels of the early 20th century.
The Lupin III series tracked the exploits of master thief Arsène Lupin III, grandson of Arsène Lupin, the gentleman thief in Maurice Leblanc's detective novels of the early 20th century.PHOTO: KINOKUNIYA.COM

TOKYO - Japanese cartoonist Monkey Punch, creator of the hit anime and manga crime spoof Lupin III, died on April 11 in Sakura, Japan.

The 81-year-old, whose real name was Kazuhito Kato, died of pneumonia, his company, MP Pictures, said.

The Lupin III series tracked the exploits of master thief Arsène Lupin III, grandson of Arsène Lupin, the gentleman thief in Maurice Leblanc's detective novels of the early 20th century.

According to the Washington Post, Monkey Punch's manga creation was featured in at least six animated television series, eight animated feature films, two live-action feature films, two musicals and video games.

Monkey Punch, who directed the 1996 animated film Lupin III: Dead Or Alive, debuted as a professional cartoonist in 1965 while working part-time at a bookstore.

Keen to remain a draw as new technologies took shape, he studied multimedia adaptations of manga at the graduate school of Tokyo University of Technology from 2003.

He taught manga as a professor at Otemae University in Nishinomiya, from 2005, reported Japan Times.