Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Monkey Punch, 1937-2019

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And the bad news keep coming, so much so that this blog is beginning to look like the obituaries page on some newspaper. I have learned only today of the death, on the 11th of April, of Japanese cartoonist Kazuhiko Katō, better known as Monkey Punch, the author of the 1967 Lipin III manga series on which the animated series and movies (and video games and what else) where later based.

Lupin III was part of the first wave of Japanese animation that hit my country at the end of the 70s. The first series, from 1971-72, debuted in Italy in 1979, and it was different.
In a scene that was all giant robots and little orphans (with the occasional space pirate who had adopted a little orphan), Lupin III was action-oriented and amoral, violent and damn sexy.
It became a hit, especially with older kids.

Later we’d see the wonder that is Castle of Cagliostro and the later series and so on and so forth, but that first season was a revelation.
It also caused concerned parents and assorted busybodies to go for their salts – and in later years the Lupin III episodes would be severely cut to protect the innocents from seeing too many boobs and too many people shot to death.

Which is ironic, considering the animation was always very tame compared to Monkey Punch’s comics – that were adult-oriented and over the top in every sense.

It can be said that Katō-san work has left an indelible mark on my generation, and taught some of us how to design an action scene.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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