Manga artist Kazuhiko Kato, better known by his pen name Monkey Punch, has passed away. According to Mantan Web, Kato died from pneumonia on April 11. He was 81 years old.
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Kato took the name Monkey Punch at a manga editor’s recommendation during the mid-1960s. In 1967, when Lupin III debuted, the moniker stuck.
Lupin is the grandson of the gentleman thief Arsène Lupin, the famous French literary character. When the manga debuted, Kato used the character’s name without permission. The estate of novelist Maurice Leblance, who created the original Arsène Lupin, filed suit, but legal action was unsuccessful in Japan. Internationally, however, this is why the character’s name was initially different.
Lupin III went to become a highly successful manga and anime, and the 1979 film The Castle of Cagliostro, perhaps the best anime version, was directed and co-written by Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli fame.
The Lupin franchise is responsible for some of Japan’s most iconic characters, who are still incredibly popular to this day. Besides Lupin III, Kato created an array of manga, but was best known for his stylish crime series, which continues to delight generation after generation.