Netflix's Lupin: The Evolution of Lupin vs. Ganimard

Interestingly, Monkey Punch’s Lupin III anime seems to have split the Ganimard persona into three distinct characters. The namesake is Ganimard III, the same age as Lupin III, and burdened with several generations of Ganimard family guilt and embarrassment over letting the Lupins consistently outwit them. Though Ganimard III only appears in Lupin the 3rd Part 1, he and Lupin III replicate their grandfathers’ dynamic of wily thief and bumbling inspector as concerns a French Fair exhibit of Arséne Lupin’s prized possessions. Ganimard III, who operates on logic and science, thinks he has laid the perfect trap for his contemporary, only for Lupin III to employ some retro tricks and crafty disguises to make history repeat itself as Ganimard III returns to France in shame.

Melon Ganimard, who may or may not be Ganimard III’s sister, seems to present more of a challenge to Lupin III in a future anime installment, with her ability to suss out his disguises and her penchant for throwing handcuffs at him. Yet despite her own canniness in disguising herself as a bombshell to try and fool him, Lupin III tells her that “he never forgets a woman” and traps her in her own family heirloom handcuffs.

Ultimately, neither Ganimard has the staying power of Lupin III’s best foil: Inspector Kōichi Zenigata from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police, who joins Interpol in an effort to catch the gentleman thief in the act. Alternating between goofy and serious depending on the adaptation, Zenigata’s most consistent character trait is his obsession with tracking Lupin down. The fact that they have similar enough builds makes for plenty of opportunities not just for Lupin to impersonate Zenigata (which helps fool the Ganimards) but for Zenigata to turn that trick around on him as well.

Countless close calls contribute to Zenigata’s hotheadedness, as Lupin manages to evade him each time. But even the inspector’s more impulsive moves are backed by legitimately sharp instincts and the keenness to anticipate Lupin’s moves—prompting the thief to point out that it’s a shame that Zenigata is a cop. In Hayao Miyazaki’s The Castle of Cagliostro, the two even form a pact (albeit temporarily) in order to escape the titular castle’s deadly catacombs. What started as a professional rivalry, with more than one occasion forcing them to save each other’s necks, has transformed into real respect and genuine affection.

“Chapter 6” of Lupin Part 2 initially subverts this modern Lupin/Ganimard relationship by having Guedira lie about his identity; at first he lets Assane believe that he is merely a good samaritan helping to rescue the captured Raoul (Etan Simon) from Pellegrini’s man Léonard (Adama Niane). But even by the end of that first episode, Assane reveals that he’s easily figured out who Guedira is, and—perhaps in a throwback to the anime’s Ganimard descendants—zip-ties him to their stolen car as he goes after Léonard alone. When he says, “You’re Ganimard,” it’s a compliment! Only Guedira figured out who Assane’s crimes were in homage to, because of their shared fandom for the Arsène Lupin canon. But the fact remains that Assane doesn’t work with cops.

That choice proves potentially devastating by the end of “Chapter 6,” the final scene which makes Assane and the viewers believe that Raoul has perished in the burning car. If the gentleman thief, so used to relying on only himself in the middle of a heist, had brought an ally, then his son might have survived.

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