On a whim, I bought the first volume of an Arsène Lupin manga by Takashi Morita. The original Japanese title is Aventurier – Shinyaku Arsène Lupin. There’s something that I like about the idea of gentleman thieves! Rather than being a loose reimagening or new take or modern reboot, this manga is about the actual Arsène Lupin character and adapts original stories by Maurice Leblanc, reportedly very faithfully. This first volume is based on a theatre play, and you can tell: It is very dialogue-heavy, with some info-dumping, and most of the plot takes place in one location.
I didn’t quite like the artwork, which struck me as pretty old-fashioned with fluffy 1990’s hair and exaggerated features. I’d have preferred something sleeker and cleaner, personally. But it’s easy to follow the story, which is more important than my personal preferences concerning the character design. :o Still …
The story itself is OK, but does not really contain any surprises or twists. I’ve never found Arsène Lupin to be thrillingly exciting, so it feels unfair to treat the manga’s predictableness as an outright flaw, but still. It’s an entertaining, occasionally amusing story, but it’s just not impressive.
I might check out the second volume one of these days, perhaps after reading the original story that it’s based on. So far, I’ve only read a handful of them – enough to recognize the references in this volume, by the way!
And like I said, I find the idea of gentleman thieves intriguing, but neither the original Lupin stories, nor this manga, have quite gripped me. Maybe one day I’ll find my perfect take on this classic concept, but it’s not happened yet, alas. My ideal Arsène Lupin manga would be visually stunning, stylish and full of psychological tension. Ayup. Maybe one day.