I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Haruo Minami -- Lupin Ondo (ルパン音頭)

Lupin III - quirky, ladies' man, and most of all master thief. Or at least that's what I've read on Wikipedia. Though "Lupin III" is one of the more well known manga and anime titles, I can't say that I've read or watched any of it. The real deal, that is. I recall there was a short series in the manga magazine, CO-CO, I used to collect of the same name. However, rather than the slim-Jim in a red suit and hairdo that looks like half a dried coconut, the Arsene Lupin III I read about looked more like a combination of an old-world magician and Robin Hood. But either way, both have a knack for stopping mobster gangs and other bad guys from getting treasure and keeping it for himself, all while evading the cops.

Anyway, as with many popular manga/anime, "Lupin III" has got a number of movie adaptations, both animated and live-action, under its belt since it's release in 1967. An example of the animated films would be "The Mystery of Mamo" from 1978, or "Lupin III: Lupin vs. the Clones" (ルパン三世 ルパンVS複製人間). The theme song of this movie happens to be "Lupin Ondo" by, I wouldn't have guessed it, Haruo Minami (三波春夫). Initially I found it a little odd to see the rokyoku master singing something meant for an anime, but then his happy-go-lucky vocal delivery blend in with the entertaining premises of the song, which tells of Lupin and his ragtag team crossing various continents in their search for treasure. Penning it was the manga's author, Monkey Punch.

As you can see from the title, this anisong - it still feels weird to call one of Minami's works an anisong - has elements of the raucous, celebratory enka/minyo with the use of the taiko and probably a little shamisen. This combined with the saxophone makes for a whimsical, slightly jazzy melody; think of it as a jazzy version of "Tokyo Gorin Ondo" (東京五輪音頭), courtesy of pianist Yuji Ono ( 大野雄二).

"Lupin Ondo" was released in 1978 together with it's B-side, "Zenigata March" (銭形マーチ), that also concerns "Lupin III", but rather than Lupin and the gang it features Lupin's nemesis, the police investigator Koichi Zenigata (銭形幸一). Minami himself actually made a special "appearance" in "The Mystery of Mamo", lending his voice to an Egyptian Police Commissioner.


  1. Hi, Noelle.

    What a find! Never would have thought that the legendary Minami actually did an anison. I guess after all that jazz that usually inhabits a Lupin anime, a bit of festival kayo provides some refreshment.

    1. Yeah, it was quite baffling to note that Minami did an anison. But what was more surprising to read in the J-Wiki was that in the later years (90's) Minami had re-released a couple of his old singles like "Tokyo Gorin Ondo" and "Omanta Bayashi" with elements of house music in them! And then again, Mihashi dabbled in disco so I shouldn't be too surprised about house-music-Minami.

      Anyway, do you watch much of "Lupin III", J-Canuck? It looks quite amusing and I might consider watching it.

    2. Hello, Noelle.

      I have seen a few Lupin movies over the years including most recently the team-up (of sorts) between the thief and Conan the detective. It's been quite the caper-filled lark with Lupin and his team and I've enjoyed the jazzy soundtrack plus the famous theme song.


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