The obligatory question: where do I start?

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This has likely been asked at some point before but I might as well just in case it hasn't.
I've seen a video or two about where to start with the various anime series but I'd like to get opinions from multiple passionate people in the community. As of now I've only watched the first few episodes of Part 2. Movie suggestions are welcome too!
Also, sub or dub? I know in the case of Part 2 that the sub is really solid but the dub is ridiculous, and I've been leaning towards the latter for some time but wasn't 100% sure.
 

JeyPawlik

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I made a google doc with recs for this exact purpose!

I'm a subs only kinda guy, because Yasuo Yamada is absolutely incredible as Lupin. All the little noises he makes (especially in Castle of Cagliostro and Gold of Babylon) are a joy.
 

dabadee

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Castle of Cagliostro, Mystery of Mamo, and The First would be recommended to watch.

You can pretty much start from anywhere between Parts I-III but if you want to watch the modern parts start with Part IV then Part V.

But beware that TWCFM and the IIIRD movies are WAY different than other Lupin media due to having the grittiest pieces of media in the franchise.

As for subs or dubs? I prefer to watch dubs tbh but it would depend on what I’m watching since there’s all of different voice actors for Lupin and the gang in different shows and movies.
 
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is really down to in most cases more on what you like rather than have to follow an order or a certain watch order. It's why people have different recommendations like whether they like action or want something more tamer. A majority of the series is episodic with only the later series starting from Part 4 having storyline episodes. There are some entries that do require better knowledge of the series than others and in rare cases may have two parters or a continuation (even Part 2 has a flashback to Part 1). It's why personally wouldn't recommend Part 5 to a newcomer just on the grounds of fan service and multiple connections but many people have watched Part 5 as their first entry, it does introduce Albert and Yata though, the latter appears more in the new stuff.

The goto gateways in the past have been: The Castle of Cagliostro, Episode 0, The First and series wise Part 2 (classic Lupin) and Part 4 (modern Lupin)

Since you already started with Part 2, you already have a fair idea what the characters are like with the exception of Zenigata who in other entries may be more competent. You can stick with Part 2, just to prepare that only 81 episodes have an English dub. For modern Lupin series, Part 4 as mentioned introduces the storyline episodes and takes elements from various series making it its own but even then probably take a few more episodes to get the feel of the characters. After all the opening of Part 4 isn't the best to know what the characters are like and has a misconception that gets resolved later down the line.

(While I would also recommend Part 1, it is a series that is showing its age and the first episode can be a turn off. It just depends whether they can watch early 1970s rougher looking animation in terms of style and am in two minds whether to recommend this to a newcomer or ones they got into the series more. There are some great episodes though and it is later on the series an early work of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata while earlier episodes are more closer to the manga. Yep. As a note; only Parts 1, 2, 3, 5, Lupin Zero, the OVAs Lupin Family Lineup, Return of Pycal, Is Lupin Still Burning and the TV Special Alcatraz Connection have some ties with the manga whether it is adaptations, references or characters. There's probably a few that I missed out. Just mentioning this as unlike a majority of manga to anime adaptations, the manga is more forgotten outside of Japan and is more questionable.)

For films The Castle of Cagliostro has been for many people their first Lupin, as a warning it is tamer than the majority of the series but watching this does help with the many references and throwbacks in later Lupin entries and other anime/TV series/films too. It is also a Miyazaki film so you get that great animation and people do include this with Studio Ghibli watches (along with Nausicaa but weirdly not Panda Go Panda, a Miyazaki-Takahata two film series by Tokyo Movie). While personally I have yet to see The First, it does make for a good first entry in terms of the series and more tonally closer with the only downside being one of the few 3D CG anime in the entire series and the best animated one too. Both The First and Cagliostro introduces for a newcomer "the girl of the week" where it focuses on the female lead for the film/episode, a typical plotline that pops up in the series especially in TV Specials even if Part 1 does technically introduce this plotline first. Episode 0 is another movie and a good TV Special for a newcomer, it's even an "origins story". The TV Special concept while isn't unique to Lupin is a part of the series identity. Lupin has a lot more TV movies than theatrical ones and you get different recommendations depending on who you ask literally. Episode 0 is one that gets mentioned the most.

I would also recommend The Mystery of Mamo. Usually people recommend this one a bit later into the series but thinking about it... People recommend Cagliostro and that's different compared to some Lupin entries as good as it is, while Mamo may be more wild is still more of what you expect from Lupin. Bearing in mind "typical Lupin" is usually in between Mamo and Cagliostro in terms of behaviour. It explores the relationships of the characters, it has a great villain, it has a deep plot line especially for the 1970s and has some decent animation too. It also makes it easier to prepare for the tonal shifts that the series does from time to time but if you carry on with Part 2, you get that as well. Plus Mamo took some stylings from the manga and was Monkey Punch's favourite. It was also a gateway for many of the earlier anime fans because it was the first movie, even the English name came off from a really old school anime fan (just because he didn't want to call it Lupin vs the Clone). Another bonus it is rewatchable especially with the bonus of 4 English dubs!

There is also a spinoff series called The Woman Called Fujiko Mine and in the same lines Lupin the IIIrd OVA series (Jigen's Gravestone, Goemon's Bloodspray, Fujiko's Lie; all of these follow on from each other). These are more mature and hardboiled than the mainline series. Even between TWCFM and Lupin the IIIrd have their differences. TWCFM is also almost an entirely storyline focused series, some people do recommend this but it's not for everyone... The OVA series though is still recommended (with a caution though). Lupin Zero is also a spinoff but tonally different and is not part of these series (does take a few cues from the manga though).

As for sub or dub, in most cases it is personal preference. With the series, sadly not everything is dubbed and some of it are early dubs that have issues of the time with the worst offender being The Fuma Conspiracy. Fuma also happens to be one of the very few entries that also has a different Japanese cast than the usual. Then there's Part 2 where the English dub in places is more of its own thing. In terms of content it goes Japanese original -> Italian dub (most of the series outside of some more obscure entries, because Lupin was popular in Italy) -> English dub -> most other dubs. Each have their own advantages and disadvantages like if you're bad at hearing, subtitles but if you have problems reading text then dubs are the option. Modern dubs (Part 1, Part 5, Part 6, Goodbye Partner, Prison of the Past, Episode 0) are really good though and differences are usually down to lip-sync. There may be some lines changed here and there but generally stick to the original script. Also as a plus, the current dub cast is just as praised as the Japanese cast so you're in good hands. It's not to say the other cast are awful (the Streamline, Funimation and Lupin the IIIrd dub cast have their moments to shine)...

The exception is Part 4 due to some complex licensing where the English dub was based off an earlier incomplete version of the anime while the Japanese version is considered the final. While you can still watch the English dub and be able to enjoy it, the Japanese sub has animation fixes (especially episode 21/20 JP version), has an actual animated intro/credits and has the Lupin music (the music in the English/Italian versions is different). Also the dub version was rushed out so it may not have the expected level of polish, still good all things considering.

A warning though if you do go to the sub option, not everything is subbed well because not all Lupin entries are licensed and in the case of the Part 2 Crunchyroll subs after episode 79, they were based on a script dating back to the 1980s so expect typos, lines that make no sense, skipped lines (applies to Part 3 too), mistranslations and not having the nicknames that we known (Pops for Zenigata, Fujicakes for Fujiko). Even the Discotek subs that are basically the best have a few translation issues and typos to watch out for. Part 6 has a good sub too.
 
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This is how I would describe each of the Parts to those new to the Lupin.

Part 1: Starts off as a slower and moodier show that matches the kind of crime dramas of the time (It's still has fun with the concept). Once Osumi was replaced by Miyazaki and Takahata, things get more light-hearted and has slapstick. The change isn't too sudden as some episodes were partially produced by Osumi before his departure. He was uncredited and thenscripts were altered a bit. It's intersting to see such a short series go through a change like this and have it feel natural. I recommend checking out all of it. Honestly the worst thing is how the first episode has Fujiko strapped to a tickle torture machine =/

Part 2: Is like a fun saturday morning cartoon. It's got a lot of fun energy and really strange episodes here and there. Three episodes involve Jesus Christ is some way. That was not a joke. Most Parts are tied to a location in some way but Part 2 is all around the world. There's some amazing episodes in there which Jey has listed in their document (I also recommend episodes 99 and 151). Some are really bad, one of them is anti-semitic and it is my personal most hated episode of Lupin III. I've seen every episode, all I can say you don't have to.

Part 3: If you're fine with off model animation then Part 3 is a treat. It starts with character designs closer to the manga but as time goes on they get more rounder and simpler. The visual animation goes off and it has a lovely colour palette. Some of the staff worked on Inspector Gadget, so it has a similar vibe. Sadly poc characters look pretty bad. Overall it's fun to check all of it, if it clicks with you.

Part 4: It's hard for me to pin down Part 4 but it feels a little like a soft reboot. It kinda reintroduces the cast with their own episodes. The Zenigata one (Until the full moon wanes) is really good. A problem I have with the modern Parts is how it foucus more on Lupin and the rest of the cast feel sidelined, especially Zenigata and Goemon. I really like Rebecca and Nyx but it seems people are mixed on them. Since Lupin is based on Sean Connery James Bond. Nyx acts as a foil as he's loosely based on Daniel Craig James Bond. (The silly old vs the serious new). Rebecca is Paris Hilton if she decided to start stealing.
Yawackhary already covered the odd sub/dub situation.

Part 5: It has a mixed reception. For some it's the best one, while others would say it's their least favourite. I've seen fans of it say it's a great starting point and I would have to disagree. The drama works better if you have a basic understanding of the cast. It also has tonnes of references to older entries. Best to have a few episodes and movies under your belt before giving it a go.
Both Albert and Yata were introduced in this one and they are new reoccurring characters.

Part 6: this one was a covid production that was rushed to meet an arbitrary anniversary deadline (the animes 50th). The first half was helmed by a mystery writer with little anime experience. He was replaced by Shigeru Murakoshi for the second half (he worked on zombie land saga).
Part 6 is a big old mess.
I can only recommend this to 2 types of people. Those who like watching bad productions and janky animation. Looking for what kind of animation shortcuts they made under such short deadlines.
Those who love watching melodramatic dramas like Bones, Grey's anatomy, Criminal Minds, Bones, CSI and 911. It will have all the cliches you'd expect and the episode plot structure will be familiar.
I am both of these people and I enjoyed Part 6 but I know it's not good. I'm just built different, I like odd and messy media. The subs are good and I enjoyed the small literature references. The Mamoru Oshii episodes were neat, very different from your usual Lupin. After the sherlock arc, the witch and gentleman arc was pleasant surprise for me personally. Episode zero is great but like part 5 best to save that one for later.
BUT there is a reason why a lot dislike it. This is coming from someone who likes it, it's best to avoid it for now (or forever). Go to it later if you get curious or have the same particular tastes like me. If you do decide to watch it. My top tip is you can skip the sherlock arc if it you hate it. The two arcs are separate.
 
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It really can come to your taste at end of the day.

some things just haven't aged as well such as certain episodes in part 1 for example, Personally I would start with The Castle of Cagliostro or The First and go wherever you want from there
I think there's a decision to make to either start from the classics or the modern after you've watched those two though.

First contact/Episode 0
Lupin Zero


are some other good options imo
 
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