Sunday, March 21, 2010


"The criminal is the creative artist; the detective only the critic." 
"The Blue Cross"

It's funny how one of my favorite detectives is in fact a criminal. Arsene Lupin from Maurice LeBlanc's novels is the quintessential gentleman thief. He will politely inform you he will rob you. Heck, Lupin will even offer a chance to the victim to send all the items Lupin wants to him beforehand, just so he doesn't need to go to through all the hassle. Strangely enough, there is a strong sense of justice in him too, so he'll not let evil (greater than him) go wild. Especially when there's women involved.

While I've read all of the English translations available of the Lupin stories, there are still some not available in English and so I had been holding them off. I could, in theory, go read them in the original French, but it's not something I would look forward to. Thus, I was quite surprised when I found several Lupin novels at the local bookstore as new releases of this month. Now I know that Lupin was (is?) quite popular in Japan, but to have a re-release in this day and age? And a smile forced its way on my face, a smile I always get when reading Lupin, when I found out that I hadn't read several of these novels yet. The reading backlog is gigantic anyway, so what difference are two or three books going to make?

Midori Me no Shoujo ("The Girl with the Green Eyes"), which is the translation of La Demoiselle aux yeux vert, is a Lupin novel, so experienced Lupin readers should immediately know what kind of novel this is. While the Lupin short story collections are more classical detective stories, the Lupin novels are more adventure stories with detection in it and are of more epic scale. In this novel, Lupin is victim of a train robbery, as well as witness to a murder commited by said robbers. The murder victim turned out to be a female thief, not unlike Lupin himself, while it at first seems that the murderer is a green-eyed girl. Because attractive girls can not possibly be murderers (according to Lupin), he tries to help the green-eyed girl and uncovers a plot of several parties all surrounding the poor girl. And he solves the murder somewhere along the way. And makes a fool of the magnificent bastard secret agent Marescal.

While the story is not a Lupin epic like 813 or the Teeth of the Tiger, it's certainly a nice read. Lupin does what Lupin does best: being a magnificent bastard and hero at the same time. I also feel this book had a bigger influence on Miyazaki Hayao's magnificent Lupin III movie, The Castle of Cagliostro, compared to the similarly named Countess of Cagliostro (people who say otherwise, probably haven't read the books).

I at first had my reservations about reading Lupin in Japanese, but after realizing I had been reading them in English instead of French anyway, I though that wouldn't make that much a difference. However, the translation is somewhat dodgy at times, after a quick comparison with the original text. While it's not a re-write, it seems that the translator did change bits and pieces here and there, like expanding certain passsages or for example actually using the name of Lupin instead of his alias Baron Limezy in the text. It's an old translation too.I love the retro design though! Cool art in on the cover as well inside the book, including maps and art for every named character in the novel!

And now's hoping they're going to re-release more of the novels. I still want to read the The Revenge of Cagliostro and all the other Lupin novels not available in English! 

Original Japanese title(s): モーリス・ルブラン 南洋一郎 『青い目の少女』

1 comment :

  1. Hi Ho-Ling,

    Are you enjoying yourself in Japan?
    Your blogs are a nice read from time to time, although they tend to keep me from doing my work..
    Nothing new here, just doing my job and enjoying life in Bussum, I think I’m going to life together with Fiona sometime soon. We already bought the necessary extra closet space.
    Since spring has started I think I am going to order 813 book you wrote about, so I have something to read on my balcony.

    Have a good time!