The creator of the popular Japanese anime series "Lupin the Third" has died. The company that produces the series announced that Monkey Punch, whose real name was Kazuhiko Kato, died of pneumonia last Thursday. He was 81.
He was born in northern Japan's Hokkaido Prefecture. After taking evening courses to obtain his high school diploma, he moved to Tokyo.
He started drawing manga when he was hired by a publisher on a part-time basis. He debuted as a full-time cartoonist in 1965.
In 1967, his "Lupin the Third" series was first published in installments in a new weekly comic magazine.
The series immediately created a buzz due to its distinct characters with long limbs and stories with an exotic style influenced by American comics.
The anime version of "Lupin the Third" first hit the small screen in 1971. Since then the series has been popular on TV and the big screen.
Viewers enjoy the adventures of the main character, gentleman thief Lupin the Third, the glamorous Fujiko Mine and rival detective Zenigata.
Monkey Punch enrolled in a graduate school program on computerized manga creation when he was well past 60. He recently taught manga and anime at universities.