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‘Lupin III’ manga creator never forgot his Hokkaido roots

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The hugely popular manga series “Lupin III,” whose eponymous protagonist is an indomitable master thief who never fails to pull off even the most ambitious heist imaginable, is hardly “Japanese” in style as well as narrative.

So is the creator’s in-your-face pen name of Monkey Punch. At first, I was fully convinced he had to be an artist from some exotic foreign land.

But I was wrong.

His real name was Kazuhiko Kato, and he died on April 11 at age 81.

Born in the laid-back town of Hamanaka, home to the Kiritappu Wetland near the eastern tip of Hokkaido, Kato grew up helping his family’s “konbu” (edible kelp) harvesting business. As a boy, he was........

© The Asahi Shimbun