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GreenCine Movie Talk
Discuss all topics related to anime.

Phantom Thieves!
Topic by: OtakuNYC
Posted: April 5, 2004 - 3:43 PM PDT
Last Reply: June 12, 2008 - 12:44 PM PDT

author topic: Phantom Thieves!
post #1  on April 5, 2004 - 3:43 PM PDT  
Hi! I'm new here, so I hope I don't break any crazy forum taboos by posting this...

I'm looking for the original phantom thief anime series.

Recently I watched the first episode of the anime series "Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne," which seems to fit into a phantom thief sub-genre of sorts, which includes: Saint Tail, DNAngel, and the Man of Many Faces manga. In KKJ, like the other series listed, Jeanne is good-hearted "phantom thief" who's identity is hidden from the public. The rules of the sub-genre are like this: She only steals items to set things right (returning them to the rightful owner, etc.), she has an informant who tells her what items need to be stolen, she always announces the date and time of her theft to the police so they can try and stop her, she wears a ridiculous outfit and uses magician (but not magical, necessarily,) tricks to elude the cops, and there's a kid who's father is on the police force who's friends with Jeanne in school, but determined to stop her alter ego, the phantom thief - and is somehow allowed to attend stake-outs.

There are small differences between the different series, but for the most part the plot is the same. In Saint Tail a girl who wants to be a nun is the informant, in KKJ the informant is a very small angel, and in DNAngel and Man of Many Faces, the parents tell the kids what to steal (although in the other two shows, secret identities are hidden from the parents. DNAngel also has some nonsense about DNA and Angels in it. In Man of Many Faces (based on my extensive reading of a Tokyopop sampler) the protagonist is an adorable little boy with two mothers.

Saint Tale is a surprisingly good show, but what I wonder is, what is the ur-text for the phantom thief sub-genre? For example, Utena is an OK show that stole liberally from Rose of Versailles, which is a slightly better show. Both series are about sword-fighting girls who want to be princes and dress as such, but where Utena takes place in a crazy high school, the other series takes place in the court at Versaille before the revolution. Likewise, "Magical Angel Creamy Mami" is a pretty good girl-magically-turns-into-older-girl-who's-a-pop-star show, far superior to the series it seemed to directly inspire: Fancy Lala and Full Moon o Sagashite.

I'm assuming Saint Tale is not the first phantom thief show, and that some really good phantom thief show predates it. I'd like to see that show. Does anyone have any ideas? Or, I suppose, more chains of anime series that rip-off their predecessors?
post #2  on April 5, 2004 - 5:47 PM PDT  
Ok, so that I'm getting things straight here, you want the first ever produced anime that fits into this sort of genre? I'm not sure I can help you much there.
Your criteria are oddly specific, though. Seems like you've really been through this sub-genre pretty well; a lot of those things apply to lots of other animes as well, though not specifically thieves (like the anonymous informant in Big O).

The best I can do for you is Lupin the Third. It's the oldest and most influential thief anime I know of, and probably was the precursor to the show you're looking for. Lupin doesn't live a double-life, or have a consistant informant, or qualify in many of the other ways you mentioned, but I feel confidant that someone took the idea of having a thief as the main character and put the double-life, secret identity spin to it sometime down the road.

If you like thieves, you've probably already found King of Bandit Jing. No double-life here either, but definately good for a look (unlike Lupin, Jing is a good guy and doesn't (seem to) steal for personal gain).
post #3  on April 5, 2004 - 9:09 PM PDT  
I wouldn't recommend king of bandit jing, its alright and the theme song rocks, but its very cartoonish and I really don't like the kiel-royale attack thing I think its lame.

I don't really know too much about the genre :( if there is even much of one that is.
post #4  on April 5, 2004 - 10:53 PM PDT  
The original "phantom thief" or "good thief" is of course Robin Hood. All subsequent stories about renegade or vigilante outlaws who "steal from the rich and give to the poor" stem from the Robin Hood legend, I think. Later there are The Count of Monte Cristo and The Scarlet Pimpernel, the former is an escaped convict out for revenge and the latter is a sort of vigilante rescuer, but they fit the mold of the swashbuckling sympathetic outlaw. Next comes the character that can be called the archetype of the modern gentleman burglar, Frenchman Arsene Lupin (manga artist Monkey Punch's conceit is that Lupin III is the Japanese grandson of Arsene). Check out this linked website and I'm sure you'll begin to see where a lot of Japanese anime characters from Saint Tail to Tuxedo Mask owe their origins. All of these characters have been wildly popular in Japan, much more so than they are in America.

In this hemisphere, these heroes led to Zorro, The Lone Ranger, The Shadow, The Phantom and eventually to Batman.

Around the same time, an author widely credited as the father of Japanese detective/crime fiction emerged, Edogawa Rampo. He took his pen name from the Japanese pronunciation of Edgar Allen Poe (Edogaa Aran Po)... Edogawa is anime hero Detective Conan's last name, in a tribute to both Rampo and Conan-Doyle. Edogawa was heavily influenced by Poe as well as the European antecedents described above.

Poe was the creator of Auguste Dupin, the first modern fictional detective. Dupin is a clear ancestor of both Sherlock Holmes and Arsene Lupin.

Edogawa Rampo created a detective named Kogoro Akechi, considered to be Japan's Sherlock Holmes. However, his villains were even more interesting, among them the Diabolical Kaijin Niju-menso... a master of disguise, often depicted as a dashing man in a tux, top hat and mask. Niju-menso was an arch-criminal like Moriarty, the flip side of French burglar Arsene Lupin.

So all this literature was poured into the minds of impressionable young Japanese, some of whom grew up to be famous manga/anime artists (and one who grew up to be GCitizen hamano).

In terms of sheer style, the biggest influence for the anime phantom thief good-guy (Lupin III, Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne, and Saint Tail) has got to be Arsene Lupin, with a dash of Cary Grant's John Robie from To Catch A Thief.

The biggest model for the anime phantom thief villain is probably Edogawa Rampo's Niju-menso.

I can't think of an anime series that came before Jeanne and Saint Tail that starred a phantom thief protagonist per se. The archetype precedes anime, and similar characters often appeared as side characters in other earlier anime shows. The appearance of Sailor Moon's Tuxedo Mask and his later incarnation Moonlight Knight are clearly based on Niju-menso and Gekkou Kamen, another pulp/manga superhero. Although Lupin III takes his name from Arsene Lupin, in style he owes a lot more to James Bond and the John Robie character from To Catch A Thief.
post #5  on July 20, 2004 - 6:33 PM PDT  
Going to have to bring this up because I just recently watched a really good phantom thief genre anime.

Cats Eye

its old-school, like early 80s old school, but its good and the theme song is catchy, basically its about three girls who run a coffee shop during the day and steal stuff at night, I can see where DN Angel totally ripped this show off.

Anyway its probably like Mahoujin Guruguru never going to be licensed here because its older and predates animes new rising popularity in the states... which actually I could go off about because utter sh** gets licensed nowadays because its new while really great series never come to the states because its older stuff. anyhow...

heres a description:

Cats Eye

oh and its made by the same guy as City Hunter, so if you liked that chances are you will like this, or if you like phantom anime this is probably a must see, they are up to ep 6 now and they said on their site they will release an ep every 2 weeks (or try to) and so far they have had timely releases.

Download from here via bittorent

Well Im already hooked and damn the op theme is catchy.

post #6  on July 21, 2004 - 6:50 AM PDT  
Hamano, that lecture was by the far the best I've come across in ages. I bow to the greatness.

And you seem to have a wealth of knowledge that continually astounds me! You're like some kinda cool Cliff Claven(sp) for the new millenium!
post #7  on July 21, 2004 - 9:36 AM PDT  
The main character in Mouse sort of fit the Phantom Thief description, although we never actually see him "gives to the poor" in the first volume. The show is really dumb and not recommend for kids under 14, anyway.
post #8  on July 23, 2004 - 11:30 PM PDT  
Yeah, I was all set for the gung ho cheer for the subversive but totally appropriate underdog bit but ended up like...huh? Okay, I'll stop this and turn on Hamtaro or something. Another case of the medium screwing up the delivery or something. Look, I wasn't all "hey, let's cheer the uppper class cuz they make the poor look sucky" but was like "okay, 15 minutes have passed, where are the panty shots." Not the right message, I think. Unless you are making a video about panty shots. Which I'm all for.

> On July 21, 2004 - 9:36 AM PDT NLee wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> The main character in Mouse sort of fit the Phantom Thief description, although we never actually see him "gives to the poor" in the first volume. The show is really dumb and not recommend for kids under 14, anyway.
> ---------------------------------

post #9  on July 23, 2004 - 11:42 PM PDT  
screw all y'all! Mouse 4ever!

I agree that Mouse is stupid and pointless and mind-drainingly inane. But it's funny in that delightfully lecherous sort of way. And the last episode is pretty good. The whole "phantom theif" angle shouldn't have been the focus of the series, and the Master/Maid relations should have been thought out for more than 5 seconds and written by someone who had at least been to some high school. Then that could have been the driving force of the show instead of the lame theif stuff.
post #10  on June 12, 2008 - 12:44 PM PDT  
Thread Necro

Phantom Thieves

for no other real reason.

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