Monkey Punch HeadshotEarlier today, news sources in Japan reported that Lupin III creator Monkey Punch (real name Kazuhiko Katō) passed away on April 11. He was 81 when he succumbed to pneumonia. A small private funeral service was held for close family members. A public memorial will be held at a later date.

Monkey Punch was born on May 26, 1937 in the town of Hamanaka, Hokkaido. He began drawing at a young age, and saw his first manga strips published in his high school newspaper. After graduation, he moved to Tokyo, where he continued to draw while attending a technical school for electronics. He was discovered by Futabasha during this period, when he was working with a doujinshi circle.

Monkey Punch worked under the pen name “加東一彦” (Katō Kazuhiko), before making his début in 1965 with Playboy School, which he wrote under the pseuydonum “Eiji Gamuta.” His editor suggested the pen name “Monkey Punch” for his next project, Lupin III, which launched in the pages of Weekly Manga Action in 1967.

In 2005, Monkey Punch was granted tenure as a professor of Manga Animation at Otemae University. In 2010, he was named a visiting professor at Tokyo University of Technology in 2010.

Through his career, Monkey Punch was awarded numerous accolades, including the San Diego Comic Con Inkpot Award, the Rome Comic Festival ROMICS Gold Award, the AMD Award Achievement Award, and the Tokyo Anime Award Animation Achievement Award.

We would like to extend our deepest condolences to Katō-sensei’s family and friends.

Sources: Twitter (lupin3_series), Comic Natalie, Mantan Web