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The Castle of Cagliostro – Review September 28, 2009

Posted by Cello in Anime Reviews.


Things open with Lupin and Jigen accomplishing a major score from a casino. As they make off with the dough, however, Lupin notices that it’s all counterfeit. Looking for a big score, Lupin decides to set off to the rumored source of the fake bills, the Castle of Cagliostro. Fans of the original Lupin III comic may not appreciate it as much since the characters act a little nicer than the fans may prefer. However, This work is a cut above and deserves a higher respect, as it’s done by a man who clearly has more respect for the art. That man, of course, is Miyazaki. Grown-ups and non-anime fans should not be put off by the artwork for this is a great film that reminds me of Bond movies. It has exciting car chases, a clever hero that gets himself out of sticky situations, and an evil super-villain.

While I generally prefer to watch films in their native language, the English dub is reasonably accurate and is tolerable in part because of the better sound quality. The animation is weak when it comes to fluid body movements, but outstanding in its attention to detail. At a time when so much anime seems overly tedious and melodratic, it’s refreshing to see a film that has a grand sense of adventure and being humorous all at the same time. This movie is wall to wall fun.


Lupin’s market presence in the U.S. does not remotely approximate his popularity in Japan, that is for certain. The animation is obviously dated, since the film is over 20 years old, but there are elements all still intact. Much of both the comedy and action is based in exaggeration. The character designs are realistic, but facial expressions are frequently comically exaggerated. Castle of Cagliostro is a great adventure film, but lacks the emotional realism and epic narratives that make up his later films. It may be Miyazaki’s best on a pure entertainment factor.

I enjoyed the movie, but could not quite understand why so many animation and adventure movie lovers claim it as a modern classic. Some of the things Lupin does are beyond human possibility, like driving up walls and swimming up waterfalls. This bugged me for some reason.  Minor complaints aside, you don’t need to be familiar with the world of Lupin III to enjoy Castle of Cagliostro. On the positive side, the movie is a lot of fun, and well worth watching. Not to mention that the story appeals to all ages and is fairly safe for family viewing. Can’t go wrong there!



1. hagiblog - September 28, 2009

I love Lupin! I just picked up some old volumes of the series for 4 bucks a shot. I’ll have to make sure to keep my eyes peeled for this one since I haven’t seen anything other than some episodes on TV now and again.

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