Let me admit that I have not watched many anime movies in my lifetime, not until recently with the popular films such as Your Name, A Silent Voice, and In This Corner of the World, which were all amazing and enjoyable. More specifically, I never really got to experience the pleasure of watching the supposedly awe-inspiring stories of Miyazaki Hayao and Ghibli studio in my childhood. It’s almost a sad thought to hear about, isn’t it?
Now I don’t blame my parents (*I would never blame my parents for anything) for not showing me the fantasies of Miyazaki, but it might’ve been because I had a different taste in movies and the general entertainment. or whatever the reason is might be. However, I do have some regret as I’ve always heard people around me talking about how Spirited Away was someone’s all-time favorite animated movie or even recently in my time here as an anime blogger, seeing many of my peers praise the works of Ghibli while I’m over here with the only Miyazaki films I’ve seen being Ponyo, Kiki’s Delivery Service and My Neighbor Totoro.
As I’ve been diving deeper into the wonderful world of anime recently and now that I write about it frequently, I’ve made it my goal to watch the great Studio Ghibli films I’ve missed in my childhood because I am sure they are worth watching. Today, I’m taking a break from reviewing anime TV series and instead, I’m going to be talking about a feature film which actually Miyazaki Hayao’s theatrical and directorial debut!
We follow an expert thief Arsène Lupin III —or as most people know him by the plain nickname of Lupin— with his partner-in-crime Daisuke Jigen alongside him, we find them escaping the police after they stole massive amounts of money from the Monte Carlo Casino. Upon fleeing away from the cops however, the two realize that the cash they have taken is actually all counterfeit. Disappointed at his wasted efforts, Lupin decides to track down whoever’s responsible for this, which leads him to the Grand Duchy aka. Lazare d’ Cagliostro. There, Lupin finds the imprisoned royal princess named Clarisse, who was unfortunately forced into an arranged marriage with Count Cagliostro so that he can obtain the prized treasures beneath their small town.
With the help of various people such as the thirteenth generation of renegade samurai Ishikawa, together with the ever-so-beautiful Mine Fujiko who is an expert when it comes to firearms, Lupin uses his clever tricks and skills to save Clarisse from further trouble.
First off, let me explain what this whole series is about. Lupin III is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Monkey Punch alias Kazuhiko Katou, which being first debuted in 1967. It follows Arsène Lupin III, the grandson of Arsène Lupin who is known as the ‘gentleman thief’; a character which originally created by a French writer named Maurice Leblanc and was included in many of Leblanc’s short novel stories. By having the criminal activities and thievery in his blood, Lupin follows the family lineage to the point of him becoming the world’s greatest thief, cleverly outsmarting whoever he’s stealing from. This is also why an Interpol Inspector named Zenigata Koichi is always chasing after him, even making it his life goal to catch and arrest Lupin. Alongside Lupin is his close ally Jigen Daisuke, an insanely accurate sharpshooter named Ishikawa Goemon XIII fills a role as a master swordsman; and occasionally together with Mine Fujiko, a beautiful lady who has a complicated relationship with Lupin —romance-wise.
This franchise has been very much popular as many mangas, anime TVs series, movies, CDs, and even video games have spawned out of the original manga series. As a matter of fact, a new instalment of the Lupin TV series actually airing in the current spring season of 2018; with this time Lupin and the gang going to France and finding that they have more risks of being caught while they’re in a much more modern and technology-heavy environment. So now that I’ve educated you a little about this great series, let’s talk about the movie itself and it’s backstory.
In 1971, Miyazaki Hayao —who has not created Ghibli studio yet— alongside Takahata Isao, directed all 23 episodes of the original TV series of Lupin III. A few projects later after Miyazaki contracted with TMS Entertainment, he was given the opportunity to direct his first film which later is known as Castle of Cagliostro, a perfect experience he had in depicting Lupin and the story revolving around him. He took on the roles of director, writer, storyboard and character designer; and in only seven months, Miyazaki and his team finished his first of many amazing films. And then I think you know what astonishing things would follow with him creating Studio Ghibli, writing and directing the more awe-inspiring films, winning an Oscar award, yadda yadda yadda..,..
I haven’t really experienced many action-adventure movies and stories, or more specifically mystery spy films like the James Bond series, but I thought Castle of Cagliostro really reflected those special kinds of movies that are loved by many. The common and interesting narrative of a spy being sly and executing clever and unexpected tricks against the enemy and his henchman in order to save something whether it be a loved one or a valuable object, I find those stories pretty intriguing to watch —it puts a unique spin on adventure stories. But with the distinct charm of the Lupin universe, it adds another level of entertainment for viewers. Watching the process of our characters go through to save the princess and even the ways Lupin unexpectedly counters the enemies’ doings in order to get rid of him, it shows off the beauty and appeal of this great series.
Another significant thing I noticed and enjoyed was the pacing of this movie. Going off with the spy films I’ve experienced, this movie gave off a similar vibe where the story starts off slow with our characters scoping out their objective and environment until once we get more and more into it, it speeds up to show us the action and ultimate conclusion of the film. I believe it’s a perfect depiction of how these sorts of action adventure stories should be and feel like.
This film was the first time I’ve ever seen and learned about the Lupin series but, just from one film I quickly found the cast of its characters are really enjoyable and fun to watch. With our main character Lupin, he’s definitely perceived as a thief who values treasure the most in Monkey Punch’s original depiction but, Miyazaki instead changes his personality and shows a more chivalrous side of Lupin as he has the strong desire to save the princess from this evil royalty he happened to pass by. I feel like after how Miyazaki really exemplified the ‘gentleman’ of Lupin’s character in this movie, while this particular persona is followed into future stories in this franchise. I can’t really say much about the villain which by known as the Count Cagliostro and the damsel-in-distress named Clarisse; they both are pretty standard, character-wise of course. The Count is your average greedy and evil prince while Clarisse is just a princess waiting to be saved but, I think the other side characters shown are more well-thought out.
I felt like Lupin’s sidemen and sidewoman were there simply just to help him in his mission to rescue Clarisse, but that’s not a bad thing because I think that’s pretty much how the Lupin stories go while Lupin himself becomes the main person to focus on most of the time. While characters such as Jigen who is just badass with his revolver and sharpshooting skills, and Fujiko who fills in the trope of spy movies where a beautiful woman has to be present … Goemon, on the other hand, doesn’t look like he belongs in this particular group of characters. But I think with him as the odd one out, as he’s a dignified Japanese samurai, shows the charm of the Lupin series and how it’s supposed to be … which is unique. Plus from what I read, Monkey Punch felt like he needed a Japanese character in the mix of personas.
And I can’t forget about Zenigata, the Interpol cop who is always on Lupin’s tail and badly wants to finally catch the world’s most wanted thief. You would expect Zenigata to be some sort of a villain to Lupin, but you’re wrong; he’s more of an arch rival who really never accomplishes his goal, similar to the classic comedy cartoon Tom and Jerry. He’s more a part of the side story in the Lupin series but having a reoccurring character show up all the time and still have the will to catch Lupin gives the series a nice touch. Also, one of the main things which made this group of characters special is definitely the interactions they have with one another. Everyone is so different from each other but they somehow blend and have really amusing chemistry together at the same time, such how amazingly and efficient the trio of Lupin, while Jigen and Goemon being work together as a team in these sorts of missions.
visuals and arts.
If you look at the art style of Lupin III, either from the early depictions to even the more modern anime series, you will see that Castle of Cagliostro strays way off from the Monkey Punch’s original visual style. However, let me say that the iconic and simple style of Miyazaki Hayao is always pleasant to see. The more cute and childish style that is mainly shown in the character designs of this film —and most Miyazaki films— is much different from the original and also a little dated, though it definitely worked for the Lupin series and still gave us a fun and intriguing action adventure comedy to watch.
Yamada Yasuo gives us the voice of Lupin in this film, and he did a really nice job of depicting the cool and silly thief we see. I could also say that for the rest of the characters such as Masuyama Eiko playing the role of Fujiko, keeping her elegant voice whether she’s undercover or fighting off foes. Meanwhile the musical score we listen to throughout the movie is very appropriate with what the film is about; we hear some sombre and mysterious tracks towards the beginning to signify the sleuthing Lupin and Jigen do, and of course, some really intense music towards the end when all the action is going on. Ohno Yuji has been the composer for the most —if not all— of the Lupin animated shows and films, and he knocked it out of the park on this movie for sure.
closing – al’s final verdict
While Lupin III: Cagliostro no Shiro may not be known by many anime watchers, nor is one of the movies that pop up in people’s minds when they hear the name of Miyazaki Hayao, but it’s definitely a film to enjoy and one Studio Ghibli fans should experience. This is a mixture of action and adventure, comedy and espionage style films which displayed in this wonderful film, even it’s considered a gem out of all of Miyazaki’s —if not all his films in general. While it is old and much different kind of story from your usual Miyazaki narratives, I believe you can still find joy in watching it.
To add on, the Lupin series is one that I am still pretty new with, and thanks to this film which introducing me to the engaging series of thievery, adventure and comedy … Lupin III: Cagliostro no Shiro must be one that quickly became a franchise that made me interested in finding out and watching more of its content. And as for you, I believe this is a series you worth checking out!
additional pieces of information.
- Lupin III: Cagliostro no Shiro
Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro
- premiered in the winter, 15.12.1979
- al’s review of an anime movie
- from the studio of —unknown, most possibly TMS Entertainment
- tagged under the genre of #action, #adventure, #mystery, #comedy, and #seinen
tagged under the subgenre of #crime, #thief, and #manga
- the age-rated as PG-13
material resources (external links): sliceofalfredo.blog
http://www.tms-e.com/library/old/movie/data/m_caglio.html, Allcinema, ANN, Remaster, Wiki (en), Wiki (jp), Animemorial, AnimeNfo, Anison, and MAL
Ah, well wasn’t that a nice break from all the moe and cute anime I’ve talked about on this blog! I’ve been trying to branch out into the other genres of anime and I think I’m very slowly becoming more diverse with my anime taste. Also, thanks a bunch for reading this movie review! If you enjoyed it, give it a like and consider following #moe404 for more great content.
Not sure what the next review will be, but until then~ keep watching anime and we’ll see you again next time! Bai-bai now~
© content written by sliceofalfredo revised by nesha5971