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Castle of Cagliostro

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Castle of Cagliostro

Lupin the Third
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Suitable for mature persons.

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4.4 out of 5 stars Based on 10 Customer Ratings

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4 stars"
Purchased on Mighty Ape

This movie is pretty awesome. It follows the adventures of master thief Lupin III and his sidekick Jigen through… what looks like …somewhere in Europe. Its a great blend of action, comedy and romance. The animation is fantastic…con­sidering almost thirty years old(released in 1979). Its written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki before he was associated with Studio Ghibli and for those die hard Miyazaki fans like myself… its very interesting seeing his earlier work.


The great Hayao Miyazaki first director role was in this 1979 animated adventure movie, Lupin the Third: Castle of Cagliostro. The plot is based off the popular character, Lupin III.

Lupin III is the greatest thief the world has ever known. Accompanied by his trusted friend Jigen, a peerless gunman, and with the occasional help of the samurai Goemon, no heist is too great.

But after pulling off a casino robbery whose haul consists entirely of counterfeit bills, Lupin decides that his next job will be to track these legendary “Goat Bills” to their source–the tiny country of Cagliostro. Before long Lupin and friends are involved in a twisted scheme by the Count of Cagliostro to marry himself to the beautiful princess Clarise. With the Count's army of henchmen, a castle full of traps, and a princess locked in a tower, it's going to take every trick in Lupin's bag to pull off this caper.

Won Mainichi Film Concours, Ofuji Noburo Award

Lupin the 3rd: Castle of Cagliostro Movie Review
By animeworld.com

"Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro is a marvelous film with enough whimsical action, playful adventure, and satisfying plot to appeal to viewers of almost any age, so long as they've got a little of that youthful rogue in spirit.

That said, there are three entirely different (and somewhat contradictory) lenses through which you can look at The Castle of Cagliostro: As a Miyazaki film; as part of the decades-long Lupin III franchise; or entirely on its own, as a standalone all-ages action-adventure. It's hard to argue that the film isn't memorable, but exactly how successful it is depends a great deal on what you're comparing it to. I happen to be fond of each of these categories of anime independently, so I'll go ahead and try looking at the movie through three different pairs of fan-glasses.

Castle of Cagliostro certainly has everything you could ask for in a Miyazaki film: Lush European scenery, fanciful action, a hint of pure-hearted romance, and a solidly-constructed plot that skips along at a brisk pace but also takes the time to slow down for an occasional touching moment. And, true to form, when he tugs at the heartstrings, he does it almost effortlessly–there are no orchestral swells or tearful close-ups, just small, heartfelt moments allowed to stand on their own…In all, while the established conventions of Lupin and friends restrain Miyazaki a bit from the wonder of his fanciful-yet-earthy stories like Porco Rosso, or the intrinsic moral messages of some of his deeper films, his sense of action and lighthearted danger is loosed in full force to wonderful effect.

I find it somewhat ironic, then, that when I switch viewpoints much of what makes the film a fine Miyazaki movie makes it rather out-of-place as a Lupin III film. It's almost at odds with itself, as if Miyazaki just couldn't bring himself to make a movie as randy as the character requires. Lupin III has, after all, built a reputation as good, somewhat dirty fun for adults with a rascal at heart. This is probably why, as a Lupin III film, The Castle of Cagliostro seems to be missing something. It certainly has the wild action, gadgets, and skin-of-the-teeth escapes that Lupin III fans know and love, but it's just a little too clean. Miyazaki's Lupin may be a womanizer by reputation, but he's too much the dashing rogue–he just doesn't have the lust in his eyes, or that touch of smarmy greed in his heart. Fujiko, likewise, may be as competent as ever, but the sense of competition and sexual tension is missing. Plus, to put it as bluntly as I can, she's wearing too much; sexuality-as-a-tool has always been an integral part of her character, and it's nowhere to be found here. Jigen and particularly Goemon also get left out of much of the plot, but that's not unusual. That said, part of what's given the Lupin III franchise its staying power is that every animated interpretation of the characters is different, and every film has its own feel and focus. So long as you accept that this is a particularly clean and rather nostalgic Lupin III film, it's certainly not a bad one.

If I pretend I know nothing about Miyazaki or Lupin III (not difficult, as I first saw the Streamline dub of the film long before I had even heard of either), the analysis is much easier: A positively fantastic light-hearted adventure that grabs you with the opening scene and doesn't let go until the credits roll. The action is, perhaps, a tad “childish” for my taste–for all the swordplay and gunfire, there's barely a drop of blood, and it's not clear if any of the legions of henchmen are even seriously injured. There are, similarly, a couple of sight gags that didn't do anything for me. But that's a nitpick, and I was largely too busy cheering for the heroes to care…

The visual thrill is perhaps the best of it, though–gorgeous background art of stately castles, lush pastoral scenery, and a centerpiece action scene in and around a giant clock tower. The action may lack a hard edge, but the sense of relentless motion is truly impressive. Once an action scene gets underway–be it spectacular car chase, cat-burglary, or castle-spanning melee–there is never a moment to catch your breath, as one death-defying feat after another is strung together in a fluid dance. Acrophobics beware: Miyazaki's films are known for their sense of vertigo, and this one is no exception. There are several scenes involving rooftop sneaking and a famed showdown on the face of a clock that feature a dizzying sense of height.

Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro may not be the best Lupin III movie in the franchise, but it's the best known and with good reason–if you look past what it does with the established characters and take it as a standalone film, it is a wonderful, action-packed adventure with enough substance and characterization to appeal to both the young and the young at heart.

Related Recommendations: Although there are a lot of Lupin III movies, most are less clean and more violent than this one; the most similar is probably The Fuma Conspiracy, which has a very similar plot and mood. Several Miyazaki movies also have a similar sense of adventure, most notably Laputa and Porco Rosso."

Re-released on
May 4th, 2007
Movie Format
  • DVD
DVD Region
  • Region 4
  • Standard Edition
English, Japanese
Length (Minutes)
Country of Production
  • Japan
  • Animation
Original Release Year
Box Dimensions (mm)
Product ID


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