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The Castle of Cagliostro (1980)

Director: Hayao Miyazaki, Hayao Miyazaki
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Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Manga Video
Genre: Anime, Action Anime, Anime Feature Films
Running Time: 109 min.
Languages: English, Japanese
Subtitles: English
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Although Lupin III is a hugely successful animated series on television and film in Japan and the U.S., The Castle of Cagliostro is distinguished by its director, Hayao Miyazaki, who would later direct such animated classics as Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and Mononoke Hime. The daring thief, Lupin, pulls off a heist in a Monte Carlo casino, only to discover the money is counterfeit. He traces the fake bills to the small country of Cagliostro, where the evil Count is generating counterfeit money and distributing it worldwide. Lupin heads to Cagliostro with his partners in crime, a retired gangster, a modern-day samurai, and a beautiful female thief. There, they meet Princess Clarice, who is being forced into a marriage with the Count, and they also find themselves on the trail of a hidden treasure. The character animation is in the classic style of the Lupin III films, but is enhanced by Miyazaki's love of beautiful, detailed settings, and the storybook kingdom of Cagliostro would be echoed by his later films. This film is the favorite of fans worldwide, and stands alone as well as an installment in an ongoing series. ~ Jonathan E. Laxamana, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Terrific animated comedy-romance-adventure from Miyazaki! by JTurner1 April 17, 2004 - 9:49 AM PDT
2 out of 3 members found this review helpful
Acclaimed Anime genius Hayao Miyazaki scored his first box office hit with this charming, fast-paced, enjoyable tale about a clever thief coming to rescue -- you guessed it -- a princess from a dastardly monarch who wants to marry the lass for his own purposes. He's accompanied by a loyal gunman and a solemn but cunning ninja and pursued by a Japanese police detective who actually helps him at one point of the story. Along the way, there are a bunch of other obstacles to overcome, including bad guys with armored claws, the mazelike corridors of the Cagliostro castle itself, and a counterfeiting scheme. The animation is obviously dated, since the film is over 20 years old, but there are elements of Miyazaki's characters in his later films to be found in the designs of the protagonists and antagonists -- the big, round eyes, wide-opened mouths when laughing and/or shouting, and of course, their everchanging facial expressions. The jazz-rock underscore by Yuji Ohno lacks the richness of Joe Hisaishi's scores for Miyazaki's films after this one, but it suits the tone of the film perfectly. Although not as beautiful, meaningful, or powerful as Miyazaki's later films, The Castle of Cagliostro is a joy to watch, with plenty of action-packed sequences, humor a-plenty, and enough fun to keep one enchanted. (Wait until you see the tools that the hero posesses!)

The DVD version features a respectably good transfer presented in its 1.85:1 aspect ratio, even if it does show its signs of age, such as occasional film scratches and/or smudges. However, this is probably best to be expected since the film is over 20 years old. The Japanese language track is presented in mono, and sometimes sounds as though it was transferred through, say, a telephone. (A characteristic of the recording techniques of the early years, no doubt.) The English language track, on the other hand, is presented in clear stereo with a full, rich sound. One wonders how they were able to clean up the soundtrack for this dub -- it sounds like it could have been made recently.

I only spotchecked the Japanese language track, but the acting is decent, from what I heard. The film was originally dubbed in English by Carl Mecak of Streamline Pictures. I have not seen this dub, but heard it received mixed opinions; it has its fans while others detested it. However, I DID enjoy this "new" dub created by Manga Entertainment, which follows the script closely, despite some questionable inclusions of profanity in the dialogue ("We're rich bastards!"). In addition, the voice cast is well chosen and sound like they are having a great time hamming it up.

On the downside, the DVD contains no special features other than trailers for MANGA releases, rather lame menu selections, second-rate packaging, and not enough chapter selections for advancing. A film this wonderful deserves a better treatment. A "Making-Of" documentary, please?

Don't let the drawbacks hold you back, though, The Castle of Cagliostro is classic material. material, as can be expected from the master of Japanese animation. I recommend it very highly.

Classic Lupin at his finest by OKhan1 January 20, 2004 - 12:37 AM PST
3 out of 4 members found this review helpful
Miyazaki's first film, Castle of Caliostro does not disappoint. What people seem to misunderstand is that Lupin was already a legend in Japan by the time this film came out. But without doubt this is the best lupin film you'll ever see.
A real winner. Highly recommended

The first anime movie I saw that was not great... by larbeck January 13, 2004 - 3:09 PM PST
1 out of 6 members found this review helpful
It wasn't *bad* - it is just not great. I had seen "Laputa:Castle in the Sky", "Akira", "Twilight of the Cockroaches" (not available on DVD at this writing) and "Barefoot Gen" at the theater before seeing this one and it left me cold. I only discovered later that Miyazaki directed it and that just proves that no one is perfect. Your milage will vary, but if any other Miyazaki film is available - I recommend any of them over this one - especially if it came after this.

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GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.62)
277 Votes
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Mad Brilliant Anime!!! (on-going) 04/04/07
From the "Good" to the "Holy-Sh#t!!! I can't wait to see more" of all the animation I have seen thus far... (You've got to kiss a lot of Frogs to find the Princes... Here are a few Princes I've found amoung the frogs) [single entry = whole series]
Studio Ghibli
The best animation studio in the world, and related works

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