Castle of Cagliostro, The (1979)


castle cagliostro poster

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Starring: Yasuo Yamada, Eiko Masuyama, Kiyoshi Kobayashi, Makio Inoue, Goro Naya, Sumi Shimamoto, Taro Ishida

102 Minutes

Furthering the exploits of Lupin III, The Castle of Cagliostro follows master thief Lupin III and his partner in crime, Jigen, to the European nation of Cagliostro in search of legendary counterfeit money. While there, they attempt to rescue the lovely Princess Clarisse from pursuers. When she is taken to the castle, they uncover a plot for a coup by the ruthless Count of Cagliostro, Lupin’s mysterious connection to the princess, and the mystery that lies at the heart of the country. Throw in series regulars like Goemon, Fujiko, and Zenigata, and you have what may be the most beloved entry in a franchise that has lasted decades.

Vocal performances by Yasuo Yamada (Lupin III), Sumi Shimamoto (Clarrise), Kiyoshi Kobayashi (Jigen), Makio Inoue (Goemon), Goro Naya (Zenigata), and Taro Ishida (The Count) are well cast and indicate a lot of chemistry and natural sounding timing. Of note are Ishida and Shimamoto, two non-regulars more than holding their own among the more seasoned Lupin veterans. Ishida’s Count is devilish and wily and Shimamoto’s Clarisse is delicate and gentle.

With a great deal of gusto, the movie provides a great deal of comedy, action, and just a splash of mystery to produce a very entertaining picture. Blades flash, guns kickback, and cars race along destroying laws of physics, taking full advantage of the medium. It is all typically Monkey Punch and one of the most iconic productions of their characters ever.

Directed by the legendary Hayao Miyazaki, The Castle of Cagliostro is one of the most beautifully animated films ever. Art is detailed, character movements fluid, and action sequences exciting. Characters are authentic to the source and the film stays true to the relaxed-adventure type of film for which the series is known. The score, by series regular and jazz musician Yuji Ohno, is well suited to the picture with its use of horns, percussion, and swing. The softer character moments are strikingly similar to the works of Joe Hisaishi, the frequent composer on Miyazaki’s Ghibli work, so much so that it fooled me until the credits. The film is beautiful to see and hear, and the production is top notch.

In the end, this film may very well be the finest chapter in the legacy of one of the most beloved characters of fiction ever. It is exciting, engaging, and so entertaining that it promises repeat viewings. While not a Ghibli production, this film is certainly one of Miyazaki’s greatest achievements, and one that deserves to be seen by all animation aficionados.

You may enjoy this film if you liked: Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Princess Bride, Secret of Mamo, and Laputa


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Long time film lover and occasional writer. I watch anything and everything though I have massive love for the works of Shunji Iwai, Jackie Chan, Johnnie To, and Kinji Fukasaku. POP! POP!

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