Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro – Review

Diving deep for another review, this time covering Miyazaki’s very first film. This was both a fun artifact and a really entertaining film, and seemed particularly relevant since I’m just now nearing the end of The Anime Machine, which is deeply interested in Miyazaki’s evolving feelings on conflict, gender, and technology. Castle of Cagliostro fits neatly into the old side of these ambiguous themes, totally reveling in explosions and devices and masculine heroism, but it’s still rich with Miyazaki-isms, from the kinetic direction to the reveling in a kind of timeless, faux-medieval European aesthetic. And also it has a bunch of sweet chase scenes. Recommended!

Here’s my full review at ANN, and you can check out my notes below!

Castle of Cagliostro

Ooh, great jazzy opening song

And music in time with the physical action

Great physical comedy in general

Lovely backgrounds, colors, and base drawings. Animation is a little jerky, but it’s kind of what you’d expect

Yeah, lovely purples and pinks and blues. Every shot uses the frame well, and the image quality is very high. Great quality release

Miyazaki’s love of the European countryside is in full effect

Great “character acting” with the animation. Jigen staring accusingly at his hand after he loses in rock-paper-scissors

More lovely countryside scenes

Some framing tricks you don’t see as much in anime. The peaceful shot interrupted by a quick, loud shot of a tire and back as someone racing approaches

The cars are alive

Big band for the chase! Trumpets and drums and xylophones!

Great explosion animation!

Okay, this animation’s actually great

Every shot has so much visual energy. Them cutting through the forest, a bird flying through the car. It’s full of the little personality touches that elevate a great adventure movie

The girl’s unconscious in the car! Next setpiece!

The car almost falling apart as they’re driving it. The film applies looney tunes animation logic to classic adventure storytelling. Great combo

Haha, the tinkling chimes when he sees the beautiful girl.

And the tree he snagged breaks, prompting a one-two-three gag as he falls, accompanied by the music

A seal on the ring! Every scene leads into the next really well. Classic adventure serial stuff

A ruined castle/cathedral, covered in moss

There was a fire seven years ago. The duke and his wife died

There’s a regent here, apparently

More beautiful background shots. walking down a shaded road, visiting a pagoda out on a lake

“You’ve grown up, haven’t you” Pensive Lupin

Another joke told entirely through the goofy, percussion-heavy song

Lots of woodwinds and percussion

The castle of Count Cagliostro

The count flies an autogyro, a strange propeller-plane thing

Jodot, his evil-looking butler

This castle is a treat of design. A little elevator up one side

“Find them. And have the interlopers dealt with”

A room painted with the moon and stars, with the girl in the center under a canopy like Sleeping Beauty

“It’s gone. I need that ring!”

Menacing piano and shakers with bass as the Count considers his prize

“That’s the royal crest of Lady Clarisse. She just returned from the convent yesterday”

“You’ve known the whole time that girl was the Grand Duke’s daughter!”

Light physical comedy with the spaghetti, straight into a scene where Lupin’s fiddling with his thief gear

Ninja-dudes with spiky glove-hands!

A chase on the rooftops!

Secret passages throughout the castle, of course. So much fun stuff. Even that “painting eye” trick

Lupin’s calling card!

Lupin’s samurai Goemon arrives

And Zenigata, the cop on his tail. Meaning the woman spying on the Count’s gotta be Fujiko Mine

“And now the players are all in place.”

Not so sure about Zenigata’s voice actor. Seems like a bit of an artificial delivery

There are lasers in the garden, apparently

Plotting out their assault on the castle. Sneaking in by aquaduct. No wasted scenes

Lupin trying to swim up a waterfall, lol

Everyone eats ramen

A great shot of Zenigata suspiciously staring into the fountain for Lupin. Lots of stuff seems to exist because it’d be visually fun

The head of security is doing a Schwarzenegger impression

Lupin instigates a riot police-royal guard fight

Lots of shots of characters going straight into or away from frame, which definitely doesn’t make animation easy

A forest of suits of armor. Nice scene transition

Fujiko tells Lupin where Clarisse is. She’s got her own work, though, which is nice

Scaling the outside of the tower!

This movie seems determined to be the ultimate caper/castle-invasion/cartoon. Lots of classic tricks and ideas played as entertainingly as possible

Jeez, great perspective shot as Lupin hooks himself up to the roof

Oh man, this scene with the rocket feels like a Jackie Chan gag

Some scenes feel like Jackie Chan, some feel like Looney Tunes, some feel like Indiana Jones

“Who’s there.” “I’m just a simple thief in the night, my lady.” Lupin walks out of the darkness and places the ring on her finger

“What I came seeking is a precious jewel that an evil sorcerer has locked away in a dark, forbidding tower.”

Lupin hamming it the HELL up

“Heroism comes with my job”

Lupin does silly magic tricks. Trust gained!

And the villain arrives!

“You’ve got to have faith in the thief!”

I love these minions just vaguely waving their spiny hands at Lupin

Wow, turns out Lupin stepped right on one of his trap doors again. Bad luck

“I do indeed have blood on my hands. But you do as well”

“When the golden ram of my house is joined with your silver ram, then the ancient treasure will be revealed”

“That rank abyss is not a place for the living” I love this script

A dungeon full of skeletons! This film’s reaaally making the most of its setting

Zenigata runs into Lupin!

“What kind of secret is worth this much trouble to hide?”

Lovely blue shot of the castle at dawn.

Lupin’s backup just has to kinda sit there and wait

Oh no, more claw-hand dudes!

An underwater chase this time, ending with the old “yank someone behind a wall and steal their clothes” trick

Lupin and Zenigata working together. And then they find the money-print

Apparently these fake bills are responsible for all sorts of stuff across history

“A good cop can’t ignore this” “What do you say to a truce until we get out of this place?”

Fujiko flips off her red dress and has a camo outfit beneath. Haha

“Did he leave you?” “Are you kidding? I left.” Fujiko’s great

Another fantastic brassy song for the chase across the castle. Some flute, drums, trumpets

Fujiko just gunnin’ some fools

Is Lupin shot? IS HE DEAD?!??

Wow, that is one horrifically inaccurate machine gun

Like a harp or something for Clarisse’s tragic betrayal

“Shall I shoot?” “Wait until we have the ring”

“You owe me for today, honey.” And Fujiko just batmans away, lol

Lupin falls directly into his car

“Sacre bleu! It is a plot of some kind!” lol

The UN is not supportive of Zenigata

Governments are ineffective, selfish bureaucracies here

Even dogs love Lupin

That is one terrifying dog

Aw, the dog was Clarisse’s

Lupin met Clarisse ten years ago

God, this shot in the garden’s beautiful

The archbishop who’d be officiating is stuck in a traffic jam

“I have my Shadows watching the bride” of course they’re called Shadows

Wow, the Count’s wedding suit is, uh, something

Great shot of these hooded dudes walking up the stairs with their shadows cast against the walls

“Mama mia, a ghost!”

Lupin’s coat is FULL OF FIREWORKS because of course it is

Fujiko’s having a hell of a time broadcasting all of this. Everyone in this movie just has so much fun

Zenigata and Fujiko uncovering the counterfeiting. Great scene

“I’ll never forget your chivalry.” Clarisse is the classic princess in the tower

Solving the mystery of the treasure. Good mix of subplots in this film

A fight in the clocktower!

Dueling the Count in the gears

And there it is. Clarisse is out on the face of the clocktower


Oh dang, that’s a rather nasty end for the Count

Water rushes in as the clocktower falls

The treasure was an ancient Roman city beneath the lake

And Lupin motors off

And Fujiko gets off with the printing plates. Hahaha

4 thoughts on “Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro – Review

  1. Great to see you moving to movie reviews. If I can reccomend a movie that I think you would definitely enjoy( but that you probably have already seen it), then Millenium Actress is definitely worth your attention!

    • I’ll definitely watch Millennium Actress at some point, but it’s unlikely I’ll be reviewing it. Cagliostro just happened to be coming out in a new bluray edition, so I got lucky!

    • Everything from Satoshi Kon is nothing short of a treat. “Perfect Blue” being his worst offering and still being damn good. As for the rest… “Millennium Actress” is great, “Tokyo Godfathers” is the ultimate feel-good Christmas movie (and with one of the best queer characters ever seen in anime to boot), “Paprika” a visual feast, and “Paranoia Agent” is stably my favourite anime of all time, the perfect blend of creativity, action, fun, symbolism and poignancy. Satoshi Kon is a man we lost too soon :(.

      • Indeed, he was taken away from us too soon, but fortunately he left a great body of work, that continues to this day to influence the whole world of cinema and animation. Paranoia Agent is also one of my favorite anime of all time, can’t wait for the day that Bobduh watches it

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