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!
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
The Count has ROCKET FINGERS
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