Why is Castle of Cagliostro at the same time the greatest and worst thing ever? This review should begin with a clarification. The Castle of Cagliostro is incredible. It is the one anime over the years I have dedicated myself to buying no matter what form I find it in. At this point if I were to find a VHS or LaserDisc copy I would still buy them to add to my library.
So how can such a movie which is so entertaining have any downside? Time to do a little investigation.
For those who don’t know the Castle of Cagliostro was Director Hayao miyazaki’s first film. Before he went on to make all his other infamous films, Miyazaki started by doing a simple movie based on the anime and manga series, Lupin the 3rd. The result was one of the best Lupin stories ever. Toning down his usual horndog nature and making him into more of a Robin Hood figure Lupin sets out to discover the mystery behind the Goat Bills and ends up having to rescue a princess from a far-off castle who is about to be wed to an evil Madman.
What comes from this adventure is one of the most entertaining films ever made. The viewer doesn’t even have to be a fan of the Lupin the 3rd to enjoy this film (more on this later). The simply story of investigating after a robbery goes wrong reveals a deeper mystery and a lot of fun along the way.
This film is filled with breathtaking visuals. The imagery has aged well and still is as beautiful and full of detail as it was when it first came out. This is one of those movies you can watch again and again and still discover something you didn’t catch before. Whether it’s the way the water ripples on a pond or the use of color to illustrate the peaceful countryside. It’s the kind of intense attention to detail which would help Miyazaki to make his mark with Studio Ghibli.
The film opens with a great song called “Fire Treasure.” It’s a melancholy song which sets up for the journey the characters are about to go on. From there the background songs help to change the tone as needed to make scenes feel tense at the right moment, energized during others, and enjoyable throughout the entire experience.
Unfortunately the fact is this movie is just too good. Too many fans prefer this version of Lupin as A gentleman thief over being a lecherous pervert just out to make a quick score. It has resulted in many preferring this version of the character more than the original. Series creator Monkey Punch has gone on record saying he is not a fan of this series of this movie because it’s not the Lupin the 3rd he envisioned. Maybe there are some episodes or movies which attempt to capture the same magic of this film but unfortunately they don’t succeed. Still, this shouldn’t deter anyone from enjoying the Castle of Cagliostro. Though this is the only time we see Lupin the 3rd in this light, it’s the kind of standout adventure which everyone needs to experience at least once in their lifetime as it leaves a lasting performance.
Castle of Cagliostro was presented in theaters by Fathom Events. An Encore Presentation will be shown on September 19th.