By, Dakota Wiegand
Hey, guys! I am moving right on with my second Miyazaki review! This is actually my first Miyazaki movie I have ever watched, which I found out just recently. Growing up, I loved staying up late to watch Lupin III on Cartoon Network’s: Adult Swim. The show was fun and funny, but filled with action and good characters. Naturally, I wanted to see more, so I rented the movies that spun off of the series. Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro was one of those movies and was probably the most interesting of them all. But does it hold up as a Miyazaki film? Let’s take a look.
Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro was based around the series created by Monkey Punch, yes that’s his real name, or at least his stage name. The series began in 1967 as a manga series and quickly grew in popularity. In 1971, the anime series was created and a young Miyazaki was one of three directors for the series. He stayed on for the first two seasons, until 1980. During that time, Miyazaki wrote and directed Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro, which premiered in December of 1979. L3CC was Miyazaki’s first featured length movie that he wrote and directed. So, everyone, let’s thank Monkey Punch for giving us Miyazaki!
The American Version of L3CC debuted in April of 1991 through Streamline Pictures. However, the film was re-released in 2000 through Animaze and Mange Entertainment where they redubbed the voices, some of which are popular voice actors.
The movie takes place in the 1970s-1980s in the fictional European country known as Cagliostro. It is a very small country that only has a population of 100,000 people. However, the tourism through the country is big, but so is criminal activity. The country has been rumored to produce top quality forgeries for generations, which is where the plot of the story begins, but I will get to that in a bit.
The movie’s character pool is actually quite large, but not that hard to follow. You have Lupin, Jigen, Lady Clarisse, Count Cagliostro, Inspector Zenigata, Fujiko, and Goemon.
Lupin the III, or in some places better known as the Wolf, is the main protagonist. He is a world re-known expert thief who goes after some of the most rarest pieces in the world and the more attention he has from Interpol and the general public, the more excited he becomes about the heist. He is a loveable criminal because he just makes everything seem like so much fun! Its actually very hard to describe Lupin because he has so many layers. He’s mainly fun and games and loves what he does, but he can be caring, serious, harsh, and firm in other different circumstances. Its hard to not like him!
Up next, we have Jigen, Lupin’s best friend and partner in crime. Jigen is a more reserve character, but he has a sense of humor and is fun in a different way from Lupin. He is a dead shot and can literally shoot anything with expert accuracy. Now the cool thing about Jigen is that he is the inspiration for Cowboy Bebop’s Spike. If you look at Spike’s design and Jigen’s, they are very similar as well as the fact that they never can seem to smoke a cigarette that has not been crumpled.
Lady Clarisse is the main heroine in the movie. She is a little naïve and a bit of a romantic, being that Lupin can make her do whatever he wants. Though she is a little dumb (for lack of a better word) she does know what is right and what is wrong and she does stand up for herself to the best of her ability against Count Cagliostro and his men. However, at the end of the day, she is a damsel in distress and it is up to Lupin to rescue you her. This doesn’t make her a bad character, but just a weaker one in such a strong pool of characters.
Speaking of Count Cagliostro, he is the main antagonist of the story. He is the kingpin in the counterfeit money ring and is looking to rightfully rule the country. He cannot rule it unless he marries Lady Clarisse, who is the rightful heir to the thrown. He is a cunning man with a lot of smarts, but does have an ego and gets annoyed when he is undermined by Lupin. You have to credit Miyazaki’s art direction and story telling, because when Lupin first attempts to break into the castle, he is being watched by the count on surveillance cameras and you can tell that the Count was interested in Lupin’s skills and was mildly amused. Once he was satisfied with Lupin’s skilled he got bored with him and wanted him gone. However, because Lupin kept coming back, no matter what the count threw at him, the Count became annoyed and frustrated. All of these emotions are pretty much conveyed through facial and body language over the course of the movie and is very rarely iterated by the count. I thought this character was fun, but maybe a little 2 dimensional at times with his evil scheme.
Next we have one of my favorite characters in the series, Inspector Zenigata! Inspector Zenigata is a Japanese officer who works for Interpol. His main and only assignment is to bring Lupin to justice at all costs. This leads to him going to extremes by hiring on an army of officers, taking extreme security precautions, and doing absurd things to just get Lupin. He is a stern character who trusts in the law and follows everything by the book, even if it kills him. That being said, he’s not an idiot, though he can act like one at times. He is the perfect counterpart to Lupin and, much like the characters Tom and Jerry, you never grow tired of watching the two of them chase each other.
Another character to the list is Fujiko, a freelance criminal in a sense. Now the movie doesn’t go too into her background, but she is the on-again-off-again partner to Lupin. She usually works alone and does very well for herself until Lupin comes onto the same score. In this movie, she is working deep undercover as Lady Clarisse’s aid only to try to rob the place of all that it is worth. However, when Lupin gets involved, she reveals herself and helps him out. I like Fujiko a lot because you never really know what she is thinking, though you do grow anxious around her because of that reason. In the end, you don’t really mind because how Lupin and her act around each other usually breaks the tension.
The final member of Lupin’s crew is Goemon. He is a the soft spoken, samurai in the group who is very resourceful with his blade. He, like Fujiko, is an on and off again member to the team. He does come whenever he is needed, but what he is truly seeking is honor instead of treasure in most of the heists, which is not conveyed through the movie. Though he is quiet, he is a cool character to watch because of his swordsmanship. When he is in action, you have to love to see how he cuts into things around him with a no-sweat attitude.
Now I usually write a little bit about the romances in this part of the review. Truth be told, the only romance was between Lupin and Lady Clarisse. It worth mentioning because Lupin was only using her to further his plans to infiltrate and rob the castle. She, naturally, falls in love with him. In the end, there isn’t too much to talk about.
The animation for this movie, like all Miyazaki movies, is simply incredible. It flows beautifully, the landscapes and the scenery all are aw inspiring. The character designs are, more or less, timeless. Though, it is definitely Miyazaki from the way he draws faces. If you watch his movies you pick up I his style of young faces with short noses. I wish I can draw like him, though after a while you do wish it can be changed up a bit. However, if you ever watch a Lupin movie, each studio has their own style and you cannot fault Miyazaki for this, especially in his first movie. Though the original color scheme on Lupin, the green jacket, yellow tie, and black shirt, are always welcomed in my book!
The story is very easy to understand for the viewer. The castle holds an ancient treasure and the only way for it to be obtained is by joining the two rings of the Cagliostro families. Count Cagliostro and Lady Clarisse both possess one ring each. Now, Lupin originally comes for the counterfeit plates that are in the castle, but he becomes more focused on Cagliostro’s treasure that he shifts gears and tries to find it himself. It’s a fun story and it is really easy to follow! That being said, the main characters of the movie are a little underdeveloped. It is definitely geared for the Lupin III fans, leaving some characteristics of the group out of the movie.
Overall, it is a great movie to be watched and probably one of the better Miyazaki movies out there. However, if you want to fully enjoy the movie, you should equip yourself with some background knowledge of the Lupin III universe. I should do a review of those movies next come to think about it… Anyway, go watch this one if you have not! I promise, it won’t let you down!
Movie rating: A
Watch what I was talking about!
Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro www.hulu.com/watch/219524