Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro (Review) – Miyazaki’s First Feature Film

Yes, you read that correctly. Other than Hayao Miyazaki’s most well-known anime films like Spirited Away and Castle in the Sky, this was his first anime film that he directed. I’m not very sure if this was or is a popular movie but it’s sure as hell not as widespread as Spirited Away.

If you are unfamiliar with the series of Lupin III, it was originally a manga made by Monkey Punch that follows Arsene Lupin III, the world’s most wanted thief and his adventures traveling around the world such as stealing greatly prized possessions, finding long lost treasures or even wooing a lady. Many movies, video games, manga and anime adaptations have been created for this series, the most recent one, an anime show, being released in 2015.

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If you find this series interesting, I found a great article answering the question of “where should I start (with watching this series)?” by the Anime News Network here.

Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro (1979), or in Japanese, Lupin III: Cagliostro no Shiro, is an action adventure comedy about a robber duo of Arsene Lupin III and Daisuke Jigen, who got tricked into stealing fake money after a what they thought was a successful bank robbery.

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In order to find the person responsible for the counterfeit bills, Lupin decides to go to the Castle of Cagliostro and while trying to find the individual, he also happens to rescue a “damsel in distress” from the evil count in the process with the obstacle of a detective named Kouichi Zenigata who desperately wants to put Lupin in bars. Adding to Lupin and Jigen, Fujiko Mine, Lupin’s love interest; and Goemon Ishikawa, a katana-wielding samurai also assist Lupin in saving this princess who is about to marry into a family she certainly does not want to be in.

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I had no knowledge about Lupin before watching this film. But after experiencing it, this series had me wanting to watch more.

The story of this film is definitely something probably everyone has seen before. It’s essentially just some guy saving a princess from marrying a person who just wants the wealth of her family. But with the personalities of the Lupin series being added, it definitely spices it up a lot. The wackiness and smoothness of Lupin’s tactics, the coolness of Jigen, the sneakiness of Fujiko and the bad-ass way Goemon fights just made me really enjoy watching this.

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The art and animation really cannot be compared to today’s style because it’s from 1979 and Hayao Miyazaki has his own great way of animating, especially in his older films, that really is very different from most anime we see today. Even though this was the case, it was unique and I feel like it fit in with the one of the genres of this movie, comedy, since it’s more cartoonish and you don’t have to look at the art style too seriously.

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I can’t really talk about the music/soundtrack in this film since it has been a significant amount of time since I last watched this but I will provide you with a song from the movie, which now that I hear it, it’s very Studio Ghibli-like.

In conclusion, if you enjoyed any of Hayao Miyazaki’s films and you want to see what his first creation of his amazing career was, definitely watch this.

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