© 1980 Monkey Punch, Tokyo Movie Sinsha Co., Ltd.
The Castle of Cagliostro
The Castle of Cagliostro is the quintessential Lupin III flick, which comes as no surprise considering it's directed by the master of Japanese animation, Hayao Miyazaki.
Things open with Lupin and Jigen scoring a major haul from a ritzy casino. As they make off with the dough, however, Lupin notices that it's all counterfeit. He then quickly decides to hatch a new plan: find the source of the bogus cash. This leads Lupin and Jigen to the country of Cagliostro, where they suspect the fake money is being produced. As they are traversing the countryside, a girl in a wedding dress goes speeding by while being pursued by a bunch of thugs. Lupin, being as gallant as he is, decides to help this damsel in distress. His rescue attempt goes a little awry, though, and leaves him with only a mysterious ring for his troubles. From there, Lupin uncovers that the girl is actually the princess Clarisse set to wed the vile count of Cagliostro. Once again, the gallant Lupin plans to intervene.
From there on in it's a madcap adventure as Lupin, Jigen, Goemon, Fujiko, and yes, even Inspector Zenigata, all become involved in an intertwining plot involving the princess Clarisse, the evil count, and the promise of a wondrous treasure.
The plot is rather zany from start to finish as Lupin tries all manner of tricks to rescue the princess Clarisse. A lot of very inventive situations arise, including a nifty car chase involving Lupin's gravity-defying auto, a spectacular escape from the Cagliostro castle in an autogyro, and a clever finale within the gearworks of a clock tower. Lupin always has a trick up his sleeve for virtually every situation that arises. It's a blast just watching what zany stunt he'll pull next, and rest assured, he pulls plenty.
While the story, characters and situations are wholly eccentric, the theme itself is a simple tale of a heroic knight rescuing a damsel in distress. While the damsel in distress part is completely believable on the part of Clarisse, it's not often an international thief is cast for the role of the heroic knight. Of course, Lupin is just charming in every conceivable way, and fits perfectly in the heroic role into which he's thrust.
The background art is nothing short of excellent, and the animation, while lacking in detail, is quite fluid. Manga's re-mastering of this classic certainly enhanced the visuals compared to the old Streamline release. The new Manga dub is pretty good, as well. While I thought the original Streamline dub was pretty good for its time, Manga managed to capture the same feel, while providing a more accurate translation.
Quite possibly one of the funnest and most charming anime I've seen, The Castle of Cagliostro is a blast from start to finish. I highly recommend it to anime fans of all ages.
The Verdict: * * * * * (excellent)
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