Written by: Ron Cotton on July 23rd, 2004
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 1979
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Writers: Hayao Miyazaki & Haruya Yamazaki
English Voice Cast: David Hayter (as Sean Barker), Dorothy Melendrez, Ivan
Buckley, Ruby Marlowe, and Kirk Thornton.
DVD released: United States, 2000
Approximate running time: 109 minutes
Aspect Ratio: Letter boxed Wide Screen (1.85:1)
Sound: Dolby digital 2.0
DVD Release: Manga Video
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.99
Master Thief Lupin the III and Gunman Jigen easily escape from a casino heist with countless dollar bills, but soon discover all the cash counterfeit (known in the film as “goat” bills). After throwing all the bills to the way side, Lupin and Jigen get a flat. After some careful negations, Jigen repairs the flat and Lupin takes a break. Lupin’s peace is soon disturbed as he notices a damsel in distress followed by many thugs. Without a moment to loose, they’re off and hightailing it to save the woman in white. Even after saving the damsel, she’s relentlessly pursued once again and must leave Lupin and Jegin. After Lupin awakes from unconsciousness, he finds that the bride gave Lupin a ring. Doing some detective work and foreshadowing to Lupin’s past, they discover a connection to finding the lost fortune of the Cagliostro clan. Probing too far, Lupin is attacked by numerous henchmen that seem unstoppable. This doesn’t stop Lupin, as he delves deeper into the count’s castle who reigns supreme in this small European town. Even with the girl in the count’s clutches, he finds himself hindered by his true ambition. Lupin is later pursued not only by the count but also by inspector Zanigata, who’s in charge of a group of Interpol police. Lupin schemes still get past this obstacle and soon when Zanigata and Lupin are captured by the Count. They set their differences aside and work together to stop the count from his nefarious plans.
The story of The Castle of Cagliostro originates from a real tyrannical count in the 18th century. Later adapted into a larger-than-life fictional tale, Maurice LeBlanc wrote Countess Cagliostro and The Green-Eyed Lady which outlined the major events which is again adapted in this film. Other Lupin films have been produced, but The Castle of Cagliostro is considered Lupin’s, not to mention, anime’s finest moments. Charming characters like a fair princess, a vile duke, a bumbling detective, and a master thief encounter a castle with a dark mystery buried hidden deep within its walls created perfect setting for this action comedy. This fast-paced action adventure movie to me is the fantasy Star Wars meets detective Pink Panther. Addictive too, like crack on crack. Although most of the mystery is reviled very early in this feature, it doesn’t strip away the enjoyment or surprises in Miyazaki’s work. Colors and sets chosen for The Castle of Cagliostro are prefect. From the lush European countryside to the riches within the count’s castle, each backdrop immerses the viewer, transporting them to that very place. This movie was well thought out and includes all the trimmings.
The Castle of Cagliostro has been digitally re-mastered, which brings the first question to mind, why was it not an anamorphic print? Videophiles that expect perfection will find this movie flawed in more ways than one. Nicks and scratches are apparent as well as momentary holes from print damage or reel markers. Grain can be found when paused between frames. Fortunately, anime looses very little because of lower frame rates than live film. Those who are familiar with the Asian market also understand that sacrifices must be made to get your hands on a substandard source. Even with this withstanding, the colors are vivid and solid with little bleeding. This was definitely an improvement upon the original VHS release.
This release includes English and Japanese Audio. Both never seem to fully realize stereo. Cagliostro doesn’t stray from the center channel, but the audio effects for the English Track are not totally laughable. Average at best. Japanese has a slight hiss and for all intended purposes is truly a mono track. English subtitles are here and thankfully differ to the English audio, most likely a better translation for fans that enjoy subs more than dubs. Ending credits were redone in English. Beyond that, all the extras are really just propaganda for Manga Video. Manga Video should have understood that The Castle of Cagliostro is an anime classic that required extra features.
This is the only NTSC Region 1 DVD source that comes to mind, yet I’ve heard that Pioneer and Funimation both released other movies of the Lupin series on DVD. The popular Lupin series spanned over three television series, five movies, and numerous television movies. This is a shame and I can only hope that Manga has learned its lesson about paltry US releases. This movie is still one of the best ever made where even the flaws can be overlooked.