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Castle of Cagliostro

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Castle of Cagliostro

The Castle of Cagliostro
File:Castle of Cagliostro poster.png
Japanese theatrical poster
Template:Film name
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Produced by Tetsuo Katayama
Written by Template:Plainlist
Based on Lupin III 
by Monkey Punch
Starring Template:Plainlist
Music by Yuji Ohno
Cinematography Hirokata Takahashi
Editing by Mitsutoshi Tsurubuchi
Studio Tokyo Movie Shinsha
Distributed by Toho
Release date(s)Template:Plainlist
Running time 100 minutes[1][2]
Country Japan
Language Japanese

The Castle of Cagliostro (Japanese: ルパン三世 カリオストロの城 Hepburn: Rupan Sansei: Kariosutoro no Shiro?, "Lupin the Third: Castle of Cagliostro") is a 1979 Japanese animated film co-written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It is the second film featuring Monkey Punch's master thief Arsène Lupin III, from his manga series Lupin III.[2] The film is also notable for being the directorial debut of Miyazaki, who previously worked as an animator for Toei Animation with some involvement in the two anime series Lupin III and Lupin III Part II.

The Castle of Cagliostro features gentleman thief Arsène Lupin III who starts by robbing a casino only to find the stolen money was counterfeit. Lupin heads to the tiny country of Cagliostro, the rumored source of the bills, and attempts to save the runaway Clarisse from the Count Cagliostro's men. Lupin enlists his associates, Jigen and Goemon and sends his calling card to the Count to get Inspector Zenigata, the man tasked to catch Lupin, to the castle. After becoming trapped in dungeon under the castle, Lupin and Zenigata form a pact to escape and foil the Count's counterfeit operation and save Clarisse from her forced marriage to the Count.

The original theatrical release in Japan occurred on December 15, 1979. The American theatrical debut was on April 3, 1991 with the home release following in October 1992. This first dub produced by Streamline Pictures on home video by Streamline Pictures the following year. A new dubbed version was produced by Manga Entertainment in 2000 and has had several releases.


Lupin III originally began as a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Monkey Punch. The title character, Arsène Lupin III, was directly inspired by Maurice Leblanc's Arsène Lupin, a gallant and famous outlaw who could challenge Sherlock Holmes, who he is said to be the grandson of.[3] Lupin III is a gentleman thief and announces his intentions to steal valuable objects by sending a calling card to the owners of the desired items. The popularity of the manga lead to two anime series titled Lupin III and Lupin III Part II.[3] The first film Mystery of Mamo was released on December 16, 1978. Outside of Castle of Cagliostro Lupin III is a scheming and lecherous thief, sometimes supported by former enemies Jigen and Goemon. Hayao Miyazaki's film conflicts with the typical behavior and personality of the characters which has been attested as Lupin "growing up".[3][4] The film marked the directorial debut of Miyazaki, who had previously co-directed some episodes of the first anime series with Takahata and was writer and director of two episodes in the second series under the pseudonym "Telecom".[3]


The film begins in Monaco, with gentleman thief Arsène Lupin III and his cohorts Daisuke Jigen and Goemon Ishikawa fleeing the Monte Carlo Casino with bags of stolen money. They escape in Lupin's Fiat 500, but Lupin recognizes the bills are distinctively high quality counterfeit bills from his early days as a thief when he was almost killed while searching for their source. Deciding to seek out the source again, they head to Grand Duchy of Cagliostro.

Shortly after arriving, they rescue a young girl being pursued by a gang of thugs, with her and Lupin falling off a cliff while escaping. Lupin is knocked unconscious, and the girl captured, but she leaves him a signet ring. Lupin recognizes the girl as Clarisse, the princess of Cagliostro, who will soon be married to Count Cagliostro, the country's regent. The Count's arranged marriage will cement his power and recover the fabled ancient treasure of Cagliostro, for which he needs both his and Clarisse's ancestral rings.

After being spied upon, assassins fail to kill Lupin, Jigen and recover the ring. Lupin leaves his calling card on the back of the assassin, announcing he is going to steal Clarisse from the Count. Lupin summons Goemon Ishikawa XIII to aide their quest to rescue the princess and tips off his longtime pursuer, Inspector Koichi Zenigata, to his whereabouts to provide a distraction. Zenigata's presence and a party give Lupin enough time to sneak into the castle. There he finds his former lover, Fujiko Mine, posing as Clarisse's lady-in-waiting and she tells him where the princess is being held. Lupin makes his way to Clarisse and returns her ring, vowing to help her to escape. Before he can act, the Count's appears and Lupin is dropped down a trapdoor into the bowels of the castle, as Lupin planned. Lupin mocks the Count through the fake ring and the Count sends two men to retrieve the ring.

Lupin bumps into Zenigata, who was accidentally dropped down earlier, and forms a pact to help each other escape. After surprising and overpowering the two assassins sent to recover the ring, they escape into a room full of printing presses—the source of the counterfeits. Zenigata wants to collect evidence, but Lupin points out they must escape the castle first. They start a fire as a distraction and steal the Count's autogyro. However, as they attempt to rescue Clarisse, Lupin is shot. Clarisse offers the ring to the Count in exchange for Lupin's life. After securing the ring, the Count's attempt at betrayal is foiled when Fujiko's actions allow her, Lupin, and Zenigata to flee. As Lupin rests, Zenigata attempts to convince his superiors at Interpol to prosecute the Count for counterfeiting, but fearing political repercussions, they halt the investigation and remove him from the case. Meanwhile, despite his wounds, Lupin intends to stop the wedding and rescue the princess. Fujiko tips off Lupin on a way to sneak into the castle, and makes a plan with Zenigata to publicly reveal the counterfeiting operation under cover of pursuing Lupin.

The wedding appears to go as planned with a drugged Clarisse until Lupin's "ghost" disrupts the ceremony. The Count calls his guards, but Lupin makes off with Clarisse and both her and the Count's rings. Meanwhile, Zenigata and his squadron arrive in the chaos and the detective leads Fujiko, posing as a television reporter, to the Count's counterfeiting facility to expose the operation to the world. The Count pursues Lupin and Clarisse to the face of the castle's clock tower. Lupin is forced to surrender the rings to save Clarisse, and they are both knocked into the lake surrounding the tower. After using the rings to reveal the secret of Cagliostro, the Count is killed by the mechanism as it moves to unveil the treasure. Lupin and Clarisse watch as the lake around the castle drains to reveal exquisite ancient Roman ruins—the true treasure of Cagliostro. Lupin and his friends leave Clarisse as Zenigata pursues them again and Fujiko flees with the plates from the counterfeit printing presses.


Character Japanese English (Streamline, 1992) English (Animaze/Manga, 2000)
Arsène Lupin III/The Wolf Yasuo Yamada Bob Bergen David Hayter
Lady Clarisse d'Cagliostro Sumi Shimamoto Joan-Carol O'Connell
Barbara Goodson (young)
Bridget Hoffman
Count Cagliostro Tarō Ishida Michael McConnohie Kirk Thornton
Daisuke Jigen Kiyoshi Kobayashi Steve Bulen John Snyder
Fujiko Mine Eiko Masuyama Edie Mirman Dorothy Fahn
Inspector Koichi/Keibu Zenigata Gorō Naya David Povall Dougary Grant
Goemon Ishikawa XIII Makio Inoue Steve Kramer Richard Epcar
Jodo Ichirō Nagai Jeff Winkless Milton James
Walter/Christopher (The Groundskeeper) Kōhei Miyauchi Mike Reynolds Barry Stigler
Gustav Tadamichi Tsuneizumi Kirk Thornton Joe Romersa
Waitress Yoko Yamaoka Juliana Donald Bambi Darro


Castle of Cagliostro marked Miyazaki's directorial debut, but he also was a writer, a designer, and a storyboardist.[4] The production for the film began in May 1979 with the writing of the story and storyboarding for the film.[5] Animation work was begun in July while the storyboards were only a quarter complete, Miyazaki had to complete them during the animation production. Production wrapped up at the end of November and the film's premier on December 15, 1979 was a short seven and a half months from the project's undertaking, with only five months of production time.[5]

The film draws upon many sources of inspiration that were important in the production of the film. McCarthy writes that a research trip was not specifically undertaken for the film, but says Miyazaki's Heidi sketchbooks were useful for the scenery.[5] Miyazaki would cite Italian Mountain Cities and the Tiber Estuary from Kagoshima Publishing as influencing the production of the film.[5] The film included elements that were seen in other Arsène Lupin works, including La Justice d'Arsène Lupin by Boileau-Narcejac, involving the discovery of a tremendous stash of forged franc notes with which World War I–era Germany had planned to destabilize the French economy.[6] Maurice Leblanc's The Green-eyed Lady also featured a secret treasure hidden at the bottom of a lake.[7] The castle is visually influenced by that of the original 1952 unfinished release of The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep.[8] Greenberg writes, "Cagliostro also borrowed many narrative and visual elements from Grimault's film: the basic plotline of disrupting the wedding of an evil tyrant and a beautiful innocent girl, the tyrant's luxuriously-decorated palace that is also full of traps, and a gang of henchmen serving the tyrant – both oversized goons and ninja-like assassins..."[9] The staff added personal touches to the film, the most iconic being Lupin's car, the Fiat 500, was the car of head animator Yasuo Ohtsuka.[7] Clarisse's car in the chase scene is a Citroen 2CV, which is Miyazaki's first car.[7]

McCarthy describes the summery color palate of the film as matching the scenery and the characters, but notes the use of dark and light colors are used to emphasize the subplot of the dark and light sides of the Cagliostros.[5] The film's score was composed by Yuji Ohno, and varies between jazz, romance and orchestral music, and includes a variation of Lupin's iconic TV theme.[5]

Castle of Cagliostro's portrayal of the characters was changed to better identify with Miyazaki's concept of a "hero" and to remove a sense of apathy in the story.[4] This resulted in Lupin being a happy-go-lucky and upbeat thief who drives and lives out of a Fiat 500; a sharp contrast to the scheming and lecherous Lupin who drives expensive cars like the Mercedes-Benz SSK because it was "Hitler's favorite".[4] The changes would also impact secondary characters like Jigen and Goemon, changing their serious and cold personalities into friendly and humorous; even the erotic elements involving the femme-fatale Fujiko were dropped.[4]

Fred Patten, who worked at Streamline Pictures was involved in the English adaptation of the film and was involved in the choice of title for the English release, "The Japanese title is Lupin III: Cagliostro no Shiro, which is literally Lupin III: Cagliostro of Castle. So which would be better in English; Cagliostro Castle, Cagliostro’s Castle, or The Castle of Cagliostro? It was my argument that The Castle of Cagliostro sounded the most sinister. Cagliostro Castle is just a castle’s name, like Windsor Castle, but the Castle of Cagliostro emphasizes that it is the evil Count’s lair!"[10]

Critical analysis

As Miyazaki's first director role, numerous examples of his style are depicted in the film to great effect. Dani Cavallaro highlights the signature details of Miyazaki's style and form being displayed in this work and how it impacts the portrayal of the story.[3] Cagliostro, the country and setting, is depicted in meticulous detail and unconstrained by limitations of architecture, geography and culture, which can be described as "akogare no Paris" (Paris of our dreams), which is a fantastical view of Europe through Eastern eyes. The use of unexpected and unique camera angles and attention to individual movement of the characters are distinctive signatures of Miyazaki's style, including the opening heist scene which provides characterization and spirit to understanding the character of Lupin.[3] The changes made to the portrayal of the cast, depicting a heroic and selfless Lupin, a friendly Jigen, funny Goemon, and un-sexualized Fujiko, were not well received by fans. Otaku USA's Surat described compared this shift to "a James Bond movie where [James Bond] stayed at Motel 6 and his “Bond mobile” was a Toyota Camry!"[4]


The film has itself been an influence in a range of other productions. John Musker's 1986 film The Great Mouse Detective paid homage to the film with the battle in the clock-tower.[8] Another reference to the clock-tower scene is in Batman: The Animated Series's The Clock King episode.[8] Gary Trousdale, co-director of Disney's Atlantis: The Lost Empire, admitted that a scene at the end of Atlantis, where the waters recede from the sunken city, was directly inspired by a similar scene from Cagliostro.[11] One of the sequence directors of The Simpsons Movie also mentioned Cagliostro as an influence; the scene where Bart rolls down the roof was inspired by Lupin running down the castle roof during his rescue attempt.[12] Cagliostro has also been influential for Pixar animator John Lasseter.[13] Footage from this film, along with the previous Lupin film The Mystery of Mamo, appeared in the 1983 LaserDisc video game Cliff Hanger.[4]

Popular misconceptions

The Manga Video 2006 DVD release quotes Steven Spielberg as saying the film is "...One of the greatest adventure movies of all time"; there is no evidence that Spielberg ever said that.[14] A second equally unverified claim has Spielberg saying the film's car chase is "one of the greatest chase sequences ever filmed". These accounts are rumored to have been connected to Steven Spielberg seeing the film at the 1980 Cannes Film Festival.[4] According to the Cannes Film Festival, Castle of Cagliostro was not shown that year.[15] In Dani Cavallaro's The Anime Art of Hayao Miyazaki, the film was said to have received the "Award for Best Animated Feature".[3] The actual award was from the 1979 Mainichi Film Concours, where the film received the Ofuji Noburo Award.[16] No concrete evidence for this claim has even been put forward and the misinformation in the releases serves to cement its decades long persistence.[4]


The film's Japanese theatrical release was on December 15, 1979.[5] The American theatrical debut was on April 3, 1991 in New York City by Carl Macek's Streamline Pictures) with the home release following in October 1992.[5] The UK release followed in 1996 by Manga Video.[5] Optimum Releasing re-released Cagliostro in the UK after Manga Entertainment lost its license in the UK.[17] The new DVD features an anamorphic widescreen print with the original Japanese audio track as well as the Streamline dub, both in stereo.[17][18]

In 2000, Manga released the film on home video in the United States with a newly commissioned dub. The DVD preserves the film in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen and is non-anamorphic. It additionally features remastered audio and picture, but contains no extras. The same company later released a new special edition DVD of Cagliostro in 2006.[14][19] The disc is double-sided with the film on side A and the extras on side B. It includes a new digital transfer; Manga's English dub in 2.0 and 5.1 surround plus Japanese, Spanish, and French language tracks in mono; the complete film in storyboard format, accompanied by Japanese audio with English subtitles; an original Japanese trailer; a sketch and still gallery; a 26-minute interview with animation director Yasuo Ōtsuka, and animated menus.[14] The film is presented in 16:9 anamorphic widescreen; however, the opening credits have been heavily re-edited to remove the Japanese credits, instead using selected still-frames of scenes that appear without Japanese writing. The English-translated names are superimposed over these stills. This change was negatively received by fans of the film.[19] Both DVD releases are out-of-print, with Manga no longer owning the U.S. film rights.[20]

In December 2008, the film was released on Blu-ray in Japan. Its video format is MPEG-4 AVC and its digitally-remastered audio is improved over that of the DVD, but contains no English audio or subtitle options despite being in Region A format.[21] Optimum Releasing, now named StudioCanal, released a Blu-ray and DVD bundle of the film on November 12, 2012 in the UK.[22] The StudioCanal release is of superior quality with its new high definition, but the credits for the film are absent.[23] The Blu-ray has yet to receive a North American release.


Following a July 1992 release by Streamline Pictures,[2] Janet Maslin, said she thought the film "should fare nearly as well [as Akira] with animation fans of any age, provided they are unwavering in their devotion to the form and do not think 100 minutes is an awfully long time." According to Maslin, the film is an "interestingly wild hybrid of visual styles and cultural references" whose "animation is weak when it comes to fluid body movements, but outstanding in its attention to detail."[2] According to Marc Savlov of The Austin Chronicle, "C of C refrains from the Technicolor ultra-violence that helped make films like Golgo 13, Akira, and Vampire Hunter D such audience favorites, and instead focuses on broad, almost slapstick humor and chaos to keep viewers riveted. Sometimes it works, and unfortunately, sometimes it doesn't."[1]

The film was the best selling anime DVD in May 2001, and the third best selling in June.[24][25]

Both of Manga Entertainment's releases of The Castle of Cagliostro received DVD Talk Collector Series recommendation status, the highest status given by the review website[26][27] Chris Beveridge of gave the film a grade of "A+", although he disliked Manga Entertainment's use of PG-13 level language in the English dub.[28] The Castle of Cagliostro placed in 5th place on Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs's list of best anime.[29]


External links

  • Big Cartoon DataBase
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
  • The Castle Of Cagliostro at Lupin III Encyclopedia
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