Project #100: Lupin III: Castle Of Cagliostro

Hello and welcome to the 100th blog of Project Nitsuj. Wow, a hundred blogs and that’s not even counting my side blogs or specials so really I’ve done more than a hundred blogs. I am awesome. So in order to celebrate my 100th blog I’m going to review my all-time favorite anime film Lupin III: Castle Of Cagliostro. Yep, I’ve gone on record multiple times saying that the Castle Of Cagliostro is my favorite anime film out there along with Spirited Away. Released in 1979 the Castle Of Cagliostro marks the second film in the Lupin III franchise and combines 3 of my favorite elements all in one. First off anime, second the iconic anime character Lupin III, and third but not least my favorite director of anime the great Hayao Miyazaki. That’s right, Miyazaki himself once had a hand in the Lupin franchise. This film was co-written by him and marked Miyazaki’s directorial debut into the world of anime film where he would go on to find Studio Ghibli and create some of the greatest animated films of all time. How great is that? To have your directorial debut film be about one of the greatest anime characters of all time and to have one of greatest anime characters of all time have a film written and directed by one of the greatest film directors of all-time? A match made in Heaven if you ask me. Let’s celebrate big time and take a look at Lupin III: Castle Of Cagliostro.


So the film opens up with Lupin and Jigen stealing 5 million dollars from a casino. Now the first thing you’ll notice in this film is that it lacks the Studio Ghibli animation that Miyazaki is known for. Well that’s because this film takes place before Miyazaki found Studio Ghibli which is a shame because I would have loved to see what Lupin and the others would look like in Studio Ghibli animation. I imagine it would have been awesome. Another thing you’ll also notice is that Lupin is wearing the green jacket instead of the red jacket. That’s because Miyazaki played a huge part in Lupin TV series. Remember in my Orders to Assassinate Lupin/Voyage to Danger review when I said the original director got replaced because he refused to make the series more kid friendly? Well Miyazaki was one of the guys called in to replace him. In the beginning the green jacket was a more serious approach to Lupin showing him in a grittier tone and staying true to the manga as seen in the Fujiko Mine anime. However, later on Miyazaki came aboard the series and following the orders of the producers turned Lupin into a more comical character which is the one everyone is familiar with today. Another reason why this is, is because the green jacket came out first before the red jacket. Because of this many fans have come to see the green jacket as more of Lupin’s younger self. Him starting out and seeing him in a more serious grittier light and just looking to get money. Oh he has his funny moments here and there but for the most part he’s pretty serious. The red jacket on the other hand is more of his mature comical self. Him having full experience, learning all the tricks in the book as well as past mistakes, and showing off his creative and clever mind by instead of just aiming for money he’s going after rare treasure and jewels. There’s also a pink jacket but nobody really likes or cares for that Lupin. Anyway, Lupin and Jigen get the money and escape, the casino thugs try to chase them but they have car problems (and by problems I mean that their cars keep falling apart on them courtesy of Lupin and Jigen. I don’t think the insurance company will cover this). As the two are driving away Lupin takes a good look at the bills (don’t count money and drive folks) and he tells Jigen to throw the money out because the bills are counterfeit and not just any counterfeits, these bills are goat bills the highest quality counterfeit bills you can find in the world. These bills are so good and detailed that even the government has a hard time tracking these things. For all you know you could have a goat bill or two in your wallet right now. Lupin says the bills are legendary and the two thieves decide to head out to the country of Cagliostro (insert remote European country here) which Lupin says is where the bills came from and the opening credits begin to roll where we get one of best opening songs in anime history Fire Treasure (scene here: //


After the beautiful opening credits we see Lupin and Jigen make it to Cagliostro and gain access into the country using disguises. Once in the country they get a flat tire which leads to what I and many other have called one of the greatest car chase scenes in all of cinema. The girl who Lupin has rescued is Clarisse the princess of Cagliostro who is set to be married to the Count of Cagliostro (his name unknown probably all because it was lame and he just changed it to Count because it sounds cooler). The problem is Clarisse doesn’t want to marry the Count because he’s responsible for killing her parents and is instead using this marriage as a way to gain power in the country and gain access to the country’s ancient treasure. As Lupin is lowering himself down with the princess in his hands the branch holding them breaks and Lupin falls to the ground knocked out. Luckily Clarisse is alright and tries to help him but more guards show up to catch her and she runs away (she runs fast in those heels. Not gonna make any assumptions but that’s usually not a good sign) but gets captured. Lupin regains conscious too late but he notices that Clarisse left her ring with him. After examining the crest on the ring Lupin rushes off to the old Duke’s home which was destroyed in a fire and is being overlooked by the castle of Cagliostro (which looks like the prototype of Disney’s castle). Lupin puts on the cool quiet loner act not telling Jigen anything but Jigen tortures him to tell him what’s going on here. Lupin tells Jigen that 10 years ago he tried to sneak into the palace to discover the secret of the goat bills but failed in his search and was forced to retreat. As he’s telling him this we see the Count return in his weird but cool helicopter returning from whatever business he was doing and goes to see Clarisse who has been sedated (I’m sure this is how he gets all of his dates). He notices that her ring is missing which is a big deal to him because in order to unlock the ancient treasure he requires his ring and her ring so he tells his butler Jodo (oh my God a butler not named Alfred, Geoffrey, or Sebastian. Thank you Miyazaki) to find the men who helped Clarisse believing that they have the ring (which is true. Good detective skills right there). We cut to Lupin and Jigen hiding out in a hotel where Jodo and his assassins come and attack them at night. And apparently these things are unstoppable. Jigen shoots one of them in the head, Lupin slams one of them into the wall with his car and yet these guys are still walking and fighting like nothings happen to them. These guys are indestructible. Lupin and Jigen manage to escape and Lupin leaves his calling card saying he’s going to kidnap Clarisse before the wedding. This news of course reaches Zenigata and he arrives with his force to guard the castle and Jigen calls in one of the original badass swordsmen Goemon to help them out (he also upgrades to an anti-tank rifle gun. Man Jigen you trying to blow someone’s head off or something).


That night Lupin and Jigen use the aquatic ducts to sneak into a windmill which will give them access into the castle. Lupin falls down a waterfall which forces Jigen to turn back after being spotted by the laser defense. Somehow Lupin survives the smashing of the windmill gears and makes it into the windmill tower where he uses his Zenigata disguise to make the guards believe that the real Zenigata is Lupin in disguise. This results in a brawl between the guards and police officers with Lupin sneaking pass them and Zenigata falling down a trap door as well as Jodo and the captain of the guards. Lupin makes his way down into the armory where he runs into Fujiko (sporting the blonde hair this time around. Her natural hair color is better). She’s in the castle to expose the Count’s counterfeit operation (Fujiko acting on the side of good. What’s in it for her?) and undercover as Clarisse’s personal maid. She tells Lupin that he can find Clarisse in a tower on the north side and Lupin goes Assassin’s Creed on us by climbing up a huge tower bare-handed where he reaches the top, falls down the slope of the tower accidently where he proceeds to run down the tower at incredible speed and jumps from said tower to another tower and jump to the tower where Clarisse is (scene here: //, okay I know this movie came out before Mario and Sonic but I’m pretty sure if they saw this they would be laughing at how this scene would be impossible). He makes it to Clarisse’s room where he tells her he’s here to take her to freedom (how romantic) but their sweet talk is cut short by the Count and his men (you guys are ruining the mode). He sends Lupin down a trap door (just how many trap doors does this castle have?) thinking he’s killed him but Lupin gave Clarisse a fake ring which is in fact a radio and he tells the Count that he’s still got the real ring and that he’s coming to get Clarisse. Lupin than falls down below to a dungeon filled with bodies of dead people who have also tried to find the secret of Cagliostro but failed (the stories these bones could tell us). He runs into Zenigata and the two call a truce to work together until they can get out. The next morning Jodo sends the guards down into the dungeon where the guards get knocked out (seriously? These guys can survive a bullet to the head but they can’t handle a club to the back of the head? Makes sense to me). Using their suits Lupin and Zenigata trick Jodo and trap him in the dungeon where they make their way to the counterfeit room where we see all the counterfeit money from simple American dollar bills to Chinese Yuan (man this is some operation he’s got going on here. This is like the international house of counterfeiting. An IHOC if you will). They decide to burn all the counterfeit money and fight their way out where they steal the Count’s helicopter (// and make their way to Clarisse’s tower. With the help of Fujiko, Lupin is able to free Clarisse but before they can escape Lupin gets shot.


The Count orders his men to fire on Lupin but Clarisse makes a deal that she’ll marry the Count and give the ring to him if he spares Lupin’s life. He agrees to her terms (// and as soon as she’s out of harm’s way the Count orders his men to shoot at Lupin but luckily Fujiko and Zenigata are there to save him and they give him back to Jigen and Goemon. Zenigata goes to the representatives of the United Nation to show his evidence of the goat bills and wants permission to go in and shut down the operation but in staying true to politics the representatives think it’s a bad idea because there’s too much at stake, the Count has a lot of friends in the west, and each country is arguing amongst themselves (so just like a real summit of the United Nations there was a lot of pointless talking, with nothing getting resolved, countries arguing amongst themselves instead of addressing the real problems, and they send the bill to us. Meeting adjourned). Back on Lupin’s side we see that he’s been out for 3 days because of his injuries and the wedding is tomorrow (and he doesn’t have a date or a suit for it). He tells the others about how he met Clarisse 10 years ago when he tried to sneak into Cagliostro’s castle but failed and barely escaped with his life (and surprisingly he still looks the same as he does in the present. Either Lupin ages well like George Clooney and Johnny Depp or he’s secretly found the fountain of youth). When he washed ashore Clarisse (in her child form) helped Lupin out by giving him a cup of water (because that’s what you would give someone knocking on death’s door. A cup of water. Instead of a first aid kit or an adult to help the man out). With time running out and no way to sneak into the wedding Lupin receives a tip from Fujiko about the archbishop coming to the wedding (and with that Lupin has a way inside). She also tells Zenigata that Lupin is sneaking into the wedding and he decides to use this as an excuse to expose the goat bill operation in the castle. The day of the wedding arrives and the Count wearing a mask with a goat’s head on it (what the hell is he wearing?) has drugged Clarisse to make sure she won’t do anything foolish at the wedding (no different than a lot of weddings done today). They make their way to the alter accompanied by The Undertaker’s druids (okay is this a wedding or a blood sacrifice which is going to result in a blood orgy because if so I am out. I’ve already been traumatized enough by the last one) where the wedding gets interrupted by the ghost of Lupin (he’s come to steal your money and women. Run~). The druids stab the Lupin ghost which turns out to be a dummy because the real Lupin is the archbishop (impersonating a man of the church. Yep, he’s most likely going to hell). Lupin grabs Clarisse and makes his escape while Zenigata and his men come in pretending to look for Lupin and expose the goat bill operation beneath the castle (watcha gonna say now ya political cock suckers?).


Lupin and Clarisse escape to the old clock tower with the Count right on their tail and this leads to probably the best scene in the film the clock tower fight scene. Between the car chase scene and the clock tower fight scene it’s hard to say which scene is better but these two scenes are the most well-done scenes in the film and the ones that critics and fans talk about whenever they review this film. The fight scene in the clock tower is just well-done. It’s not fast-paced or very action based but it’s what going on that makes this scene great. For starters Lupin and Clarisse are running from the Count in his men. There’s almost no way out the two are stuck and Lupin has to fight while making sure Clarisse is safe and kept out of harm’s way. Rather than using weapons to knock the guards out Lupin instead uses the clock as a weapon slipping through gears, maneuvering around them, having gears fall on guards and leading guards to their death by being crushed between gears. Lupin and Clarisse make their way outside on the hands of the clock tower where the Count has Clarisse cornered but Lupin reveals the location of Cagliostro’s ancient treasure to the Count in exchange for sparing Clarisse’s life (Lupin you know the guy can’t be trusted right? He’s gonna double cross you. Which now that I think about is quite odd. Isn’t the thief supposed to be doing the double-crossing instead of the Count?). Sure enough the Count uses his rocket launching gauntlet to knock Lupin off the tower (Miyazaki was ahead of his time even back then) and kicks Clarisse off the tower as well where she gets saved by Lupin and the two land in the lake. The Count climbs to the top of the clock tower where he inserts the rings into the eyes of the goat statue which activates the clock tower again and the Count dies in the most unlikely way possible. He gets squashed by the hands of the clock tower (Mr. Count your 12:00 death appointment is here waiting for you). After that the clock tower falls apart and the lake around the castle begins to drain revealing an ancient Roman city which is the true treasure Cagliostro has been hiding all this time (well this will make a good tourist attraction). As the police force arrives on the scene Lupin decides it’s time to leave and says his goodbyes to Clarissa promising to one day return. Clarisse waves goodbye to Lupin and his friends not realizing that she’s already fallen in love with him and we end the film with Zenigata chasing after Lupin and the gang while we hear that beautiful opening song again.


Final Thoughts


So that was the Castle of Cagliostro. While I admit the film has its faults I still love it and still see it as my favorite animated film because it captures the true feeling and nature of a Lupin film balancing out everything, something none of the other specials or films have been able to do or capture. Don’t get me wrong the other specials and films are good but this film managed to have a balance of everything. It had an intriguing story you got invested in. You find yourself wondering what’s gonna happen next, how are they gonna get out of this, what’s this great treasure Cagliostro is hiding, and what’s Lupin’s relationship with Clarisse. There were great scenes like the car chase scene and the clock tower scene which as I mentioned before are the two best scenes in the film. I always love watching these two scenes and analyzing them because they’re so good, well-paced, and fun to watch. I especially like the scene near the end where Lupin is leaving and in the car we actually see Lupin sad about leaving as if to say he had feelings for Clarisse as well and might have actually wanted to stay and be with her. The characters as you would expect are all fun-loving and great to watch. The Count was a pretty good villain he’s cruel, manipulated, over-confident, and will double-cross anyone he feels keeps getting in his way. The only character who could have used a bit more character was Clarisse. Her whole role in this film was just the damsel in distress for Lupin to save and nothing else. They could have expanded on her character more but to be fair this was the late 70’s and women weren’t written all that well back then so I can let it slide but for what they do with her they make her alright she’s not totally useless or acts as extra luggage and she is very trusting of Lupin despite still being a little scared.


The animation is very well-done for its time. By today’s standards it’s not all that great but back then this was the animation that all anime studios dreamed of making. It looks amazing and even though this is Miyazaki’s first film you can see his style and ideas coming into play here like the multiple shots of nature and seeing how beautiful it is. The actions scenes are played out well and capture the original nature of the series while still staying to the fun-loving side that we’ve come to love in the Lupin series. Finally, the music is beautiful. Out of all of Miyazaki’s films this film has the best soundtrack out of all of them. The main theme Fire Treasure is one of my all-time favorite anime songs and sets the mood for the film perfectly and the Lupin the Third theme used for this film is one of my favorite adaptations of the theme. What else can I say about this film? It had a great story, director, characters, animation, music, and in my opinion the best Lupin film out there.


Final Score


Because of all these things the Castle of Cagliostro earns a 10/10. This is the best Lupin film out there and one that anybody who is a fan or Lupin or a fan of anime should watch at least once. It’s a solid movie that captures the true value of the Lupin series better than any other special or film out there and serves as a good place to see where Miyazaki got his start at and see how his ideas and creativity were starting to come into play. Well guys I’ve made it to a hundred blogs and all I gotta say is thanks. Thank you all so much for taking the time out of your day to read my anime reviews and listen to what I have to say about them. I never thought in my wildest dreams I would go this far with my blogs. As I’ve said before I know my blogs aren’t the best out there. I’m sure I’ve made a lot of mistakes in them or said some things you don’t fully agreement with or understand but perhaps that’s part of the experience of being a blogger. You say what you want to say or believe and get people to think about it or see something in a new light. Just know that whenever I do a blog I put all my heart into writing them and getting my opinion or thought across the best way I can. Well guys here’s to you for keeping me going and here’s to another hundred blogs. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next time on Project Nitsuj.


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