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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Castle of Cagliostro


Starring: Yasuo Yamada, Kiyoshi Kobayashi, Makio Inoue and Eiko Masuyama
RRP: £24.99
Certificate: PG
Available 12 November 2012

Arsène Lupin III is a gentleman thief always willing to turn his hand to a bit of larceny. After a failed raid on a casino, failed in the sense that all the bills were fake, Lupin and his accomplice head off to find the source of the bills only to end up rescuing a damsel in distress. The young girl is none other than Clarisse, the princess of Cagliostro. After Lupin falls off a cliff and the princess is recaptured, he determines to rescue the young woman from the castle, an act which might throw some light on the fake bills...

The Castle of Cagliostro (1979. 1 hr. 39 min 34 sec) is a comedy anime. Although Miyazaki developed the screenplay and directed the film, this wasn’t a project which he originated and so plays much more like a straight forward comedy. The visual flair is there, but the sense of wondrous mystery which is usual central to a Miyazaki film is lacking. It stands however as an extension of his work on the television series and the last film work complete before he founded Studio Ghibli.

Given the age of the film the print is remarkably vivid. Like the old Ghibli films the great lord of quality giveth and taketh away as the quality of the print only enhances the grain inherent in the original film stock. That said the English dub, with David Hayter, Dorothy Elias-Fahn, Ivan Buckley and Bridget Hoffman is more than half decent.

There is nothing particularly deep about the film and the linier plot plays the story mostly for laughs. Will our hero rescue the girl and get behind the fake money plot? Well of course he will and he’ll drag the audience along for the ride.

It would be fair to say that watching the results of Miyazaki working on someone else’s project does not produce work at the same level as that which would eventually come out of Studio Ghibli. The film lacks the visual richness and thematic layers of his later work. That said the film was insanely popular on its release and again when it was released to DVD. The story remains a strong caper movie, with a stylistically European look and feel although the strange elongation of the limbs reminds us that we are watching a cartoon.

The extras are less than a normal Ghibli release, probably because of the age of the film, although you do get all the film's storyboards and the trailer. The lack of extras is balanced with the greater choice of audio options as the disc has a Japanese 2.0 mono LPCM and DTS-HD Master Audio tracks as well as an English 2.0 Mono LPCM dub. English subtitles are included.

There is much to enjoy with the film and whilst it can in no way compare to his later work, there is a lot of humour and charm to be had. The film can be purchased either individually or bundled with the much better, My Neighbour Totoro.


Charles Packer

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