The Castle of Cagliostro (1979)

7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 8/10

First film of Hayao Miyazaki

Not the best story

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Castle of Cagliostro

Studio:  Tokyo Movie Shinsha

Genre(s):  Animated/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  December 15, 1979

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated


Money, Money, Money!

Arsène Lupin III is a master thief and on the case of a mystery.  A trail of counterfeit money has led him and his partner Daisuke Jigen back to Cagliostro.  When Arsène rescues a girl named Clarisse, Daisuke learns that she is the princess of Cagliostro.  Arsène is pursued by an inspector named Koichi Zenigata and facing off against Count Cagliostro who is determined to marry Clarisse and steal her fortune.  Arsène could be the hero of the day…or will the lure of the legendary treasure be too much for him.


I get a princess! I wonder how much I can sell her for?

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki, The Castle of Cagliostro (or the Japanese title of ルパン三世 カリオストロの城 or Rupan Sansei:  Kariosutoro no Shiro which translates as Lupin the Third:  Castle of Cagliostro) is Miyazaki’s first full animated film.  The story is an adaption of Monkey Punch (Kazuhiko Katō) series of Lupin III stories which began in 1967.  The movie is the second animated feature starring Lupin III with the first movie being Mystery of Mamo from 1978.  The film was relatively well received and was fairly influential in animation.

With such an influential director and his plans to retire with The Wind Rises, I wanted to go back and see some of his earliest work.  It is fun to go back into The Castle of Cagliostro though I must admit that The Castle of Cagliostro isn’t my favorite work.


Lupin III always knows how to have a good time!

The story for the movie is a bit all over the place.  It does a lot of assumption that people know the Arsène Lupin III character and his supporting cast which is probably not true for Americans.  As a newbie to the character, I found this a bit difficult to follow.  Real followers of Lupin III, are often critical of Miyazaki’s portrayal of Lupin III.  I guess in the novels and stories, Lupin III is less heroic and valiant and more of a scoundrel.  I do like an antihero and would have been interested in seeing this character more than the character presented.


Terrifying…unfortunately it’s just a dummy

Visually, Miyazaki can do no wrong in my opinion.  I am not a Japanese animation fan for the most part, but there needs to be a distinction between good Japanese animation like this and bad Japanese animation like my first Japanese animation (and many other Americans) who first really saw shows like Battle of the Planets (aka G-Force).  Quality Japanese animation often has a bigger scale than TV show animation.  Character’s faces (like Lupin III) don’t necessarily help this argument because the character designs are pretty typical for the animation.  One note that is interesting is that Miyazaki adopts European architectural designs and styles for most of his movies and The Castle of Cagliostro kind of begins this trend.

Hayao Miyazaki is a great director, and this is a great start to his work.  The movie isn’t my favorite movie of his, but I think it is a good way to see how he developed as a director.  Don’t seek out The Castle of Cagliostro as an introduction to Miyazaki but seek it out as a fan.  Miyazaki followed The Castle of Cagliostro with Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind in 1984.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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