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Not Great But Good Fun
on February 23, 2003
I had misgivings after buying Hayao Miyazaki's THE
CASTLE OF CAGLIOSTRO. Being one of his earliest
movies, it was unlikely to be in a league with his
MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO or PRINCESS MONONOKE, and I
wondered if it was actually going to be even worth
But I finally sat down and watched THE CASTLE OF
CAGLIOSTRO and it kept me perfectly entertained all
the way through. It's basically derived from
French or Italian-made "caper" films from the 1960s
or 1970s, involving the adventures of master thief
Lupin in the little mythical kingdom of Cagliostro
(which I would suspect is next door to Grand Fenwick).
What you get out of this is wild car stunts (driving
on two wheels and so forth), tricky gadgets, a castle
fortress with laser defenses, a princess in distress,
an evil count, a pretty spy, anti-tank rifles, a fight
in the clock tower, escapes from dungeons, and an
Interpol inspector named Zanigata who combines a bit of
Inspector Clouseau with a little amiable satire of
The production values are generally competent, though
not quite up to Miyazaki's more famous works. Still,
the Miyazaki style, distinctive among all animation, is
still very clearly there. A lot of the plot devices
can't stand up to even mild examination, but given that
nobody with any sense would think this movie should be
taken seriously that's not really much of a criticism.
It does get a bit more violent in places than something
this lightweight can support, but it doesn't make a
habit of it.
The end result is pleasant if not exactly memorable.
This is the sort of movie I am reluctant to praise too
much or too little. Must-see video? No. Entertaining?
Incidentally, I found out from poking around on the
Cartoon Network's "Adult Swim" late-night offerings
that an anime TV series was made about Lupin, titled
LUPIN THE THIRD. I only bring this up because the
TV series is very cheaply made, and those who have
seen it might get the mistaken idea that THE CASTLE
OF CAGLIOSTRO is operating at the same (very low)
level of quality. Not the case, fortunately -- the
only thing the TV series and the movie have in
common are the characters.