Back to the Vaults — Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro

Back to the Vaults — Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro
ルパン三世 カリオストロの城
Rupan Sansei: Cagliostro no Shiro

SPOILER Summary/Synopsis:

Lupin III: Castle of CagliostroLupin and Jigen pull off a heist at a large casino and get away clean when Lupin discovers that the money is all counterfeit. Dumping the money on the highway, Lupin decides they should head for the the small country of Cagliostro. After passing through a checkpoint in disguise, Lupin and Jigen discover a bride in a car being pursued by men with guns in a second car. Deciding to get in on the fun, Jigen manages to finally take out the gunmen though there is damage to Lupin’s car.

Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro Lupin discovers that the girl is unconscious in her car and changes over to save her, only to end up going over the cliff. Lupin saves them both with quick thinking but ends up getting knocked out from a falling limb. The bride uses one of her gloves to fill with water for Lupin but takes off when more gunmen in a boat show up. When Lupin comes too, he finds that the gunmen have the bride but she has left him a ring in the glove.

Lupin III: Castle of CagliostroLupin drives himself a Jigen to a local ruined castle where Jigen eventually gets Lupin to confess what he knows. Lupin had attempted to discover the secret of the goat bills as a young thief and had been shot as a result, only to be helped by a young Clarisse. While there, a gardener gives them some information before they take off. Meanwhile, the Count of Cagliostro goes to see the unconscious Clarisse and discovers her ring is missing.

Lupin III: Castle of CagliostroThat evening in a local eating joint, Lupin examines the ring as he and Jigen tackle a large plate of spaghetti. Lupin observes they are being observed. That night in their room, they are attacked and forced to make a quick escape. Lupin sends a message to the count as Goemon arrives to Lupin and Jigen’s stakeout point. Jigen observes the arrival of Inspector Zenigata, who’d been summoned by Lupin. The Count dismisses Zenigata’s concerns over Lupin’s threat and arranges to have Zenigata and his men removed from the case.

Lupin III: Castle of CagliostroThat evening, Jigen and Lupin arrange to infiltrate the castle via the water works and the clock tower. Lupin gets carried away by the water flow and ends up in the mouth of a lion where water flows out. Goemon is forced to return and Zenigata gets his orders to leave from Interpol. Lupin uses this time to make it into the castle disguised as Zenigata and causes a lot of confusion as the Count’s men and Zenigata’s men end up battling. Zenigata realizes what has happened but in trying to get Lupin ends up falling through a trap door. The Count’s servant Jodo and another discover what happened but thanks to Lupin, they too fall through the trap, which amuses the trap.

Lupin III: Castle of CagliostroLupin manages to make his way across the roof and by luck manages to get to the tower that Clarisse is held in. Getting in, he introduces himself as a thief. After he waxes eloquently and cheers her up, causing her to believe that he would save her, the Count and his men arrive and soon send Lupin down a trap door to the castle dungeon. The Count thinks he has his ring back only to discover it is a fake from Lupin. Meanwhile, Lupin has safely made it down to where there are numerous skeletal remains of those attempting to learn the secrets of Cagliostro Castle. Lupin encounters Zenigata and the two come to a truce to escape.

Lupin III: Castle of CagliostroLater, some of the Count’s men arrive to take out the sleeping Zenigata and Lupin, only to discover that they’ve been fooled by skeletons dressed in their clothing. Zenigata and Lupin escape and discover the large printing press floor where counterfeit bills from countries all over are being created. Zenigata and Lupin come to an arrangement and begin burning the bills. The fire and commotion are the signal that Goemon and Jigen have been waiting for.

Lupin III: Castle of CagliostroMeanwhile, Fujiko goes to rescue Clarisse now that Lupin is involved as Lupin and Zenigata make their way to the Count’s autogyro. They make it there but as Lupin attempts to pick up Clarisse and Fujiko, he is shot as is the autogyro with Zenigata in it. Clarisse ends up giving herself up after Fujiko tells her were Lupin hid the ring as Zenigata comes to the rescue. Fujiko grabs Lupin and they make their escape before Fujiko activates her glider and goes her own way. After the crash, Zenigata is snared in the trees while Lupin is carried to a hideout and treated, courtesy of the local gardener.

Lupin III: Castle of CagliostroA few days later, despite not having fully recovered, Lupin comes up with a plan to save Clarisse. Zenigata, who’s been foiled in his attempts to take down the Count for counterfeiting, receives a call from Fujiko which gives him a way to do what he wants under the guise of taking out Lupin. Meanwhile, the Count’s wedding is on with Fujiko now disguised as a TV news reporter to regain access to the castle. Clarisse has been drugged and so does not respond when Lupin, Jigen, and Goemon crash the wedding. However when she thinks he’s been shot, she snaps to but is restrained by the priest, who is actually Lupin in disguise.

Lupin III: Castle of CagliostroLupin sets off a lot of fireworks to create chaos as Zenigata and his men arrive. While all of this is broadcast live on TV, Zenigata makes a pretense of going after Lupin and Fujiko follows with a small video camera, revealing to the world the counterfeit operation. At the same time, Lupin makes of with Clarisse with the Count and his men in pursuit. The count gets Clarisse outside the clock tower and walking the hour hand but when Lupin arrives and offers the two rings in exchange for himself and Clarisse, the Count accepts. Due to the Count’s actions, both Clarisse and Lupin fall off the tower into the water below and using the rings as Lupin instructed, the Count unlocks the clock mechanism but dies in the process.

Lupin III: Castle of CagliostroThe clock tower crumbles and the land is flooded as water pours from the dam. Now revealed is an ancient Roman city, which had been concealed ages ago by the dam and clock tower. Now that the treasure of the Cagliostro has been revealed, it is time for Lupin to make his exit as Jigen and Goemon pick him up. Zenigata arrives and with a wink at Clarisse says he’s after Lupin for stealing her heart. With the chase on, Fujiko arrives on her bike to show Lupin that she scored some printing plates before racing off, leaving Lupin to deal with the pursuing Zenigata.

Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro


Lupin III: Castle of CagliostroIf you were to ask me what got me into anime, there would be a few titles that helped seed the idea, Ranma 1/2, Project A-Ko, Dirty Pair, and Bubblegum Crisis to name a few. However, the one title that really crossed over the Japanese language barrier for me was Castle of Cagliostro. Despite my annoyance at not knowing what the Japanese voice actors were saying, I found myself drawn into this story and wanting to know more, so much so that when I returned to the U.S., I sought out the over-domesticated release of the anime Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostroon VHS before shifting to Manga Video’s updated release on DVD and then finally Manga Video’s wide screen release.

So, what makes this Lupin III title so good?

For starters, it is Miyazaki-sensei’s character introductions. You didn’t have to have read the manga nor watched the first two TV series (say at least 165 episodes total by the time the movie is released) before watching this movie. The first scene establishes that Lupin and Jigen are very good thieves to rob a Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostromega casino like that. The fact that Lupin detects the loot is all counterfeit further shows his skills and his decision to go after the source of the “goat bills” reveals his love of a good challenge.

Also in the first scene, we are shown that there is a fair amount of comedy to be expected with a generous topping of unbelievable stuff, but what the hey — it is being done for comedy purposes.

So, Miyazaki-sensei has established whom the chief two characters Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostroare and that there are going to be incredible events that defy believability, often in the name of comedy, we establish the first true action sequence with Lupin and Jigen deciding to save the runaway bride from her pursuers. As such, Lupin driving up the side of a steep incline through trees and bush doesn’t seem quite so strange, but to make sure the audience understands that we are just having fun, Miyazaki-sensei has things come through the car, like a bird.

Lupin III: Castle of CagliostroMiyazaki-sensei continues this with the other characters as well. When Zenigata is introduced, we are shown how Lupin is his obsession BUT not to the point of stupidity. One of the great things about this movie is how Zenigata understands that while capturing the world’s greatest thief is his main purpose, he also understands that sometimes there are other things even more important.

Thus Zenigata and Lupin working together to escape the dungeons Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostroas well as Zenigata making a truce with Lupin to take down the counterfeit money operation comes off well. I loved the moment at the end of the movie where Zenigata and his men are going to pursue Lupin again because as Zenigata tells Clarisse, Lupin has stolen something precious — her heart. It is such a great moment.

Next up if Fujiko and Miyazaki-sensei has her as a brilliant, tough woman. She’s there on her own accord to uncover the secrets of the Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostrogoat bills and she’s not banging the Count in order to get what she wants. Instead, she’s a member of the Count’s staff and even stationed in the tower where Clarisse is held. Once Lupin is involved, her own plans are flushed but she’s smart enough to know that helping Lupin only helps her and that includes attempting to rescue Clarisse and saving Lupin’s life.

Then later, she’s posing as a TV reporter to get her ultimate score, Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostroall without screwing Lupin or anyone else. She teases Lupin by showing him the money plates, but she did it by using her brains rather than sex and giving people the shaft. This is Fujiko at her finest and it is a shame that so many other writers have her just be a sex object to get her way.

Finally, there is Goemon. He doesn’t show up until later and to be honest, he gets the least amount of usage. However, where he is used, it is effective and I got a good feel for the character even if he didn’t get to do as much.

Lupin III: Castle of CagliostroAs to the story, we have a simple “damsel in distress” tale that is combined with a mystery of the secrets of Cagliostro. The combination along with the really likable characters make for a very enjoyable viewing experience. OK, so it is weird that the teenaged Clarisse is being forced to marry her kinsman but we accept it because it is part of the damsel in distress theme. That leads ultimately to one of the most memorable (if a little odd) scenes in all of anime where Lupin gives the captive Clarisse a flower which has a tail of mini flags attached to it.

Lupin III: Castle of CagliostroOne of the interesting things about Clarisse and Lupin’s relationship that is lost both in the dub and the subtitles is how Clarisse addresses Lupin. Lupin introduces himself as “Torobou” — literally “thief.” So, Clarisse initially addresses him as “Torobou-san,” which Manga Video translates as “Mr. Thief.” However, after Lupin is caught and Clarisse feels his life is in danger, she addresses him as “Ojisama,” a very respectful term reserved for an uncle or in this case, a man in his 30’s (or so). When Lupin is simply “Thief-san,” there’s a a wall Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostroof sorts there. Clarisse addressing Lupin as “Ojisama” means that she now trusts him. Unfortunately, the Manga Video subtitles continue to have Clarisse address Lupin as “Mr. Thief” rather than acknowledge the shift if terms used.

Visually, this anime holds up well despite having been made in the late 70’s. That is a tribute to Miyazaki-sensei’s superb artistic skills. The characters all have Miyazaki-sensei’s trademark look and considering his involvement in the first TV series (and some in the 2nd), it is understandable that Lupin and company look as they should, yet still have that Lupin III: Castle of CagliostroMiyazaki-sensei feel to them.

I’m sure there’s a lot more I could say about this classic anime title. As it is, even if you don’t like other Lupin III stuff you’ve seen, if you’ve never watched this movie, you really should, especially if you’ve watched and enjoyed other Miyazaki-sensei movies. There’s plenty of fun and humor encased in a classic mystery-damsel in distress tale that will be fun for all.

Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro
Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro
Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro
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6 Responses to “Back to the Vaults — Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro”

  1. jeff-morris says:

    The two things I remember most from this movie are both Zenigata-related: the scene where the rich people are dining high on the hog while the cops are all slurping down instant ramen, and the scene where an obviously-frustrated Zenigata “stumbles accidentally” on the counterfeiting operation in such a way that he’s not actually disobeying his superiors’ orders but seeing to it (with Fujiko’s aid) that justice is done.

    It was nice seeing him in a different light as opposed to his usual “buffoon” role.

  2. AstroNerdBoy says:

    Oh yeah, totally. Zenigata and Fujiko often come up so short in the other Lupin III titles. Too bad Miyazaki-sensei didn’t do one more Lupin movie.

  3. ANB said: “If you were to ask me what got me into anime, there would be a few titles that helped seed the idea, Ranma 1/2, Project A-Ko, Dirty Pair, Bubblegum Crisis to name a few. However, the one title that really crossed over the Japanese language barrier for me was Castle of Cagliostro.”

    Interesting list. When did you first see all of those? For me, aside from Project A-Ko, I never saw any of those until well after I started getting into anime. My “gateway anime” were the films shown on SciFi’s Saturday Anime block in the mid to late 90s. Stuff like Vampire Hunter D, Armitage III: Poly-Matrix, Project A-Ko (the only one on your list), Green Legend Ran, Robot Carnival, Dominion Tank Police, Iria: Zeiram the Animation, Record of Lodoss War, and the first Tenchi Muyo! film. From then it was rentals from Blockbuster (Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Ninja Scroll) and eventually the discovery of Toonami. And that’s just the 90s. Of course, we had anime back in the 80s with programs like Voltron and Robotech, but most of us didn’t recognize it as (heavily edited and Americanized) anime, but rather just as a plain ol’ action cartoon in syndication.

  4. AstroNerdBoy says:

    Interesting list. When did you first see all of those?

    Sometime between 1989 and 1991 when I was stationed in Japan. My best friend and roommate was huge into anime and while I didn’t care for it, I often watched with him or went to different places with him because I had nothing better to do. *lol*

  5. […] each), but to be honest, the only time that Fujiko has been a truly interesting character was in Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro.   There, she was a brilliant woman who could kick arse with the best of them.  She didn’t […]

  6. […] final thought — the special felt at times like a nod to Castle of Cagliostro. It was not only the compact, old yellow car that Lupin was driving, but some of the chases therein […]

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