Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro

Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro

Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro anime movie cover art
Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro

Overview

Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro is the first part of the Lupin III series I’ve seen. Before watching this movie I hadn’t seen any of the series, and I basically went in blind. I knew of Lupin III, but I didn’t know about Lupin III, if that makes any sense.

However, that didn’t really seem to matter, which I was a bit surprised by. I know that movies for series are typically fairly standalone, but at the same time I felt like I would have needed to know the characters before starting.

But, as stated, that wasn’t the case. There was really only one character who seemed to be recurring, and who I was a bit perplexed by, but I’ll get to that in the next section. For the most part, it was extremely easy to get a grasp on who each of the characters were right from each of their introductions.

As for the plot itself, we have a pair of thieves, Lupin and Jigen, who set their sights on uncovering the producer of large amounts of counterfeit currency which has made its way all across the globe. But, this search leads them to a small European country where they find a girl from Lupin’s past.

This girl is being forced into a marriage she doesn’t agree with, and the target of the heist changes. Instead of uncovering the counterfeiter, Lupin plans to steal the girl away from the situation she’s in. So, basically Lupin is a knight going to rescue a princess rather than a thief in this movie.

I thought the story was pretty decent, but at the same time I would have rather it been an actual heist movie. The whole thing about rescuing a princess from the tallest tower in a castle is a bit cliché, even when executed well.

And, before anyone mentions that this movie is from 1979 and therefore can’t be cliché because the story hadn’t been overused yet, no. You’re wrong. Fairy tale stories like this have been around for much longer.

Speaking of the fact that this movie is from 1979, that might make it the oldest anime I’ve watched. I don’t feel like checking that claim right now, but I believe it’s correct. However, at no point during the movie did I think, “this feels old.” When people say something is timeless, this is what they mean.

Yes, it has an art style which is very different from what we’re used to seeing today, but honestly I like anime that look different. I always think different art styles are off-putting at first, but once I actually watch the series or movie I find myself understanding why the particular art style works so well.

A great example of this is In This Corner of the World, which is another anime movie.

Characters

Alright, so what about the characters? Lupin III is our titular protagonist, and world-renowned thief. I’m not actually sure where he’s from because it’s never stated, but he’s extremely familiar with one particular, Japanese Interpol officer, so perhaps he’s from Japan.

But, while Lupin is a master thief who travels the world in search of riches to steal, he doesn’t seem to care all that much about the money. Sure, money is nice, but the main driving force for Lupin seems to be the thrill of the heist, which is something I liked about him.

As long as he has a good time, he doesn’t seem to really care if he comes out of his adventure with a profit.

Jigen is Lupin’s right hand man, and has more of a mobster look going on. He’s also the firearms specialist of the team, though Lupin does also carry a handgun. While he’s definitely the more serious of the two, he still goes along with Lupin’s plans that won’t result in any financial gain.

I assume that this pair always works together in the series based on their chemistry. From the start there’s just a feeling that these two are best friends who have been through ups and downs together, and that’s not the easiest thing to pull off.

I’ve seen a fair amount of anime in my day, and I love character driven series. But, seeing characters who have real chemistry with each other is a pretty rare occurrence, so it’s always impressive when I come across some like Lupin and Jigen.

Lupin and Jigen from the anime movie Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro
Lupin and Jigen

The princess of the movie is Clarisse d’ Cagliostro. She’s the last member of one side of the Cagliostro family, and is set to marry Lazare d’ Cagliostro of the other side of the family. The reason for this is that there’s a legend about a treasure being revealed when both sides of the family are reunited.

However, to reveal the treasure all that’s really needed are the two rings of each side of the Cagliostro family, so I don’t really see the big deal. Couldn’t Lazare have just stolen Clarisse’s ring? Or, couldn’t Clarisse have just given up her ring to avoid the marriage? Why the marriage had to happen didn’t really make sense.

And, even at the end I don’t know what the treasure was. The rings unlock something in the clock tower which causes it to collapse and the lake to drain, revealing what appear to be ancient Roman ruins. I guess that’s the treasure, but it’s not exactly a tangible treasure.

Anyway, I was going over the characters, so let’s get back to that. There’s not really much else to say about Clarisse considering her position in her family is her defining trait.

As for recurring characters, there seem to be three others in this movie aside from Lupin and Jigen. These are Fujiko, Zenigata, and Goemon.

Fujiko doesn’t get introduced right away, but from her first encounter with Lupin it’s clear they’re very familiar with each other. Later on it’s revealed that sometimes they’re allies, sometimes enemies, and sometimes lovers. So I guess you could say they have a fairly complex relationship. She’s also a professional spy.

Zenigata is the Japanese Interpol officer I mentioned earlier on. It seems clear to me that he’s the main “antagonist” in the Lupin III series, and is the one constantly chasing after Lupin around the globe. However, even he seems to have a level of respect for the thief.

Goemon is the one character who didn’t really make much sense to me. He’s a ronin samurai who appears to be one of Lupin and Jigen’s allies, but he just felt out of place. He wasn’t with them in the beginning, so they called him in to help with the heist, but he doesn’t really bring anything to the table.

I don’t know if his character is always used like this, but it felt like he was added into the movie just because he’s a recurring character in the series and so couldn’t be left out. I honestly think that he added nothing to the Lupin/Jigen duo other than being just another body.

Conclusion

In the end I gave Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro a 6/10, which is basically my rating for anime which I liked, but don’t think are all too special and probably wouldn’t rewatch. It was a decent movie, and I’d recommend it if you have an hour and a half to spare, but I think it’s a bit hyped up.

Have you seen this movie? If so, what are your thoughts on it? Let me know down in the comments.

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