Reviewed by: Azure
Released by: Optimum Releasing
Age Rating: PG
Region: 2 - UK
Length: 92 minutes
English 2.0 Stereo
Japanese 2.0 Stereo
Lupin is a master thief with a heart of gold, so he can’t help but get involved when he spots a damsel in distress dressed in a full bridal outfit speed past. Events soon spiral out of control and Lupin finds himself right in the heart of a massive conspiracy and an ancient family secret. Lupin is also an important film because it marks a turning point on the career of Hayao Miyazaki.
What stands out almost immediately is the quality of the animation, it’s smooth and full of life staggering really when you consider it was released in the late 70’s using traditional methods. Lupin’s comical expressions flow straight into more serious ones, a feat made all the more enjoyable through the films numerous chase scenes. The backgrounds are also staggering, especially the castle which is lavishly drawn throughout. The style of drawing and dress dates Lupin strongly, but probably adds more than it takes away, retro is ‘in’ after all. The film would probably date more strongly if it was live action, but the over-the-top nature of presentation lets it get away with it.
The story is easy to follow despite numerous references to other Lupin stories; in fact it seems deliberate that we are given only a quick glimpse into Lupin’s life. It’s easy to feel a little alienated by the appearance of Lupin’s old friends and enemies; Fujiko, Jingen Goemon and Zenigata, but the story moves on quickly casting these doubts aside. Most of the twists are easily guessed, the final ‘big reveal’ is likely to coax a small groan out of some viewers, much as Howl did. The music has probably dated the most, but it suits the style of the film, as do the outlandish sound effects.
Optimum has taken some effort with the extras, the introduction by Jonathan Clements is especially helpful in placing the film in context. The inclusion of design sketches, as well as a feature which allows the film to switch between animation and storyboard, will be especially interesting for animators.
Lupin lacks the scope Miyazaki would later become associated with but it doesn’t make it a bad film. The tone is far less serious than his later works. If you look closely though there are strong parallels, Lupin character bears strong similarities to Howl and even the line ‘He stole something quite precious. Your heart’ could apply to either film. Castle of Cagliostro is a fun film and essential viewing for Miyazaki fans, though may prove a little too dated for some younger fans.