Castle of Cagliostro Special Edition - Mania.com



Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A+

0 Comments | Add

 

Rate & Share:

 

Related Links:

 

Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Manga Entertainment
  • MSRP: 24.98
  • Running time: 90
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Lupin the 3rd

Castle of Cagliostro Special Edition

By Luis Cruz     August 31, 2006
Release Date: August 29, 2006


Castle of Cagliostro Special Edition
© Manga Entertainment


What They Say
Master thief Lupin III a.k.a. "The Wolf" and his right-hand gunman Jigen are hot on the trail of a counterfeiter who swindled them. When their search leads them to the secluded European country of Cagliostro, they find far more than they bargained for.

Lupin unwittingly attracts the attention of the nation's mysterious monarch when he tries to help a damsel in distress escape the Count's henchmen, and in the process stumbles upon the key to finding the lost fortune of Cagliostro!

With the help of the beautiful Fujiko, the Stoic Swordsman Goemon and the bumbling Interpol inspector Zanigata, Lupin undertakes to penetrate the defenses of the Count's fortress, rescue the girl, break-up a counterfeiting scheme, and escape with the hidden treasure of the Castle of Cagliostro!

The Review!
The enduring animated classic receives the "Special Edition" treatment but falls slightly short of providing the US market with an edition truly worthy of that title.

Audio:
My primary viewing session consisted of the Japanese mono track; given its age, the track is remarkably clear and free of any noise, distortion, or other issues. While it cannot compare with modern soundtracks, it provides a pleasant audio experience to match the stunning visuals of the film. The English 5.1 audio track was also spot checked; it was also clear and free of any discernible issues and provides a bit more ambiance and punch.

Video:
The anamorphic print provided for this release proves to be the cleanest, sharpest version of the film the US market has seen. Gone are the reel change marks present on the previous Manga release, and the colors are clean and vibrant allowing many subtle details in the film to finally shine. Having watched this film in numerous forms over the years, it was an utter joy to see such a nearly pristine version of this classic.

However, some of this joy is muted by the absence of the entire opening theme sequence and original Japanese credits. Rather than the beautiful animated sequence, the opening uses stills and uses English text placed directly on the print for the credits. According to Manga, this presentation of the credits was desired by the licensor TMS. It is unfortunate that the US market is still lacking a complete and clean print, especially when this is labeled as a "Special Edition".

Packaging:
The DVD case is enclosed in a slipcover, and the artwork for both is identical. The front cover features the titular castle in the background with Lupin carrying Clarisse in his arms in the foreground. While the castle looks like it is straight from the film, the picture of Lupin and Clarisse looks more like a fan drawn image than an actual representation of the film's artwork.

Across the top of the front cover is a red banner proclaiming the film to be "From the Director of Spirited Away, A Hayao Miyazaki film". Another sticker on the slipcover ensures this point is hammered home and adds "Oscar winner" and "Howl's Moving Castle" for good measure. The film's title is just above the picture of Lupin and awkwardly states "Lupin the III" just above that. While it is great to see the film finally associated with the Lupin franchise, it is an annoying grammatical niggle having it spelled out that way. A quote from Spielberg rounds out things at the bottom, and a small silver "Special Edition" block is placed underneath the top red banner.

The back cover features the requisite synopsis, images, and other disc information. It is a clean, readable layout, and the synopsis has been reduced to a more concise paragraph from the previous version. The synopsis also hypes up the fact that the Oscar winning director Miyazaki wrote and directed the film.

No insert was provided in the case, but the case did feature the little tabs for a second disc flip holder. However, Manga decided to use a dual sided disc rather than two separate discs for the content and extras. They were trying to mimic the look and feel of the recent Buena Vista Miyazaki releases, but the artwork of Lupin and Clarisse just does not have the visual appeal one would expect from the actual in-film artwork.

Menu:
The main menu for the film side of the disc features an animation of Lupin and Jigen in their Fiat being chased by Zenigata and some thugs on an autogyro. A loop of the theme song plays in the background. It is a clever and fitting menu system, a definite improvement over the original version. There are no transition delays between menus. However, the audio setup menu provides no feedback on what selections you make. The main menu for the extras side of the disc features Lupin caught against a wall in some roving spotlights. Overall, it is a good menu system that could have been great if the audio menu provided feedback.

Extras:
The major extra on this disc is a presentation of the storyboards for the film; you watch the film unfold via the storyboards. This extra was present on the region two Japanese release, and it is great to see a unique extra like this brought over for the special edition. My favorite extra was the twenty-five minute interview with Ohtsuka Yasuo, Cagliostro's animation director. It contains some interesting facts about the film along with fascinating observations about the industry now and then. Polishing off the extras is a Japanese trailer for the film and a gallery of production art and screen captures from the film.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Cagliostro is a timeless anime classic, one that I have watched repeatedly over the years. It is a simple story that begins when Lupin the Third and his partner Jigen steal a load of money from a Monaco casino. Lupin's elation turns into disappointment when he realizes the bills are all counterfeit. But these are no ordinary counterfeit bills; they are the legendary "Goat bills", forgeries so good that they are nearly indistinguishable from real money.

Lupin decides to find the source of the bills, but he soon finds himself caught up in much more than chasing funny money. There is a sweet princess named Clarisse being forced to marry the evil Count of Cagliostro, and there is a mysterious treasure that can only be found by the rings both possess. And off the film goes...

Cagliostro is a masterful action adventure that skillfully blends its action with an intriguing narrative. There are numerous spots where plot points are being outlined and discussed, but the film never suffers for it and never feels like it is dragging on too long. It knows just how much information the audience needs and then shuts up and lets the characters act on it.

And the visuals provide ample material to captivate the audience. There are numerous scenes that just burn themselves into your memory but lose none of their power upon repeated viewings. Cagliostro is a perfect example of how to write and animate a concise, tight, but engrossing action film suitable for a wide audience.

However, two items cause this special edition to lose a bit of its luster. First is the decision by TMS to reduce the opening sequence to a series of still shots. This may not seem like a huge deal, but the sequence adds a number of flourishes that help outline what sort of men Lupin and Jigen are along with simply being a beautiful sequence to bridge the initial heist with their arrival to the nation of Cagliostro. Especially where this was a special edition, it is disappointing and a bit frustrating to not have a complete and definitive version of the film released.

Where the subtitle script is a spot on translation of the original, the English dub provided by Manga adds too much "spice" and takes a film that a family could enjoy together and catapults it into something parents would have to think twice about showing their children. The unnecessary swearing detracts too much from the viewing experience for my tastes.

But the heart of the film manages to still shine through. I have this film virtually memorized, but I still can sit back and enjoy it just as much now as I did the very first time. A new generation of fans is fortunate to have such a clean print to enjoy.

In Summary:
Cagliostro is one of the enduring classics of anime, one that will be enjoyed for another quarter century, and it nearly receives the treatment it deserves in this special edition. It is given an amazing anamorphic transfer providing a remarkable viewing experience given the age of the title. But the removal of the original Japanese opening sequence tinges this with disappointment; it is a small piece of the film, but it still makes this special edition feel less than special. I still do not care for the liberties the Manga dub takes and feel it does the film a disservice to the audience. However, these two points do not detract from one simple fact; Cagliostro is one of the finest action films, animated or otherwise, in cinematic history. This is one title everyone should have in their collection, and this version is the best you can pick up in the domestic market.

Features
Japanese 1.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Spanish Subtitles,French Subtitles,Complete Animatic (Storyboards set to Feature Soundtrack), Interview with Animation Director Yasuo Otsuka, Photo Gallery, Japanese Trailers

Review Equipment
Mitsubishi 27" TV, Panasonic RP-82, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers, generic S-Video and optical audio cable

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES



Be the first to add a comment to this article!


ADD A COMMENT

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Please click here to login.

POPULAR TOPICS