Castle of Cagliostro -

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Mania Grade: A+

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: C+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Manga Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 109
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Lupin the 3rd

Castle of Cagliostro

By Chris Beveridge     April 25, 2000
Release Date: April 25, 2000

Castle of Cagliostro
© 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. But 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 the Cagliostro clan.

With the help of the beautiful Fujiko, the Stoic Swordsman Goemon and the bumbling Interpol inspector Zanigata, Lupin tries 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.

Written and directed by anime pioneer and visionary Hayao Miyazaki (Princess Mononoke, Kiki's Delivery Service), anime fans will enjoy this lighthearted romp which Steven Spielberg once called one of the greatest adventure movies of all time.

The Review!
I fully admit it. This movie is among the favorites in my movie-going history. My actual Lupin viewing is somewhat limited to what little has actually made it to these shores, but ever since seeing the original dub only version released by Streamline oh so many years ago, I was hooked. My first viewing of this movie though wasn't from there, but from a comic book convention in the mid 80's where a fansubbed copy was playing to crowded fans. The scene? Why, the first 10 minutes! That piqued my interest, but I didn't follow it up until a few years later.
A slightly edited version was available on VHS for a few years from Streamline, and though they did produce a subtitled theatrical print (which was taken almost directly from the Japanese provided translation if I recall correctly), home video has never seen a fully uncut translation. Not only has this finally happened, it even got a DVD release.

Manga has chosen to redub this movie for the English language track and is a decent stereo mix. Dialogue is pretty much center channel oriented, depending on your hardware configuration, and sounds pretty good. There's a little directionality in some areas, but not much. The Japanese language track is also pretty good, though it's not one you can raise to a high level without hearing some scratchiness coming from it. I've heard a lot of complaints about why they didn't remix it, but I'd more than likely guess that they used the best materials available and couldn't do it. After all, this movie is over twenty years old and the Japanese studios (and US Hollywood ones at that) are infamous for poorly storing archival film materials.

What most people will find really striking about this release is the video quality. Presented in it's original 1.85:1 original aspect ratio, this looks probably as good as it has since its original release, if not better. The movie isn't a terribly vibrant color fest as recent anime have been, but the colors are dead on with little to no bleeding or saturation. There are a few nicks and scars scattered throughout and since this appears to be taken from a film print, there are a few darker sequences than normally would occur. But frankly, most of this will be overlooked by just how great this looks overall. This is a real treasure to have done so well. The one thing that people will go on about is that even though a new digital transfer was struck for this release, they didn't go far enough and do an anamorphic print for it. Perhaps we'll get a collectors edition done someday with this. Regardless, this is a great transfer.

But the packaging... well, that's another story. The cover artwork (as you can see further above) is what looks to be a screen capture from the movie with Lupin climbing up the castle wall. It's a bit fuzzy, dark and indistinct. I don't know what materials Manga had available to use for the cover, but this one doesn't really sell it at all. The front and back cover is peppered with rave reviews (from the Hollywood Reporter to Steven Spielberg himself) and the front makes note of it being from Princess Mononoke creator Hayao Miyazaki. His name is getting more household penetration in the past year, so it's definitely a good move to have that somewhat prominent. The back cover has a good plot summary and the usual details about what's on the disc. There is no listed region coding there though. The insert has the same image as the front cover while the inside portion lists the chapters and a few stills from the movie.

The menu system for the disc, though quite functional and laid out properly, will also generate a bit of a "huh?" expression. Since the title on the cover is angled, most of the selections are angled in similar ways. The images used are pretty decent, but as most people who have seen this have wondered, what's with the transition animation?

But none of that matters! The Castle of Cagliostro is one of the best adventure/romance movies to come out of the anime world. It's got everything a movie should have for this genre. Fast action, daring rescues and wit. It's not aimed at children, it's not aimed at adults. It's a broad movie that most anyone can enjoy. C'mon, it's Miyazaki!

The Lupin TV series and manga previous to this movies release tended to be all over the place at times, with the character being raunchier or more cold than was done in the novels that the character came from indirectly. Miyazaki looked to soften him up a bit and return him to his family roots with this movie, and he succeeds wonderfully. Lupin's range runs from gleefully silly to clasically romantic and then onto the stern faced hero facing insurmountable odds.

After a heist that went right but ended up being nothing more than a sham, Lupin and partner in crime Jigen head off to the small Duchy of Cagliostro, where it's rumored that the infamous Goat Bills, legendary counterfeit money, is created. Lupin and Jigen sneak their way into the country and it's not long before they're saving a returning princess from the forces of darkness known as the Count of Cagliostro.

Before long, Lupin ends up neck deep in trouble and uses his enemies to help secure his goals. There's lots of high adventure and romance and a couple of great car chase sequences. At the end of the movie, when all is said and done, I get nothing but a smile each time. Before sitting down to actually write this review, I must have watched it close to a dozen times. This movie just brings a smile and laughter each time.

There are a couple of things that struck me though with the repeated viewings. The first, which I've seen some people wonder about, is the "black dots" that show up on the upper right hand portion of the screen every now and then. If you watch closely, you'll notice shortly after they appear that the scene tends to make a major shift to something else. Since this appears to be taken from a film print, it's likely that it contained the reel marks, which is what you're seeing. Most home video releases clean this up, but they also tend to have more than just a film print. It's normal, it's not really distracting in any way (most people never even notice them!) and they're here to stay on this release.

The other thing that got to me is just how much I enjoyed the old Streamline dub, or at least a few of the voice actors. The folks in this version do very good overall, though there are some weak ones (Gustaf being a prime example). Lupin's actor does a good job and Jigen's hits the marks well. Zenigata's actor does a very good job and seems to really be having fun with the role. Most of the others tend to have smaller parts that don't really get to stretch their limits much.

The thing that really annoyed me about the dub is the "rough" language used throughout. Listening to the dub and reading the subtitles, you notice some glaring differences. There's more cussing in the English language version, which is a real shame. It's gone from what most would consider a G movie to a PG movie that some people may not want to let their kids watch. Was it really necessary to add things like bitch and ass to the dub?

In the end though, this is a real highlight of my collection and a movie I never thought would be properly released in the US after Streamlines version. If you want to spend a fun two hours watching a great adventure movie with all the signature things that make them great, this is the best way to do it. Highly recommended.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Toshiba CF36H50 36" TV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster S-Video cable and Sony speakers.


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