Castle of Cagliostro -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A+

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  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: A+
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: All
  • Region: 2 - Japan
  • Released By: TMS
  • MSRP: 4700
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Lupin the 3rd

Castle of Cagliostro

Release Date: April 26, 2001

Castle of Cagliostro

What They Say
A long awaited Ghibli release of the 2nd "Lupin III" movie on DVD. The classic film was directed by none other than maestro Hayao Miyazaki! Disc 2 contains the main feature + animated storyboard (played by selecting one of the alternate multi-angle channels on remote), and 2 theatrical trailers.

The Review!
I won?t waste any time gushing over how great this venerable classic is. To paraphrase Marc Antony, I come to review Cagliostro?s Castle, not to praise it. Besides, I think we all know what an exalted place this film holds in the Anime Hall of Fame (if there were one), and deservedly so. With that in mind, let?s jump right into it, shall we:

The video quality of this release is excellent. I?m getting rather bored with saying that when it comes to Japanese Region 2 discs, but I guess it?s a good kind of bored. I was pleased to see that TMS (Tokyo Movie Shinsha) is claiming this release, in association, of course, with Buena Vista Japan. Call me crazy, but finding that beloved character Lupin so closely associated with anything that springs from the legacy of Uncle Walt makes me a little unnerved for some reason. Those fans who got in on the ground floor of Anime fandom back in the 1970?s and 80?s know that TMS is synonymous with quality and attention to detail, and the picture quality of the new telecine master used for this release is truly amazing. This literally looks, in my eyes at least, like a brand new movie. Gone are the nicks and scratches and shakes of the old master. And the transfer itself is impeccable, with colors that appear absolutely perfect. Well, they?re almost all gone; there is the macabre wedding scene that gives a little celluloid rattle right before the Count and Clarisse pronounce their vows.

Some might be tempted to say that the film still looks a bit washed out, but keep in mind that the colors used in Cagliostro?s Castle are much more ?realistic? than most of the more recent Miyazaki fare, especially the overly glossy Princess Mononoke. I heard the same criticism of the Warner Brothers Region 2 release of Grave of the Fireflies, which of course was unfounded for the same reason. Animators are privy to a large palette of colors, and Castle of Cagliostro has always been a preeminent example of the more tasteful and lifelike sides of the art of cell painting.

There are some rainbows scattered here and there, but I?ll chock that up to my TV/DVD setup. Again however, this film has never looked better. The early scenes in the ruined, decrepit castle are absolutely beautiful, with levels of detail I have never seen before, not even in Manga?s DVD release from last year. The ending scenes of the long-buried ancient Roman city are stunning, jaw-droppingly so. The backgrounds in this film are incredibly lifelike in many scenes, and this new master brings them to glorious new life. The color breakups that could be seen in Manga?s version are undetectable in this Region 2 disc, especially the unique light sienna color of Count Cagliostro?s suit.

The video quality of the non-telecine version of the film on the second disc shows a great transfer job as well, but of course leaves the ?charming? age spots of the film intact, along with a noticeable amount of grain and some color breakup. An A+ rating all around, considering both discs.

The audio is excellent, again garnering an A rating. Both the English and the two Japanese soundtracks are in two-channel AC-3, and most of the resulting sonic action is confined to center stage on my particular setup. There is some nice directionality in some scenes, especially the more action-oriented scenes like the opening car chase. There is no hissing, static, or popping or any other distracting oddities as there were in the Manga version.

The dubbing in the English version is barely acceptable, and is not the recent Manga Video dub as heard on that label?s April 2000 release of this title. The dub on this release is much duller than Manga?s in my opinion, with Lupin himself completely miscast. To add insult to injury, the Frankish cat burglar is referred to as ?Wolf?. This may be due to the tight (read: ridiculous) restrictions that the French estate of Victorian-era novelist Maurice LeBlanc, who created Lupin?s ?grandfather? Arsene Lupin, placed on the Japanese use of that now famous fictional surname.

The menus on this disc are adequate. There is just the standard main menu, with chapter, soundtrack, and subtitle select. The menu on the second disc offers more choices, such as previews and the storyboards. Both offer static background images, but the main menu on the first disc opens with an attention-grabbing dagger hurtling across a black screen as the Japanese calligraphy for ?Castle of Cagliostro? pins itself onto the same darkness. Rather dramatic?

Extras: The English subtitles are passable, but add too much to the Japanese dialog. This is quite annoying and even humorous, as, for example, Lupin and Clarisse are chased around the clock tower and there are subtitles for Clarisse warning Lupin to be careful when she isn?t even speaking! And again, Lupin is referred to as Wolf (sigh?). The Japanese subtitles do just the opposite, leaving many of the English lines untranslated. The Japanese subs even have the annoying quality of using hiragana on top of the more complex kanji ideographs, presumably for younger Japanese viewers. This is annoying, as both the English and Japanese subs look rather small to begin with.

The storyboards are a nice touch, showing director Miyazaki?s original vision for the film. The storyboards are accompanied by the full Japanese soundtrack, music, sound effects, dialog and all. The drawings are rather minimal and primitive for the most part and actually look more like cell pencil drawings, but do a great job documenting the unique creative process that went into this film.

The previews on Disc 2 are also nice, with special attention paid to the impending release of Kiki?s Delivery Service and the recently released Famous Detective Holmes box set. ?Kiki? looks stunning on DVD and basically has my mouth watering in anticipation of its June release date. There is also a great preview of Miyazaki?s latest movie (as of this writing), ?Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi?.

The packaging for the discs is good, if not a little awkward in my opinion. My only previous experience with double discs in a single package was the Evangelion movies, and that has led me to believe that jewel cases are better suited to the job than keepsake cases. The discs in the TMS package are rather hard to extract (for me at least), and the top disc platform has the annoying habit of flopping down unexpectedly when I?m trying to extract the second disc (or just flopping down unexpectedly in general). There are a couple inserts, most notably one advertising the upcoming general theatrical release of ?Sen?.

As for the content of the film itself, what can I say about this movie that thousands of others haven?t already said? This is one of the greatest animated movies, period. This film is such a classic that it has basically become a well-worn chestnut in the annals of Anime and animation lore. What else can you say about a film that Steven Spielberg called one of the ?greatest action/adventure movies of all times, animated or otherwise?? I have been an Anime aficionado for some fourteen years now, and I have never heard any fan, no matter how inanely and completely T&A and blood-and-guts obsessed they might have been, ever say anything negative about Castle of Cagliostro. This movie has a universal appeal that can soothe even the most savage Anime fan/beast.

Lupin is truly unique character, at once quintessentially Japanese and European. Goemon, Jigen, Zenigata, and of course Fujiko, are all here in Cagliostro?s Castle, each of them made over just for this film by the man himself, Miyazaki Hayao. It?s like many a fan has said, Miyazaki took these characters, who had already been in existence for some ten years through either print, animated, or live action incarnations by the time the film came out, and molded their personalities to fit his singular storytelling style for the rare occasion of this wonderful, standalone tale of true love, adventure, and discovery. Never before and never since has Lupin been such a charming gentleman, a true knight in shining armor in the service of his lovely princess, Clarisse.

In keeping with my promise above, I?ll leave it at this: If you haven?t already, go out and get this movie. You will never experience another like it, ?animated or otherwise?.

Japanese subtitles,English subtitles,Japanese and English soundtracks,Original director?s storyboards,Original movie trailers,
?Sen? movie preview,?Ghibli ga Ippai? previews

Review Equipment
29-inch Samsung Bio Vision Multi-System (NTSC, SECAM, and PAL) TV, RCA 5220P DVD player with multi-region capability.


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