Lupin the III: The Castle of Cagliostro

From Spirited Away to Princess Mononoke, Hayao Miyazaki has overseen the creation of some of the best animated films in history. His name alone would draw a crowd of loyal fans and anime-lovers to the theaters for any sort of animated feature. Alas, not all of his works can be winners. This is the case for Lupin the III: The Castle of Cagliostro.


The story follows the lovable thief, Lupin, and his sidekick friend, Jigen, as they travel to the smallest UN nation, Cagliostro to find the finest counterfeit money available. Yet, upon arrival, their quest takes a turn after assisting in the temporary escape of a woman in a wedding dress. Lupin becomes fixated on helping this girl escape her captors. From there, our Robin Hood-esque hero (except Lupin keeps what he steals) goes after his Sleeping Beauty-esque princess.

Cagliostro starts strong with some action and a small example of Lupin’s and Jigen’s skills. But after the initial fervor, the film drops significantly in progression. Idle minutes pass as we are led on an extremely slow journey through the castle and the true cause for Lupin’s interest in Clarisse (the princess). As chunks of the film pass, you begin to realize that almost nothing about the plot/mystery have moved forward and nothing has been learned. The counterfeit scheme is introduced relatively early on, but after that, there is nothing truly relevant for at least a third of the film.

When you finally get the reveal of Lupin’s familiarity with the castle, it is lackluster and disappointing. You realize the big reveal was, in fact, mentioned early on and needed no further explanation, let alone an entire dramatic sequence. This disappointment continues as the ultimate reveal of the Cagliostro family treasure is found. After the final battle, the treasure is discovered (I’d say spoiler alert, but it’s never in doubt) and the film almost immediately ends, which in normal circumstances would be fine, but for Cagliostro a quick ending doesn’t seem to fit (even if it serves as a relief).

With regards to the characters, Lupin and Inspector Zenigata are the only remotely interesting ones. No one is given a real back story, and to be honest, none is required. Every character is relatively one-dimensional and has their role with nothing more.

In the end, I, like many, watched Cagliostro due to Miyazaki’s reputation. There is nothing original about the story and the characters are not interesting enough to really capture your attention. If my words of warning don’t deter you from viewing, the glacial pace at which the information moves will.

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