The Castle of Cagliostro is a movie tied in with the Lupin the Third franchise. However, this movie does not require any knowledge of Lupin.
Even though Cagliostro is shrouded in a plot of mystery and suspension, the main appeal of it is the fun and quirky cast of characters and how all of these personalities bounce off of one another. Lupin is a carefree and wacky dude that I can’t help but want to know what situation he is going to get himself into next. The reason Cagliostro does not work as a serious suspense story for me is simply put, that it’s stupid. The way Lupin gets out of some dangerous situations are usually unrealistic and could at times feel like outright asspulls. The way he could just latch on to every cliff he falls off of with a grappling hook or how he could somehow not get hit by the dozens of bullets flying at him. But this is all okay in my eyes considering that this isn’t the appeal like I said before.
Even though the animation and overall direction has not much to look deeply into, the art direction of Cagliostro is clearly worth analyzing more than anything else visually. The art director we will be looking at is Shichiro Kobayashi, who has been working as an art director for more than 40 years now. Cagliostro is certainly not his best work in comparison to the likes of Angel’s Egg and Utena. But his involvement is still clear as day nonetheless. The art isn’t necessarily pretty at first glance, but the way it’s laid out certainly gives you a strong sense of perspective in where they are. The Castle that most of the movie takes place in never feels inconsistent in its layout nor does it look unrealistic for someone to actually live there. There are certain parts in the movie where there will be Lupin standing in one part of the castle, while you can see another part of the castle in the background that we were at earlier. This helps the castle feel very grounded within the anime’s reality.
The plot in Cagliostro is not that interesting, it is a standard damsel in distress story that took me awhile to even remember while writing this review. The main antagonist just wants the girl he has imprisoned to be his wife? (It’s unclear). The enemies do not have much in the way of nuance which is odd for a Miyazaki movie, granted he probably did not have as much creative control working on this movie than he would working on a movie at his own studio. Most of the goals that the characters in this movie were going after were all unclear in general. Who knows what Goemon was doing in Cagliostro.
The gadgets Lupin used were neat to see unfold even if they were realistically stupid. Like how his belt buckle has a knob that controls the length of the grappling hook, or how he keeps things hidden underneath the collar of his shirt. 8/10.