The Castle of Cagliostro (1979)
Miyazaki's Castle Caper
After staging a flamboyant heist at a casino, Lupin discovers that the stolen money is in fact counterfeit and traces the bogus dosh back to the country of Cagliostro where a devious Count is behind the phoney money operation. On the way there Lupin and one of his partners attempt to rescue an attractive woman being chased along a winding road by men with guns only for her to be recaptured when Lupin is knocked unconscious by a falling tree stump. As Lupin and his buddies continue with their mission to rob the Count he also sets about rescuing the woman who is being held in the Count's castle.
Whilst having worked on other movies "The Castle of Cagliostro" was to be Hayao Miyazaki first animation which he directed and wrote the screenplay for. It is interesting to see Miyazaki's work before his Studio Ghibli days as whilst the look isn't as detailed as his later movies the ability to tell an entertaining story is clear to see. That is what "The Castle of Cagliostro" trades on more than anything, this animated version of a caper movie with touches of slapstick which make you smile no matter what age you are and which tell the story.
Right from the words go you get a sense that "The Castle of Cagliostro" is going to be less fantasy and more caper with the escape from the casino scene which sees police cars falling to bits due to some pre-escape tampering, yes wheels falling off and axels are cut. And we also have the amusement of Lupin's get away in what looks like a tiny Fiat 500 packed full of cash, weaving in and out of traffic. It is an opening which makes you smile because it has that element of escapade which is so enjoyable.
The thing is that whilst there are many more enjoyable elements which fill "The Castle of Cagliostro" the story of the Count holding this woman captive isn't strong enough to hold your attention in-between all the entertaining set pieces. This is also where the Miyazaki detail of later movies is missing as the backgrounds in many a scene feels unnaturally static.
What this all boils down to is that "The Castle of Cagliostro" is still entertaining and has some great touches in there especially when it comes to the caper style comedy. But for me "The Castle of Cagliostro" lacks the detailing which you get in later Hayao Miyazaki animations.
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