Castle of Cagliostro Blu-ray

Sunday, 11 November 2012 12:41
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The Castle of Cagliostro on dual format Blu-ray and DVDJapanese anime film “The Castle of Cagliostro” focuses on Lupin III, a jet-setting, unflappable thief from manga comics stretching all the way back to 1967. Lupin and his partner in crime, Jigen, are tracking down a counterfeit money operation when they witness a beautiful young lady being chased by a car full of mobsters. They come to her rescue, only for the woman – a princess no less – to be snatched from under their noses.

The fake money and Clarice, the imprisoned princess, both lead back to the tiny principality of Cagliostro. The suave and heinous Count Cagliostro intends to marry his unwilling captive but Lupin has other ideas, hoping to stop the wedding, save the princess and sabotage the cash factory. Throw in a competing cat burglar, a detective hot on Lupin’s trail and a centuries-old, global conspiracy, and you have all the makings of a classic caper!

If you imagine a spellbinding blend of James Bond, Scooby Doo and Tintin, you will have a rough idea of what to expect from this entertaining movie, directed by Hayao Miyazaki (“Spirited Away”, “Howl’s Moving Castle”, “Ponyo”). The characters are larger than life and stereotypical, but the central role of Lupin (aka Wolf) mixes things up. He is a bit like the enigmatic Pink Panther, in that he is a criminal but a gentleman to boot, with a code of honour that sees him putting the princess’s fate and defeating the Count above any thoughts of ill-gotten gain. He is cheeky, ultra-confident, charming and cool, equally at home as a master of disguise as he is nimbly leaping over rooftops.

The action is virtually non-stop, with our anti-hero getting into one scrape after another, constantly trying to get one up on the Count who unfortunately always seems to be one step ahead. The protagonist is also keen to evade Inspector Zenigata, who finds the Count strangely un-co-operative in the hunt for the thief. There are hazardous car chases on cliff-top roads, the perils of the titular castle’s many trap doors which lead to pits full of the skeletons, battles with armies of invincible, clawed ninjas and a terrific showdown that reminded me of “The 39 Steps”.

The plot is richer than you might imagine, pulling in Lupin’s secret past, prophecies of what will happen when the Count’s and the princess’s families are joined together, underground control of the global economy and rumours of hidden treasure.

Coming from the late 1970s, the visuals are not quite as sharp or speckle-free as the other Ghibli (or pre-Ghibli in this case) movies recently released on Blu-ray, but the art and animation are excellent. The English audio dub is colourful and matches the vibrant character design. I believe Michael McConnohie voices the Count (there have been two different English voice casts so it is a bit confusing!), and he does a fantastic job, a spitting image of Toby Stephens in “Die Another Day” – dashing, sinister and a great match for our irrepressible hero. Bob Bergen plays Lupin, ably capturing his spirit and never-say-die attitude.

If I had to raise a slight moan, it would be that Jigen and a samurai buddy of Lupin’s called Goemon are underused, barely appearing during the middle section of the film. It is a minor complaint about an otherwise excellent and highly entertaining, animated movie that everyone should enjoy.

Special features are limited to just a trailer and picture-in-picture storyboards. The film has English subtitles, Japanese 2.0 and English 2.0 audio options on DVD, with the addition of Japanese 5.1 on Blu-ray.

“The Castle of Cagliostro” (1979) is out now on dual-format Blu-ray and DVD (two discs in one box), courtesy of Studiocanal. The running time is 109 minutes approx, certificate ‘PG’, and the movie retails for £24.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com

Last modified on Sunday, 11 November 2012 12:46

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