Lupin the III: The Castle of Cagliostro (Special Edition)

Arsene Lupin the Third, a.k.a. “The Wolf” to some older anime fans, has transformed from a little-known Japanese iconic character into a late-night Cartoon Network star in America since The Castle of Cagliostro was first released in 1991. Directed by Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away), Lupin the III: The Castle of Cagliostro has recieved an upgrade from the initial 2000 DVD edition with a brand new video master and DVD extras. Now new and old fans alike can enjoy this “Green Jacket” Lupin tale as Lupin searches for the legendary counterfeit-money printing-plates hidden within the Castle of Cagliostro and attempt to save Clarisse d’Cagliostro from her fate of marrying the evil Count Cagliostro. 

DVD: Lupin the III: The Castle of Cagliostro (Special Edition)
Release Date: 8/29/2006
Release Studio: Manga Entertainment
ADR Production: Animaze.. iNC

MSRP: $24.98
Audio: English 5.1 DD, English 2.0 DD, Japanese 1.0 DD, French 1.0 DD, Spanish 1.0 DD
Subtitles: English
Episodes: 1
Runtime: 102mins
Extras: Complete Animatic: Storyboards with Feature Soundtrack, Yasuo Ohtsuka interview, Japanese Trailer, Line Art/Cel Photo Gallery

Notes: Review is based on a Screener copy of the final product. The first pressing also has a slip cover which matches the slip covers found on the Disney-released Miyazaki films.

Knocking over the Monaco Casino, the daring duo of thief Arsene Lupin III and gunman Daisuke Jigen make a run for it in their getaway car. The security guards chase after them yet fail to get far when they discover that their vehicles have been sabotaged. Thus, Lupin and Jigen escape scott free with five billion in unmarked currency. Of course, while celebrating their haul, Lupin notices that the money is actually a high-quality counterfeit. Somewhat disappointed, they dump the stolen funds out the windows in pre-celebration of their next heist: the source of these legendary “goat bills.”

In the Duchy of Cagliostro is the world’s largest and most dangerous counterfeiting underworld on the globe. It is a nation known for having those who ask too many questions disappear. Passing through the borders easily, it seems like smooth driving through the beautiful countryside until the car gets a flat. Jigen loses a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors and gets to work repairing the flat. But all is not well as a franting woman in a wedding dress speeds by with a group of thugs in hot pursuit. The pair hop in their car to follow into the winding mountains where the thugs are attempting to ram the poor bride off the road.

Piece by piece, the helpless damsel-in-distress’ car is torn apart as the trio of cars slam into the roadside railing and dodge oncoming traffic. Jigen works on shooting the thug’s vehicle while Lupin’s handy driving skills take them off-road to give Jigen a better shot. Successful, they pull aside the bride’s car to make sure she’s OK. Having fainted from the excitement, her car barrels down the road with Lupin and Jigen now needing to save her yet again. Lupin makes a daring leap into her car and takes the wheel, but it’s too late, as they suddenly drop off the edge of the roadside into a lake. Only Lupin’s quick thinking and grappling hook save them from certain doom.

The girl awakes from her fainting spell and notices her sudden peril of hanging in the air several hundred feet off the rocky shore. She panics in the arms of Lupin and the pair fall hard with Lupin cushioning her blow. The girl is fine, but Lupin has been knocked out. She rushes over to the lake and dips in one of her white gloves to use as a wet rag. Lupin awakes just as a paddleboat with more thugs captures the poor damsel and take her away. Jigen is confused by everything going on, but a ring left inside the girl’s glove tells Lupin everything he needs to know.

At the Castle of Cagliostro Lupin explains what is going on to poor Jigen. Ten years ago Lupin tried to uncover the secret of the goat bills and failed. Now, with Jigen’s help, he can crack the mystery of the castle. Inside the castle, Count Cagliostro has returned and checks on his recaptured bride, Lady Clarisse d’Cagliostro , who is kept in a secure tower of the castle. Noticing her missing ring, he suspects the two foriegners who helped her earlier in the day have it in their possession.

Professional assassins are sent to take care of Lupin and Jigen at their hotel. Some quick thinking and fancy driving allow them to escape unscathed. Back at the castle, Clarisse’s female assistant is sneaking around and spying on the count’s activities. Actually Fujiko Mine in disguise, she is surprised to find out Lupin is in the area. Meanwhile, a traveling swordsman, Goemon Ishikawa, arrives, meeting Lupin and Jigen on the outskirts of the royal grounds as they spy on the activities at the castle. And with INTERPOL and Inspector Koichi Zenigata arriving to ensure the protection of the castle for the wedding, all the players have arrived for the grand performance of succesfully robbing the Castle of Cagliostro of its many riches.

Hayao Miyazaki’s Castle of Cagliostro is probably one of the best Lupin films in the series. Some background is probably helpful to understand the interaction between the usual five characters in the Lupin the Third series, but you can get away with watching this film on its own to enjoy. Lupin’s love for stealing provides lots of adventure and fun as he pursues saving Clarisse and defeating the evil Count who has destroyed the kingdom. The Japanese cast is simply superb in its performance and interaction making this a much-loved film. We are also treated to the updated Lupin dub cast from the 2000 recording by popular Animaze, iNC. While the script has been punched up here and there, it is never out-of-character with this great cast. We are provided with some excellent scenes as the actors Sean Barker (Arsene Lupin III), Ruby Marlowe (Clarisse d’Cagliostro), and Dougary Grant (Inspector Koichi Zenigata) play off each other’s performances very well.

Lupin the III: The Castle of Cagliostro has a beautiful story and an equally well-done video transfer of the new master. The former overlay scenes and hardsubs have disappeared. The only sour note in the new edition is the replaced opening credits. Originally animated and on the 2000 DVD release, the new credits are still-shot frames with English-translated production credits. Given the history of the Japanese licensor TMS for editing the Lupin series, there is a good chance this change is actually from them instead of Manga/Anchor Bay. The subtitles are accurate and show no issues. The packaging has been updated to a similar style like the Disney-released Hayao Miyazaki films. We are also given a DVD10, which means it is a double-sided DVD5 (single layer DVD) with the film on one side and the extras on the other including the entire film in storyboard animatic form with subtitles for the Japanese soundtrack. Regardless of the changes, The Castle of Cagliostro is a must-have title for anyone. The story, transfer, and new extras make it worth double-dipping for if you own the 2000 DVD release. While the edited opening credits are going to annoy many, including myself, you should not let that stop you from enjoying the new DVD transfer.