|Article by Ben Huber
Recently, the legendary Hayao Miyazaki accepted an honorary Oscar at the Governor's Awards for his incredible body of work. Introducing him was John Lasseter, the head of Pixar and close friend of Miyazaki. Lasseter's done a lot of work bringing Studio Ghilbi's films to America, but he never got to bring over his favorite pre-Ghibli work by Miyazaki: Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro. In his presentation, he spoke of how he thinks it's one of the best films ever made. Here's a few reasons why he's right!
Nothing is better than an exciting escape sequence to start off a movie! Lupin and Jigen, the co-op criminals, leap and ride away from Inspector Zenigata in stylish fashion. Their run is incredibly memorable and has been referenced many times in other anime and media — actually, most of this movie has!
A Car Full of Worthless Money
It's hard to forget when Lupin discovers that their haul is actually counterfeit, and he decides to toss the money out of the Fiat's sunroof. Spilling thousands of fake bills onto the highway makes for an excellent getaway too, if you ever happen to need one. Just take it from them!
That Car Chase
The real star of the film, though, is the car chase scene. Widely considered one of the most memorable sequences in Japanese animation, it sets the tone for the rest of the film. Lupin and Jigen see Lady Clarisse being pursued by a gang of thugs, and race into action to help her. Weaving around other vehicles and driving up a mountainside, it's raucous, goofy, and just about perfect.
The Car Chase, Again
Seriously, go look it up on YouTube and watch again. You'll be glad you did.
The Thief With a Heart of Gold
Lupin in Miyazaki's film is definitely a bit more honorable than Monkey Punch's original character. This mostly has to do with how Miyazaki wanted to tell the story: everyone has their edges sanded down, making it a more family-friendly affair. Even Fujiko's femme-fatale nature is essentially gone! However, in the end you can find the original characters everywhere else, and this results in Miyazaki's take feeling more unique and standalone.
To be fair, slapstick comedy has always been a part of Lupin in many ways, such as Fujiko's boxing glove springing out to smack Lupin, but Cagliostro really plays with it. There are great moments that result from the physical comedy, but it never pushes the film off course. It's just plain fun!
Lupin Goofs About
Now there's a face only a mother could love!
A Softer Side
Even Lupin finds time to relax and show off a trick or two! In keeping with Miyazaki's interpretation of Lupin, this adorable scene with Clarisse shows how well the two get along. Lupin's not in it for the money, he's here to help her out! There are several moments like this in the film that really help sell Miyazaki's style and direction.
And hey, even Clarisse finds herself taking a liking to Lupin! What person wouldn't want to be swept up in a dashing thief's arms, riding away into a golden sunset? She even asks him to take her away from Cagliostro, but in the end Lupin restrains himself, knowing his kind of life isn't for her. It's a little bittersweet, but it's best for both of them. At least she still has her dog to keep her company!
He's watching you...
Just because Fujiko is very different in Cagliostro, doesn't mean she still can't kick butt! She shows up in the nick of time to help Lupin several times, and can hold her own against the Count's henchmen. Don't cross her, or you'll probably regret it!
Despite all the changes made, Miyazaki still retains what works about Lupin III: the interactions between the main crew. It just wouldn't be Lupin III without Jigen and Lupin bickering, Goemon slicing something skillfully, or Zenigata trailing after them the whole way, hollering Lupin's name. Cagliostro feels like a warm blanket in that regard — it's a joy to see all these characters together.
So dig back into your video collection and grab The Castle of Cagliostro back out. It deserves a rewatch! Or, if you're seeing it for the first time, be prepared for a wonderful experience! It's getting a brand new re-release from Discotek soon, so it'll no longer be hard to find! This is one classic anime that is a must-own. You'll fall in love for sure!
An Enduring Film
However, in the end, you'll never love Castle of Cagliostro as much as John Lasseter does.