One of Hayao Miyazaki’s earlier works, The Castle of Cagliostro (1979) has a profoundly different tone to his work under Studio Ghibli, but it does not disappoint. The plot follows the antics of legendary cat burglar Arsène Lupin III (Yasuo Yamada/David Hayter) and his gun-toting sidekick Daisuke Jigen (Kiyoshi Kobayashi/John Snyder) as they attempt to rescue Lady Clarisse (Sumi Shimamoto/Bridget Hoffman) as well as shut down an international counterfeiting ring.
Miyazaki has done an excellent job in translating the hit manga to the big screen. The narrative is deep and engaging with a diversity in characters from an evil count, to zealous police and noble samurai. It feels like a blend of The Italian Job and Hergé’s Tintin, packed and engaging with each of the diverse characters playing an important role to aid Lupin in his mission. Whilst there may be no groundbreaking innovation here, the story arch is interesting and compelling. The visuals complement the story with a mixture of ancient Roman cities, towering mountains and a foreboding castle that even Blofeld would feel at home in. In fact, The Castle of Cagliostro in many ways feels like an animated Bond film of the Sean Connery era, with the car chases, wisecracking heroes and eccentric villains all reflecting those early entries in the series. Unlike much of Miyazaki’s work, the score is surprisingly European and indeed sounds much like the music from the original Tintin animated series, once again demonstrating the film’s unique and thoroughly enchanting theme.
Whilst the visuals are both iconic and appealing, this blu-ray release honestly doesn’t feel like it has massively improved on them. Whilst the whole film is smooth, there are some instances where you can clearly see some graininess. When comparing this Blu-Ray version to my own DVD version there was little difference in the visual quality.
Extras are incredibly limited, with the only ones being a trailer and storyboards to view alongside watching the film. For a blu-ray release this is incredibly disappointing, especially when other Miyazaki films such as My Neighbour Totoro include interviews and documentaries.