Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro ★★

Fourteenth watch of Japanese July. Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro was the directorial debut of Hayao Miyazaki and it’s the only feature-length film of him that breaks with his usual themes of magic, nature, kids and airplanes (although it does have a castle, which Miyazaki is also pretty fond of), focusing instead on an adventure of the thief Lupin the Third - a character previously established in both television series and manga. It’s by all means clear that this is pre-Ghibli and that Miyazaki wasn’t granted complete artistic freedom, since Castle of Cagliostro possesses none of the detailed refinement and serene atmosphere of the other anime he directed. It’s a near two-hour slapstick cartoon, which rushes from one setpiece to the next, and which leaves little time for character development, assuming that the audience knows the background material attached to the persona of Lupin the Third before entering upon the film. Certainly fun to see the earliest roots of the great Miyazaki’s back catalogue, but not that rewarding in itself.

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