Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro — ★★★★
Thanks to a Drafthouse roadshow a few years back, I’ve seen most of Hayao Miyazaki’s major movies on the big screen (subtitled, no less.) While living in Japan I visited the Ghibli Museum outside Tokyo and saw one of his many short films that are currently only available at that location.* I’ve seen his music video and all the films he wrote for Ghibli that someone else directed. But it was just a few weeks ago that I finally watched his first feature film, The Castle of Cagliostro (1979), in its entirety.
I’d caught bits and pieces in Japan. It’s quite popular there, especially among Miyazaki’s older fans. In my experience if a middle-aged Japanese person doesn’t give Castle in the Sky (1986) as their favorite Miyazaki, they’re likely to pick Castle of Cagliostro.
Someday I may write a full review for Flickchart, as a kind of addendum to my Directors Who Dominate article about Miyazaki’s Ghibli-era features. Suffice it to say I was impressed; plenty of Miyazakian elements are present in Cagliostro despite the fact that the studio was not his. Probably the fact that Miyazaki worked on the original Lupin the Third anime run was a factor in the seamless blending of his style and the style of author Maurice Leblanc’s womanizing detective Arsène Lupin as interpreted by manga author Monkey Punch.
On my Flickchart I rank Cagliostro 7th out of 11 Miyazaki features. The order of the exquisite top three is nearly arbitrary, and even the bottom could change with more and more rewatches (all are worthy of many viewings). Since my least favorite feature, Howl’s Moving Castle, is still in my 72nd percentile (300/1058), none could exactly be considered underrated by me!
*The director of the Ghibli short I saw, Takara-sagashi, seems to be unconfirmed anywhere on the English-language internet, and I have not tracked down a Japanese source. It may well not be a Miyazaki film, as its style is rougher than is usual for him, but I suspect that it is.