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The Castle of Cagliostro (ルパン三世 カリオストロの城, Rupan Sansei: Kariosutoro no Shiro?, Lupin the Third: Castle of Cagliostro) is a 1979 Japanese animated film co-written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It is one of the master thief Lupin III films.

The second animated Lupin III movie and arguably the most famous, Castle of Cagliostro was written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki (who also co-directed the first Lupin III TV series and directed two episodes of the second) before he formed Studio Ghibli. Cagliostro features gentleman thief Lupin III, grandson to Maurice Leblanc's French literary master thief Arsène Lupin.

It was originally subtitled by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and then dubbed and released in 1991 by Streamline Pictures. A new dub was recorded by Manga Entertainment in 2000, which changed the tone of many of the characters.

The title alludes to La Comtesse de Cagliostro (The Countess of Cagliostro, the title of an original Arsène Lupin adventure by Maurice Leblanc).

The Castle of Cagliostro follows gentleman thief Arsène Lupin III, who successfully robs a casino – only to find the money to be counterfeit. He heads to the tiny country of Cagliostro, the rumoured source of the bills, and attempts to save the runaway Clarisse from the Count Cagliostro's men. Lupin enlists his associates, Jigen and Goemon, and sends his calling card to the Count to get Inspector Zenigata, his longtime nemesis, to the castle. After becoming trapped in the dungeon under the castle, Lupin and Zenigata form a pact to escape and foil the Count's counterfeit operation and save Clarisse from her forced marriage to the Count.

The original theatrical release in Japan occurred on December 15, 1979. The American theatrical debut was on April 3, 1991, with the home release following in October 1992. This first dub was produced by Streamline Pictures and released on home video the following year. A new dubbed version was produced by Manga Entertainment in 2000 and has had several releases. Despite initially underperforming at the box office, The Castle of Cagliostro has garnered high praise, with critics and historians noting the film's influence on Miyazaki's later works, and has since become the most popular and well-regarded entry in the entire Lupin III franchise. However, some viewers, including Monkey Punch himself, disapproved of its depiction of Lupin as a gallant hero instead of his original ruthless criminal self. The film has also served as a major influence on animators and directors worldwide, most notably Pixar director John Lasseter.


Arsene Lupin III and Daisuke Jigen are escaping on a Fiat 500 pursuit after robbing the casino of Monaco, only to discover that their entire haul is counterfeit. When Lupin was just getting started as a professional thief, he was almost killed while searching for the source of these so-called goat bills. He decides that it is time to take another chance, and, with Jigen, heads off to the purported source of the bills, the Principality of Cagliostro.

Shortly after arriving, they rescue a young girl from a car full of thugs, only to let her get captured again when Lupin is knocked unconscious after tumbling down a cliff. They later discover that she is Clarisse, the princess of Cagliostro and is engaged to be married to the Count Cagliostro, the country's ruler. The count wants to recover the ancient treasure of the Cagliostro family, and needs the princess's ring to do so.

Realizing he will need more help after he is attacked by a group of the count's elite assassins, Lupin calls on Goemon Ishikawa XIII and tips off longtime foe Inspector Koichi Zenigata to his whereabouts. He also find his former lover, Fujiko Mine, posing as Clarisse's lady-in-waiting. Using a party and Zenigata as a distraction, Lupin makes his way to the tower where Clarisse is kept, returns her ring, and promises to help her to escape. The count arrives shortly thereafter with his assassins; Lupin is dropped down a trapdoor into the bowels of the castle.

The ring turns out to be a practical joke left by Lupin. Infuriated, the Count flushes him deeper into the cellars, which are full of bodies of spies who attempted to learn the secrets of Cagliostro and the goat bills. While down there, Lupin bumps into Inspector Zenigata, who was accidentally thrown down earlier. The two reluctantly form a pact to help escape. Using two aqualungs dropped by elite soldiers, the pair escape.

Their escape leads them to the printing presses, where Lupin and Zenigata finally discover the source of the goat bills. Zenigata wants to find evidence, but Lupin points out they must escape first. They set the money and presses on fire as a distraction and steal the count's autogyro. However, when they attempt to return to rescue Clarisse, Lupin is shot and critically wounded. Clarisse offers her ring to the count in exchange for Lupin's life; the count's attempt at betrayal is foiled when Fujiko's quick actions lead to an escape for her, Lupin, and Zenigata.

The wedding appears to go on as planned with a drugged Clarisse until Lupin's "ghost" disrupts the ceremony. When the count calls down his guards, Lupin manages to make off with Clarisse and both rings. Lupin and Clarisse flee the count, a chase that ends on top of the castle clock tower. Finally gaining the rings after knocking away Lupin and Clarisse, the count uses them on the clock tower's face as instructed by Lupin, only to be crushed to death by the clocks hands as the mechanisms move to unveil the treasure.

Lupin and Clarisse, who have safely landed in the lake, watch the lake around the castle drains to reveal exquisite ruins. Lupin and his friends take their leave of Clarisse, now ruler of Cagliostro, as Zenigata chases after them again and Fujiko makes off with the printing plates from the counterfeit money presses.


Arsene Lupin III The greatest gentleman thief in the world. Lupin (he is never called by his first name) is extremely clever and charismatic. He steals things, ranging from bags of cash to golden treasures, for the thrill of it, instead of actually needing the things he steals, and he never steals from the poor. He flirts often, usually with strangers, although he respects Clarisse. He has many associates, including Jigen, Goemon, and, to a smaller extent, Fujiko.

Jigen Daisuke A superb marksman who travels with Lupin. Jigen works with Lupin on many of his heists, lending his almost uncanny ability with all sorts of guns to fight against the people who try to stop them. Jigen is Lupin’s partner, not his inferior.

Ishikawa Goemon XIII A samurai who works with Lupin. Goemon is a master swordsman. He is quiet and doesn’t speak unless it’s important. He wears Japanese clothes and eats Japanese food. He can use his sword to cut through anything; from body armor to bullets. He often covers Lupin during one of his schemes.

Fujiko Mine A self-described “lady spy” who often steals the very thing Lupin is after. Lupin practically worships Fujiko, but she only returns the affection if it helps her accomplish her goals. She treats everyone with respect and usually ends up helping Lupin in some way. She is very tough, having held off squads of goons with a machine gun and grenades.

Inspector Zenigata An inspector for INTERPOL. Inspector Zenigata is given many assignments, but he is chasing one criminal with much more enthusiasm than the others: Lupin. He isn’t stupid, but he is always outwitted by Lupin’s more clever plans. Lupin describes Zenigata as “the archetypical Japanese worker: totally dedicated to his work”. Zenigata has a small army of INTERPOL officers working for him who idolize him and do whatever he asks them to do.

Count of Cagliostro The regent of the small country of Cagliostro. The Count is a very rich man, but he desires even more riches; specifically, the treasure of the Cagliostro family. He is cruel and cunning, and will use all of his considerable resources to get what he wants. He lives in an enormous castle in the middle of Cagliostro, surrounded by a lake.

Clarisse d'Cagliostro A princess of the Cagliostro family. Clarisse is kind to everyone and admired by many of Cagliostro’s citizens. She is engaged to be married to Count Cagliostro against her will, since their marriage will enable the Count to claim the fortune of the Cagliostro family.


Character Japanese English (Streamline) English (Manga)
Lupin III Yasuo Yamada Bob Bergen David Hayter
Fujiko Mine Eiko Masuyama Edie Mirman Dorothy Elias-Fahn
Daisuke Jigen Kiyoshi Kobayashi Steve Bulen John Snyder
Goemon Ishikawa XIII Makio Inoue Steve Kramer Michael Gregory
Inspector Koichi Zenigata Goro Naya David Povall Kevin Seymour
Lady Clarisse d'Cagliostro Sumi Shimamoto Joan-Carol O'Connell
Barbara Goodson (young)
Bridget Hoffman
Count Cagliostro Tarō Ishida Michael McConnohie Kirk Thornton
Gardener Kōhei Miyauchi Mike Reynolds Barry Stigler
Jodo Ichiro Nagai Jeff Winkless Milton James
Gustav Tadamichi Tsuneizumi Kirk Thornton Joe Romersa
Archbishop Kinzô Azusa Alfred Thor
Interpol Secretary General Shôzô Hirabayashi Unknown Unknown
Waitress Yoko Yamaoka Juliana Donald Bambi Darro

Additional Voices


  • Carl Macek - Interpol Officer, Servant (Streamline dub)


Lupin III began as a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Monkey Punch. The title character, Arsène Lupin III, was inspired by (and is claimed in the series to be the grandson of) Maurice Leblanc's fictional character Arsène Lupin, a gallant and famous outlaw able to outsmart even Sherlock Holmes. Lupin III is a gentleman thief and announces his intentions to steal valuable objects by sending a calling card to the owners of the desired items. The manga's popularity led to two anime series, titled Lupin III and Lupin III Part II. The first film, The Mystery of Mamo, was released on 16 December 1978. Cagliostro followed the year later following the financial success of that film. This is marked as the first feature length film to be directed by Miyazaki, who had previously co-directed episodes of the first Lupin anime series with Isao Takahata and the two directors along with Toshio Suzuki will give birth to Studio Ghibli in 1985. He was also a writer and director of two episodes in the second series under the pseudonym "Telecom", both produced a year after Cagliostro. In works other than Castle of Cagliostro and the series episodes directed by Miyazaki and Takahata, Lupin III is portrayed as a scheming and lecherous thief, sometimes supported by his former enemies Jigen and Goemon. Miyazaki's film conflicts with the typical behavior and personality of the characters, a change that has been described as Lupin "growing up".

Castle of Cagliostro marked Miyazaki's debut as a theatrical movie director, but he also was a writer, a designer, and a storyboardist on the movie. The production for the film began in May 1979 with the writing of the story and storyboarding for the film. Miyazaki began by drawing a bird's eye view of the setting before creating the story to completion. After the first draft scenario was returned to Miyazaki without change, he began the storyboards. The story was divided into four parts, but after reaching the third part changes had to be made at the storyboard phase in order to not exceed the decided running time. Animation work began in July while the storyboards were only a quarter complete; Miyazaki had to complete them during the animation production. Production wrapped up at the end of November and the film's premier on December 15, 1979 was a short seven and a half months from the project's undertaking, with only five months of production time.

The film draws upon many sources of inspiration that were important in the production of the film. McCarthy writes that a research trip was not specifically undertaken for the film, but says Miyazaki's Heidi sketchbooks were useful for the scenery. Miyazaki would cite Italian Mountain Cities and the Tiber Estuary from Kagoshima Publishing as influencing the production of the film.[8] The film included elements that were seen in other Arsène Lupin works, including La Justice d'Arsène Lupin by Boileau-Narcejac, involving the discovery of a tremendous stash of forged franc notes with which World War I–era Germany had planned to destabilize the French economy. Maurice Leblanc's The Green-eyed Lady also featured a secret treasure hidden at the bottom of a lake. The castle is visually influenced by that of the original 1952 unfinished release of The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep. Greenberg writes, "Cagliostro also borrowed many narrative and visual elements from Grimault's film: the basic plotline of disrupting the wedding of an evil tyrant and a beautiful innocent girl, the tyrant's luxuriously-decorated palace that is also full of traps, and a gang of henchmen serving the tyrant – both oversized goons and ninja-like assassins..." The staff added personal touches to the film, the most iconic being Lupin's car, the Fiat 500, was the car of head animator Yasuo Ōtsuka. Clarisse's car in the chase scene is a Citroen 2CV, which is Miyazaki's first car.

McCarthy describes the summery color palette of the film as matching the scenery and the characters, but notes the use of dark and light colors are used to emphasize the subplot of the dark and light sides of the Cagliostros. The film's score was composed by series regular Yuji Ohno, and varies between jazz, romance and orchestral music. Notably, it includes a variation of Lupin III's iconic TV theme. The music was performed by You & The Explosion Band, who had previously worked on the second television series. The main vocal song "Fire Treasure" was performed by Bobby (aka Toshie Kihara) and saw release as an LP single.[ The first release of the soundtrack was Lupin the 3rd The Castle of Cagliostro Original Soundtrack BGM Collection, an album containing extended versions of select cues from the film. It was originally sold on vinyl and cassette tape in 1983, but later saw release on CD in 1985 with several additional prints runs. In 2003, the entire score was finally released on a newly commissioned album entitled Lupin the 3rd: The Castle of Cagliostro – Music File and also contained 13 unused cues.

Castle of Cagliostro's portrayal of the characters was changed to better identify with Miyazaki's concept of a "hero" and to remove a sense of apathy in the story. This resulted in Lupin being a happy-go-lucky and upbeat thief who drives and lives out of a Fiat 500; a sharp contrast to the scheming and lecherous Lupin who drives expensive cars like the Mercedes-Benz SSK because it was "Hitler's favorite". The changes would also impact secondary characters like Jigen and Goemon, changing their serious and cold personalities into friendly and humorous; even the erotic elements involving the femme-fatale Fujiko were dropped.

Fred Patten, who worked at Streamline Pictures was involved in the English adaptation of the film and was involved in the choice of title for the English release,

The Japanese title is Lupin III: Cagliostro no Shiro, which is literally Lupin III: Cagliostro of Castle [sic].[b] So which would be better in English; Cagliostro Castle, Cagliostro's Castle, or The Castle of Cagliostro? It was my argument that The Castle of Cagliostro sounded the most sinister. Cagliostro Castle is just a castle's name, like Windsor Castle, but the Castle of Cagliostro emphasizes that it is the evil Count's lair!

Critical analysis

In his first director role, Miyazaki deploys numerous examples of his style to great effect. Dani Cavallaro highlights the signature details of Miyazaki's style and form being displayed in this work and how it impacts the portrayal of the story. Cagliostro, the country and setting, is depicted in meticulous detail and unconstrained by limitations of architecture, geography and culture, which can be described as "akogare no Paris" (Paris of our dreams), which is a fantastical view of Europe through Eastern eyes. The use of unexpected and unique camera angles and attention to individual movement of the characters are distinctive signatures of Miyazaki's style, including the opening heist scene which provides characterization and spirit to understanding the character of Lupin. The changes made to the portrayal of the cast, depicting a heroic and selfless Lupin, a friendly Jigen, funny Goemon, and un-sexualized Fujiko, were initially not well received by fans. Otaku USA's Surat described compared this shift to "a James Bond movie where [James Bond] stayed at Motel 6 and his "Bond mobile" was a Toyota Camry!"


The film's Japanese theatrical release was on 15 December 1979. A year later, Tokyo Movie Shinsha began screen testing the film in North America and it was notably shown at the World Science Fiction Convention in Boston for a marketing survey. It was later screened at other festivals during the 1980s, including FILMEX 82 in Los Angeles. Despite resounding acclaim from the screenings, many of them were unsuccessful. According to Fred Patten, the primary reason was that, "most people did not bother to come to it since it was "only" an animated-cartoon feature, not a "serious" live-action movie."

English releases

The American theatrical debut was on 3 April 1991 in New York City by Carl Macek's Streamline Pictures, with the home release following in October 1992. Streamline's dub contains several deviations from the original Japanese script. Due to copyright issues with Maurice LeBlanc's estate, Lupin is referred to as "the Wolf." Inspector Koichi Zenigata is erroneously named "Keibu Zenigata," likely due to a translation error (keibu being the Japanese title for a police inspector). The UK release followed on 10 June 1996 by Manga Video. Optimum Releasing re-released Cagliostro in the UK after Manga Entertainment lost its license in the UK. The new DVD features an anamorphic widescreen print with the original Japanese audio track as well as the Streamline dub, both in stereo.

In 2000, Manga released the film on home video in the United States with a newly commissioned dub that adhered closer to the original script with the correct names restored. The DVD preserves the film in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen and is non-anamorphic. It additionally features remastered audio and picture, but contains no extras. The same company later released a new special edition DVD of Cagliostro in 2006. The disc is double-sided with the film on side A and the extras on side B. It includes a new digital transfer; Manga's English dub in 2.0 and 5.1 surround plus Japanese, Spanish, and French language tracks in mono; the complete film in storyboard format, accompanied by Japanese audio with English subtitles; an original Japanese trailer; a sketch and still gallery; a 26-minute interview with animation director Yasuo Ōtsuka, and animated menus. The film is presented in 16:9 anamorphic widescreen; however, the opening credits have been heavily re-edited to remove the Japanese credits, instead using selected still-frames of scenes that appear without Japanese writing. The English-translated names are superimposed over these stills. This change was negatively received by fans of the film. Both DVD releases are out-of-print, with Manga no longer owning the U.S. film rights.

In December 2008, the film was released on Blu-ray in Japan. Its video format is MPEG-4 AVC and its digitally-remastered audio is improved over that of the DVD, but contains no English audio or subtitle options despite being in Region A format. Years later, a new HD digital remaster was produced and Cagliostro was given a limited theatrical re-release in Japan on 9 May 2014. The remaster was released both individually and as part of The Collected Works of Hayao Miyazaki, a box set containing all of Miyazaki's movies. Both these newer releases were released by Studio Ghibli in conjunction with Disney. StudioCanal released a Blu-ray and DVD bundle of the film on 12 November 2012 in the UK. The StudioCanal release is of superior quality with its new high definition transfer, but the credits for the film are absent.

North American anime distributor Discotek Media announced on 26 March 2014 that they had licensed the film and planned to release it on DVD in 2014, with a Blu-ray release to follow at a then-unspecified future date. The DVD version was eventually delayed to 6 January 2015 and included the Streamline and Animaze/Manga dubs, a "Family Friendly" alternate version of the Animaze/Manga dub with reduced profanity, the original Japanese audio with newly translated English subtitles, an alternate subtitle option based on the subtitles used by TMS in their 1980 screenings of the film, a collection of alternate opening and closing sequences to the film from previous releases, translation notes, two trailers and a fan-made audio commentary by Reed Nelson. The Blu-ray was released on 25 June 2015 and featured the same extras in addition to another alternate subtitle option using a literal translation of the film's screenplay, new interviews with David Hayter and Bob Bergen, an introduction to the film by Hayter, translated past interviews from the French Blu-ray (featuring Yasuo Ōtsuka, Kazuhide Tomonaga and Monkey Punch), an optional storyboard viewing mode, a slideshow gallery of production and promotional art, and a text-based overview of the film's production history. Plans to include an emulated port of Cliff Hanger as an extra feature for the Blu-ray were dropped when the original contracts for the game could not be found. The Castle of Cagliostro was included in Disney's The Collected Works of Hayao Miyazaki Blu-ray set released on 17 November 2015. This release features only the Streamline dub and the Japanese audio with English subtitles; none of the extras from Discotek's releases are included.


While the film was not initially a box-office success, it gained popularity through numerous re-releases and was even voted as "the best anime in history" by the readers of Animage. Following a July 1992 release by Streamline Pictures, Janet Maslin said she thought the film "should fare nearly as well [as Akira] with animation fans of any age, provided they are unwavering in their devotion to the form and do not think 100 minutes is an awfully long time." According to Maslin, the film is an "interestingly wild hybrid of visual styles and cultural references" whose "animation is weak when it comes to fluid body movements, but outstanding in its attention to detail." According to Marc Savlov of The Austin Chronicle, "C of C refrains from the Technicolor ultra-violence that helped make films like Golgo 13, Akira, and Vampire Hunter D such audience favorites, and instead focuses on broad, almost slapstick humor and chaos to keep viewers riveted. Sometimes it works, and unfortunately, sometimes it doesn't." Review aggregator RottenTomatoes gives the film a 91% approval rating based on reviews from 11 critics, with an average rating of 7/10. Some fans maintain that it is not a "true" Lupin title, due to Miyazaki's altering of the titular character into a bumbling hero, rather than his original ruthless criminal self. Monkey Punch, creator of Lupin III, called Castle of Cagliostro an "excellent" movie, but agreed Miyazaki's vision of Lupin differs from his own. He said, "I wouldn't have had him rescue the girl, I would have had him rape her!"

In Dani Cavallaro's The Anime Art of Hayao Miyazaki, the film was said to have received the "Award for Best Animated Feature". The actual award was from the 1979 Mainichi Film Concours, where the film received the Ōfuji Noburō Award. No concrete evidence for this claim has even been put forward and the misinformation in the releases serves to cement its decades-long persistence.

The film was the best selling anime DVD in May 2001, and the third best selling in June. Both of Manga Entertainment's releases of The Castle of Cagliostro received DVD Talk Collector Series recommendation status, the highest status given by the review website DVDtalk.com. Chris Beveridge of AnimeOnDVD.com gave the film a grade of "A+", although he disliked Manga Entertainment's use of PG-13 level language in the English dub. The Castle of Cagliostro placed in 5th place on Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs's list of best anime.


The film has itself been an influence in a range of other productions. There is an unconfirmed rumor that film director Steven Spielberg saw a screening of The Castle of Cagliostro in the early 80's. From that rumor, one would assume that Spielberg was so impressed with the film that it later influenced the action sequences in his Indiana Jones films and The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn. There is no evidence of Spielberg quoting the film, but Manga Entertainment's DVD release quotes him saying: "one of the greatest adventure movies of all time." Another unverified statement has Spielberg calling the film's car chase "one of the greatest chase sequences ever filmed". Some sources claim that Spielberg saw the film at the 1980 Cannes Film Festival, but, according to official Cannes sources, Castle of Cagliostro was not shown that year.

The character of Clarisse has also been cited as a potential ancestral example of moe character design, a trend Miyazaki would later criticize as leading to the promotion of unhealthy lolicon fetishism. In 1983, TMS with Stern Electronics wanted to capitalize on the success of animated Laserdisc video games at the time. They released the arcade game, Cliff Hanger, which used footage from this film, along with the previous Lupin film The Mystery of Mamo. Even though the films themselves weren't available in North America at the time, the Cliff Hanger game was featured in an episode of the game show Starcade.

Cagliostro deeply influenced Pixar co-founder John Lasseter, along with Miyazaki's later films; in October 2014, Lasseter delivered a keynote address to the Tokyo International Film Festival describing how Miyazaki's influence upon his own life and work began when he first saw a clip from Cagliostro. Walt Disney Animation Studios' 1986 film The Great Mouse Detective, co-directed by John Musker and Ron Clements, paid homage to Cagliostro with the film's climactic Big Ben sequence. Another reference to the clock-tower fight is in "The Clock King" episode of Batman: The Animated Series. Gary Trousdale, co-director of Disney's Atlantis: The Lost Empire, admitted that a scene at the end of Atlantis, where the waters recede from the sunken city, was directly inspired from the ending in Cagliostro. One of the sequence directors of The Simpsons Movie also mentioned Cagliostro as an influence; a brief shot where Bart Simpson rolls down the roof of the family house was inspired by Lupin running down the castle roof during his rescue attempt.

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