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1979's The Castle of Cagliostro — the first full-length feature film directed and largely written by Hayao Miyazaki (pre-Ghibli) — is a stand-alone entry in the long-running franchise Lupin III. Tropes and characters not specific to this film are listed on the Characters page for the franchise.Lupin and Jigen pull off a successful casino heist and flee in their car, up to their necks in cash — until Lupin realizes that every bill is counterfeit. The legendary "Goat Bills" — counterfeit bills which could easily pass for real to all but the most trained eye — inspire the duo to pay a visit to the tiny European nation of Cagliostro, long rumored to be the bills' source, for their next heist.Once Lupin and Jigen cross the border, they find themselves trying to rescue a girl in a wedding dress from a group of armed mooks trying to capture her. The girl is Clarisse, daughter of Cagliostro's late ruling Grand Duke, and she is betrothed to the regent and Count of Cagliostro, whose side of the Cagliostro family line oversees and perpetuates the nation's dirty business. When the two families are reunited, a legend says they will unlock the secret of Cagliostro's lost treasure, which the Count desperately wants. Jigen figures something else is up when he notices Lupin's familiarity with Cagliostro's landmarks, Clarisse, and her mysterious ring…Certain things are, of course, inevitable: Lupin tries to steal the girl, the treasure, the source of the Goat Bills, and whatever else he thinks he can get away with; Fujiko is in the castle trying to steal one or more of Lupin's targets as well; the Count is a formidable villain; and Inspector Zenigata is still trying to hunt Lupin down (though he gets more than he bargained for).Castle of Cagliostro is famous for being Miyazaki's first film, but a couple of its scenes achieved their own fame. The car chase at the beginning of the film was allegedly praised by Steven Spielberg as one of the greatest car chases ever set to film, and he's alleged to have called Cagliostro one of the greatest adventure movies of all time.note According to various sources (apparently none of whom had anything to do with Manga video's DVD packaging◊) Spielberg never actually saw the film The other famous scene is the climactic battle-and-chase in Cagliostro's clock tower, a scene at least two groupsof American animators have paid direct homage to.Footage from this film (as well as The Mystery of Mamo) was used in the laser disc arcade game Cliff Hanger.As of now, Discotek Media has announced that it has licensed it and will include both the Manga UK and Streamline dubs.Complete spoilers below — don't read further if you don't want to know how this caper turns out!
The Castle of Cagliostro features examples of:
Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: The many quiet scenes of Cagliostro comes from Hayao Miyazaki's desire for "breathing" in a film. They are present to contrast against the tense action scenes, and allow the audience to relax, or fall in love. One special scene in this film is Lupin wandering around a burnt out castle in a contemplative mood (because Lupin is remembering his past) with Jigen wondering what is preoccupying him before demanding an explanation(by strangling him). Another special scene is when Lupin has broken into Clarisse's room and is trying to give her hope that he can help her escape (giving her hope and letting the audience fall in love with her innocence).
All That Glitters: Cagliostro's lost treasure is a partial example. The Roman ruins' enormous value is purely cultural, but the international attention they'll receive from academics and tourists will be useful for Clarisse and her country's economy. But Lupin wistfully notes that it's too big for his pocket.
Ambiguously Brown: Inspector Zenigata is noticeably more brown than his police companions, despite still being clearly Japanese. Amusing when Lupin disguises himself as Zenigata, because he can apparently create the square jaw and red-face without a Latex Perfection mask. Similar tones are used for Gustav, also without any real explanation.
Lupin: (reading Apocalyptic Log) "Here, Gennosuke Kawakami, Spy for the Japanese Army, met his end. Avenge me. 1904-3-14."
And the Adventure Continues: Zenigata and his men are hot on Lupin's heels as everyone leaves the country of Cagliostro, and Fujiko escapes with the Goat Bills' master plates. "The End", but life goes on.
Anti-Hero: While Lupin's place is hard to pin down on the best of days, in Cagliostro, he falls firmly into the Mr. Vice Guy role. While he's as gleefully enthusiastic about the caper as usual, he shows more interest in protecting Clarisse (choosing to save her even before he recognises her) and even lets the girl go for her own good.
Armor Is Useless: Partially averted. The Count's assassin squad wear plate armor underneath their cloth ninja costumes capable of standing up to a .44 magnum fired at point blank range...which as expected, proves no match for the anti-tank rifle Jigen brings to deal with them...nor with Goemons blade.
Asleep for Days: Lupin sleeps for three days after being severely wounded in a fight with the Big Bad. He's distressed to discover how long his nap has been — since it means he might be too late to save the day — and demands large amounts of food in order to recover his strength.
Blade Brake: The Count uses his sword to stab the rocks, saving his butt after falling off the clock tower's hands.
Blatant Lies: Invoked by Zenigata, in the Streamline dub, when he exposes the Count's counterfeiting ring on live television. First by leading Fujiko down into the cellar, where he puts on a show of "accidentally" finding his printing presses.
Zenigata: (blinks innocently) "Can you believe it?"
"Blind Idiot" Translation: The Streamline Pictures dub mixes Blind-Idiot with Macekre and Legal caution (The LeBlanc estate was still affecting translations). One example is for Zenigata introducing himself to the Count, as Inspector Keibu Zenigata. His actual given name is Koichi, and Keibu means "Inspector". But his full name wasn't included on the script, so including Keibu as his name was a choice minimizing the amount of invention.
Chiaroscuro: The wedding scene when the "resurrected" Lupin confronts the Count.
Thematically, chiaroscuro is also a major element of the plot, with Clarice's ruling branch of the family representing the light, and the Count's doing-the-dirty-work branch representing the shadow. The hidden treasure is revealed when (the rings of) light and shadow unite.
Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Possibly the one time Fujiko doesn't betray Lupin. Depending on how you interpret her running off with the plates.
Clock Tower: The finale takes place with a long chase through one.
Goemon slices and dices with his metal-cutting katana and Jigen blasts away with an anti-tank rifle, yet neither one of them is ever actually seen to kill anyone with said weapons. Even when Jigen shoots out a car's tire with his Magnum, we see thugs go flying but not actually any dying.
Averted with Lupin's wounds and the deaths of the count and his thug in the clock tower.
Counterfeit Cash: The Goat Bills are counterfeit bills which can fool all but the most trained eyes.
Damsel in Distress: Clarisse is pursued by the Count and one of Lupin's priorities in this story is protecting/rescuing her.
Damsel out of Distress: Clarisse escaped from a mansion surrounded by lasers, participated in a car chase, saved Lupin's life several times (by way of shoving him out of the way of gunfire and throwing her body on a gun and knocking it aside), said she was "not really" afraid when they were being peppered with gunfire, and shoved the Count off the clocktower when she saw her chance — and she was willing to become a thief to boot. A lone woman facing down a Nebulous Evil Organisation run by a Manipulative Bastard with an army of Elite Mooks (which took Lupin's team and an entire army of Interpol agents to bring down)? As Lupin said, she was a brave girl.
Death Trap: The Count is a big, big fan. His security fetish is one of the first things which alerts Zenigata to the fishy goings-on in the castle.
Dirty Old Man: Lupin accuses Count Cagliostro of being one, though it's questionable if he had any feelings for Clarisse at all.
The Dog Bites Back: After the Count is killed by clock hands, Jodo humbly asks Goemon to do him in. Goemon refuses.
Jodo: This is the end of Cagliostro. [bows head in shame, awaiting Goemon's death blow] It's over. [Goemon sheathes his Zantetsuken] Goemon: Evil destroys itself.
This is inverted at one point; Lupin tells Clarisse to look down so she'll realize screaming and flailing at the strange man while they're hanging several dozen feet in the air by a thin wire is a bad idea.
Early-Bird Cameo: As Lupin and Jigen drive away from the Casino with their loot, sharp-eyed viewers can spot the top of Goemon's head and the end of his sword in the back seat of the car amidst the cash. Do all those cars suddenly falling to bits earlier make sense now?
Elite Mooks: The Count employs assassins with masks, metal claw gauntlets, and armor Jigen can't shoot through without an anti-tank gun.
Evil Chancellor: The story begins after the Count has taken power from the dead Duke who ruled. There's no suspicion raised In-Universe for why the Duke might've died in a huge blaze inside his Stone Castle, especially when the Count has a secret army, counterfeiting operations, and is called the "shadow" line of the family. The only member of the "light" line of the family is Princess Clarisse, and the Count rules as regent in her place.
Gentleman Thief: This is played straight with Lupin, which may come across as strange because he's…Lupin. He's acting this way because he's still grateful to Clarisse for saving his life many years ago. Jigen calls Lupin out on his atypical behavior fairly early in the film.
This may be a case of Recursive Adaptation. Miyazaki took more direct inspiration from Maurice Leblanc's novels than he did the Lupin III manga and anime. The same novels that inspired Lupin III in the first place.
Gory Discretion Shot: Two deaths via clock—one of the Count's Mooks and the Count himself—are signified only by sound.
Go Through Me: Clarisse does this twice for Lupin, at different points during the film.
The first happens near the midpoint, after Lupin's been shot and left critically wounded, by Jodo. Not only does she prevent him from falling to his death, she tells Cagliostro that if he intended to kill Lupin, he'd have to kill her too. Cagliostro responds by having Jodo open fire, with each shot narrowly missing by inches. Clarisse doesn't budge, despite fearing for both their lives.
Hard To Light Fire: While on top of the main castle, Lupin III is trying to light a rocket but has a lot of difficulty with his lighter. He eventually drops the rocket and has to long-jump over the towers manually.
Hyperactive Metabolism: Lupin is severely wounded, but recovers after gorging himself to the point of being sick and then sleeping.
Impersonating an Officer: Lupin infiltrates the titular castle by posing as Inspector Zenigata, claiming that the real one Gustav saw was an imposter. It works. Gustav falls for it and attacks Zenigata and his men, allowing Lupin to slip inside unnoticed.
Implausible Fencing Powers: Goemon falls under this trope largely because Katanas Are Just Better ("this is no ordinary sword", he says). When a wounded Lupin falls into the car from the autogyro, Goemon's sword swipe gets Lupin neatly out of his burning clothes without further scratching Lupin. (Other examples are on the page for the Trope.)
Improvised Weapon: Lupin uses several of these, but the most notable is the long-handled spanner he duels the Count with.
Little Brother Is Watching: Lupin is known as a Handsome Lech, but for Clarisse's sake, he tries to be a Thief In A Stylin' Suit. When Lupin tells Jigen about being "wild and crazy" in his past, Jigen's expression suggests Lupin may have been talking about last week. At the end of the movie, she hugs him tight and begs to become a thief and leave Cagliostro with him. Lupin visibly trembles before he pushes her away gently.
Lull Destruction: The Streamline dub is somewhat notorious for this, adding unnecessary expository dialogue into normally quiet scenes, getting in the way of the atmosphere. Inverted at least once in the same dub when, at the point where Jigen's supposed to complain about him and Goemon not being able to do anything before the gang was forced to retreat, he says nothing.
Money to Throw Away/Money to Burn: The Goat Bills get both treatments. The former happens with the stolen Goat Bills at the beginning of the film, and the latter happens as part of a particular plot point close to the end of the film.
Pin-Pulling Teeth: Fujiko does this during an escape. Her other hand is busy wielding an automatic pistol.
Pop the Tires: In the opening chase scene, Jigen attempts to shoot out the tires of the henchmens' vehicle. The first time, it's subverted; he hits the tires, but they are a special kind that are impervious to regular bullets. Jigen upgrades his ammo and tries again, this time hitting them and causing the car to immediately spin out and crash into the side of the mountain.
The Prophecy: The words inscribed on Clarisse's ring by her ancestor, Gotoh, is a key part of the plot: "Light will rejoin shadow and live again."
Pyrrhic Victory: The Count manages to unlock the treasure, but by doing so, the clock tower automatically moves to noon and the clock's hands crush the Count.
Ramen Slurp: The cheap ramen eaten by Zenigata and his police force are contrasted with the fancy meals enjoyed by Count Cagliostro. Lupin and Jigen are shown eating spaghetti the same way, earlier (as well as eating ramen themselves as Zenigata pulls up to the castle—you can see the instant ramen bowls in the back of their car along with the other supplies in the early driving scenes).
Rescue Romance: This trope is subverted. Clarisse falls in love with Lupin after the first time he saves her, but even by the end of the movie, he can't be tied down and leaves.
Reverse Cerebus Syndrome: Hayao Miyazaki continued to tone down Lupin III from the raunchier, more manic version depicted in the manga, making him much Lighter and Softer. As a result, the film flopped in Japan when it was first released—the people who liked Lupin III for what it was were turned off, and the people who didn't like Lupin III didn't have any reason to watch the movie. It was only in later years, when Miyazaki gained recognition for his original works and more people watched the movie without any prior Lupin III experience, that it belatedly gained a reputation as a classic.
Rock-Paper-Scissors: Lupin and Jigen throw down over who has to change the flat tire on their car. (Jigen's version of "scissors" involves using his thumb and forefinger, like he's miming a pistol.)
Lupin's iconic, yellow Fiat 500 (the car driven in real life by chief animator Yasuo Ohtsuka, as Clarice's Citroen CV was Miyazaki's) has appeared in movies and shows ranging from Cowboy Bebop to the Pixar film series Cars. Thanks to this film, if you see a Fiat in an animated work, there's a good chance it's going to be yellow.
Another one is the title itself: the original Arsène Lupin books had an encounter with La Dame de Cagliostro. But that means that Clarisse and Lupin are cousins.
Miyazaki's confessed admiration for the French animated classic ''The King and the Mockingbird'' can be seen in the humongous trap-filled castle to the elaborate elevators.
And in fact Cagliostro contains a number of "shout-outs" to Miyazaki's own previous work in the first TV series with Isao Takahata. The plot structure of the movie borrows heavily from one of the TV episodes, and there are a number of callbacks to other episodes as well—anyone who had seen the first series would have had ample reason for nostalgia.
Ironically, given its original poor performance at the box office, Cagliostro has become one of the most shouted-out-to properties in subsequent Lupin specials and movies, as people who grew up on Cagliostro themselves get the chance to work on Lupin.
If you see a car chase in an animated piece, and it takes place on a mountain road, expect it to basically be a remake of this scene.
Shown Their Work: Every vehicle or gun seen in this movie, even those shown for only split seconds that you have to freeze-frame to see, were either exact replications of real-world or based on real-world designs.
Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Lupin is normally planted pretty firmly on the cynical side, but Miyazaki slid him back to the side of idealism. This can be jarring to viewers who are introduced to Lupin here, then watch his usual Jerk Ass antics in any of his other movies or series — even though the film goes out of its way to show Lupin has a reason for being better behaved than usual.
Smug Snake: Count Cagliostro is one of the most perfect examples of the trope in all of fiction.
Spring Loaded Corpse: Invoked with an apparently slumbering Lupin and Zenigata turning out to be skeletons clad in their suits that jump up and surprise some would-be assassins. However, rather than being reanimated, these corpses are merely on wires.
Soft Water: The castle is built in the middle of a lake, with lots of high towers; there's no bonus points for guessing what happens later in the film.
There Is No Kill Like Overkill: While Jigen cannot be faulted for wanting to upgrade his weaponry after his Magnum revolver failed to put down one of the counts armored assassins with a point blank shot to the face, one cannot help but think that maybe immediately escalating to the use of an anti-tank rifle against personal targets at close range was slightly excessive. (Even if Jigen somehow managed to use it to blast away armor without ever actually being seen to kill anyone.)
The Stoic: Goemon as usual. In one scene Jigen huddles under a blanket, complaining about the cold. Goemon just stands there, completely unbothered.
Storming the Castle: The Count's castle is stormed by an army of Interpol cops led by Zenigata during the final act, at the same time that Lupin puts his plan to beat the Count into action.
Strange Bedfellows: Lupin and Zenigata call a truce so they can both get out of the castle dungeon alive and Zenigata can go after the Count for the making the Goat Bills. Given how often they work together in other Lupin titles, though, their teamwork here isn't quite as strange as the trope name implies.
Lupin and Jigen's car drives sideways up a vertical cliff during the car chase, both characters can jump as if they're using Wire Fu, Lupin tries to swim upstream in a waterfall and downward in mid-air (after he ran straight down a tower wall!)…
Lupin shows off unthinkable long-jump skills on the roofs of the castle. Sure, he had a lot of momentum going, but it's still silly.
Trap Door: the titular castle is rife with secret passages, Portrait Painting Peepholes and of course trap doors. The trap doors all dump their victims into the same vast cistern — after several centuries of use, it's not a fun place to be.
When Lupin pays Clarisse a visit, the Count's men subtly herd him to the room's trap door and drop him like a bad habit.
One that's an actual trap in the main entrance hall: It's even hooked up to a fake bust that spits out pictures, Polaroid style, of whomever it drops into the dungeon - Poor Zenigata gets to be the film's demonstration. Lupin, thus informed, manages to turn it on Jodo and Gustav. The Count is merely amused when he sees the picture of them nearly falling in and commends Jodo for confirming that the trap works.
When Lupin starts a fire in the printing room as a distraction, smoke comes pouring out of pretty much every part of the castle.
Two Halves Make A Plot: The two rings, each having been inscribed with "Capran". Princess Clarisse and her uncle, Count Cagliostro, both have one. The rings have been passed down for generations, the "Light" and "Shadow" sides of the family. When held together, the rings combine to form a new inscription, but wearing the rings means that Lupin can't read it. "When light and shadow are joined, face the Goat on high who faces the sun and tells time, and place me in his eyes." The inscription tells Lupin how to use the two rings to reveal the secret of the Castle of Cagliostro.
What a Piece of Junk: Lupin's Fiat 500, especially after it somehow survives having a grenade explode right on top of it. Judging from the lever Lupin pulls before the first chase sequence, it's very heavily modified.
You Are Already Checked In: Lupin disguises himself as Zenigata, and insists that Gustav (Cagliostro's Captain of the Guard) was foolish for not recognizing the previous Inspector Zenigata as The Wolf in disguise.