The first feature film by the distinguished Hayao Miyazaki (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away), Castle of Cagliostro also marks the latest instalment in the hugely popular Lupin III animated TV series, of which Miyazaki had written and directed a number of episodes.
The iconic super thief, Lupin, pulls off a thrilling heist at a Monte Carlo casino, only to discover the money he has stolen is all counterfeit. Lupin traces the fake bills to the country of Cagliostro where an evil Count is generating forged money and distributing it worldwide. With partners in tow, including a retired gangster, a modern day samurai and a beautiful female thief, Lupin heads to Cagliostro where he also finds a promise of hidden treasure and Clarice, a beautiful Princess in need of rescuing from the Count’s dastardly clutches. Now it’s up to Lupin to muster together all of his cunning to siege the castle of Cagliostro and take care of the Count once and for all.
Studio Canal have provided us with a 1080i 1.78:1 MPEG-4 AVC video presentation that looks surprisingly good. Considering the movie was made in 1979, the video on this could rival anime of today with ease.
The colour palette used throughout the film isn’t particularly vivid and eye popping, but the bright colours that there are look fantastic. Blacks and other dark colours are also great throughout. The film does show a lot of grain on screen suggesting that not much DNR has been used keeping the look of the original film. This in my opinion works in favour, keeping the films original look and giving it a very old school feel. The still drawn backgrounds and animated cells together give the film a very lifelike three dimensional quality to it
One negative I could see however, was that a lot of the film suffered from telecine wobble. Once I noticed this, I couldn’t take my eyes off it. When it happens on the screen I could feel my eyes jerking with the movement. Having said that, Studio Canal have done a fine job in bringing out this anime classic onto High Definition.
A few options await us here. First up we have the original Mono 2.0 LPCM Japanese soundtrack, a DTS-HD Master Audio Japanese 5.1 track both with English subtitles and finally a English 2.0 Mono LPCM track.
The DTS-HD track whilst being a nice addition comes across as very flat and very quiet, often reaching for the remote control to turn the volume up. The surround mix has been done well and you get good use of the 5.1, but overall the track appears very quiet and not suited for the release, as if it’s been put on to just say that the disc includes a HD audio track. The soundtrack mixed with the dialogue is messy and with the 5.1 mix coming into play, it sounds very jumbled. Switching to the 2.0 Mono English track, it immediately sounds clearer, but a lot is lost in the translation from Japanese to English. When you compare the subtitles against the English dub (which features the voice cast of Kirk Thornton, Bridget Hoffman and also David Hayter, of Metal Gear Solid fame), a lot of dialogue the appears on the screen as subtitles is not spoken on the screen.
The pick of the bunch however is the original Japanese 2.0 Mono track. As soon as this kicks it, you know this is the best audio track on the disc. The sound is very clear, clean and crisp. The soundtrack to the film is not overpowering and a good balance is used between this and the dialogue. The dialect is very clear and the subtitles are translated well across the screen and runs in time with the film. I must admit to be being very surprised with how good the Japanese 2.0 Mono track was. When you watch the movie, this is the track I would urge you to listen too.
Not a lot here unfortunately, with only 2 bonus features for this Blu-Ray.
First, we have the standard theatrical trailer. Finally, we have a ‘Picture In Picture’ feature that allows the viewer to watch the film and also the storyboards for the movie at the same time. This can be viewed for throughout the whole movie. It’s not a bad feature, but not particularly great either. Easily one for the Miyazaki purists out there.
It’s a shame more wasn’t included, especially when you compare this to the release of ‘My Neighbour Totoro’ which was loaded with special features including new featurettes, new interviews and more.
If I’m being honest I didn’t know what to expect from this. From the moment I put the film on I couldn’t really get into it. I was left very underwhelmed after hearing all of the praise this and other Miyazaki anime films get. Perhaps Ghibli isn’t for me? Perhaps I need to re-watch it along with some other Ghibli movies? But then again, there are moments of good humour where it did make me chuckle and the action is fast and plentiful and enough to keep you entertained for the 100 minute running time. Add this to the addition of beautiful drawn European scenery I’m sure this release will please many many people.
Having said that, as an overall package I was impressed with what Studio Canal have done with the transfer of the movie both picture and audio wise. Needless to say, the film won’t look or sound better than what it does on this Blu-Ray, the only thing lacking perhaps would be more bonus content to please the fans out there.