How does the anime portray the cultural space of Cagliostro

Lupin the III: The Castle of Cagliostro
(1979) directed by Miyazaki Hayao

Miyazaki Hayao’s first full-length theatre anime is based on Monkey Punch’s popular manga Lupin the III (Rupan sansei).

V. Discussion Questions

1) How does the anime portray the cultural space of Cagliostro? What are the implication of the fact that the anime (in terms of story, settings, and visual images) was created by the Japanese director Miyazaki and his all Japanese staff members? The anime was released in 1979. Did Japan of the time still wrestle with the repressed postwar mentality? Or, does the anime suggest any change in Japan’s perception of the West?

2) Identify three expressive modes in anime texts as discussed by Susan Napier in her article (see page 12)

In Lupin III: the Castle of Cagliostro, how each moment manifests itself? How does each component build up the story?

The apocalyptic mode

The festival mode

The elegiac mode



: Fiat 500, Citroen 2CV, and other automobiles play an integral role in                        the anime (and Miyazaki’s anime in general).

Lupin III
: He is a fictional descendant of
Arsène Lupin

a world-famous thief in
Maurice Leblanc’s novel. He is an
action hero but often represents a comic relief in the story. At times he is a laughingstock, too. On the other hand, he is highly skilled in the technique of stealing valuable objects like his grandfather.

: She was seemingly Lupin’s girlfriend in the past. She is cunning, self-centered, and possibly more intelligent than Lupin is. In the film she lives in the castle as a spy and later becomes a reporter while approaching the secret treasure in the castle.

: He is a nihilistic supporting character, a skilled marksman. He and Lupin keep a strong partnership in the thief business.


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: He is Lupin’s another nihilistic partner. He is always dressed in traditional   Japanese kimono and carries a sword like samurai. Oftentimes he regrets what he slices by his precious sword.

: She is Grand Duke of Cagliostro’s daughter. His parents died when their palace had fire, and thereafter she had been sent to a convent. She is a typical princess-in-captive figure. Lupin met her some years ago when she was a child and has known the ring she wears, which holds an important key in the story. She wishes to leave the Dukedom of Cagliostro with Lupin, but he leaves her behind and their affection for each other remains platonic.

In the 1980s among Japanese anime fans (known as œotaku today), the psychological symptom widely known as œClaris complex permeated. The psyche is considered as a variant of Lolita complex.

Count Cagliostro
: He is the regent of the Dukedom of Cagliostro. After the Grand Duke died, he has controlled the country. By marrying Claris, he wants to legitimize his authority in the sovereignty, and has ambition to ascend to the throne of the Grand Duke. To consolidate the country’s financial power, he engages with the crime of producing counterfeit currencies of the world.

Sergent Zenigata:
He is one of the major characters in the Lupin series. He is a Japanese detective and high official of Saiama Prefecture’s Police Department. He generally plays a role of Lupin’s archenemy, however, in this film, he becomes allied with Lupin. They collaborate to discover the secret of the castle.

International Bureaucrats
: They do not believe in Zenigata’s claim that Cagliostro is involved in a conspiracy. They appear to represent a general Japanese consciousness of the world in the international arena.

Rings with the emblem of gold and silver rams
: They are the symbol of the two noble families’ shared legacy. When the Grand Duke was alive, both families were antagonizing each other, and now the Count seeks to unite them again so that he can fully control the entire country.



Anime as kinetic art “ examples of full animation scenes in the anime

Quick movement, action: the film often employs the technique of œfull animation. The movement of mass reminds the viewer of traditional Japanese katsugeki (action drama) as seen in samurai or ninja’s collective fighting scenes.

The water scenes combined with the cogwheels is another notable scene. Miyazaki explores realism in the animated images by virtue of full animation.

Car-chase scenes, airplanes, steamships etc. play a significant role in the anime as it dynamically mobilizes the screen “ these elements reflect the director and other staff members’ fascination with Western modernity and technology.

The scenes such as the ones in which Lupin runs on rooftop and Cagliostro climbs the clock tower exemplify Miyazaki’s groundbreaking use of thrilling movement, visual angle, and sequence of cuts in anime. On the rooftop scene, even the surface of the roof moves together with Lupin “ it is a moment of mise-en-scène in the anime. Japanese full anime at this degree of movement was unprecedented in the late 1970s.


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III. De-Japanization of the Characters, Settings, and Narrative

Using the international characters, the anime sets forth an image of a melting pot in a sort of pseudo European country. As Susan Napier points out, Japanese animation tends to deploy Western-looking characters (25), and Lupin III is a quintessential example. Also according to Miyzaki Hayao,œthe Japanese hate their own faces (25).

The story is set in an eclectic European space where the filmmaker’s imagination and fantasy are intertwined. For instance, the Dukedom of Cagliostro mixes images of
mountains of the
Alps, Bohemian/Germanic castles, and Roman ruins of antiquity. The anime accommodate a series of postmodern simulacra and a discursive, œmukokusei (non-nationalistic, without particular national character) space.

Some iconic cultural images are also incorporated into the anime. Those include cup noodle, a play of janken (stone, paper, scissor by folding a hand), and KKK-like group in the wedding scene.

IV. Anime’s Expressive Modes (Napier 12)

      Identify the following elements in Lupin III: the Castle of Cagliostro.

The apocalyptic

      The festival

      The elegiac


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