The Castle of Cagliostro – Bluray Review

The Castle of Caglisotro Blu Ray Cover

The second Hi-Def helping from Studio Canal and Ghibli in November is not a Ghibli film at all, it is an earlier work, directed by Miyazaki-san called “The Castle of Caglisotro”, aka Lupin III. Made in 1979, it is Miyazaki’s first full-length anime film, and features Wolf (or Lupin in French), a character created by the artist Kazuo Kazuhiko (also known as Monkey Punch). The Lupin/Wolf stories were massively popular in Japan and as such the film doesn’t bother to explain backstory or characters, it just dives straight in to the action.

The film follows the adventures of Lupin, a master thief wanted by Interpol, and his hat-wearing, chain-smoking sidekick Jigen. They’ve travelled to the fantasy European mountain kingdom of Cagliostro to pull off a heist…to steal the famed Cagliostro fortune. However, they are quickly drawn in to one of the world’s greatest car chases, attempting to save a mysterious bride-to-be from thugs and goons. After failing to save her, they head off to the infamous Castle of Cagliostro, an epic monument to fantasy castles, set in the middle of an enormous lake. Here, Lupin and Jigen infiltrate the castle in order to save the girl (who we now know is Princess Clarisse)…and grab some of the fortune, of course. In doing so they come up against their old Interpol adversary Zenigata, and a whole host of cunning castle traps and nasties. The bad guy is the Count, who wants to marry Clarisse and gain access to her family ring, which will help him discover the treasure for himself. Suffice to say, Lupin, with the aid of Jigen, master-of-disguise cat-burglar Fujiko, enigmatic Samurai Goemen, and even Zenigata himself, is able to foil the Count’s nefarious schemes and save the day…helping bring down a counterfeiting scheme in the process.

This is an old-fashioned crime-caper that is chock full of action and adventure, anti-heroes and good vs evil. It is old-school Hollywood, rat-pack fun and games. There is honour and friendship at the heart of the story, and while Lupin is technically a thief, he represents so much more and ends up as the real-deal hero of the piece. The film has an interesting mixed pace, from frantic action to contemplative, almost romantic moments. And while the plot is never truly original, it is always surprising and enjoyable. This is a film that is very easy to watch time and time again.

The movie has previously been released on a very good DVD set, which included some nice extras, including a great introduction by Japan-o-holic and all-round Far East expert Jonathan Clements (if you don’t own a copy of his superb Schoolgirl Milky Crisis book, go buy one now!) Sadly, here we lose those extras, and all we get is a storyboard comparison function. This is a real shame, considering the historical importance of the film, as well as the general lack of knowledge many Western fans will have of the Lupin phenomenon. A short but simple history of Lupin feature would have been good. And considering how much extra stuff Studio Canal have put on their other big release this month, My Neighbour Totoro, it does seem odd to have such a vanilla Blu-ray.

Another disappointment is the lack of improvement in the picture quality. While the colours are noticeably more vibrant than the old DVD release, and the sound is a marked improvement, the film looks its age, with a great deal of dirt and damage on full display…possibly made worse by the HD nature of the medium and displays? With so much effort and skill put in to up-scaling the Ghibli films, it is a real let-down that Cagliostro hasn’t been afforded the same treatment. Maybe this is because it isn’t a Ghibli film, and so the investment for restoration just isn’t there? Whatever the reason, this coupled with the lack of extras makes recommending buying the new Blu-ray edition hard for me. For completists (like me) it is a must-own. The film is, quite simply, superb, and I recommend that everyone watches it. But if you already own the DVD, I’m not sure the cost of the Blu-ray (plus DVD copy thrown in) is worth the investment. To be fair, this is the best looking copy of the film you can buy, and the improved sound is fantastic. It’s 6 of one and half a dozen of the other, flip a coin and see what the outcome is.

That all said, do make sure you see Cagliostro. As an anime film it is wonderful. As an early Miyazaki it is fantastic. But as a crime-caper it is unsurpassed. And that car chase at the start is, for me, the best car chase in cinema!

Moribito: Guardian of the Sacret Spirit

Moribito: Guardian of the Sacret Spirit?(???????)
This superb anime series is based on the fantasy novels by Nahoko Uehashi and is about a female spear-woman, Balsa, who becomes the personal bodyguard of the young prince Chagum. His mother leaves him under Balsa?s protection when his own father, the Emperor, decides to kill him. And so the adventures begins?

During 26 episodes you learn why the Emperor wants to kill his own son, find out more about Balsa, her friends and how she became a wandering, spear wielding warrior.
I don?t want to spoil any of the story for you so I will just explain why this anime is something you need to watch.

Seirei no Moribito is one of my all-time favourite anime series and I keep on watching it again and again because of its beautiful drawing style and its love for details (for example: Balsa is sitting on a horse, but the horse is moving and not static). Everything is so alive and detailed, and there are so many things to discover in the background.

The whole style of storytelling might not be to everyone?s liking as it can be a little bit slow sometimes, but is so only to draw your attention to what is going on in the mind of one of the characters. You will be rewarded with some stunningly animated fighting scenes and a fast moving plot.

The series centres around Chagum and what he has to learn about what it means to grow up, friendship, honour, respect and his responsibility as the young prince and possible future Emperor.

It is this depth of story that always fascinates me. You have politics, magic and friendship, as well as action. Also, you don?t have any overly romantic love story in this series which is a nice change since all other movies and series tend to go that cheesy road.
Guardian of the Sacred Spirit is a masterpiece that will keep you glued in front of your screen with a great storyline, fascinating landscapes, beautiful soundtrack and stunning animation.
This Series contains themes which are suited to teenagers and adults rather than younger children.

Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle

Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle
Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle

The sixth and final volume of Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle‘s inaugural season is surely a must have for pre-existing fans of the show. The question is however, is there enough here to bring in entirely new legions of followers. This critic says no.

Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle follows the adventures of Princess Sakura as she and several companions, including protagonist Syaoran travel between multiple worlds in an effort to retrieve Sakura’s lost memories. This sixth, and final volume of the first season promises to be an epic ending to an adventure that has become a cult hit across the world.

Unfortunately, the entire experience seems rather familiar. The limited style of animation seems reminiscent of almost 2 decades of amine. Visually nothing has changed since Pok?mon, as detailed backgrounds still set the scene for characters with large eyes, triangular mouths and abstract hairstyles. Away from aesthetics, the audio, among other things, is a dissapointment. The critically acclaimed voice work from Vic Mignogna (Full Metal Alchemist) seems stale and lifeless with no sense of drama, peril or expression of any kind. For a series that obviously prides itself on its top-notch voice acting, this is frankly appalling.

Tsubasa appears to follow the anime conventions very closely, as characters in Tsubasa seem eerily similar to those in previous anime shows. Mokona, a white creature given to our protagonist to help him on his quest, is almost a carbon copy of Pikachu and holds the same level of pointlessness as Ash’s yellow pal did over a decade ago. Simply put, Tsubasa offers nothing new to the casual audience.

One saving grace is a plot that has the potential to be thoroughly enjoyable. It may require an cult level of devotion, but throughout this volume there is a sense that under the deja-vu there is a genuinely solid mythology. For those who can look past the mirror image of previous anime, Tsubasa might be worth the dedication.

Despite all the negatives, for fans of the programme volume six is surely a must-have. Featuring in-depth character and world guides, as well as the usual commentaries and trailers, this DVD promises to generate genuine excitement among those who have waited since September 2007 to complete their season one set.

Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle ‘Volume 6 ? A Wish Upon Waking’ is available March 16th 2009 (R.R.P. ?15.99)

Also available is the ‘Limited Edition Season One Box Set’ (R.R.P. ?49.99)

Dragonball: Evolution Movie UK

Dragonball Evolution Movie Poster - Click for more
Dragonball Evolution Movie Poster - Click for more
Dragonball: Evolution is a live action movie based on the popular Japanese Manga created by Akira Toriyama, whose work spawned best selling graphic novels, video games and a phenomenally successful television series. The live action adventure centers on the heroic Goku, a powerful warrior who discovers his inner strength and protects the Earth from an evil rogue bent on dominating the Universe and controlling the mystical objects from which the film takes its name.

Directed by James Wong (Final Destination, X Files) and starring Justin Chatwin as Goku, James Masters (Buffy, Torchwood), Chow Yun-Fat,

Note that the release date of this movie has now been pushed back to the 8th April 2009.

Fullmetal Alchemist The Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa

FMA Special Edition DVD COVER
FMA Special Edition DVD COVER

Revelation Films is very proud to release Fullmetal Alchemist The Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa as a Limited Edition Collector?s Set on 22nd September 2008.

Fullmetal Alchemist The Movie won the Neo award for the Best Anime Movie of 2007 and this attractive 2 DVD set with built-in booklet is a must-have for all Fullmetal Alchemist fans.

Originally released last year to DVD Conqueror of Shamballa is a 2005 Japanese animated film directed by Seiji Mizushima and written by Sho Aikawa, and acts as a new chapter of the Fullmetal Alchemist television series.

Set 2 years after the close of the TV series of Fullmetal Alchemist, Edward Elric is transported from his home planet of Amestris to a parallel world of Earth, Munich, Germany, in the year 1923. Stripped of his alchemical powers and some of his limbs, he has spent all this time researching rocketry together with Alphons Heiderich, a young man who resembles his own brother.

After rescuing a gypsy woman (Noa) Edward is thrown into a series of events that reveal a path back to his homeworld along with a conspiracy that threatens both worlds.

Unaware of Edward’s situation, Alphonse Elric ventures deeper into the mysteries of alchemy in search of a way to reunite with his older brother.

Conqueror of Shamballa DVD Extras:

The Making Of Fullmetal Alchemist ? The Movie

Japanese Theatrical and TV Trailers

Production Art

Image Gallery

Trailers

Talk Session ? Cast and Crew Interviews

3 Audio Commentaries