The first feature film from Hayao Miyazaki!
Written By: Hayao Miyazaki & Tadashi Yamazaki
Directed By: Hayao Miyazaki
Any movie where two characters use rock-papers-scissors to solve a dispute is already on the right track in my book. That type of carefree fun attitude is the heart of Rupan Sansei: Kariosutoro No Shiro, one entry in the long running Rupan series of manga books, TV series’ and movies. This particular entry in the Rupan mythos is important because it is the directorial debut of Hayao Miyazaki. You can see a lot of Miyazaki’s later films in Rupan Sansei: Kariosutoro No Shiro, but you can also see the areas in which he has yet to develop his distinctive style. The carefree nature of Rupan Sansei: Kariosutoro No Shiro is where this is most evident. There isn’t a larger theme of any sort in Rupan Sansei: Kariosutoro No Shiro, it’s a fun spy movie, as simple as that.
Right off the bat the film takes on an exaggerated feel, like James Bond to the extreme. This isn’t a world where the hero is held in check by physics or reality, he can drive his car up the side of a mountain and seems to have gadgets for every problem he encounters. Lupin isn’t invincible though, the scene where he is shot is important because it adds drama to his exploits. Up till that point what was on my screen was fun, but it didn’t have any sense of danger, the moment Lupin goes down we are still having fun while now realizing Lupin could be stopped.
Rupan Sansei: Kariosutoro No Shiro isn’t a serious movie, there are a few moments where it becomes a tiny bit serious, but more often than not it plays every moment for laughs or to be cool rather than to be serious. There is plenty of humor to be found in Rupan Sansei: Kariosutoro No Shiro, from the interactions between Jigen and Lupin to the hilarity that was Inspector Zenigata’s terrible acting when being filmed “finding” the counterfeit money. The aforementioned carefree attitude of the film combined with its humor and interesting characters creates a fun movie going experience.
The one and only area where Rupan Sansei: Kariosutoro No Shiro felt like it was lacking was in the animation department. The animation isn’t bad, it’s actually good on the whole. But, there are too many moments when the animation takes on a rough sheen. According to Miyazaki he wanted one more month to fine tune the film, and I can’t help but think the animation was rushed in some parts, at least I think it certainly shows in some of the rough patches.
It’s not on the level of his later work, but Rupan Sansei: Kariosutoro No Shiro is a fun caper movie. It ends on the same carefree note that it began on, and the journey from start to finish is a highly enjoyable one. I found myself taken by the characters, the story and the tone of the film. If you are a fan of animation, a Miyazaki fan or someone who wants to see the best the Rupan series has to offer, then Rupan Sansei: Kariosutoro No Shiro is a film you need to see.