Tim here. May is 1979 Month at the Film Experience, and as far as animation goes, that was a pretty meager year (ardent fans of The Flintstones Meet Rockula and Frankenstone would no doubt disagree, but sadly, they do not exist). There was one clear highlight, though: 1979 was the year that a Japanese animator and TV director named Hayao Miyazaki made his first feature film. And 36 years later, he’s one of the only name-brand individuals in animation, anywhere in the world.
You wouldn’t necessarily be able to guess the full range of Miyazaki’s future career from Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro. For that is the title of this debut film, and if that whole “subtitle after the colon” thing makes it feel like it might have been part of an established franchise, that’s exactly the case. Lupin III was an anime series made by TMS Entertainment, adapting the adventures of a gentleman thief from French pulp literature; the first batch of episodes started to appear in 1971, and iterations of the animated franchise kept poking up for decades; the series still remains a cultural touchstone in Japan and it’s reasonably popular anywhere there’s an enthusiastic audience for classic anime.