Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Castle of Cagliostro Dub Wars

I've mentioned my love for this movie and how it's a large part of my introduction to both anime and Hayao Miyazaki films in my Ponyo review, so I will do my best not to rehash that here. Suffice to say that this is one of the most loved films from my adolescent years, and I highly recommend it to everyone who loves animation and light hearted adventure.

This film was made and released in Japan in 1979, but didn't find it's way to American audiences until 1991. The theatrical release was apparently subtitled, but when released on video, a dub was done by Streamline Pictures. This is the version which I originally saw and rented multiple times from the video store. In 2000 the rights to the film were purchased by Manga Entertainment and an all new dub was recorded. Originally, this was the only copy of the film I was able to own as the Streamline version was long out of print by the time I wanted a copy. I searched Ebay frequently for the older version, but it never came up. I went to forums and livejournal communities asking if anyone had a copy of the original dub that they would perhaps make a copy of for me and I would gladly pay the expense involved. The only responses I ever seemed to get were "the new dub is better anyway" even when I explained that I wanted the old one for nostalgic reasons.

About a month ago I found out that the Streamline dub was in fact out there once again albeit in the Australian and UK releases only. International copyrights being what they are, Manga Entertainment lost the rights to distribute the film there and now Madman Entertainment has it. They decided to use the original dub on their DVD release. After doing a bit of research that assured me I would be able to watch a Region 4 DVD on my computer thanks to VLC Media Player, I gladly paid the price for the DVD and Australian air mail in order to get my hands on the movie I had fallen so much in love with back when I was young.

In the years since first seeing this movie, I went digging for other Lupin III. I've read the first few manga collections, seen the TV series that aired on Adult Swim a while back, as well as most of the theatrical release films and direct to video releases. So I feel at this point that I have a pretty good knowledge of who the characters are and what they're all about. Castle of Cagliostro is a bit different than most Lupin III films. Both Lupin and his rival/love interest Fujiko are much less deviant in this film than they are in other movies. From what I've seen, however, the other characters are much closer to their normal roles.

In order to see which of these two dubs was superior, I watched both versions of the film fairly close to one another. I went about two weeks between viewings, but considering how many times I've watched the movie and the way my memory is in general I still had the Manga dub fresh in my mind as I watched the Streamline dub. Honestly? It is, for the most part, the same exact movie. Yes, the chosen words are different. Perhaps the Streamline dub was aiming more for fitting lip movements than it was with literal translation. In terms of plot points and the storyline itself, nothing is changed. The motives of the characters, the back stories, it's all pretty much the same. Whoever did the Streamline translation had no problem understanding the Japanese. I'll try to highlight some of the main differences for you.

The Wolf vs. Lupin III
The Streamline Pictures release did not have the rights to the name Lupin III (there's that crazy international copyright law again) so they refer to him as The Wolf most of the time. Jigen also calls him boss a lot more, perhaps as another way to get around the name problem. Perhaps the funny thing is they do call him Lupin once (though they pronounce it wrong) out of necessity because the animation shows his calling card with his signature on it. I suppose this name change alone is excuse enough for a new dub, since you most likely couldn't get all the actors together again to fix their lines.

In the Streamline dub she's a princess, in the Manga she is the daughter of the Archduke. Strikes me as a simplicity change more than anything else. She also comes off as slightly more desperate at the end of the movie, though in both the end is the same.. she loves Lupin and doesn't want him to leave her.

Voice Actors
In the Streamline dub Wolf is played by Bob Bergen, who gave him a slightly nasal voice. It gives him a slightly more cartoonish feel most of the time. In the Manga dub Lupin is played by David Hayter, perhaps best known for being the voice of Solid Snake. Hayter plays him with a voice fairly close to his natural speaking voice, and he's a bit more like your standard dashing hero. I have to admit I prefer David Hayter's performance here. On the other hand, Inspector Zenigata is the exact opposite. I like the way he starts off sounding very serious in the Streamline dub, and you hear him coming apart and becoming more frustrated as the movie goes on, whereas in the Manga dub he sounds a bit silly from the beginning. The accents are all really overdone in the Manga dub. Everyone at the Interpol hearing is a stereotype of their respective country, and Gustav, the Count's large bodyguard, sounds like a bad Arnold Schwarzenegger impression.

Jigen and Goemon
In the Manga dub, Jigen curses far too much. He shouts "Christ!" repeatedly at the beginning of the film, and it really just seems out of place in an otherwise light hearted family movie. Goemon is perhaps the character who suffers the most in the Streamline dub.. he's fairly quiet, and they decided that the times he did speak it would be nothing but one liners. He's generally a very serious character with a more dry sense of humor.

Knight in Shining Armor vs Thief in the Night
When Lupin first visits Clarice in her locked tower, he vows to rescue her. She thinks it is completely hopeless. He gives a brief speech begging her to trust him. In the Streamline dub, he refers to himself as her knight in shining armor, and in the Manga dub he is a thief in the night come to steal her away. While I can understand that since Lupin is known as a master thief the latter may make more sense for the character in general, the fact is that the knight in shining armor speech was what always stuck in my memory and made me fall in love with the character. It was very romantic and sweet, and the more literal translation just lacks a lot of its charm. Hearing it again after so long, my heart melted all over again. That never happens whenever I watch the Manga dub.

In the end, I think both versions have their positives and negatives and you should just pick up whichever one is being sold in your country. You could of course also just watch it with subtitles and skip this whole mess. I'm left a bit clueless as to why people think the new dub is far superior, though barring the one scene mentioned above, I'm also forced to abandon my feelings that the original was the much better version as well. In the end this is simply a fantastic animated film, and no amount of word choice or silly voices can ruin that. It's a pleasure to watch and listen to in any language!


  1. I'm one of those that enjoyed the Streamline dub when I first saw it way, way back. It was a tad hard for me to get into the Manga version due to the rather course language used. I felt this film was already adult enough without going past a PG-rating.

  2. Chris - I agree. I don't mind cursing and think it has it's place when done right but in this movie it just came off as unnecessary.

    It would probably be worth it for you to pick up the UK/Australian release. I'm glad I got it.

  3. I just read this article...
    I prefer the Streamline version much better.
    I think the voice acting was better and the
    script although different matched the animation
    better than the new one.
    The new one feels a bit rough to me, almost rude.
    Doesn't feel like the true Lupin I grew up watching in Europe.
    I still have the Streamline VHS version and I
    treasure it!!

  4. Hi Corrado, thanks for the comment! No worries about commenting on an old article. The beauty of the internet is that these things are left up for people to discover at any time. :)

  5. Thanks for the evaluation and information! Our family prefers the Streamline version (the kids started watching it aged 5), so with your tip we bought the Madman DVD to replace our old VHS tape. Thank you again!

  6. You're quite welcome! I'm glad to be able to help!

  7. im writing to say "this article on the website is great"
    thank to this article, now,i realize that this one is very popular not only in japan but also people in many countries.

    actually,im japanese,coincidently ,i found this website.
    this movie reminds me of my childhood ,you know, in japan,still, this movie have offen broadcasted on TV.this movie was even born long time ago.

    im not sure that i will be able to understand this dubbed version one.
    but im interested to watching it now,
    so,i will be trying to find on website right now,


    1. Thank you so much for the kind words! I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I'm also happy to hear that the film is still popular enough in Japan to be played on TV. While it is one of the more popular animes that we know in the west, it's more well known specifically among anime fans and not to the public at large.

  8. While both dubs are pretty good, I must say I prefer the Manga Video dub if only for the fact that they call him Lupin. I can't get over Lupin being called "The Wolf."

  9. Thankyou so much this was so helpful I have so idea which one I originally saw but having only found the other on streaming sites I assume its the old one. If so I also share your love for the original (just spent an hour trying to find it) this explanation was incredibly helpful.


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