Laputa: Castle in the Sky / Tenkuu no Shiro Laputa
Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Romance, Sci-Fi, Studio Ghibli
First Released: August 1986, 125-minute film
Summary: It is rumored that humanity built great flying cities until a catastrophe destroyed everything, forcing the human race to live on the ground. Our story begins when a girl named Sheeta escapes from an airship and is found by a boy named Pazu. Sheeta’s escape is miraculous for several reasons and it’s up to the two of them to discover the secret behind the glowing amulet that appears to have saved her life. The amulet may be the key to finding Laputa, the greatest of the fabled flying cities. It’s not going to be easy for the young ones, not only is the military on their tail but pirates are also tracking their every move. They’re going to have to get some help from an unlikely source and use all their cunning to figure out the secret of the amulet.
Castle in the Sky is written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki so you know it’s quality work. The film contains the Miyazaki standards, such as a strong female protagonist in Sheeta, who is told to step aside several times and refuses to do so. She proves herself time and time again. The use of flight, another standard Miyazaki aspect, is portrayed beautifully through airships, gliders, and even floating land masses. The artwork on the airships is stunning, showing dilapidation in the outdated machinery. The artwork of the entire film is spectacular, from the characters to the backgrounds. The characters are enjoyable, especially in the way you constantly change your mind about who the “bad guy” is. The Disney translation into English uses a mixture of voice talent, from Anna Paquin to Mark Hamill. The soundtrack is composed by Studio Ghibli staple Joe Hisaishi, so you know it’s memorable.
You might enjoy this if: You want a starter anime. You’ll also enjoy it if you’ve seen hundreds of anime. I would recommend Castle in the Sky for almost anyone in the way it’s appropriate for all ages. It also has a good message that you can teach your kids, so that’s a plus.
You might not like it if: You can’t get past the 1980s animation. I’ll admit there is some unusual coloring at times. Pink pirate pants…I’ll leave it at that.
Note to the Viewer: Castle in the Sky was the first official Studio Ghibli film. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, which was released before Castle, is often considered a Ghibli film but was created prior to the founding of the studio.
AMV – Awake to the Sky by Rider4Z
(This AMV shows how much Miyazaki uses flight in his films. It uses clips from Castle in the Sky, Nausicaä, Porco Rosso, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Tales from Earthsea, and The Wind Rises)
Castle in the Sky Trailer