THEM Anime Reviews
Home Reviews Extras Forums
[Castle in the Sky box art]
AKA: 天空の城ラピュタ (Tenkuu no Shiro Laputa), Castle in the Sky Laputa
Genre: Swashbuckling fantasy
Length: Movie, 124 minutes
Distributor: Currently licensed by GKids.
Content Rating: PG (violence, very mild profanity)
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended:
Notes: The name Laputa was borrowed from Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Travels", which was a fantasy fable superficially, but a scathing political satire in reality. Lost on the Japanese creators of this film (and indeed, the original Japanese audience) was the fact that Swift consciously made up the name "Laputa" from a very *vulgar* Spanish word. If you know any of this language, sooner or later you will realize exactly why Disney tried its darnedest not to use it in the American adaptation.

Castle in the Sky


Pazu is a young boy with a life's dream: to seek and find the legendary floating island of Laputa, hidden somewhere in the clouds. Legends tell of its vast, hidden treasures as well as its closely guarded secrets. His father once photographed it once by chance. No one believed him, though, and Pazu's father died a poor, desolate man.

One day, Pazu's dreams look close to becoming fulfilled when a young girl named Sheeta mysteriously floats down to earth from the sky, unconcious and wearing a mysterious pendant. The pendant is a relic of Laputa, and has been in Sheeta's family for generations.

The two become fast friends and decide to seek the island of Laputa to fulfill Pazu's dream and to learn more of Sheeta's clouded heritage. At the same time, other parties also seek Laputa and the pendant worn by Sheeta: the Dola pirate clan, for starters, not to mention the government, including the ambitious agent Muska...


Why do I even bother reviewing Miyazaki films, since I give them all top marks anyway? Because that way, I get to watch the best animated stories in the world, not the least among them being Laputa: a heart-pounding adventure story about friendship, loyalty, greed, and a man's insatiable lust for power.

In terms of technical execution, Laputa is just about as good as it gets. As with all films directed by the big "M", the art in Laputa is detailed, rich, and a joy to behold. Animation and special effects are particularly jaw-dropping, with flying and action sequences that would cause even the most jaded of anime-viewers to cheer. The score is very well-done as well, switching seamlessly from mood to mood: heroic at one moment and deeply sorrowful the next.

The story, of course, is a nail-biter as well, with plot twists and surprises abound. Although the mood starts off rather cute and happy, it quickly takes a turn for the darker as the evil ambitions of the antagonists make themselves known. The characters, good and evil, are all fully developed and interesting, although Miyazaki does diverge from his usual casting style by including a character who is unequivocably without redemption (Muska probably eats Totoros for breakfast). From tense beginning to spectacular end, you'll be enthralled.

In short, a definite must-see.

Really, are you surprised?Raphael See

Recommended Audience: While this is a Miyazaki film, and thus contains little of the questionable fare usually touted by anime, parents should still be cautious with this one. Much of the violence in this movie (although bloodless) is of a gritty, realistic nature that might disturb children, and the death-count by the end is startlingly high -- although all of the deaths are implied and happen off-screen. Also, children may be frightened by the intense, menacing second half of the film. Still, with parental guidance, this film should be an exciting, family watch.

Version(s) Viewed: digital source
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Castle in the Sky © 1986 Studio Ghibli / Tokuma Shoten
© 1996-2015 THEM Anime Reviews. All rights reserved.