Laputa: Castle in the Sky (天空の城ラピュタ , Tenkū no Shiro Rapyuta) is a film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by Tokuma Shoten. It is the first film created by Studio Ghibli and released on August 2, 1986, although it is considered the second by some, as Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind was created by the founding members two years prior. During its theatrical release, it was screened alongside two compilation movies for Sherlock Hound, The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle, and Treasure Under the Sea.

Miyazaki, who was forced to raise funds due to delays in the production of Isao Takahata's film The Story of Yanagawa's Canals, proposed this film after consulting Toshio Suzuki, who worked for Tokuma Shoten. Additionally, this was the first film that featured the profile of Totoro in the opening, despite being released before My Neighbor Totoro (1988).

The theatrical poster's advertising slogan is, "One day, a girl came down from the sky... " (ある日、少女が空から降ってきた…)

The film won the Animage Anime Grand Prix in 1986, and remains as Ghibli's most popular works to date following a Netorabo poll in 2020 on "My Favorite Hayao Miyazaki Work".[1] It was followed by Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind on second place and The Castle of Cagliostro on third.

A special exhibition called "Laputa, The Castle in the Sky and Imaginary Science Fiction Machines" was held from October 2, 2002 to May 9, 2004 at the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Tokyo. Two animated shorts, "Imaginary Flying Machines" and "The Invention of Imaginary Machines of Destruction" were released during the event.


See also the full story

The adventure begins when orphan boy Pazu finds Sheeta, a young farm girl, floating down from the sky, carrying a mysterious necklace. She wears the secret of Laputa, an ancient castle in the clouds that Pazu's father spent years trying to find. They begin a journey to discover it themselves, but the air pirates known as the Dola Gang and the military aren't far behind, seeking the castle—and its treasures—for themselves. Danger is around every corner, and a fight for the very future of mankind may be on the horizon.

World of Laputa


Pazu's father's photograph of Laputa, dated 1868.7.

The world in which the story takes place is Earth, but a slightly alternate version. The exact date and location of events are not specified, however, it is the period in which science fiction author Jules Verne (1825-1905) was active. This is confirmed by the photograph of Laputa inside Pazu's house, taken by his father, which is dated "1868.7," evidently meaning "July 1868".

Generally, the story takes place somewhere in Europe, during an era of warring imperial powers wherein the military wields great authority. Although the king does not appear in the story, the government is a constitutional monarchy. The airships use buoyant gas, but are different in appearance than actual dirigibles. Likewise, the machines, vehicles and weaponry are not constrained by the real-world history of their inspirations and counterparts. That being said, the thinking underpinning the outlook on the nation, military and progress of technology is that of the post-Industrial era—it has, quote, "nothing to do with the optimistic cultural writings prevalent in the 19th century". [2]


Early concept for the floating kingdom of Laputa.

The Kingdom of Laputariches, or "Laputa", was built when a great technological civilization over 700 years ago (the one in the story's present-time is the second, as depicted by the film's opening) thrived, by a people who fled to the sky out of hatred for the wars of the Earth.[2]

In this time, Laputa was a pinnacle of the civilization's technology, dominating the skies in a hegemony of other aerial kingdoms. Unlike these other kingdoms, which relied on rotors, Laputa maintained its airborne state by way of the element Aetherium. For a time, the kingdom prospered. However, after the civilization reached too high an altitude, the Laputians lost their vitality, and the population gradually declined, until they died out as a result of a strange disease that broke out abruptly around 500 BCE. The ancient Greek philosopher Plato is said to have made note of this history in his lost geography "On the Heavens", the minimal surviving knowledge of which inspired the Laputa of Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Travels". [2]

Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Travels" and its flying island.

Legend has it that some of the Laputians, including the royal family and some of their subjects, abandoned the city at this time, hid themselves and lived on, but the details of this are unclear. Laputa was deserted, left only to the care of robots that waited for the return of their king. Over the years, the territory crumbled, and now only part of it wanders through the sky; moving with the westerlies as a constant low-pressure system that hides it entirely from view from the ground.[2]

There is a theory in modern times that there existed an ancient culture that selfishly indulged in nuclear energy and wrought untold destruction, espoused by a few people. This is based on the Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharata, and the number of believers in this theory is particularly great in India.[2]

Contradictions and In-Film History

Image board by Hayao Miyazaki.

It should be noted that, despite the above paraphrasing of the official description of the history of Laputa from Viz Media's copy of the original English dub screenplay, the film itself contradicts it at several points.

According to information from the film, Laputa was abandoned 700 years before the setting of the movie, having controlled the manufacture and mining of the "sky-crystal"; such an art having been abandoned by the film's beginning. The royal family and their subjects flee the city, leaving behind an electronic, high-technology core topped by a section of the castle and expansive greenhouse. There grew a central tree, which proceeded to sink its roots deep into the city and spread its branches outside of the city's top roof, along with several layers or terraces of walls or buildings done in various architectural styles. It is shown to have had at least three terraces of walls topped with one of the buildings; it may have had as many as five, as indicated in a tomb marker's seal. This abandonment of Laputa, according to Sheeta and/or Uncle Pom, may have been due to an alienation of the Laputans from the earth; forgetting that they are intimately connected to the earth and an over-reliance on technology to solve problems.

However, rather than simple oversight on Miyazaki's part, it is possible that these differences are a purposeful result of a desire for Laputa's history to appear as largely lost to hearsay and legend by the time of the film's events.

Film's Opening

The opening sequence of "Laputa".

The opening part of the woodcut-like opening credits shows a simple windmill with a kiln behind it, set in a hillside, with a man tending it. Afterward, the windmills grow into enormous, apparently partially wind-powered factories or machines, with machinery digging ever deeper into the earth.

Dirigibles appear, along with airplanes and helicopters or autogyros flying against a clouded cityscape. A giant helicopter-ship is shown rising into the air, with the hull of an ocean liner and numerous rotors (possibly an exodus in search of new resources, as the factories surrounding it are now dark and motionless), and then a Laputa-like city appears, with the aforementioned rotors. Subsequently, a scene of floating islands and cities appears; again with Laputa possibly among them. Enormous, boxy, metallic helicopter-ships are shown, having rotors propelling them from the bottom.

Disaster strikes: lightning is shown and redness fills the screen. A sky-city can be seen, faintly, crumbling in the background, and then people are shown leaving the wreckage of a giant helicopter-ship. The end of the opening credits shows a farm girl behind a windmill, almost exactly like the one shown previously to be the earliest seed of Laputan society, next to two beasts of burden: a scene later in the movie (showing Sheeta on a farm with similar beasts of burden) implies this is Sheeta. This opening-credit roll can be compared with the "history of the world" scenery shown at the end of Wings of Honneamise and the Bayeux Tapestry-like scroll at the beginning of Nausicaä.

European influence

"Tower of Babel" by Pieter Brueghel the Elder.

Laputa is credited by Colonel Muska with having been behind Biblical events and sacred Hindu legends — thus tying the world of Laputa further to our Earth (and to western European civilization) — as do the medieval castle architecture of parts of Fort Tedus; the Gothic and half-timbered buildings in the village near the fort; the British mining-town architecture, clothing, and even ground vehicles of Pazu's homeland; and the Victorian ambiance of the pirate ship. However, most of the movie's ancient civilization designs seem to stem from the early to mid-16th-century European culture.

The Laputan robot is inspired by Paul Grimault's 1953 film "Le Roi et l'Oiseau", said to be one of Miyazaki and Takahata's favorites.

The medieval castle in the movie seems to be inspired by the European mid-16th century painting of The Tower of Babel by Pieter Brueghel the Elder, with its giant circular base and the presence of highly rounded and arched doorways all the way around its perimeter. Even the colour of the castle is similar to the colour of the tower in the painting, while the flying machines depicted in the opening scenes of the movie with its whirring blades are also similar to Leonardo da Vinci's early drawings of a wooden helicopter. The link with the Tower of Babel painting is also symbolic. According to the narrative in Genesis Chapter 11 of the Bible, the Tower of Babel was a tower built to reach the heavens by a united humanity.

Behind the Scenes

Early concept

Miyazaki's story proposal for Toho was developed further into Gainax's "Nadia: The Secret of Blue" (1990).

Ever since he was in elementary school, Hayao Miyazaki dreamed of creating a film based on Jules Verne's seminal fantasy works, namely "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea" (1872).

After working on Heidi, Girl of the Alps (1974) for Nippon Animation, Miyazaki was approached by Tôhô to create story drafts and image boards to be used as a framework for possible television animated projects. Tôhô had previously distributed "Panda! Go, Panda!"(1972) and "Panda! Go, Panda! Rainy Day Circus" (1973), two works produced by Isao Takahata and designed by Miyazaki.

One of Miyazaki's proposals, titled Around the World Under the Sea (海底世界一周 , Kaitei Sekai Isshū) was about the adventures of two young orphaned brother and sister who, pursued by a pirate grandmother and her sons wanting to appropriate a mysterious medallion in their possession, would meet Captain Nemo. Nemo would come to the orphans' aid and take them aboard the Nautilus. Unfortunately, the proposal failed to go beyond the script stage and Tôhô retained all exclusive rights in the eventuality they decide to develop it further. As for Miyazaki, he would later use some of these ideas for "Future Boy Conan" (1978) and "Laputa: Castle in the Sky".[3]

It should be noted that "Around the World Under the Sea" is not to be confused with the 1966 film directed by Andrew Marton. Also, Miyazaki's proposal was not an adaptation of any of Jules Verne's published works, but is instead inspired by his depiction of underwater imagery. Following the release "Laputa" in 1986, NHK and Toho reconsidered adapting "Around the World Under the Sea" and began retooling it as "Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water". The project was undertaken by Gainax, with Hideaki Anno set to direct and later released on April 1990. Anno, afraid of being accused of plagiarizing "Laputa", changed the story and settings without obtaining permission from NHK.

Adventure King

The first issue of "Desert of the Devil" by Tetsuji Fukushima which influenced young Hayao Miyazaki.

While it's been widely stated that Miyazaki took inspiration from Jules Verne and the "Flying Island" (空飛ぶ島”の名前) from Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Travels", his largest influence came from 1940's science fiction (SF) artist Tetsuji Fukushima. Fukushima's adventure serials were serialized on "Adventure King", a comic magazine published by Akita Shoten.

Miyazaki had read many of Fukushima's works as a child, particularly "Desert of the Devil" (砂漠の魔王). The concept was very similar to "Aladdin and the Magic Lamp" where, "When you burn a mysterious incense burner, a huge demon king wearing a red cloak appears and exerts mighty magical power under the command of the hero." Interestingly, the name of the item that the demon king uses when floating in the sky is called "Laputa".

The head of the robotic forces of "Ka Squadron" found in the second issue of "Adventure King". Its design inspired the Tiger Moth.

An interview with Miyazaki on the Castle in the Sky's guide book revealed his love for this particular story, "In the harsh four-color printing of the magazine called "Adventure King", Tetsuji Fukushima drew "Desert of the Devil", a picture story I really admired. It was about an evil king trapped in an incense burner by magic. It's a mysterious story where when you burn a certain incense, the Demon King is revived and follows the orders of the human who burnt the incense (laughs). It was interesting, and for two years, from the 4th to the 5th grade of elementary school, I read it with excitement."

"In fact, there is a story where you can fly if you possess a magical stone. That's why I can't really claim my work as original (laughs). But, I think my idea is different from what Fukushima came up with. There are plenty of things of that kind from old times, such as magic carpets and feathered shoes. In other words, these ideas are commonly found in other culture, characterized by overlapping arrangements, and it does not make sense to present new things."


"If this work fails, there will be no next work."
—Hayao Miyazaki

Isao Takahata's decision to independently produce "The Story of Yanagawa's Canals" nearly destroyed Studio Ghibli before it even started.

After the success of "Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind", Yasuyoshi Tokuma, chairman of Tokuma Shoten, approached Miyazaki several times, asking him to produce a sequel. Miyazaki declined, instead proposing a new theatrical animation project called "City of Flowing Water" (水の流れる街 , Mizu no Nagareru Machi) about the lives of schoolchildren in the canals of Yanagawa City, Fukuoka. Isao Takahata was set to direct while Miyazaki would participate in the setting and layout creation.

Isao Takahata visited Yanagawa's waterways for location scouting and was thrilled upon seeing how the Dobu River had been cleaned up following an effort by Tsutae Hiromatsu, the head of the local water supply division. Takahata observed the people of Yanagawa; the women rinsing rice on the banks of the canals, the men working the fields, driving irrigation wheels by hand, and the schoolchildren — trousers rolled hastily above knees — wading with nets in the hope of catching small fish. When Takahata returned, he suddenly declared to his colleagues, "Let's shoot a documentary instead of an animated movie!". He then changed the title to "The Story of Yanagawa's Canals" without permission from Tokuma Shoten.[4]

Tokuma refused to continue funding Takahata's documentary, prompting Miyazaki to lend him 60 million yen in royalties they had earned from "Nausicaä".[5] When asked in an interview, Miyzaki felt he "owed" Takahata for accepting the role as producer for "Nausicaä". Within a year, their funds ran out and principal photography was put on hold. Troubled by this development, Miyazaki asked Toshio Suzuki, "What should I do? I don’t want to have to remortgage my house!” In response, Suzuki said, "I think you should make another movie." Upon hearing that, Miyazaki again nodded, "Okay, I understand." Miyazaki then presented the Tokuma Group with his proposal for "Laputa: Castle in the Sky". The project was accepted.


While at Wales, Hayao Miyazaki met Clive William Nicol, an environmental activist and author of the novel "Tree". The two met while location scouting for "Laputa". Miyazaki sketches of his hometown.

Some of the architecture seen in the film was inspired by a Welsh mining town. Miyazaki first visited Wales in 1984 and witnessed the miners' strike firsthand, which he said reflected his Welsh experience: "I was in Wales just after the miners’ strike. I really admired the way the miners’ unions fought to the very end for their jobs and communities, and I wanted to reflect the strength of those communities in my film." Miyazaki told The Guardian: "I admired those men, I admired the way they battled to save their way of life, just as the coal miners in Japan did. Many people of my generation see the miners as a symbol; a dying breed of fighting men. Now they are gone."

He returned to the country on May 18, 1985 for two weeks of location scouting[2] to prepare for Laputa.


A promotional video featuring the key Studio Ghibli staff behind "Laputa".

By June 1985, Studio Ghibli had been formally established by Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata and Toshio Suzuki. However, the company lacked a dedicated studio to call their own. According to Takahata, "If you want to continue producing animation in the future, you should create a dedicated studio". Miyazaki found a site at Koganei, and thanks to an investment by Tokuma Shoten, the new office was born.

Miyazaki's first screenplay of "Laputa" centered around Colonel Muska and his "ambitions and setbacks." Upon reading the draft, Suzuki and Takahata felt the story was strong enough to focus on Muska alone. During their discussion, Takahata asked "What do you think of this, Mr. Suzuki?" Suzuki responded, "The shadow of Sheeta and Pazu is thin..." The two felt the adventure aspect was weak and managed to convince Miyazaki to change the story to focus on the two young protagonists. At one point, Suzuki recalls, "Miyazaki likes Muska."

When creating the character of Gran'ma Dola, Miyazaki's first thought was modeling her after his mother who passed away in July 1980. During the "Let's Watch Ghibli Together" livestream broadcast on NicoNico held on August 2013, Toshio Suzuki said "Well, Dola is a model of Miyazaki's own mother. After all, she has quite the personality. She's used to doing various things with her two sons. She died while he was making a movie about a cat. So, there was a funeral in the middle of that production. I think it was hard because Miya-san was saying good-bye to his mother, but I was glad that he was able to model her and draw her in the movie like that."

Hayao's mother, Yoshiko "Dola" Miyazaki was the basis for the pirate Dola.

Hayao's younger brother, Yutaka Miyazaki said, "I felt like I knew after the preview screening..."[6]

Takahata then began looking for other companies who would cover the rising production costs of the film. Dentsu, a major advertising firm, offered a potential tie-up, but said they wished to have say in the film's production. Takahata refused, stating that if they agree, they will only have their logo featured in the credits. This angered the executives at Dentsu, but Takahata reasoned he wanted to protect the integrity of the work, "I don't want to expose elements that are different from what the production side intended."


天空の城ラピュタ 味の素 CM 懸賞賞品

The (commercial movie) CM for Ajinomoto's tie-in fruit soda for the film.

In the end, Toshiba and Ajinomoto agreed to help sponsor the production costs of the film. However, they were barred from using footage from the film to promote any tie-in products. In June 1986, Ajinomoto released a live-action commercial for a light fruit soda called "Laputa Juice" (ライトフルーツソーダ 天空の城ラピュタ , Raito Furūtsu Sōda Tenkūno Shiro Rapyuta) featuring the voices of Sumi Shimamoto and Yoji Matsuda and two actors dressed as Sheeta and Pazu. Ajinomoto also released a "Laputa Telephone Service" in collaboration with NTT, and even partnered with a radio station in Osaka that would broadcast Laputa-related movie information. Sadly, the "Laputa Juice" was a flop, as many were left unsold. Additionally, Toshiba sold the Laputa-themed "My Dream" video disc players.

Miyzaki working with color designer Michiyo Yasuda.

Once Miyazaki had completed his storyboards, animation production began in earnest. The key animation staff consisted of the most experienced members from "Nausicaä", along with former Telecom Animation members. Yoshinori Kanada was given a special position called, "Original Head". Nizo Yamamoto returned as the art director. The iconic scene of "Laputa" crumbling in the sky was handled by Gainax animator Maeda Maeda, known for "Gunbuster" and "Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water" (1990).

The production period lasted from June 15, 1985 to July 23, 1986. The total number of drawings reached 69,262, which exceeded "Nausicaä" by 13,000. During a TV re-broadcast of the film on Nippon Television Network System's "Friday Road SHOW!, Hirokatsu Kihara, who had worked on the film commented on the immense pressure they faced when completing the film, "The film was actually completed ten days before its release. The film at that time had a process of developing and drying. After that, it was delivered to nearly 50 movie theaters nationwide so it was difficult to say that it was completed "in time" in fact (bitter smile)."


"Laputa: Castle in the Sky" was screened alongside two "Sherlock Hound" compilation movies.

The film premiered in 103 theaters in Japan on August 2, 1986. The final box office record was a disappointing 1.16 billion yen, significantly less than the 1.48 billion yen achieved by "Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind" in 1984. When asked about its failure, Hayao Miyazaki surmised it may be "because he chose an ordinary boy who does not have special abilities as the main character."

In a December 2009 interview on "Cut", Miyazaki clarified, "I wanted to create an adventure story with a boy who fights with many dreams as the main character. However, when I actually made it, it turned out that the customers didn't seem to want to watch that kind of movie. After a while, some people said , "I love Laputa!", But at the time of the release, there were no customers at all."

"In the case of female protagonist, it is possible to become a character just by being there, but in order to establish a male character, it is necessary to have something invisible, such as carrying a social position, position, or some fate. That's why it was pretty hard to get people to visit the theater in a movie with a normal labor boy like Pazu as the main character."

Yumi Matsutoya, who sang the theme song of "Kiki's Delivery Service," and Chieko Baisho, who sang the theme song for "Howl's Moving Castle," were big fans of Miyazaki after they first saw "Laputa" in theaters.

Distribution and Reception

DVD cover for "Laputa: Castle in the Sky".

In the late 1980s, an English version of the movie was produced by the request of Tokuma Shoten by Magnum Video Tape & Dubbing. It was screened on Japan Airlines flights as an in-flight movie and was also shown at least once on UK television on New Year's Eve in 1988. In 1989, the dub was picked up in the U.S. by the newly founded Streamline Pictures for limited Arthouse theatrical distribution. According to Fred Patten of Streamline, "Streamline Pictures theatrically distributed an English-dubbed print of Laputa from March 24, 1989 ,for the next year, but Streamline never dubbed it. Streamline licensed Laputa from Tokuma Shoten in late 1988 or early 1989, and was sent a print from Japan that had already been dubbed into English for use as an in-flight movie by Japan Air Lines on its trans-Pacific flights. We have no idea who actually dubbed it." Reportedly, Carl Macek was disappointed with this early dub. Since then the dub has fallen into relative obscurity and was only officially released on the Studio Ghibli Laserdisc Collection in 1996 and the first Japanese R2 DVD release in 2002.

Advertising for Ajinomoto's "Laputa Juice", a fruit soda drink that came in lemon & lime and citrus flavors. It was a flop upon release.

The Disney-produced English dub was recorded in 1998 and planned for release on video in 1999, but Disney eventually decided to release it to theaters instead (presumably because the first release under their deal with Studio Ghibli, Kiki's Delivery Service, performed better than expected on VHS).

After "Princess Mononoke" flopped financially in the U.S., Laputa's release date was pushed back yet again; on occasion, the completed dub was screened at select children's festivals. The movie was finally released on DVD and video in the U.S. on April 15, 2003, alongside "Kiki's Delivery Service" and "Spirited Away". As with Mononoke and Kiki, critics and fans were mixed about the new dub, but Cloris Leachman and Mark Hamill's performances - as Dola and Colonel Muska, respectively - drew nearly universal praise. "Castle in the Sky" was the second-best-selling DVD from Studio Ghibli distributed by Disney in the year of its release (after "Spirited Away" and ahead of "Kiki's Delivery Service").

The movie currently holds a 95% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.


The word "Laputa" is omitted on various international releases.

English language dubs of Laputa has been released under three different titles by three separate distributors.

Although meaningless in Japanese, "Laputa" (La puta) translates to "The Whore" or "The Bitch" in Spanish, which was probably intentional on the part of Swift, who created the concept in Gulliver's Travels. For this reason, in 2003, the film's title was shortened from "Laputa: Castle in the Sky" to "Castle in the Sky" in several countries, including the United States (where Spanish is commonly spoken as a first language by around 10% of the population or as a second language by students), Mexico, and Spain. This change was also carried over to a number of non-Spanish speaking countries, including Britain and France, under Disney's Buena Vista Home Entertainment label, despite Laputa (La puta) having no meaning in either English or French (however the French La pute is quite close). Curiously, although the word Laputa was removed from the title, it appeared on the rear cover of the DVD, and was used throughout the film, without modification.

The film's full name was later restored in Britain, in February 2006, when Optimum Asia - a division of London-based Optimum Releasing - acquired the UK distribution rights to the Studio Ghibli collection.

Additionally, during the late 1980s and early 1990s, the aforementioned pre-Disney dub was screened in the UK, as an Art-house film, under the alternative title Laputa: The Flying Island. It was also shown at least twice on British television, but some scenes were cut.


"Laputa" Image Album released on May 25, 1986.

Laputa: Castle in the Sky (Image Album) (イメージアルバム [空から降ってきた少女] , Tenkuu no Shiro Rapyuta Imeeji Arubamu [Sora Kara Futtekita Shoujo]) was released on May 25, 1986 before the film's premiere in August. The 12-track album contained a small booklet containing interviews and image boards to help deepen fans connection the the film.

Laputa: Castle in the Sky (Original Soundtrack) (天空の城ラピュタ サウンドトラック―飛行石の謎― , Tenkuu no Shiro Rapyuta Saundotorakku ―Hikouseki no Nazo―) was released by Animage Records and Tokuma Japan Communications on 25 September 1986. It featured 14 tracks and was composed and arranged by Joe Hisaishi, featuring Azumi Inoue.

In June 20, 1986, animation production was completed, sans dialogue and music. Staff viewed early footage at a theater Kichijoji Toei, Tokyo. In June 23, 1986, Isao Takahata, Hayao Miyazaki and Hisaishi met at a coffee shop near the office of Studio Ghibli, to discuss the final score. Hisaishi had previously completed the Image Album back in March, and were keen on discussing how to incorporate his themes in the film. Already, from the first song alone, a passionate discussion began immediately. They discussed whether to add music to the scene where the Dola's pirate gang's flaptors. After two hours of lively discussions, they moved into Studio Ghibli's second studio (which included a rest area) and held a meeting until midnight.

Cover for the film's official soundtrack.

When asked what was the basic idea on how he scored the film, Hisaishi responded, "The basic concept was to make music that captures the feeling of love, dreams, and adventure. Specifically, let's make the melodic sound. The basic idea is to make it something that children can listen to and warm their hearts."[7]

"It's hard to make a song that is bright and has a goodness that makes you feel like that in your heart. But this time, I think I wanted to challenge convetion. From the beginning, I thought about the sound and image to be acoustic. In the case of "Arion" (an anime directed by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko and produced by Tokuma Shoten), the number of sound samples was very large, so in this "Laputa", I chose a simple acoustic sound in its center.

Recording took place at Hisaishi's personal studio, The Wonder Station. "This time, I want to thoroughly match the movement of the picture with the flow of music," says Hisaishi. "I have a device that can accurately check the number of seconds of the music and match it to the film rush. I would then input this data into a super synthesizer called "Fairlight III" to create a base rhythm section. The first song I will record is when Pazu and Sheeta are standing guard atop the watch of the Tiger Moth."

Hisaishi had some difficulty in deciding the music that accompanied this crucial scene in the film.

The orchestra had to cram themselves into Hisaishi's studio. "Yes. The orchestra was composed of fifty people. I think this was the largest organization in the case of Japanese movies. After all, the number of people was too large to fit in the recording studio." Takahata, who previously worked with Hisaishi on "Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind", was impressed with how the music matched the film. Hisaishi explains, "In fact, it seems that Mr. Takahata didn't expect the music to fit so well. Since it's not a anime for television, I don't add short music that's only 30 seconds or 40 seconds. A movie doesn't feel dignified as a whole unless it's music that has a length of three or four minutes."

Recording for the children's chorus used at the climax began in July 10, 1986. When "Nausicaä" used 4-year-old girl to sing in its climax, it caused quite a stir. This time, they hired 30 girls from the Suginami Children's Chorus. The melody of "Sheeta and Pazu" was arranged in three voices.

"The whole thing went smoothly, but there was only one difficult song. It's called M-37. After Pazu and Sheeta arrived at the "Castle in the Sky", I noticed the inside of the castle. It's the song for the scene when they go into the room and see the big tree, and stand in front of a grave. This was a little different in interpretation. The interpretation of this was a little different, wasn't it? I made a song of a grand and mysterious feeling in the place with a large tree and the grave, when it would have been better with a minor, heart-aching tune there. It was necessary to be sad."[8]

Easter Eggs

  • Fox Squirrels appear in this film. They were originally from Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.
  • There are three instances of morse code in the film, which were never decoded fully. In the Japanese show Tsukai! Akashiya TV a former soldier reveals their hidden meaning. The first code can be heard in the first chapter of the film. Muska makes a call, before he is knocked out by Sheeta, who hits him over the head with an empty wine bottle.
  • In the past, fans have dismissed this message as gibberish, recording it as a repetition of a series of dots and dashes [..._ ..._ ..._], which translates to nothing more than V V V. However, Sakai and his fellow soldiers, who have experience in deciphering codes with no definite beginning and end, discovered that the message contained the code [.._. .. _.. . ._.. .. _ _._ _ ], which spells out the word fidelity.
    • There are two more messages. For more information read SoraNews24.


  • Ofuji Award; Mainichi Movie Competition
  • First Place; Pia Ten (Best Films of the Year)
  • First Place; Japanese Movies; City Road
  • First Place; Japanese Movies; Eiga Geijyutsu (Movie Art)
  • First Place; Japanese Films Best 10; Osaka Film Festival
  • Eighth Place; Japanese Films; Kinema Junpo Best 10
  • Second Place; Readers' Choice; Kinema Junpo Best 10
  • Best Anime; 9th Anime Grand Prix
  • Special Recommendation; The Central Committee for Children's Welfare
  • Special Award (to Miyazaki & Takahata); Revival of Japanese Movies
  • Best Design Award; Anime

Differences between versions


  • Australia: G
  • United Kingdom: PG
  • United States: PG

Disney English Alterations

Although the plot and much of the script was left intact, Disney's English dub of Laputa: Castle in the Sky contains some changes.

  • A significant quantity of background chatter and one-liners were added (even more so than in Disney's dub of Kiki's Delivery Service), filling in moments of silence and increasing the frenetic appearance of certain scenes.
  • Composer Joe Hisaishi was commissioned to rework and extend his original synthesizer-composed 37-minute soundtrack into a 90-minute piece for symphony orchestra in an effort to make the movie more accessible to U.S. audiences who are accustomed to a more substantial musical accompaniment.
  • Pazu and Sheeta, as portrayed by James Van Der Beek and Anna Paquin, are made to sound as several years older, placing them in their mid-teens, rather than their pre-teens.
  • Several modifications were made to dialogue spoken to/about Sheeta by members of the Dola's Gang, including a declaration of love from one of the pirates. In the original Japanese version, the dialogue presented Sheeta as a potential mother figure for the pirates, instead of a potential romantic interest.
  • References to Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island were removed, as was the reference to Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels.

Although all these alterations were approved by Studio Ghibli and Miyazaki, there have been a number of critics and fans who called them into question. In particular, some fans pointed out that the new soundtrack placed music in scenes that previously involved the dramatic use of natural silence, as in the opening airship raid or when Pazu and Sheeta pass through the storm-cloud. On the other hand, Miyazaki himself is said to have approved of Hisaishi's reworking; his compliments were echoed by several reviewers.

  • The Gkids edition removes some of the English Disney dialogue. For example, Pazu no longer says "knock it off, I'm trying to talk to the lady" when his birds are flocking around him.


An early design of Pazu appeared on the cover of "Hayao Miyazaki image board collection", published on November, 1983.

  • Many believe that the characters from Miyazaki's 1978 series "Future Boy Conan" were prototypes for the characters of "Laputa: Castle in the Sky". Moreover, according to Hideaki Anno, the original bill of the project of this movie was what Hayao Miyazaki had presented to NHK in the broadcasting station as the following work while producing "Future Boy Conan". Illustration "Pazu, the child of the sea, 海の子パズー" collected to "Hayao Miyazaki image board collection, 宮崎駿イメージボード集" (issued in November, 1983) might be it (the composition that the boy who resembled Pazu looks up at the girl in the water tank in a dark room).
  • In the plan, the original bill was SF novel "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea" by Jules Verne, but when making it into a film, Miyazaki might have changed it to Jonathan Swift's novel "Gulliver's Travels".
  • In addition, Miyazaki's plot outline for "Castle in the Sky" was also re-imagined by Toho as a TV series. The result was "Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water", a 1990-91 TV series aired on NHK, made by the Gainax studio and directed by Hideaki Anno (who considers Miyazaki one of his idols after working with him prior) and Shinji Higuchi (the predecessor to the same team's hugely successful "Neon Genesis Evangelion").
  • It is thought by some that the setting of "Castle in the Sky" is possibly the same setting as another of Miyazaki's movies, 'Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind", but in an earlier period of history.
    • Although it is mentioned that Castle in the Sky was originally conceived in the wake of Nausicaä's success as a possible follow-up in Viz Media's 2016 art and production book, there was much internal debate on both Animage and Mr. Miyazaki's parts as to whether or not they should indeed make it a sequel or go for something more different. It is never confirmed that the worlds are the same.[2]

The Laputan robot first appeared in an episode of Lupin III directed by Miyazaki.

  • Jamie Hewlett, the artist behind the band Gorillaz, said on a South Bank Show special about anime that he found inspiration from the film for his art.
  • In the part where the robot comes back to Pazu and Sheeta with a flower for the Laputian grave marker, it shows four of the same animals - Fox Squirrels - that Nausicaä had befriended running & playing on the robot.
  • The Laputan robot was previously used in the finale of the Lupin III TV series.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess for the Wii and GameCube home video game consoles contains several elements inspired by Laputa, including a puzzle featuring two ancient robots covered in foliage, as well as the final level featuring a sky castle.
  • The truck in this film is similar to a Troublesome Truck from Thomas and Friends.

Voice Cast

→ See also cast

Character name Japanese voice actor
Pazu Mayumi Tanaka
Sheeta (Princess Lusheeta Toel Ul Laputa) Keiko Yokozawa
Captain Dola Kotoe Hatsui
Colonel Muska (Romska Palo Ul Laputa) Minori Terada
Uncle Pom Fujio Tokita
General Mōro Ichiro Nagai
Boss/Mr. Duffi Hiroshi Ito
Shalulu/Charles Takumi Kamiyama
Lui/Louis Yoshito Yasuhara
Anli/Henri Sukekiyo Kameyama
Motoro/Engineer Ryuji Saikachi
Okami Machiko Washio
Madge Tarako


Directed and written by Hayao Miyazaki
Executive Producer Yasuyoshi Tokuma
Produced by Isao Takahata
Art Director Nizo Yamamoto, Toshiro Nozaki
Animation Director Tsukasa Tannai
Animation Check Naoshi Ozawa, Yasuko Tachiki
Background Art Katsu Hisamura, Kazuhiro Kinoshita, Kiyomi Oota, Kumiko Iijima, Masaki Yoshizaki, Mutsuo Koseki, Yamako Ishikawa
Key Animation Atsuko Otani, Hirotsugu Kawasaki, Katsuya Kondo, Kazuhide Tomonaga, Kazuyuki Kobayashi, Kitaro Kousaka, Mahiro Maeda, Makiko Futaki, Masaaki Endou, Masako Shinohara, Megumi Kagawa, Michiyo Sakurai, Noriko Moritomo, Osamu Nabeshima, Shinji Otsuka, Tadashi Fukuda, Toshio Kawaguchi, Toyoaki Emura, Yasuhiro Nakura,
In-between Animation Komasa, Eiichiro Hirata, Eiko Miyamoto, Hiroomi Yamakawa, Kazuhisa Nagai, Keiichiro Hattori, Kenji Kobayashi, Kyoko Nakano, Machiko Shin'ya, Masako Sakano, Masashi Kaneko, Mika Sugai, Naoko Takeba, Seiko Azuma, Shinji Morohashi, Shunji Murata, Takao Yoshino, Takashi Honmochi, Wakako Ueda, Yoshiya Shigebayashi, Yue Takamine, Yuichi Katayama
Ink & Paint Chiharu Mizuma, Emiko Ishii, Fumiya Sakamoto, Hiromi Nagamine, Hiromi Nakata, Kazue Yanagisawa, Keiko Kihara, Kumi Shimada, Mari Miyashita, Masako Nabeya, Noriko Ogawa, Ryusuke Mita, Yoshiko Takasago, Yukiko Sakai
Ink & Paint Check Homi Ogiwara
Animation Check Naoshi Ozawa, Yasuko Tachiki
Starring Mayumi Tanaka, Keiko Yokozawa, Kotoe Hatsui, Minori Terada
Music by Joe Hisaishi
Production Committee Hirokazu Kihara, Kaoru Muto, Masashi Atami, Naotake Furusato, Toshitsugu Hara
Cinematography Hirokata Takahashi
Edited by Takeshi Seyama, Yoshihiro Kasahara


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