Castle in the Sky (天空の城ラピュタ , Tenkū no Shiro Rapyuta; also known as Laputa: Castle in the Sky) 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". 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.
The Girl Who Fell From the Sky
"I'm Pazu. I live alone in this hut. When I'm done playing, I give them this."
" Ha, ha, ha!"
"Heh, I'm relieved. At any rate, you look human. Until a little while ago, I was worried you were an angel or something."
" Thanks for saving me."
- —Pazu greeting Sheeta
Late one night, the civilian airship Saturn travels swiftly through the clouds. Amongst the passengers aboard are Sheeta, the owner of a strange blue stone necklace, and Colonel Muska, the government's secret agent who has abducted her and seized her necklace. Without warning, a squadron of air pirates, led by Dola, attack the airship in search of Sheeta and her necklace. During the ensuing chaos caused by the intrusion, Sheeta manages to knock Muska unconscious and retrieve her necklace. The pirates then break into her room; she attempts to hide by climbing outside and clinging to the exterior of the aircraft. However, she loses her grip and plummets into the dark sky below.
As the unconscious Sheeta hurtles toward the ground, the stone on her necklace emits a mysterious light, slowing her descent significantly. From the small mining town of Slag Ravine, which just so happens to be directly underneath her, a young orphan miner named Pazu sees a distant light falling from the sky. He runs toward the light to investigate, only to find that its source is indeed the stone that Sheeta is still wearing, whom Pazu reaches out to catch. To his amazement, she feels weightless until her stone deactivates. Pazu tries to tell his boss, Mr. Duffi, of her sudden appearance, but is unable to amidst the bustle of the mining work. Once the mine is shut down for the night, he carries Sheeta back to his house.
Morning in the Slag Ravine
"Laputa is an island floating in the sky."
"An island that floats in the sky?"
"Yes. And although it's said to be a legend... My father saw it! It's the photograph he took then. Although Swift wrote about Laputa in Gulliver's Travels, that was just a story. Father drew this from his imagination!"
"There's no one living there any more. But supposedly there's a lot of treasure there. But nobody believed it. Father died in Sagi, working on it."
"But, my father's not a liar. And one day I'll prove it!"
- —Pazu telling Sheeta about Laputa
The next morning, Sheeta awakens to the sound of Pazu playing his trumpet on the roof. After introducing each other, Pazu asks to see her stone. Believing that her necklace is the reason for her surviving the fall, he tries to levitate himself with it, only to crash through the roof of the old blast furnace that his house is built with. After making sure he is unhurt from the mishap, Sheeta notices a photograph of Laputa, otherwise believed to be a mere legend, on a wall in his home. Pazu explains that it was taken by his father, who was a fervid aviator, and how he saw the island during a trip aboard an airship, where it was embedded within an intense thunderstorm. After the excursion, his father returned and disclosed his observations of the island, but no one believed his discovery. He then died in misery and embarrassment, having been labeled a liar. Pazu concludes the story with his plans to finish a huge ornithopter so that he can travel to Laputa and confirm his father's sighting.
A Rowdy Brawl
"Think you're a man? Then settle it with fists."
"All right! Do it, Brother!"
- —Henri challenges one of the townsfolk
At that moment, however, the air pirates relocate Sheeta after having tracked her down since her falling from Saturn. Pazu disguises her as a male miner and, after narrowly avoiding a confrontation with Louis, leads her into town to find help. Meanwhile, Henri and Charles are in the middle of asking Mr. Duffi about Sheeta. They then spot the two unwittingly approach from down the street; Sheeta inadvertently stumbles and loses her hat, revealing her true identity. Just as Mr. Duffi and Pazu prepare to defend Sheeta from the pirates, Okami, Mr. Duffi's wife, pulls the pair of children into their house before instructing them to escape through their backyard.
A street fight ignites between the townspeople and pirates while Pazu and Sheeta sneak away to a nearby railway line, boarding a mine train powered by a small steam tram. Dola and her henchmen, having escaped the skirmish, notice Sheeta on the train and give chase. Meanwhile, one of Muska's spies spots Sheeta upon furtively watching the unfolding situation. Despite initially fending off the pirates, the children find themselves directly against a heavily armored battle train being commanded by the military. Realizing that Muska's agents are gaining reconnaissance on them, Sheeta orders Pazu to split up before fleeing, but Pazu defies her and follows her regardless. The pair are forced off the train and over a cliff. Just as death seems inevitable, Sheeta's stone activates once again, leaving both the pirates and military troops awestruck as they watch the two float gently downward.
Memories of Gondoa
"There are Levistone veins inside the rocks here."
"This happens when Levistone touches the air. It fades to become just like a rock..."
"I'm amazed! That's a pure Levistone crystal... I'm beginning to see now. It's no wonder the stones are so restless!"
"There's a wonderful power in this stone."
"Only the people of Laputa had the power to make such a thing."
- —Pom recognizes Sheeta's Levistone
The two descend safety to the bottom of an abandoned shaft. Taking a moment to recuperate from their escape, Sheeta tells Pazu of her home in the Valley of Gondoa. She shares her early life with her now deceased parents, in which she was happy; after their death, however, she fell into a spell of despondency before being abducted by the military. She apologizes for forcing Pazu to get involved in the situation, but he comforts her and explains that he would never miss such an exciting adventure for the world. The two are then approached by an obscure figure, who turns out to be Uncle Pom, an elderly eccentric miner who lives completely underground. He brings them to his small mining camp, where Sheeta asks him if he gets lonely. Pom replies that the rocks are his friends and often "speak" to him, much to the bewilderment of the children. Pom shows them that, in the darkness, the rocks around them become sentient, glowing with the power of an ancient element known as Aetherium.
Pom cracks several rocks open to show them how the fragile element decomposes when it comes in contact with oxygen. Sheeta notices that her stone is glowing in unison with the rocks. She shows it to Uncle Pom, who tells her in amazement that it is a completely pure Aetherium crystal. He then reveals that only the ancient Laputian people knew how to create such crystals and, in doing so, were able to construct a vast floating empire in the sky. Through this new knowledge, Sheeta and Pazu ascertain that Laputa does indeed exist. However, Uncle Pom warns that while the crystal contains enormous power, it ultimately belongs to the earthly soil from which it came, and the wielders of the crystal who forget that fact will face great unhappiness.
The children bid farewell to Uncle Pom and leave the mine. Pazu looks up into the sky, deep in thought that Laputa is somewhere and that he will eventually find it. Sheeta soon tells Pazu that for many generations, her family has served as the royal family of Laputa; when she inherited her Aetherium necklace from her predecessor, her full name was bestowed upon her: Lusheeta Toel Ul Laputa. Just as Pazu prepares to ask her more questions, Muska corners and escorts them as they are carried off by the military. They are taken to the coastal military fortification known as Tedis. Pazu is locked in the tower as Sheeta is led by Muska to a room in the fort's foundation, where a dormant robot soldier lies. Muska proceeds to explain that the robot fell from the sky, severing its foot and part of its arm upon impact with the ground; upon discovery by the government, it has become irrefutable evidence confirming Laputa's existence. As such, Muska has been appointed as the leader of a discovery cavalcade in search of the kingdom and its treasures. He shows Sheeta that the marking on her Aetherium crystal is the same as that which is engraved on the robot's body, and insists that said crystal, upon activation, will show him the way to Laputa. He demands to know the spell that activates the crystal, attempting to justify his ultimatum in that Laputa's superior technology is a major threat to world peace, but Sheeta has no such knowledge of what he is talking about. She pleads that Muska keep the crystal in exchange for simply leaving her and Pazu alone.
Impatient from Sheeta's stubbornness, Muska discloses that he knows her full name and status in the Laputian royal family before threatening that Pazu's fate is up to her to decide. To protect him, Sheeta caves in and tells him to forget about their search for Laputa and go back home. Shocked by Sheeta's request, Pazu counters that Laputa means too much for him to simply give up, but Sheeta tearfully tells him goodbye and leaves the room. Pazu tries to follow her, but Muska holds him back, telling him to make the wise choice and avoid risking his life further. Unwilling to fight, a distraught Pazu begins his journey home with three gold coins Muska gave him for his compliance.
"So you grew timid, and came back shamelessly? And you still call yourself a man? Eh?"
"Don't brag! Weren't you trying to get hold of Sheeta?!"
"Of course. Pirates try to get treasure, and where's the harm!"
- —Dola criticizes Pazu
Once night has fallen, Pazu returns to Slag Ravine. He is briefly stopped in his tracks by Okami, who expresses that they were all very worried for him and asks where Sheeta is. Pazu simply replies that "it's over now" before running home, overwhelmed by grief and anger. Upon reaching his house, though, he is greeted by Dola and her pirates, who have seized his house and converted it into a temporary base. Dola restrains Pazu in ties before pointing out that Sheeta's chances of survival are grim once Muska gets what he wants from her. She also belittles him about how naive he was to have misinterpreted her actions as, by telling him to return home, Sheeta has actually saved his life.
Meanwhile, Sheeta has been placed back in her room. She numbly recites a spell of protection that her grandmother once taught her, with the instruction to use it only when she is in trouble. The Aetherium crystal, in response to her words, activates and revives the robot soldier in the cell nearby. Discovering that Sheeta has activated her crystal, Muska injures himself upon attempting to touch the crystal, causing its power to wane slightly, before demanding that Sheeta tell him the words of the spell. Alarmed from the danger presented by Muska, the now awakened robot becomes hostile and breaks free from its cell, as it is programmed to protect Sheeta from all harm. As Sheeta flees from the destruction being caused, the robot follows her as it forcefully ascends the levels of Tedis.
"This is Captain Muska. Because of the robot, the communications circuits have been destroyed. Take emergency action. I'm temporarily taking command. The robot is trying to get to the girl on the East tower. Kill it the moment it's shown itself. Leave the fuses off the shells. Don't hurt the girl."
Back home, Pazu asks Dola if he can join her squadron of air pirates so that he can save Sheeta. Dola agrees, believing that he will be useful in getting the girl to cooperate, but warns him that he may never return home if he is killed in battle. Pazu acknowledges this, and they leave for Tedis using their fleet of flaptors.
Back at the military base, all attempts to stop the robot soldier have failed, as bullets and even small cannon fire have no effect on its extremely resilient armor; when presented with its sturdy fireproof doors, the robot melts right through it using a powerful laser fired from its eye. When the soldiers successfully manage to pin the robot between a closing door and its corridor, the robot simply uses its laser again to cut through the thick corridor wall. Pits also prove to be no match for the robot, as it uses built-in retractable wings and leg rockets to propel itself to Tedis's higher levels and smash through floors with ease. Muska, watching the havoc unfold with Sheeta in the tower high above, exclaims that her Aetherium necklace holds a sacred light, which has brought the robot back to life and will show the way to Laputa. The robot, sensing Sheeta's distress, separates her from Muska and chases her to the top of the tower, where it traps and attempts to communicate with her.
The crystal, still shining, emits a beam of light that points towards the sky, which Muska surmises is the proclaimed way to Laputa. His agents then sever Tedis's communication lines, preventing General Muoro from contacting his personnel, and allowing Muska to temporarily issue orders to Air Destroyer Goliath. Atop the tower, a shell fired from the base's anti-tank turrets hits the robot, transiently disabling it. The force of the impact also knocks Sheeta back, rendering her unconscious and causing her crystal to fall into the burning base below. The soldiers, believing that they are victorious, storm the tower and find Sheeta and the robot in their inert state. Just then, the robot reactivates. Now in an almost crazed manner, it picks Sheeta up and cradles her protectively as it begins to decimate the military's resistance, firing at anything that appears hostile. Sheeta recovers, only to find the fortress engulfed in flames and, shocked by the carnage the robot has caused, tries to stop it by covering its face.
Nearby, Pazu arrives with Dola and the pirates in his company. He spots Sheeta and the rampaging robot atop the tower. Dola orders the others to cover her and Pazu as they circle closer to rescue her, but they are unable to get close enough. Realizing that Dola and Pazu pose no threat and are instead present to help Sheeta, the robot escorts the girl to the fort's roof in preparation for her rescue, only to be fired upon by Goliath. The single fatal blow, otherwise a large round fired from the airship's most powerful cannon installed, impales the automaton directly through its body, causing it to explode and erupt into flames. For a few seconds after the impact, however, the heavily damaged robot manages to take one last look at a devastated Sheeta and reach its hand out to her in desperation before deactivating completely. Also caught in the explosion is Dola, who temporarily blacks out, losing control of her flaptor and causing her and Pazu to plummet. However, Pazu manages to recover the aircraft just in time, cheating death once again. The team then swoops back up and rescues Sheeta from the burning fort, only to leave leaving the mangled and incinerated remains of the robot behind. The pirates manage to abscond from the scene with ease; however, Sheeta's crystal is now in Muska's possession, and is still emitting a beacon directly towards Laputa.
On The Tiger Moth
"The Levistone pointed due east, didn't it?"
"From the tower where I was, I could see the sun rise. Right now is the next mowing season so the sunrise is a little south of true east. The sun rose just to the left of the hills. The Levistone light crossed the lift tip of the sun's edge."
- —Dola discusses the Levistone with Sheeta
The pirates, accompanied by Pazu and Sheeta, make it back to their airship, the Tiger Moth. As Sheeta sobs in Pazu's arms, Dola tells them she will bring them back home, but Pazu and Sheeta ask if they could instead travel with them, volunteering to work; they also insist they're not searching for riches but instead for the truth. Dola is convinced of their usefulness aboard the aircraft as members of the crew. They head east, otherwise in the direction Sheeta reports her crystal is shining. Pazu goes to work in the aircraft's engine bay while Sheeta, after given a new outfit, is put to work cooking and cleaning in the galley. That night, while Pazu is stationed in the crow's nest keeping watch, Sheeta goes up to talk to him. She confesses to the boy that she never actually wanted to go to Laputa, and that she is afraid of someone else dying for her, as the robot did back at Tedis. She then tells him of the different spells her grandmother taught her, including the Spell of Destruction, which she has been told to never use. She concludes that she had no idea her crystal was so powerful and that she wishes to have thrown it away. Pazu points out to her that, with the rapid advances in aviation technology, someone will find Laputa sooner or later, and that they cannot let it be a person as corrupt and selfish as Muska. He then makes a heartfelt promise that, once they have stopped Muska and the military, he will go with her to live in Gondoa.
A Sea of Clouds in the Moonlight
"I'm scared beyond words. The truth is, I don't want to go to Laputa at all. And I hope the Goliath beats us to it."
"Uh-huh... There are just too many strange and powerful."
"You mean that incident with the robot. It was sad, wasn't it?"
"Yes. And it happened because of an incantation taught to me by my grandmother. I learned many other incantations, too. To find things, and to cure illness. And words I must absolutely never use."
"Words you must absolutely never use?"
"Spells of destruction, spells of power. She said I must know the bad words, too, but never use them. When I was taught, I couldn't sleep for fear. And it all had to do with the stone. It was always hidden in the fireplace, and except at weddings, never used. Mother, and Grandmother, and Grandmother's Grandmother - everybody feared it! I wish it had never existed!"
- —Sheeta warning Pazu
The pair then spot the silhouette of the Goliath in the clouds beneath the Tiger Moth. Pazu goes to wake the crew, and the aircraft duly dives into the thick clouds to avoid detection. Pazu and Sheeta convert the crow's nest into a kite and separate it from the Tiger Moth with the hope of flying and guiding it to Laputa. However, they end up diving into the eyewall of a powerful hurricane. Pazu orders Dola to head deeper into the storm, as that was what his father did before, and it must be where Laputa is concealed. Before they can do so, however, the Goliath locates them and attacks. The Tiger Moth is severely hit, and the crow's nest is disconnected from the ship with the children still inside it. Now flightless, the children are sucked deeper into the storm. While trying to regain control of the airborne crow's nest, Pazu suddenly sees an apparition of his father. Guided by him, he regains control and pilots the kite through the brunt of the hurricane and into much calmer skies.
Castle in the Sky
"It's not the same robot as before. It must be a gardening robot. Who knows how long it's been standing guard here? You offer flowers to offer before a tomb? You're all alone? Aren't there any other robots here? Hmm... Doesn't look lonely at all, does it."
"It has friends. Caring for even Hitaki nests, too. It won't die."
- —Pazu and Sheeta encounter the robot caretaker
An unspecified amount of time later, both children awaken to find that they have arrived and landed safely on none other than Laputa. However, it has been abandoned and fallen into ruin. Pazu and Sheeta are greeted by a solitary gardener robot, characterized so by the moss that blankets its shoulders, who takes care of the lush gardens that span Laputa's upper level. The robot leads the children to a large grave plaque in the central gardens, where the pair discover hundreds of other robots, all of which have long shut down and become tangled in the roots of an enormous tree. Pazu remarks that these robots were likely caretakers as well. The robot offers Sheeta a flower to place on the grave. A family of fox squirrels climb atop the robot's shoulders and scamper about as it walks away, prompting Pazu to make the observation that the robot likely is not lonely at all; it has the garden and animals to look after. Sheeta, overwhelmed by the scene, brushes tears from her eyes.
Suddenly, the moment is abruptly broken as the sound of an explosion is heard below. Pazu and Sheeta rush from the gardens to find that Goliath has docked on Laputa, and its inhabitants are in the midst of raiding the castles' treasure rooms. They find that Dola and the pirates have also been captured, and try to reach them, but Muska and his men discover Pazu as he tries to descend down the ruins. Just as one of the soldiers prepares to shoot Pazu with his gun, Sheeta knocks him over, effectively diverting the gunshot. She is then captured and taken by Muska to the inner chambers of the island. Meanwhile, Pazu, somewhat injured but alive, succeeds in freeing all of the pirates. Dola gives him a cannon and two spare shells so that he can rescue Sheeta.
Muska and Sheeta reach the control center of Laputa, which contains a large octahedral Aetherium crystal that keeps the entire island aloft. Sheeta, wondering how Muska knows so much about Laputa, asks who he really is. Muska reveals his true name: Romska Palo Ul Laputa, before telling her that he is a descendant of a noble Laputian family as well. Now in control of Laputa and many of its once dormant robots, Muska tells Muoro and his men to come to the observation room so that he can demonstrate Laputa's power. The general thanks Muska for his services before attempting to kill him. Muska, prepared for such a ruse, opens up the floor of the control room, sending Muoro and his men to fall to their deaths. He then unleashes the hundreds of robot soldiers onto the remaining troops. The military quickly retreats to the Goliath in fear, but the pursuing robots use their lasers to cut away at the airship's hull. Eventually, the Goliath ignites and explodes from this, killing every man inside, as Muska watches sadistically.
Horrified by the ongoing massacre, Sheeta begs him to stop, but to no avail. In a fit of vigor, she breaks free of Muska's restraints and catches Muska off guard, grabbing the crystal from him. She then runs into the extensive labyrinth of the Laputian underground. Muska, unable to control Laputa without the crystal, chases after her.
Destruction of Laputa
"Sheeta -- calm down. Listen closely. Tell me those words. I'll say them, too."
- —Pazu and Sheeta recite the Spell of Destruction
Pazu, meanwhile, is looking for Sheeta, and he finally finds her amid the passageways; the two are separated by a wall. Desperate not to let Muska have it again, Sheeta passes her crystal through a hole in the wall and tells Pazu to throw it into the ocean. Muska arrives from Pazu's end and tries to shoot the boy, but misses; Pazu's flying goggles absorb the bullet and protect him from harm. Pazu then uses his cannon to enlarge the hole so he can crawl through. Sheeta reaches the Laputian throne room, but Muska corners her. Realizing that she is trapped, she confronts him in that he shall possess neither the crystal nor Laputa, as he has no compassion and is undeserving of the kingdom's throne.
Sheeta explains that she understands why the people of Laputa vanished: they lost contact with the Earth from which they came, relying on their technology to rule rather than love humanity or the Earth. Moreover, the Laputian people realized that the Earth was their true home, not the sky, and so abandoned Laputa for centuries. Muska, refusing to believe this, prepares to kill Sheeta once and for all. Pazu arrives just in time and tells Muska that he will never get the crystal if he harms Sheeta, let alone kills her. Muska, relenting from all the interruptions, gives one minute for Pazu and Sheeta to talk alone. Pazu asks Sheeta to teach him the Spell of Destruction so they can both say it together, and reassures her that Dola and her pirates have escaped and are safely out of destruction range. Relieved by this news, Sheeta whispers the spell to him. Pazu tosses his cannon aside and they say the spell together, causing the crystal to emit a blinding light. This not only blinds Muska, but also releases the Aetherium crystal holding Laputa aloft from its restraints. Said crystal glows as it rises and shatters the castle's superstructure, causing large chunks to snap apart and collapse. The entire lower portion of Laputa crumbles and breaks off from the tree, mainly its manmade sections. This takes Muska with it, as well as the rampaging robots, which become powerless and fall apart as they tumble into the ocean underneath. All that ultimately remains of Laputa is the great central tree, the vast roots of which have become exposed, as well as its gardens and a fraction of its edifices.
Dola and the pirates, watching the destruction on their flaptors, think that Pazu and Sheeta are dead and proceed to mourn. As Laputa ascends, however, Louis notices that the large Aetherium crystal is still shining through the roots of the great tree, indicating that Sheeta is indeed still alive. Both her and Pazu somehow survive and find their kite. They reunite with their squadron and have a joyful celebration, during which the pirates reveal that they managed to loot some of Laputa's treasure after all. Later, the children bid their farewells and head for home in Gondoa; as they look back at Laputa's gardens, they find that both the gardener robot and the animals, including the fox squirrels, have survived the destruction, the former of which continues to maintain Laputa's gardens in peace and unity. As the story closes, Laputa is seen to float peacefully in the sky, now too high for anyone from Earth to reach.
- Pazu (パズー , Pazū)
- The main protagonist of this film. An apprentice machinist who works in a mine in Slag Ravine. Pazu is bright and energetic young boy with an overriding sense of justice. He lives a solitary life in his home which was left to him by his parents. His late father was known as a fraud after claiming to have seen Laputa. Pazu dreams of proving Laputa's existence by building his own ornithopter.
- He routinely plays "Pigeon and the Boy"" with his the trumpet during sunrise. Following that, he takes care of several pigeons.
- In the novelization, Pazu returns to Slag Ravine after the incident in Laputa and lives separately from Sheeta (who went on to live in Gondoa), however, the two maintain regular correspondence. In one of his letters, he writes that the ornithopter would be completed soon, and that he hopes to fly to Gondoa when it is completed. It's made clear that he never told anyone of his adventure at Laputa.
- Although not seen in the final film, an image depicting Pazu flying his completed ornithopter while visiting Sheeta was featured on "Studio Ghibli Works Related Materials Collection <1>" art book.
- Sheeta (シータ , Shīta)
- The heroine of this work. Her Laputian name is Ryushita-Toeru ul Laputa / Princess Lusheeta Toel Ur Laputa (リュシータ・トエル・ウル・ラピュタ). Like Pazu, she was lonely for much of her life, having lived in the fields with yaks left by her parents and grandmother. She was abducted by Muska and taken to his airship, where they are attacked by Dola and her air pirates.
- She has long black hair made into two braided pigtails, and has ancestral secret flying stone pendant hung around her neck. Although not cited, she is said to be 12-years of age. Good at housework.
- A descendant of the Toel family, a royal family who once reigned over Laputa as a Shangdi, the successor name is Lucita Toel ul Laputa. In Laputa, Ur means "king" and Toel means "true", meaning that she is the true King of Laputa.
- Known as "Theta" in Japan. The name came from Theta (Greek letter θ), the heroine of a puppet show that Miyazaki himself wrote when he was a student. At the conceptual stage, Theta was also the daughter of a pirate, and like Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, the final scene was planned to have the robot soldiers destroy Laputa under Theta's command.
- In the novelization, after her adventures in Laputa, Sheeta returned to the valley of Gondoa and lived separately from Pazu. While her pigtails were blown off by Muska's at the end of the film, in the epilogue, half a year has passed and her hair has since grown back.
- Dola (マ=ドーラ , Ma Dōra)
- The head of the "Dola family" air pirates. She's captain of the Tiger Moth. A woman in her 50's, she has a commanding presence and dominates her three sons. Despite her brusque nature, she shows kindness to Sheeta and Pazu when they are in peril.
- In the novelization, she remarks "I took good care of myself and gave half a year's worth of coal to a family who just had a baby that lived near our hideout." She has "never been caught", and has access to several hideouts and possesses funds for her many schemes and operations. Additionally, she's also a genius at cryptanalysis, able to decipher military orders and code. She calls her abacus her "oriental computer" and quickly uses it for navigation.
- Called "Aunt" by Pazu and and Sheeta. At first, she tells Pazu to "Call her the captain," but drops it later on.
- According to Ghibli's official material, her late husband is a brilliant scientist, and the Tiger Moth and flaptors are her husband's inventions. Originally, the late husband was brought in as if he had been kidnapped and was forced into the aerial pirate business.
- In the novelization, during her farewell to Pazu, she says, "I will be a good woman like my beloved husband". There is a description in the book that the family continued as air pirates, even receiving a military salary aboard an airship.
- Hayao Miyazaki cites Dora as the character he is most fond of in his own work. The character's design is based on Miyazaki's mother.
- Charles (シャルル , Sharuru)
- Dola's eldest son, 30 years old. A big man with a vibrant mustache, he contantly compares his strength with Duffy. His pectoral muscles can expand to the point where his shirt gets blown off. He likes pudding.
- Louis (ルイ , Rui)
- Dola's second son, 25 years old. Has a small beard. He falls in love with Sheeta. He loves minced meat pies.
- Henri (アンリ , Anri)
- Dola's third son, 20 years old. He is the pilot of the Tiger Moth. He is always dressed up, but he has a slightly weaker personality than his siblings.
- Motro (ハラ・モトロ , Hara Motoro)
- The veteran engineer on the Tiger Moth. He is the oldest crew member of the ship, hailing from Dola's father's generation. Affectionally called "Ji-chan" by the crew, although he is sometimes called "Kusojijii" by Dola. He is one of her oldest friends and is seen as one of her equals. He is sometimes called into her private room to play chess.
- He is referred to as "old engineer" in the film's credits.
- Muska (ムスカ , Musuka)
- The primary antagonist of the film. An intelligence agent (information department member) belonging to a special agency dispatched by the government. He has the rank is a colonel, and is 28 years old. He has poor eyesight and wears prescription sunglasses. He loves his break-action revolver.
- His Laputian name (inherited name) is Romuska Palo ul Laputa (ロムスカ・パロ・ウル・ラピュタ). A descendant of the Palo family, a branch of the Laputa royal family, Muska claims that the royal family split into two when the flying cities landed on the ground many generations ago. Sheeta's family inherited the flying stones, while Muska's family inherited the ancient documents related to Laputa. Throughout the film, he can be seen carrying copies of these ancient documents and a notebook with his notes and translations.
- The clothes and personality are similar to Lepka from Future Boy Conan and some materials such as the Ghibli Romantic Album Laputa: Castle in the Sky actually introduce Muska as the ancestor of Lepka.
- Ghibli initially wanted to cast Jinpachi Nezu as Muska, but was refused directly by Nezu himself, and instead, Minori Terada received the request and was hired.
- General Muoro (モウロ将軍 , Mōro Shōgun)
- A soldier in charge of discovering the mysteries of Laputa. According to the novelization, he is the commander of Fort Tedus with a rank of lieutenant general. He has a short temper and distrusts Muska. He is dissatisfied with his post at such a remote fortress and hopes to continue his search of Laputa.
He is also a popular military figure, and his subordinates have a great deal of trust in his leadership. The fact that he wears three medals on his military uniform suggests that he has made several achievements in his career.
- Uncle Pom (ポム , Pomu)
- An eccentric old man who appears to Pazu and Sheeta in an abandoned mine after they escape the military and the Dola Family. He has been acquainted with Pazu for a long time and is called "Uncle Pom".
- He is a deep understanding of minerals, and calls the strange state of ores as they are struck the "voice of the stones". He enjoys wandering alone in the abandoned mine. He helps guide Sheeta and Pazu to the exit.
- In the novelization, Pom is known among miners as a living encyclopedia of the mine. He is said to be a descendant of Laputa's working class because he looks similar to the Laputa people depicted at the opening of the film. He design is modeled after Ghibli staff Yasuji Mori and Yoshifumi Kondō.
World of Laputa
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". 
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.
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. 
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.
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.
Contradictions and In-Film History
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.
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 Laputian 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.
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 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
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 Toho to create story drafts and image boards to be used as a framework for possible television animated projects. Toho 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.
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 in April 1990. Anno, afraid of being accused of plagiarizing "Laputa", changed the story and settings without obtaining permission from NHK.
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".
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
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.
Tokuma refused to continue funding Takahata's documentary, prompting Miyazaki to lend him 60 million yen in royalties they had earned from Nausicaä. 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.
Trip to Wales
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 to prepare for 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 in 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 younger brother, Yutaka Miyazaki said, "I felt like I knew after the preview screening..."
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."
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.
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)."
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
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.
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.
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: 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 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.
On June 20, 1986, animation production was completed, sans dialogue and music. Staff viewed early footage at a theater Kichijoji Toei, Tokyo. On 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.
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."
"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."
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 on 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."
Laputa: Castle in the Sky 35th Anniversary Campaign (天空の城ラピュタ35周年記念キャンペーン , Tenkūnoshiro Rapyuta 35 Shūnenkinen Kyanpēn), a promotional campaign commemorating the 35th anniversary of the film's release was held October 23, 2021. The specialty Ghibli store Donguri Closet released numerous tie-in merchandise including earrings, brooches, cufflings, glasses holders and many more. An "egg-on-toast" bread pouch and a "Dola's Gang" bandana were also released on a limited basis.
Participating stores include a special promo where if one where to purchase ￥4,000 or more in merchandise, they can get a special mirror or poster, and if they were to purchase ￥8,000 or more, you will get two gifts. At Donguri's online store, the mirror and a poster sales promo are included for every purchase of ￥8,000 or more.
GBL, an imprint of Studio Ghibli, also released a Castle in the Sky-themed shirt with the words "From the sky, This stone has mysterious powers" embroidered on its back. The shirt sold for ￥13,200.
Donguri Closet also produced a made-to-order commemorative figure of 18-year old Dola, similar to her design seen in a painting aboard the Tiger Moth. Made under the GBL imprint, the figure is officially called 18-year old Aerial Pirate Dola (空中海賊ドーラ18才 , Kūchū Kaizoku Dōra 18-sai) and sold for ￥29,700. The official site described her design as having a "...strong and beautiful expression, adorned in rhinestones, and its base is designed with the pattern of a treasure chest in the room; it is an item with much attention to detail." A limited number of the figures were raffled by the store, with final entries being accepted until October 22, 2021.
- Fox Squirrels appear in this film. They were originally from Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.
- The robot is a re-used design from the Lupin the Third Part 2 episode Farewell My Beloved Lupin, which Miyazaki directed.
- 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.
- 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 project was originally pitched by Miyazaki to NHK while producing Future Boy Conan. The illustration Pazu, The Child Of The Sea (海の子パズー) which was collected in Hayao Miyazaki Image Board Collection (宮崎駿イメージボード集 , November, 1983), might be part of this original plan (the illustration featured a character that looked like Pazu looking up to a 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.
- 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 Laputian robot design originally appeared in the finale (Episode 155, Farewell, My Beloved Lupin) of the Lupin the 3rd Part II TV series. The episode aired on October 6, 1980. Originally the episode was not planned to be made after Part 2 Episode 154, however Telecom was available and Hayao Miyazaki had total creative control over the production of the episode. After completion, the episode was going to be rejected from the original broadcast as Nippon Television outright refused to accept the episode. This was due to the different style in both animation and plotline. Motoyoshi Tokunaga had to beg the network to air the episode.
- 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.
- A rumor has persisted over the years among Japanese fans that the film has an alternate ending that was accidentally broadcast on Japanese television during one of its annual airings. This is due to screencaps showing credits super-imposed over scenes, with the conclusion reached that it shows a different ending. The rumor persists so much that Ghibli themselves debunked it in a 2002 website post. Investigation of the screencaps shows they actually show scenes from earlier in the film: if they are legitimate, then they more likely depict an alternate edit made for shorter broadcasts, or possibly trailers.
- Japanese: Tomomichi Nishimura, Nobuyuki Furuta, Kazuhiko Tanaka, Toshihiko Seki, Megumi Hayashibara
- Magnum: Daniel Foster
- Disney: Corey Burton, John Demita, Scott Menville, Matt Miller, Andy Philpot, Michael Sorich, John DiMaggio
|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|
|Edited by||Takeshi Seyama, Yoshihiro Kasahara|
- "What was your favorite "Director Hayao Miyazaki's work" that won the overwhelming first place?", Netorabo Survey Team.
- The Art of "Castle In The Sky". Viz Media, 2016
- Details on "Kaitei Sekai Isshû / 海底 世界 一周 (Miyazaki Hayao, 1975)"
- "The secrets of "Laputa, the Castle in the Sky", Hatena Blog
- "The story of The Story of Yanagawa’s Canals, Studio Ghibli’s forgotten masterpiece", Medium.
- "Animage Special Editing Guide Book: Kiki's Delivery Service" (Tokuma Shoten) published in 1989.
- "Joe Hisaishi "Laputa: Castle in the Sky" Interview From the Image Album", Hibikihajime No Heya.
- "Joe Hisaishi "Laputa: Castle in the Sky" Recording Studio Memo", Hibikihajime No Heya.
- "Laputa: Castle in the Sky" 35th Anniversary Item, Pazu catches anything", Natalie
- [https://prtimes-jp.translate.goog/main/html/rd/p/000000970.000022901.html?_x_tr_sl=auto&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=fil&_x_tr_pto=nui " From the adult American casual brand "GBL" of Studio Ghibli's work, the cotton VIERA shirt, which is very useful for coordination from autumn to early spring, is now available in two types, "Castle in the Sky" and "Kiki's Delivery Service"!", PR Times]
- "Aerial Pirate Dola", Ghibli Donguri Twitter
- "Aerial Pirate Dola description", Ghibli Donguri Twitter
- "Part 2 Episode 155", Lupin 3rd Wiki
- 2002 post from Studio Ghibli debunking the rumor (link is in Japanese)
- 2007 forum post identifying the screencaps' sources (link is in Japanese).
- Laputa: Castle in the Sky on TheAnimeBlog.com