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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.

Plot

The Girl Who Feel 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."
"I'm Sheeta."
—Pazu greeting Sheeta

The Dola gang beginning their incursion on civilian passenger airship Saturn.

One peaceful night, a skyliner travels through the clouds. Aboard, amongst the civilian passengers, are Sheeta, owner of a strange blue stone necklace, and Colonel Muska, the government secret agent who abducted her. Suddenly and without warning, Dola and her gang of air pirates attack the airship in search of Sheeta and her stone. The pirates invade the ship and, during the ensuing chaos, Sheeta manages to knock Muska unconscious and retrieve her stone. The pirates break into Sheeta's room, and she attempts to hide by clinging to the exterior of the ship. However, she loses her grip and plummets into the night sky.

As the unconscious Sheeta hurtles toward the ground, the stone emits a mysterious light, slowing her descent. From the small mining town of Slag Ravine, a young orphan miner named Pazu sees the light of the stone floating down from the sky and runs to investigate. Upon reaching the mineshaft, he reaches out to catch the falling girl. To his amazement, she initially appears weightless... Until her stone stops glowing. Carrying her to safety, Pazu tries to tell his boss, Mr. Duffi, of her sudden appearance but is unable to amidst the bustle of mining work. After the mine is shut down for the night, Pazu decides to take her back to his home.

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

Morning in Slag Ravine.

The next morning, Sheeta awakens to the sound of Pazu playing his trumpet on the roof. After introductions to each other, Pazu asks to see the stone. Pazu, believing Sheeta's necklace to be the key to her survival, then tries to levitate himself with it, only to crash through the roof of the old blast furnace his home is built on to. After following him down to make sure he didn't hurt himself, Sheeta notices a picture of the legendary kingdom of Laputa on a wall in his home. Pazu explains that it was taken by his father - an avid aviator - and how he saw the floating island among the thick, stormy clouds during an airship trip. Pazu's father returned and made notes on what he imagined the kingdom to be like, but no one believed his discovery, and he died in misery, having been labeled a liar. Pazu enthusiastically tells Sheeta of his plans to finish a huge ornithopter so that he can rediscover Laputa and prove his father right.

A Rowdy Brawl

"Think you're a man? Then settle it with fists."
"All right! Do it, Brother!"
—Henri challenges one of the townsfolk

Pazu and Sheeta flee from the Dola Gang and the military.

It's at this moment, however, that the pirates track Sheeta down to Pazu's house. Pazu disguises her as a boy and, after narrowly avoiding a confrontation with Louis, the two head for town to find help. Meanwhile, Henri and Charles are in the middle of asking Mr. Duffi about Sheeta. The two spot Pazu and Sheeta approaching down the street, just as Sheeta stumbles and loses her hat, revealing her appearance. Pazu and Mr. Duffi put themselves protectively between Sheeta and the pirates before she and Pazu are pulled inside a house by Mr. Duffi's wife, Okami, who instructs them to leave through the backyard.

A street brawl starts between the townspeople and the pirates while Pazu and Sheeta sneak away to the nearby railway and board a small steam tram. Dola, after gathering up her men, chases after them. This, however, has not gone unnoticed, as one of Muska's agents spots Sheeta. Despite initially fending off the pirates, Pazu and Sheeta find themselves face-to-face with a heavily armored military train. Discovering that Muska's agent is with them, Sheeta runs, telling Pazu not to follow her, though he does so anyway. The pair are forced off the tracks and seemingly fall to their doom. However, Sheeta's stone activates once again, leaving both the pirates and military troops to watch in awe as they float gently downward.

Memories of Gondoa

"There are Levistone veins inside the rocks here."
"Levistone?"
"This happens when Levistone touches the air. It fades to become just like a rock..."
"It's glowing!"
"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

An old mine's Aetherium deposit, glowing in the darkness.

The two descend safety to the bottom of an abandoned mine shaft. Taking a moment to recuperate from their escape, Sheeta tells Pazu of her home in the valley of Gondoa, and her kidnapping by the military. She apologizes for getting him involved, but Pazu retorts that he wouldn't miss such an exciting adventure for the world. They're then approached by someone, who turns out to be Uncle Pom, an old eccentric miner who lives in the underground. He brings them back to his small camp, where Sheeta asks him if he gets lonely in the mine, and Pom replies that the rocks are his friends and often speak to him. Upon Pazu and Sheeta's confusion, Pom shows them that, in the darkness, the rocks around them come to life, glowing with the power of an ancient element known as Aetherium.

He cracks several open to show them how the elements fades away when it comes in contact with the air. Sheeta notices that her stone is glowing as well. She shows it to Uncle Pom who, in amazement, tells them that it is a pure Aetherium crystal. Uncle Pom explains that only the ancient people of Laputa knew how to create such crystals and, in doing so, were able to construct a huge floating island in the sky. Through this new knowledge, Pazu and Sheeta are able to ascertain that Laputa truly does exist. However, Uncle Pom warns Sheeta that while the crystal contains enormous power, it ultimately belongs to the Earth from which it came, and that to forget that will bring great unhappiness to whoever wields it.

Muska shows Sheeta a damaged robot that fell from the sky.

Pazu and Sheeta bid farewell to Uncle Pom and leave the mine, only to be cornered and captured by Muska and the military. They are taken to the coastal military fortification Tedus, and Pazu is locked in the tower. Meanwhile, Muska escorts Sheeta to a room in the bottom of the fort where a deactivated robot soldier is kept. Muska explains that the robot fell from the sky one day, after which the government, with such indisputable proof of the existence of Laputa, put him in charge of discovering the kingdom's secrets. He shows Sheeta that the marking on her crystal is the same as that which is borne by the robot, and insists that the crystal, once activated, will show the way to Laputa. He wants the activation spell, explaining that Laputa's technology is a major threat to world peace, but she has no such knowledge.

Muska discloses that her real name, Lusheeta Toel Ul Laputa, indicates that she is the true heir to the throne of Laputa, and threatens that Pazu's fate is in her hands. To protect him, Sheeta relents and tells Pazu to forget about Laputa. Pazu, shocked at Sheeta's request, counters that Laputa means too much to both of them for him to simply forget, but Sheeta tearfully tells him goodbye and leaves. Distraught, Pazu tries to chase after her, but Muska holds him back, telling him to use his head. The fight drained out of him, disheartened and embittered, Pazu starts off home with three gold coins Muska gave him for his services.

Discouraged Pazu

"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

Sheeta recalls her grandmother teaching her Laputian heritage and the importance of her crystal necklace.

By nightfall, Pazu reaches Slag Ravine. He's briefly stopped in the street by Okami, who expresses that they were all very worried for him and asks what happened to Sheeta, to which Pazu simply replies that "it's over now". Overwhelmed by grief and anger, he runs home, only to be greeted by Dola and her pirates, who have taken over Pazu's house as a temporary base. Once they have tied him up, Dola points out that Muska probably won't let Sheeta live after he gets what he wants from her, and how naive he was to have misinterpreted her actions as, by sending him away, she saved his life.

Meanwhile, Sheeta, back in her room, remembers and numbly recites a spell that her grandmother taught her to help her when she's in trouble. The crystal, in response to Sheeta's words, activates and, as a result, summons the robot soldier in the basement. Discovering that Sheeta has indeed activated her crystal but injured by the protection spell when he tries to touch it, Muska demands that she tell him the words she used. However, the crystal's power ebbs again once the robot breaks free from the fort's sublevel. Awakened from its dormant state, the robot begins to create havoc within the castle as it attempts to locate Sheeta.

Pazu's Decision

"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."
—Muska

Pazu convinces Dola and her family to rescue Sheeta.

Back home, Pazu asks Dola if he can join her pirates so that he can save Sheeta. Dola agrees, supposing that he'll be useful in getting Sheeta to cooperate, but warns him that he may never return home. Pazu acknowledges this, and they leave for Tedus Fort using the flaptors. Back at the fortress, all attempts to stop the robot soldier have failed, as bullets have no effect, and it easily blasts through the fort's fire doors with a laser hot enough to melt it. High above, Muska exclaims that the power of sacred light in Sheeta's necklace has brought the robot back to life and opened the way to Laputa. The robot, hearing Sheeta's subsequent distress, separates her from Muska and chases her to the top of a tower, where it tries to communicate with her.

Sheeta trying to stop the robot she summoned.

The crystal, still shining, emits a beam of light towards the sky, which Muska interprets as the location of Laputa. Muska and his agents then cut the communication lines, preventing the General from asking his personnel about the situation and allowing Muska to temporarily issue orders to Air Destroyer Goliath. Suddenly, a blast from the fortress' anti-tank turrets hits the robot and disables it. The force of the blast knocks Sheeta back, and the crystal falls to the ground below. The soldiers rush to the tower thinking that they are victorious and find that Sheeta has been rendered unconscious. However, the robot reactivates. Now in an almost crazed state, it picks up Sheeta and cradles her protectively as it begins to obliterate the entire fortress, firing at anything that appears hostile. Sheeta awakens, only to find the fortress in flames and, shocked by the carnage it has caused, tries to stop the robot by covering its head.

Pazu reaches out to rescue Sheeta from the rampaging robot.

Meanwhile, Dola, Pazu and the pirates arrive, and Pazu spots Sheeta atop the tower. Dola orders the others to cover the pair as they head to rescue her, but they are unable to get close enough. Upon her insistence that Dola and Pazu are there to help her, the robot moves Sheeta to a safer place, only to be fired upon by Goliath. Caught in the resulting explosion, Dola is temporarily knocked out, and she and Pazu begin to fall from the sky. However, Pazu manages to reactivate their flaptor just in time, and they save Sheeta from the burning tower, leaving the dead, melted remains of the Laputian robot behind. The pirates make their escape easily, however, the crystal is now in Muska's possession, and is still emitting a beacon 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

Sheeta taking charge at the Tiger Moth.

The pirates, accompanied by Pazu and Sheeta, make it back to their airship, the Tiger Moth. Once there, Dola puts Pazu and Sheeta to work as crew on board the ship. They head east, in the direction Sheeta reports her crystal was shining. Later that night, while Pazu is stationed in the ship's crow's nest keeping watch, Sheeta goes up to talk to him. She confesses to Pazu that she doesn't actually want to go to Laputa, and that she's afraid of someone else dying for her, as the Laputian robot did. Sheeta tells him of the different spells her grandmother taught her, including the Spell of Destruction, which she is never supposed to use. She continues, saying that she had no idea her crystal was so powerful and that she wishes she had thrown it away. Pazu points out to her that, with the rapid advances in aviation technology, someone will sooner or later find Laputa and that they can't let it be someone like Muska. He then makes a heartfelt promise that, once they've stopped Muska and the military, he'll go with her back to 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."
" What?!"
"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 Tiger Moth is discovered by the Goliath and is promptly shot out of the sky.

The pair then spot the silhouette of the Goliath in the clouds beneath the Tiger Moth. Pazu wakes the crew, and the Tiger Moth dives into the clouds to avoid confrontation. Pazu and Sheeta convert the crow's nest into a kite and take off to help guide the Tiger Moth towards Laputa, however, they end up delving into the fringes of a powerful storm. Pazu tells Dola to head into the hurricane, as that was what his father did before, and it must be where Laputa is hidden. Before they can do so, the Goliath finds them and attacks. The Tiger Moth is hit, and the kite is disconnected from the ship. Pazu and Sheeta are sucked into the storm. Suddenly, Pazu, while trying to get the kite under control, sees an image of his father. Guided by this, the kite makes it through the storm and emerges into clear sky.

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

Pazu and Sheeta safely arrive on the strange and mysterious Laputa.

Sheeta and Pazu awaken to find that they have arrived and landed safely on Laputa, the legendary floating kingdom. However, it is abandoned, the lower sections little more than crumbling ruins. Pazu and Sheeta are greeted by a solitary gardener robot who takes care of the lush gardens of the upper portion of Laputa. The robot leads the children to a grave plaque in the central gardens, where the pair discover hundreds of deactivated robots grown into the roots of an enormous tree, which Pazu remarks must've been caretakers as well. The robot offers Sheeta a flower to place on the grave. A family of fox squirrels climb the robot and scamper about it as it walks away, prompting Pazu to make the observation that the robot likely isn't lonely at all; it has the garden and animals to look after. Sheeta, overwhelmed, brushes tears from her eyes. The moment is 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 the military is in the midst of raiding the castles' treasure rooms. They see 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 climb part of the ruins. Sheeta knocks one of the men over, throwing off a gunshot meant for her friend, but is then captured and taken by Muska to the inner chambers of the castle. Meanwhile, Pazu, injured by alive, succeeds in freeing the pirates. Dola gives him a canon and two shells so he can rescue Sheeta.

Muska, looking on as Laputian robots destroy the Goliath.

Muska and Sheeta reach the control center of Laputa, which contains the giant Aetherium crystal that keeps Laputa aloft. Sheeta, wondering how Muska knows so much about Laputa, asks who he really is. Muska reveals his true name - Romska Palo Ul Laputa - and tells her that he is a descendant of a noble Laputian family as well. Now in control of the castle, Muska tells General 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 and tries to kill him. Muska, prepared for this, opens up the floor of the observatory and sends the general and his men to their deaths. He then unleashes hundreds of robot soldiers onto the remaining troops. The military quickly retreats to the Goliath in fear, but the robots destroy the airdestroyer.

Horrified by the massacre, Sheeta begs him to stop, to no avail. Breaking free of her restraints, she is able to catch Muska off guard and manages to grab the crystal from him, running into the maze 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

Sheeta and Pazu recite the Spell of Destruction, destroying much of Laputa.

Pazu looks for Sheeta, and finally he finds her amid the passageways, though they are separated by a wall. Desperate not to let Muska have it again, Sheeta passes the stone through a hole and tells Pazu to throw it into the ocean. Muska arrives and tries to shoot Pazu, but he misses, destroying his flying goggles instead. Pazu uses his weapon to enlarge the hole and goes after him. Sheeta reaches the throne room, but Muska corners her. Realizing she's trapped, Sheeta confronts Muska and tells him that he will never truly possess the crystal or Laputa, as he has no compassion and is undeserving of the kingdom.

Dola and her family escape the destruction happily ever after.

She explains that she understands why the people of Laputa vanished; they lost touch with the ground from which they came, relying on their superior technology to rule rather than love for their people. Muska refuses to believe Sheeta and prepares to kill her. Pazu arrives just in time and tells Muska he'll never get the crystal if he harms Sheeta. Muska allows Pazu to talk to Sheeta for one minute. Pazu asks Sheeta to tell him the Spell of Destruction so they can both say it together, and reassures her that Dola and her pirates escaped. Relieved, Sheeta whispers the spell to him. Pazu tosses his canon aside and, together, they say the spell, causing the crystal to emit a blinding light. This not only blinds Muska, but also releases the Aetherium crystal holding Laputa aloft. The lower portion of the castle crumbles, taking Muska with it, and the great robots, now powerless, fall into the sea.

Dola and the pirates, escaping the destruction on their flaptors, think that Pazu and Sheeta are dead and mourn them. As Laputa ascends, Louis notices that the large Aetherium crystal is still shining, having gotten caught in the roots of the great tree. Pazu and Sheeta manage to survive and find their kite, and bid farewell to what remains of Laputa. They catch up with the pirates and have a joyful reunion, during which the pirates reveal that they managed to grab some of Laputa's treasure after all. Soon after, Pazu and Sheeta say their farewells and head for home. As the story closes, Laputa floats peacefully in the sky, now too high for anyone to reach for a long time.

Characters

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.

Setting

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]

History

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

File:Laputa Sketch 198.jpg

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 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.

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 Laputian 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

Development

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 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.[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 in 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."

Funding Issue

"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.

Trip to Wales

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.

Production

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 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 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

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)."

Release

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.

Title

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.

Music

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 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.

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 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."[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.

Awards

  • 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

Ratings

  • 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.

Trivia

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 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.[2]

The Laputian 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 Laputian 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

Character name Japanese voice actor English voice actor
(Magnum, 1988)
English voice actor
(Disney, 2003)
Pazu Mayumi Tanaka Barbara Goodson James Van Der Beek
Sheeta (Princess Lusheeta Toel Ul Laputa) Keiko Yokozawa
Shiori Fujita (child)
Lara Cody Anna Paquin
Debi Derryberry (young)
Captain Dola Kotoe Hatsui Rachel Vanowen Cloris Leachman
Muska (Romuska Palo Ul Laputa) Minori Terada Jeff Winkless Mark Hamill
Uncle Pom Fujio Tokita Edward Mannix Richard Dysart
Muoro Ichiro Nagai Mike Reynolds Jim Cummings
Boss/Mr. Duffi Hiroshi Ito Clifton Wells John Hostetter
Shalulu/Charles Takumi Kamiyama Dave Mallow Mike McShane
Lui/Louis Yoshito Yasuhara Barry Stigler Mandy Patinkin
Anli/Henri Sukekiyo Kameyama Eddie Frierson Andy Dick
Motro/Engineer Ryuji Saikachi Clifton Wells Eddie Frierson
Train Operator Tomomichi Nishimura Daniel Foster Matt K. Miller
Okami Machiko Washio Lara Cody Tress MacNeille
Madge Tarako Barbara Goodson Debi Derryberry

Additional Voices

  • Japanese: Eken Mine, Megumi Hayashibara, Tomomichi Nishimura, Hōchū Ōtsuka, Toshihiko Seki, Masashi Sugawara, Reiko Suzuki
  • English (Disney): Corey Burton, John DeMita, Eddie Frierson, Tress MacNeille, Scott Menville, Matt Miller, Andrew Philpot, Michael Sorich, John DiMaggio (Crowd, Soldier), Pat Fraley (Animal Vocal Effects; uncredited), Frank Welker (Animal Vocal Effects; uncredited)

Credits

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

References

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