Castle in the Sky
Laputa: Castle in the Sky (Japanese: 天空の城ラピュタ, Hepburn: Tenkū no Shiro Rapyuta), known as simply Castle in the Sky in North America, is a 1986 Japanese animated fantasy adventure film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It was the first film produced by Studio Ghibli and was produced for Tokuma Shoten. It follows the adventures of a young boy and girl in the late 19th century attempting to keep a magic crystal from a group of military agents, while searching for a legendary floating castle. The film was distributed by Toei Company.
|Laputa: Castle in the Sky|
|Hepburn||Tenkū no Shiro Rapyuta|
|Directed by||Hayao Miyazaki|
|Written by||Hayao Miyazaki|
|Produced by||Isao Takahata|
|Edited by||Takeshi Seyama|
|Music by||Joe Hisaishi|
|Distributed by||Toei Company|
|Box office||$15.5 million|
Laputa: Castle in the Sky won the Animage Anime Grand Prix in 1986. The film has received positive reviews and grossed over $15.5 million at the box office, and went on to gross a total of approximately $157 million in box office, home video and soundtrack sales. In Japanese polls of greatest animations, it was voted the second best animated film at the 2006 Japan Media Arts Festival and was voted first place in a 2008 Oricon audience poll. Castle in the Sky has had a strong influence on Japanese popular culture, and has inspired numerous films, media and games, in Japan and internationally. It is also considered an influential classic in the steampunk and dieselpunk genres.
An airship carrying Sheeta, a young orphan girl who has been abducted by government agent Muska, is attacked by Captain Dola and her air pirate sons who are in search of Sheeta's small blue crystal pendant. In the resulting struggle, Sheeta falls from the airship but her descent is slowed by a mysterious power within the amulet. She safely lands in a small mining town where she is discovered by a brave young orphan boy named Pazu, who takes her to his home to recover. Pazu tells her of a mysterious floating city named Laputa which is visible in a picture taken by his father. Later, they are pursued by Dola's pirates, and then by Muska's soldiers. Eventually, the two fall into an abandoned mine, where they encounter the local eccentric Uncle Pomme, who informs them that Sheeta's amulet is made of hikōseki (飛行石, "levitation stone") crystal ("Volucite" or "Aetherium" in English-language releases), a material used to keep Laputa and the other flying cities aloft.
Upon leaving the mines, Sheeta tells Pazu that her full name is Lucita Toel Ul Laputa. They are then captured by Muska and taken to the fortress of Tedis, where Pazu is imprisoned in a dungeon tower while Sheeta is imprisoned in a more lavish room. Muska shows Sheeta a dormant Laputan robot and reveals his knowledge of her secret name, which he interprets to be that of the Laputan royal line. Muska then threatens Pazu's life to obtain Sheeta's cooperation. For his own safety, Sheeta orders Pazu to leave and Muska offers him money to leave and forget about Laputa.
A distraught Pazu returns home, where he is ambushed by Dola and her sons. After hearing Pazu out, they prepare to intercept and capture the crystal, allowing Pazu to join them. As preparations proceed, Sheeta recites an apotropaic verse and unexpectedly activates the amulet and the robot, which follows Sheeta, destroying the fortress along the way until it is overcome by the military's airship Goliath. Pazu arrives and rescues Sheeta, but Muska obtains the amulet. The pirates, accompanied by Pazu and Sheeta, return to their airship, Tiger Moth. They pursue the Goliath, which is following directions indicated by Sheeta's amulet to locate Laputa. Dola puts Pazu to work with her husband in the engine room, while Sheeta becomes the ship's cook. That night, joining Pazu on lookout duty, Sheeta reveals that her grandmother taught her many spells as a child, including a Spell of Destruction.
During an encounter with the Goliath, Dola tells Pazu and Sheeta how to turn the lookout into a kite, allowing them a higher view of their surroundings. The Tiger Moth soon approaches a hurricane, in which Pazu spots a swirl of clouds. Recognizing the clouds from his father's picture, he tells Dola they have found Laputa and insists they must head toward the eye of the storm. However, the Goliath appears and opens fire on the Tiger Moth, sending it crashing down in flames. A gunshot severs the cable connecting the lookout kite to the ship, sending Pazu and Sheeta drifting off into the clouds. They land on Laputa, only to find the city ruined and overgrown, inhabited only by birds and its' robot sentinels.
Dola's pirates are captured and Muska's soldiers plunder the city's treasures. Upon gaining entrance to the city's central sphere, a vast repository for all of Laputa's scientific knowledge, Muska captures Sheeta and his agents open fire upon Pazu, who escapes and frees the pirates before finding a way into the sphere. In the center of Laputa, which contains the immense 'volucite' crystal keeping the city aloft, Muska identifies himself as "Romuska Palo Ul Laputa", another member of Laputa's royal line, and uses Sheeta's crystal to access the advanced Laputan technology. He betrays his own soldiers and destroys the Goliath by unleashing Laputa's weapon of mass destruction and robot army, while declaring his intent to use both to conquer the world. During the mayhem, the horrified Sheeta retrieves the crystal amulet and flees, but Muska pursues her. Hearing Pazu's voice, Sheeta gives the amulet to him through a gap in the wall and is cornered by Muska in Laputa's throne room.
During her confrontation with Muska, Sheeta explains that the people of Laputa left the castle because they realized that man was meant to live on earth and not in the sky. Muska refuses her arguments, shoots off her braids and threatens to kill her unless the crystal amulet is given to him. Pazu requests to be allowed to talk with Sheeta; Muska grants them one minute (three in the original Japanese version). At his request, Sheeta tells Pazu the Spell of Destruction, and they both recite the spell, causing the castle to disintegrate and blinding Muska, who then falls to his death offscreen. After surviving the collapse, Pazu and Sheeta reunite with Dola and her pirates and leave Laputa behind. When they part with the pirates, Pazu flies Sheeta home as he had promised her, to start a new life together.
During the end credits, the remnants of Laputa float into outer space, maintained by the volucite crystal embedded in the roots of the central tree.
|Character name||Original cast||English dubbing actor
|English dubbing actor|
|Pazu||Mayumi Tanaka||Barbara Goodson (Bertha Greene)||James Van Der Beek|
|Sheeta (Princess Lucita Toel Ul Laputa)||Keiko Yokozawa||Lara Cody (as Louise Chambell)||Anna Paquin|
Debi Derryberry (young)
|Captain Dola||Kotoe Hatsui||Rachel Vanowen||Cloris Leachman|
|Colonel Muska (Romuska Palo Ul Laputa)||Minori Terada||Jeff Winkless (as Jack Witte)||Mark Hamill|
|General Mouro||Ichirō Nagai||Mike Reynolds (as Mark Richards)||Jim Cummings|
|Uncle Pom||Fujio Tokita||Edward Mannix (as Cyn Branch)||Richard Dysart|
|Charles||Takuzō Kamiyama||Barry Stigler (as Bob Stuart)||Michael McShane|
|Louis||Yoshito Yasuhara||Dave Mallow (as Colin Phillips)||Mandy Patinkin|
|Henri||Sukekiyo Kamiyama||Eddie Frierson (as Ernest Fessler)||Andy Dick|
|Mr. Duffi (Boss)||Hiroshi Ito||Clifton Wells (as Charles Wilson)||John Hostetter|
|Okami||Machiko Washio||Lara Cody (as Louise Chambell)||Tress MacNeille|
|Madge||Tarako||Barbara Goodson (as Bertha Greene)||Debi Derryberry|
|Motro||Ryūji Saikachi||Eddie Frierson (as Ernest Fessler)||Matt K. Miller|
|Train Operator||Tomomichi Nishimura||Daniel Foster||Matt K. Miller|
Miyazaki's earlier anime series Future Boy Conan (1978) featured a number of elements that he later adapted for Castle in the Sky. Conan and Lana, for example, were precedents for Pazu and Sheeta, and it had similarities to Sheeta's rescue by Pazu. Some of the characters and themes in Future Boy Conan set the blueprint for Castle in the Sky. The name "Laputa" is derived from Jonathan Swift's novel Gulliver's Travels, wherein Swift's Laputa is also a flying island propelled by a giant central crystal and controlled by its citizens. Anthony Lioi feels that Miyazaki's Laputa: Castle in the Sky is similar to Swift's Laputa, where the technological superiority of the castle in the sky is used for political ends.
Miyazaki, through the dialog of Colonel Muska, credited Laputa as having informed Biblical and Hindu legends — thus tying the world of Laputa to the real Earth (including Western and Eastern civilizations) — as do Miyazaki's choices of the medieval castle architecture on the ground; the Gothic and half-timbered buildings in the village near the fort; the Welsh mining-town architecture, clothing, and ground vehicles of Pazu's homeland; and the Victorian ambiance of the pirate ship. The film also features the use of ancient Babylonian cuneiform script on Laputa's interactive panels and tombstones; and makes references to the Hindu epic Ramayana, including "Indra's arrow", while the name Sheeta may be a related to Sita, the female lead in the Ramayana. The flying city of Laputa has an architectural design resembling the ancient Mesopotamian city of Babylon, including ziggurat-like structures, and with murals resembling ancient Egyptian and Assyrian art.
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. He returned to the country in 1986 to prepare for Laputa, 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."
Except for the technology of Laputa itself, the technologies (especially the flying machines) are an example of the retrofuturistic genre of steampunk. Telecom Animation Film, and Oh! Production helped animate the film.
Release and distribution
The film was released in Japan on August 2, 1986, by the Toei Company, which also released Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. In the late 1980s, an English dubbed version, produced by Magnum Video Tape and Dubbing for international Japan Airlines flights at the request of Tokuma Shoten, was briefly screened in the United States by Streamline Pictures. Carl Macek, the head of Streamline, was disappointed with this dub, deeming it "adequate, but clumsy". Following this, Tokuma allowed Streamline to dub their future acquisitions My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki's Delivery Service. The original dub of Castle in the Sky is also seen on the 1996 Ghibli ga Ippai Laserdisc set, and on the first Japanese DVD release. The initial Japanese DVD release is now out of print and the subsequent re-release in 2014 replaces it with the Disney dubbed version.
The English dub produced by Walt Disney Pictures was recorded in 1998 and planned for release on video in 1999, but the release was cancelled after Princess Mononoke (1997) did not fare as well in the US as Japan, and so Laputa's release date was pushed back yet again; on occasion the completed dub was screened at select children's festivals. The film was finally released on DVD and video in the US on April 15, 2003 alongside a rerelease of Kiki's Delivery Service and Spirited Away. As with Mononoke and Kiki, critical opinion was mixed about the new dub, but Cloris Leachman and Mark Hamill's performances as Dola and Muska drew praise. Laputa was reissued on American home video on March 2, 2010 as a tribute accompanying the home video release of Ponyo. The film was released by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment on Blu-ray in North America on May 22, 2012, alongside Whisper of the Heart and The Secret World of Arrietty. Shout! Factory and GKIDS re-issued the film on Blu-ray and DVD on October 31, 2017.
The film received a re-screening on May 22, 2011 in Aberystwyth as part of a charity fund for Japan. The print shown was the original theatrical Japanese print with English subtitles. For a special promotion, it went back into US theaters November 18–20, 2018, with the widest release at 648 theaters.
At the Japanese box office, the film grossed ¥1.16 billion (US$8.1 million). In Hong Kong, the film's 1987 release grossed HK$13.1 million (US$1,679,853). In the United Kingdom, the film's 2012 release grossed $327,559 in its first week. In other territories, the film's 2003 release grossed $5,434,627, including $4,670,084 in France. This adds up to a combined worldwide box office gross of $15,542,039.
By 2003, Laputa: Castle in the Sky had sold 1.612 million VHS and DVD units in Japan. At an average retail price of ¥4,600 (¥4,700 on DVD and ¥4,500 on VHS), this is equivalent to approximately ¥7,415 million ($93 million) in Japanese sales revenue as of 2012. In the United States, the 2010 DVD release grossed over $7 million in sales revenue. This adds up to a total sales revenue of approximately $100 million in Japan and the United States.
Differences between versions
Although the plot and much of the script was left intact, Disney's English dub of Castle in the Sky contains some changes:
- A significant amount of background chatter as well as 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 effect of certain scenes.
- Composer Joe Hisaishi was commissioned to rework and extend his original 60-minute electronic–orchestral score into a 90-minute symphonic orchestral score, to make the film more palatable to American audiences. The sound mix received a vast overhaul as well.
- Pazu and Sheeta, voiced by James Van Der Beek and Anna Paquin, respectively, are made to sound several years older, placing them in their mid-teens rather than their pre-teens.
- Several modifications were made to the Dola gang's dialogue regarding Sheeta, including a declaration of love by one of the pirates. In the original Japanese version, the dialogue presented Sheeta as a potential mother figure to the pirates, rather than a potential romantic interest.
- References to Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island and Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels were removed, the latter of which had also been removed from the original dub.
Although all these alterations were approved by Studio Ghibli and Miyazaki, some critics have called them into question. Regarding the soundtrack, Miyazaki himself is said to have approved of Hisaishi's reworking; his compliments were echoed by several reviewers.
The 2010 DVD rerelease reverts some of these changes. The updated score and sound mix are replaced by the originals in the Japanese-language audio, retaining the updates in the dub. Some of the added dialogue is removed in the dub, restoring silence where it is in the original Japanese version. However, the English subtitles are not updated to reflect the trimmed dialogue, which sometimes results in text being displayed when no characters are speaking. These changes are also seen in the 2012 US Blu-ray release. For the Japanese, Australian, and British Blu-rays, the updated score is used, and the subtitles are properly timed, literal translations from the original Japanese, rather than the improperly timed dubtitles.
The 2017 Blu-ray rerelease by GKIDS, besides offering the original Japanese, features the 2010 edit of the English dub but presents the option of playing it with either the original or the new score. For subtitles, the correctly translated from Japanese to English subtitles are added. The HBO Max release of the English dub only uses the original score. In the film's release on Netflix, the Japanese audio features the original audio mix and score, while the English audio features the updated audio mix and score. Subtitles are only available for the original Japanese audio.
|Castle in the Sky|
|Soundtrack album by|
|Released||August 25, 1986|
|Joe Hisaishi chronology|
|Castle in the Sky Laputa Image Album ~The Girl Falling From the Sky~
(天空の城ラピュタ イメージアルバム 〜空から降ってきた少女〜)
|May 25, 1986||155,000||¥387,500,000|
|Castle in the Sky Laputa Soundtrack ~Flight Mystery of the Stone~
(天空の城ラピュタ サウンドトラック 〜飛行石の謎〜)
|August 25, 1986||380,000||¥950,000,000|
|Castle in the Sky Laputa Symphony Version ~ Tree (天空の城ラピュタ シンフォニー編 〜 大樹)||January 25, 1987||95,000||¥237,500,000|
|"Carrying You" (君をのせて, Kimi wo Nosete) (Azumi Inoue single)||March 25, 1988||75,000||¥73,725,000|
|Castle in the Sky Laputa Drama ~Light Rebirth!~ (天空の城ラピュタ シンフォニー編 〜光よ甦れ!〜)||February 25, 1989||60,000||¥1,355,840,000|
|Castle in the Sky Laputa: Hi-Tech Series (天空の城ラピュタ ハイテックシリーズ)||November 25, 1989||85,000||¥212,500,000|
|Castle in the Sky: Laputa USA Version Version Soundtrack
(CASTLE IN THE SKY〜天空の城ラピュタ USAヴァージョンサウンドトラック〜)
|October 2, 2002||30,000||¥75,000,000|
|Total sales||880,000||¥3,292,065,000 ($41,258,882)|
According to the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 96% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 26 reviews, with an average rating of 7.5/10. The site's critics consensus reads, "With a storytelling palette as rich and brilliant as its animation, Castle in the Sky thrillingly encapsulates Studio Ghibli's unique strengths." At Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 78 out of 100 based on 7 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
In 2001, the Japanese magazine Animage ranked Laputa:Castle in the Sky 44th in their list of 100 Best Anime Productions of All Time. In a 2006 poll of 100 best animations of all time by Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs conducted at the 2006 Japan Media Arts Festival, Castle in the Sky was the second highest-ranked animated film (after Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, and third highest-ranked animation overall on the list (below Neon Genesis Evangelion and Nausicaä). In a 2008 animation audience poll conducted by Oricon in Japan, Laputa: Castle in the Sky was voted first place, above Nausicaä in second place. Andrew Osmond of All the Anime calls Laputa the "best steampunk film" of all time. The film was ranked at number 10 on the list of Greatest Japanese Animated Films of All Time by Japanese film magazine kinema Junpo in 2009.
- Ōfuji Noburō Award; Mainichi Film Award
- First Place; Pia Ten (Best Films of the Year)
- First Place; Japanese Movies; City Road
- First Place; Japanese Movies; Eiga Geijutsu (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
Castle in the Sky has had a strong impact on Japanese popular culture, with the "Laputa Effect" comparable to "a modern day monomyth for Japanese genre films and media." Jeff VanderMeer and S.J. Chambers, in The Steampunk Bible, consider the film a milestone in the steampunk genre, calling it "one of the first modern steampunk classics." Archetypal steampunk elements in Laputa include airships, air pirates, steam-powered robots, and a view of steam power as a limitless but potentially dangerous source of power. Philip Boyes of Eurogamer also considers it an influential work in the dieselpunk genre.
The most tweeted moment in the history of Twitter was during one airing of Castle in the Sky on Japanese TV on August 2, 2013, when fans tweeted the word "balus" at the exact time that it was said in an important moment of the movie. There was a global peak of 143,199 tweets in one second.
Castle in the Sky has also had an influence on popular music; the popular jazz-funk band Hiatus Kaiyote has a song called 'Laputa' and its lyrics directly reference the film. Another example of a song directly referencing the film is a song titled 'Laputa' by the indie rock band Panchiko.
Animation and comics
The success of Laputa led to a wave of steampunk anime and manga. A notable example is the anime series Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water (1990). The success of Laputa inspired Hideaki Anno and Studio Gainax to create Nadia, their first hit production, loosely adapting elements from Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, with Captain Nemo making an appearance. In turn, Nadia was influential on later steampunk anime, such as Katsuhiro Otomo's film production Steamboy (2004). Other steampunk anime and manga followed in the wake of Laputa, including Miyazaki's own films Porco Rosso (1992) and Howl's Moving Castle (2004), Sega's anime series Sakura Wars (1997), Square Enix's manga and anime franchise Fullmetal Alchemist (2001), and the manga and anime series Elemental Gelade (2002).
Manga author Katsura Hoshino, known for the manga and anime series D.Gray-man, was fascinated by Castle in the Sky to the point where she decided to seek work as an animator when growing up, before she ended up writing manga. Anime filmmaker Yasuhiro Yoshiura described his film Patema Inverted (2013) as his venture into "the world of Laputa and the boy-meets-girl story". Anime filmmaker Makoto Shinkai, known for the hit anime films Your Name (2016) and Weathering With You (2019), cited Laputa as his favourite animation. The anime series No Game No Life (2014) references the film in episode five.
Castle in the Sky influenced a number of animated films from Disney and Pixar. For example, Disney films such as Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001), and Pixar films such as WALL-E (2008) and Up (2009). The French animated film April and the Extraordinary World (2015) was also influenced by Laputa.
Castle in the Sky has influenced numerous video games, particularly Japanese video games, with its success leading to a wave of steampunk video games. Game designer Hironobu Sakaguchi cited Laputa as an inspiration behind his Final Fantasy video game series, particularly citing it as an influence on the series' airships. Sega AM2 game designer Yu Suzuki cited Laputa as his original inspiration behind the hit arcade game After Burner (1987). Steel Empire (1992), a shoot 'em up game originally released as Koutetsu Teikoku on the Sega Mega Drive console in Japan and considered to be the first steampunk video game, was inspired by Laputa, helping to propel steampunk into the video game market. This influenced Final Fantasy VI (1994), a Japanese role-playing game developed by Squaresoft, which had a considerable influence on later steampunk video games. Sega's video game franchise Sakura Wars (1996) also followed in the wake of Laputa.
Castle in the Sky also inspired a number of other video games, including the Mega Man Legends series (whose Japanese version, coincidentally, would feature voice acting by Mayumi Tanaka [Pazu] and Keiko Yokozawa [Sheeta] as Rock/Mega Man Volnutt and Roll Caskett, respectively), Zack & Wiki, and Japanese role-playing games such as the Lunar series, Valkyrie Profile (1999), Skies of Arcadia (2000), Steambot Chronicles (2005), and Dark Cloud 2 (2002). Laputa also influenced the first-person shooter BioShock Infinite (2013), the action-adventure game Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017), and the airships in the Mario and Civilization franchises.
There is an easter egg in Minecraft relating to Castle in the Sky: the Iron Golems found in the game can hold out poppies to villagers, referencing the Ancient Robots from Laputa. Also, when villager children notice this, they slowly approach the Iron Golems, and eventually take the flower.
The name "Laputa" comes from Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels. Certain English- and Spanish-language releases have opted to omit the name "Laputa" due to it resembling "la puta" (lit. "the whore") in Spanish.
In 2003, the film's title was shortened to Castle in the Sky in several countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Mexico, and Spain. In Spain the castle was named Lapuntu in the first dub in 2003, although in the second one made in 2010 retains the original name Laputa. In the Catalan dub in 2012, the meaning of Laputa was said with the tonic syllable in "La".
The film's full title was later restored in Britain, in February 2006, when Optimum Asia – a division of London-based Optimum Releasing (StudioCanal UK since 2011) – acquired the UK distribution rights to the Studio Ghibli collection from Buena Vista Home Entertainment.
Additionally, during the late 1980s and early 1990s, the pre-Disney dub was screened in the UK as an art-house film, under the alternative title Laputa: The Flying Island. It also aired at least twice on British television, but with some scenes cut.
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Okay, so the Chocobos – big, yellow riding birds – were actually stolen from Hayao Miyazaki's movie Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind, and Hironobu Sakaguchi freely admitted that way back when. He also admits that the airships were inspired by "Laputa," also directed by Miyazaki.
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