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Castle in the Sky
The poster for Castle in the Sky, depicting Sheeta, her glowing necklace, and Pazu ready to catch her upon a ledge
Theatrical release poster
Japanese name
Kanji天空の城ラピュタ
Transcriptions
Revised HepburnTenkū no Shiro Rapyuta
Directed byHayao Miyazaki
Written byHayao Miyazaki
Produced byIsao Takahata
Starring
CinematographyHirokata Takahashi
Edited by
Music byJoe Hisaishi
Production
company
Distributed byToei Company
Release date
  • August 2, 1986 (1986-08-02)
Running time
124 minutes
CountryJapan
LanguageJapanese
Budget¥500 million (US$8 million)

Castle in the Sky (Japanese: 天空の城ラピュタ, Hepburn: Tenkū no Shiro Rapyuta), also known as Laputa: Castle in the Sky, is a 1986 Japanese animated fantasy adventure film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It was produced by Isao Takahata, animated by Studio Ghibli, and distributed by the Toei Company. In voice acting roles, the original Japanese version stars Mayumi Tanaka, Keiko Yokozawa, Kotoe Hatsui, and Minori Terada. The film follows orphans Sheeta and Pazu, who are pursued by government agent Muska, the army, and a group of pirates. They seek Sheeta's crystal necklace, the key to accessing Laputa, a legendary flying castle hosting advanced technology.

Castle in the Sky is the first film to be animated by Studio Ghibli. Its production team included many of Miyazaki's longtime collaborators, who would continue to work with the studio for the following three decades. The film was partly inspired by Miyazaki's trips to Wales, where he witnessed the aftermath of the 1984–1985 coal miners' strike. The island of Laputa is used to highlight the theme of environmentalism, exploring the relationships between humanity, nature, and technology, a reflection of Miyazaki's ecological philosophy. The young protagonists also provide a unique perspective on the narrative, as a result of Miyazaki's desire to portray "the honesty and goodness of children in [his] work."[1] Many aspects of the film's retrofuturistic style – the flying machines in particular – are influenced by nineteenth-century approaches, which has earned the film a reputation in the modern steampunk genre.

The film was released in Japanese theaters on August 2, 1986. It underperformed expectations at the box office, but later achieved commercial success through rereleases, earning over US$157 million as of 2021. An English dub commissioned by Tokuma Shoten in 1988 was distributed in North America by Streamline Pictures, and another dub was produced by Disney in 1998, released internationally by Buena Vista in 2003. The film's score was composed by Joe Hisaishi, who would become a close collaborator of Miyazaki's; Hisaishi also composed a reworked soundtrack for the 2003 English dub. The film was generally acclaimed by critics, though the English dubs received mixed reviews. It was well-received by audiences, being voted as one of the greatest animated films in polls conducted by the Agency for Cultural Affairs and Oricon. The film also received several notable accolades, including the Ōfuji Noburō Award at the Mainichi Film Awards and the Anime Grand Prix from Animage. Castle in the Sky has since earned "cult status",[2] and has influenced several notable artists working in multiple media.

Plot summary

An airship carrying Sheeta – an orphan girl abducted by government agent Muska – is attacked by air pirate Dola and her gang, who seek Sheeta's crystal necklace. Attempting to escape, Sheeta falls from the airship but is saved by the magic of the now-glowing crystal, which lowers her gently. She is caught by Pazu, an orphan who works as a mechanic in a 19th-century mining town, and he takes her to his home to recover. The next morning, Pazu shows Sheeta a picture his father took of Laputa, a mythical castle on a flying island, which Pazu now seeks. Dola's gang and Muska's soldiers shortly arrive looking for Sheeta. After a chase through the town, Pazu and Sheeta fall into a mine shaft, but are saved again by the crystal. In the tunnels, they meet Uncle Pom, who shows them deposits of the glowing mineral Aetherium, the same material as Sheeta's crystal.

Sheeta reveals to Pazu that she has a secret name tying her to Laputa, proving the myth is real. The two are captured by the army and imprisoned in a fortress. Muska shows Sheeta a dead robot that fell from the sky, bearing the same insignia as on Sheeta's crystal, and reveals she is the heiress to the Laputan throne. Muska releases Pazu under the condition that Sheeta guides the army to Laputa. Pazu returns home, but is captured by Dola's gang, who prepare to fly to the fortress and take the crystal. Pazu joins them in an attempt to save Sheeta. In the fortress, Sheeta recites an ancient phrase her mother taught her and inadvertently activates the magic of the crystal, reanimating the robot. The robot protects Sheeta from the army and destroys the fortress with its weapons, but is destroyed in turn by the military airship Goliath. In the chaos, Pazu and Dola fly in and rescue Sheeta. However, Sheeta's crystal is left behind, its magic still active, allowing Muska to use it to navigate to Laputa.

Sheeta having seen the crystal's directions and being able to navigate to Laputa, she and Pazu convince Dola to take them there in exchange for temporarily joining her crew. In the middle of the night, Sheeta and Pazu keep watch from the crow's nest when Dola's airship is attacked by Goliath. Dola detaches the crow's nest, which also functions as a glider attached to the ship with a line. Pazu spots a massive storm, wherein he believes his father saw Laputa. Dola attempts to steer into the clouds, but is halted by violent winds. Goliath destroys Dola's airship, severing the line connecting it to the glider. Sheeta and Pazu pass through the turbulent lightning storm.

They land safely on Laputa, which they find deserted but for some fauna and one peaceful robot. The castle is in ruins, and a giant tree now grows out of the top of the island. The army arrives and begins looting the castle, having taken Dola's gang captive. Muska and his accomplices betray the army, destroying their communication systems, and capture Sheeta, taking her into the core of the castle. Pazu frees Dola's gang from their bindings and pursues Muska. The castle's core is the center of Laputa's ancient knowledge and weapons, which Muska activates using Sheeta's crystal, revealing to her that he is also descended from the Laputan royal line. Muska demonstrates Laputa's power by causing a massive explosion over the ocean and by destroying Goliath, declaring his intention to destroy humanity using Laputa, believing them inferior to himself and Sheeta. Horrified, Sheeta takes back the crystal and flees, but is cornered by a pursuing Muska in Laputa's throne room.

Pazu appears and bargains for a brief truce. Sheeta teaches Pazu another ancient phrase, the spell of destruction, which they recite, causing Laputa to begin to collapse. The light of the spell blinds Muska, who falls to his death, while Sheeta and Pazu are protected by the giant tree's roots. While Laputa's bottom falls out, the rest of the castle – along with Dola's glider – is preserved by the giant tree, and the island begins to rise into space. Sheeta, Pazu, and Dola's gang are able to escape, and briefly reunite before flying away.

Voice cast

Mayumi Tanaka holding a microphone and smiling
Mayumi Tanaka, who voiced Pazu in the original Japanese version[3]
A portrait of Mark Hamill
Mark Hamill received critical praise for his performance of Muska in the 2003 English dub.[4]
Character name Voice actor[3]
English Japanese Japanese English
Original, 1986 Unknown / Tokuma / Streamline, 1988[note 1] Disney / Buena Vista, 2003
Pazu Pazū (パズー) Mayumi Tanaka Barbara Goodson[5] James Van Der Beek
Sheeta Shīta (シータ) Keiko Yokozawa Louise Chambell Anna Paquin
Debi Derryberry (young)
Dola Dōra (ドーラ) Kotoe Hatsui [ja] Rachel Vanowen Cloris Leachman
Muska Musuka (ムスカ) Minori Terada Jack Witte Mark Hamill
General Shōgun (将軍) Ichirō Nagai Mark Richards Jim Cummings
Uncle Pom Pomujī (ポムじい) Fujio Tokita [ja] Fujio Tokita Richard Dysart
Mr. Duffi / Boss Oyakata (親方) Hiroshi Ito Charles Wilson John Hostetter
Charles Sharuru (シャルル) Takuzō Kamiyama [ja] Bob Stuart Michael McShane
Henri Anri (アンリ) Sukekiyo Kameyama Eddie Frierson[6] Andy Dick
Louis Rui (ルイ) Yoshito Yasuhara Un­known Mandy Patinkin
Okami / Sheeta's mother Okami (おかみ) Machiko Washio Tress MacNeille
Madge Majji (マッジ) Tarako Isono Debi Derryberry
Motro / Old Engineer Rōgishi (老技師) Ryūji Saikachi Eddie Frierson
Train Operator Un­known Tomomichi Nishimura Matt K. Miller

Development

Beginnings of Studio Ghibli

Further information: Studio Ghibli § History, and The Story of Yanagawa's Canals § Production

Following the commercial success of Miyazaki's previous film, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984), he was eager to begin work on an old-fashioned adventure film that would be a "pleasure" to watch.[7] Miyazaki's first proposal for an animated feature film was based on a research trip to Yanagawa, tentatively titled "Blue Mountains".[8] The film was never produced, but it inspired Miyazaki's longtime collaborator Isao Takahata to create The Story of Yanagawa's Canals (1987), a documentary on the environmental effects of industry on the local waterways.[9] As Miyazaki was financing the project in large part through his personal office,[10] Animage editor Toshio Suzuki recommended that he direct another film to recover the expense, to which Miyazaki immediately agreed. He quickly developed a concept for the film based on an idea he had in elementary school. In 2014, Suzuki reflected on the events, saying "If Takahata had made his movie on schedule, [Castle in the Sky] wouldn't have been born."[11]

On June 15, 1985, Miyazaki and Takahata founded Studio Ghibli, with support from Suzuki and his publishing company Tokuma Shoten. Miyazaki chose the name himself,[12] referencing both the Arabic term for a warm wind from the Sahara, as well as the Caproni Ca.309 Ghibli, an aircraft used by the Italian military during the Second World War.[13] The intent behind the creation of the studio was to "blow a whirlwind" into a stagnating Japanese animation industry by creating original, high-quality feature films.[14] In a speech at the 1995 Annecy International Animation Film Festival, Suzuki said "The idea was to dedicate full energy into each piece of work with sufficient budget and time, never compromising on the quality or content."[15]

Trips to Wales

An ancient stone castle
A collection of brick-and-mortar structures on a grassy hillside
Caerphilly Castle (top) and Big Pit Mine (bottom) in southern Wales. Miyazaki drew inspiration from the region for the film.[16]

Miyazaki first visited Wales on a research trip in 1985, when Castle in the Sky was in early stages of production. He decided to take inspiration from the architecture of the region, and as a result, some of the structures seen in the film resemble Welsh mining towns.[16] Miyazaki also witnessed the coal miners' strike in protest of mine closures in Britain. Their ultimate failure to preserve the industry left a lasting impact on Miyazaki, who viewed the event as an attack by those in power on the miners' way of life and the hard-working spirit of the people.[12] His experiences reflect in several supporting characters in the film, who despite laboring through poverty in the mines, enthusiastically protect the protagonists from multiple aggressors. Susan J. Napier argues that this depiction reveals Miyazaki's yearning for a simpler way of life, and a desire to create a story based on optimism.[14] Animation scholar Helen McCarthy writes "It seems that Castle in the Sky also contains echoes of the struggle of the Welsh people for nationhood and freedom."[17] Miyazaki would visit Wales once more in 1986, ahead of the release of the film. In 2005, he 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."[18]

Production

Certain special effects from the film use a combination of cel and film techniques.[19] Takahata, who produced the film, insisted that the highest quality be maintained in spite of the production expense. Napier argues that the production of Castle in the Sky "established a new industry standard".[14] Miyazaki stated in the original project proposal that "[Castle in the Sky] is a project to bring animation back to its roots."[20]

Many of Miyazaki's old colleagues as well as much of the production crew of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind were employed once again to work on Castle in the Sky at Studio Ghibli's inception.[12] The film had a reported production budget of ¥500 million, equivalent to US$8 million in 2023.[21] Several animation studios such as Doga Kobo and Oh! Production provided support for the in-between animation.[3]

Themes

Roles of nature and technology

Castle in the Sky contains a strong theme of environmentalism, questioning humanity's relationship with nature and the role of technology.[22] McCarthy interprets the giant tree of Laputa as a "metaphor for the reviving and life-giving power of nature."[23] However, in contrast with the more optimistic conclusions of Miyazaki's previous works, Napier notes that the film ends with an "unsettling view" of the castle flying away, suggesting that humanity may not deserve to exist in the natural world.[24] Literary scholar Anthony Lioi interprets Laputa as an ecological utopia that demonstrates the peace that can be established between nature and advanced technology, but also serves as a criticism of modernity when "[the] peace is shattered by human violence."[25] The characters of Muska and the army are used to criticize modern militarism in particular.[26] Lioi notes that this outlook differs from dominant Western ideas, eschewing the extremes of capitalism and industrialism, as well as radical environmentalism and conservationism.[25]

The flying castle Laputa, with the giant tree on top and weapons system underneath
While Laputa's giant tree is seen as a metaphor for the restorative capability of the natural world, its underside is a symbol of the immorality of modernity.[25]

Critics note the philosophical ambiguity of the castle; while Laputa initially appears to be an ideal union of nature and technology, it is later revealed to have a much harsher and more oppressive underside;[23] Napier writes that Laputa is "deeply paradoxical".[27] Laputa itself takes direct inspiration from the island of the same name from Gulliver's Travels (1726),[28] and film scholar Cristina Cardia claims that, like its namesake, the island is introduced with benign intentions but is ultimately "exploited for perverse ends, in this case war."[29] Lioi argues that Laputa is used as a means to comment on the ethics of contemporary culture,[25] based on Ildney Cavalcanti's observation that such a utopia also "must contain an overtly dystopian element, such that the implicit critique in utopian discourse becomes explicit."[30] However, he interprets the ultimate destruction of the castle's weapons as a demonstration that "violence is not the heart of the city", and that the dystopic elements of modernity can be healed.[25]

The film also presents an ambiguous view on the usage of technology.[31] The robots from Laputa provide an example of this view, as they are introduced in the film as a violent force capable of extreme destruction.[32] However, when the protagonists next meet a robot, it is entirely peaceful, tending to the gardens and fauna on Laputa.[33] Lioi argues that the robots, as a representation of Laputan technology, are caretakers by default and only become destructive in response to human brutality.[25] McCarthy argues that "this is not a comment on technology but on man's inability to use it wisely."[34] Odell and Le Blanc conclude that "technology ... is not necessarily a bad thing, but we must consider how it's used and to what extent."[31] The duality of nature and technology is further explored in Miyazaki's later film Princess Mononoke (1997).[31]

Innocence of children

Like many other films by Miyazaki, Castle in the Sky features young children as protagonists.[35] Miyazaki values the portrayal of children as good-hearted, confident in their own agency, and resilient and upbeat in response to adversity.[36] He criticized reviewers of his television series Future Boy Conan (1978) who described the titular character as "too much of a goody-two-shoes", admitting he was tempted to retort "So you want to see 'bad characters', you fool?"[37] Film critics Colin Odell and Michelle Le Blanc argue that creating a film with younger protagonists generates perspectives that an adult would not perceive, saying "the children in Ghibli's films are a liberating force that allows anything to be possible."[38]

The lack of parental oversight of the protagonists is an element Miyazaki feels to be important in promoting children's independence. The protagonists of his films are, like Sheeta and Pazu, often orphaned, or in some way parted from their parents.[39] Miyazaki believes that "one of the essential elements of most classical children's literature is that the children in the stories actually fend for themselves."[40] The presence of parents, in his opinion, would stifle the children's autonomy.[41] The limitations that children have in their abilities are also explored in the film; for example, Pazu comes close to forsaking Sheeta and his quest for Laputa.[42] Additionally, unlike Miyazaki's previous works, the protagonists do not succeed at convincing the antagonists of their wrongdoing, which offers a more pessimistic view on children's ability to educate others.[42]

Napier proposes that Miyazaki's insistence on showing the freedom of children in Castle in the Sky can be credited to the influence of Panda and the Magic Serpent (1958).[41] Miyazaki first watched the film at age 17, and it moved him to pursue a career in animation.[43] At a lecture given in 1982 at Waseda University, he said "When I saw Panda and the Magic Serpent, it was as if the scales fell from my eyes; I realized that I should depict the honesty and goodness of children in my work." He considers this a focal point in his endeavors.[1] The theme of innocence is explored further in Miyazaki's succeeding film My Neighbor Totoro (1988).[44]

Style

Miyazaki's affinity for flight is repeatedly displayed in Castle in the Sky, a motif that continues throughout the feature films of his career.[35] A variety of fictional flying machines appear across the film, including the island of Laputa, the airships, and the pirates' ornithopters; Sheeta's crystal also allows her to float through the air.[45] However, many of the other flying machines in the film are retrofuturistic, influenced by nineteenth-century stylistic approaches.[46] Additionally, Miyazaki was inspired by the literature of Jules Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson when considering the style of the film.[47]

Another stylistic trait that Miyazaki drew from nineteenth-century influences is the depiction of machines that "still possess the inherent warmth of handcrafted things."[48] Pazu is shown to enthusiastically build and work with flying machines,[49] and literary scholars Jeff VanderMeer and S. J. Chambers argue that this gives the film's airships "a realistic physicality."[50] Commenting on the mecha anime popular at the time, Miyazaki expressed his hatred for shows that glorified machines without portraying the characters struggling to build or maintain them.[51] As critic Eric Reinders puts it, "you can't just flip the switch on a Miyazaki contraption."[49] Animation scholar Thomas LaMarre argues that the film provides an "alternative to our received technologies" and thus a critique of more contemporary technologies and society's perception of them.[52]

Boyes fells that any of these elements have subsequently become influences on the steampunk genre.[53] Napier writes that Verne's influence on the film's style were instrumental in evoking imagined nostalgia for a time when "machines were still fun", in Miyazaki's words.[54] While the other machines are presented as joyful, Laputa's underside is used exclusively as an instrument of destruction.[49] Miyazaki stated that, as a child, he was attracted to the design and power of military planes, a view that has since been replaced with revulsion for the indiscriminate acts of violence that the machines have been used for.[55] Miyazaki further explores the beauty of flying machines as well as their innate destructive potential in his later film The Wind Rises (2013).[56]

Release

Hayao Miyazaki holding a microphone and laughing
Director Hayao Miyazaki in 2009
Isao Takahata holding a microphone
Producer Isao Takahata in 2014

The film was released in Japan on August 2, 1986, by the Toei Company.[57] At the Japanese box office, the film sold about 775,000 tickets,[15] somewhat lower than the performance of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.[58] Miyazaki and Suzuki expressed their disappointment with the film's box office figures.[59] The film was promoted with a tie-in fruit soda brand which animation scholar Rayna Denison described as an "economic failure".[60]

The film later earned a significant additional amount through rereleases;[14] as of 2021, it has grossed approximately US$157 million in box office, home video, and soundtrack sales.[61] In the United Kingdom, it was 2019's eighth-best-selling foreign language film on home video, below five other Studio Ghibli films.[62] The film has sold approximately 1.1 million tickets in Europe as of 2023.[63] Multiple international theatrical rescreenings between 2003 and 2023 have earned the film approximately US$6.2 million.[64]

English dubs

The first English dub of Castle in the Sky was produced by an unknown party[note 1] commissioned by Tokuma Shoten in 1988 for viewing on international flights on Japan Airlines; this dub was licensed between 1989 and 1991 by the then-new Streamline Pictures for distribution in North American markets.[65] An edited version of this dub briefly aired on UK television.[note 2] Carl Macek, the head of Streamline, was disappointed with this dub, deeming it "adequate, but clumsy".[70] In addition to distribution rights, Streamline would go on to dub two other Studio Ghibli films in-house: My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki's Delivery Service (1989).[71]

The English dub produced by Disney was recorded in 1998 and planned for release on video in 1999, but the release was postponed after Princess Mononoke did not perform well in North American theaters.[66] The film premiered at the New York International Children's Film Festival on February 2, 2000.[3] It was released on home video in North America on April 15, 2003, alongside a rerelease of Kiki's Delivery Service and Spirited Away (2001).[72] Due to the possible confusion of the title with the Spanish phrase la puta – literally 'the whore' – the film was released as simply Castle in the Sky in North America.[73] The film was released by Buena Vista on Blu-ray in North America on May 22, 2012.[74] Shout! Factory and GKIDS re-issued the film on Blu-ray and DVD on October 31, 2017.[75] Both the original Japanese version and the 2003 English dub were made available for streaming when the rights to Studio Ghibli's filmography were acquired by Netflix in 2020.[76]

Music

Castle in the Sky
Soundtrack album by
ReleasedAugust 25, 1986
Genre
Length39:17
LabelTokuma Shoten
ProducerJoe Hisaishi
Joe Hisaishi chronology
Arion
(1985)
Castle in the Sky
(1986)
Curved Music
(1986)
Joe Hisaishi at a 2011 concert
Soundtrack composer Joe Hisaishi in 2011

As with Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Joe Hisaishi composed the soundtrack of Castle in the Sky.[77] Miyazaki and Hisaishi went on to become close collaborators, and Hisaishi has since provided the music for all of Miyazaki's feature films.[78] Three months before the film's theatrical release, the image album – a collection of demos and musical sketches that serve as a precursor to the finished score – was published by Tokuma on compact disc. A third version of the soundtrack, rearranged for full symphony orchestra and recorded by the Tokyo City Philharmonic, released in 1987 on compact disc.[77]

For the English dub produced by Disney in 1998, Hisaishi was called upon to rewrite the soundtrack to be more suitable for audiences in America. The new soundtrack was recorded by the Seattle Symphony and featured in the 2003 English dub released by Buena Vista.[79] Hisaishi was advised by Disney staff that non-Japanese audiences prefer comparatively more music in films. As a result, the American soundtrack is much longer, while the original Japanese version featured just an hour of music for a film exceeding two hours in length. Though Hisaishi felt that American film scores used an overly simplistic compositional approach, he commented "But when I redid the music of Laputa this way, I learned a lot."[80][better source needed]

The credits sequence of the film features an original vocal song titled "Carrying You" performed by Azumi Inoue, with music by Hisaishi and lyrics by Miyazaki. The song was released in 1988 as a compact disc single, featuring an additional chorus version performed by the Suginami Children's Choir.[81]

Music releases for Laputa: Castle in the Sky[77]
Release date English title Japanese title Notes
May 25, 1986 Laputa: Castle in the Sky Image Album ~The Girl Who Fell 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〜
August 25, 1986 Laputa: Castle in the Sky Soundtrack ~The Mystery of the Levitation Stone~ 天空の城ラピュタ サウンドトラック 〜飛行石の謎〜
January 25, 1987 Laputa: Castle in the Sky Symphony Version ~Huge Tree~ 天空の城ラピュタ シンフォニー編 〜大樹〜
March 25, 1988 "Carrying You" 君をのせて Azumi Inoue single
February 25, 1989 Laputa: Castle in the Sky Drama Version ~Revive the Light!~ 天空の城ラピュタ ドラマ編 〜光よ甦れ!〜
November 25, 1989 Laputa: Castle in the Sky Hi-Tech Series 天空の城ラピュタ ハイテックシリーズ
October 2, 2002 Laputa: Castle in the Sky USA 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〜 The extended soundtrack written for the 2003 Disney dub

Reception

Critical response

Castle in the Sky has been generally acclaimed by film critics in the years since its release. In 2001, Animage ranked Castle in the Sky 44th in their list of top 100 anime.[82] Animation critic and writer Raz Greenberg calls Castle in the Sky "one of the greatest adventure films ever made",[83] and critic Manabu Murase names it "quite possibly the most entertaining anime that Miyazaki ever made".[84] On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rate of 96% from 28 critics, with an average rating of 7.6 out of 10. The site's critic consensus reads, "With a storytelling palette as rich and brilliant as its animation, Castle in the Sky thrillingly encapsulates Studio Ghibli's unique strengths."[85] At Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 78 out of 100 based on seven critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[86]

While multiple reviewers felt that the film's two-hour runtime would turn audiences away,[87] The New York Times's Caryn James commenting that it is "liable to strain patiences of adults and the attention spans of children",[88] others argued that the film had the appeal to keep audiences entertained.[89] IGN's Jeremy Conrad felt the characters are "so likable that you never get bored, you always want to see what adventure is next for them".[4] Reviewers were split over the 1988 English dub,[90] with the Dayton Daily News's Terry Lawson calling it "the film's weakest element",[91] while The Cincinnati Post's David Lyman felt the dubbing into English had been done "superbly".[92] The 2003 dub similarly received mixed reviews, with The A.V. Club's Tasha Robinson calling Disney's recordings "almost comically bland",[93] and Conrad expressing his appreciation for Anna Paquin as Sheeta and Mark Hamill's performance as Muska.[4] Many critics also praised the animation,[94] the Asheville Times's Tom Sabulis considering it "state-of-the-art"[95] and The Philadelphia Inquirer's Steven Rea naming it "masterful".[96] However, some felt the motions lacked fluidity,[97] with Lyman describing it as "stiff-limbed".[92]

Most reviewers highlighted the imaginative capacity that Miyazaki displays in the film.[98] Slant's Chuck Bowen noted the subtle details included in the film, which he felt lends it "texture and originality".[99] A review in the Weekly Asahi highlighted the film's dynamism, favorably comparing its flying sequences with Peter Pan (1953).[100] Several reviewers praised the use of color, which made the film "a joy to watch" according to James.[101] A reviewer for City Road noted that the film could present themes that were critical of modern society while still maintaining a "warm and caring" view of humanity.[102] Several reviewers noted the film's strong ecological theme, with The Washington Post's Richard Harrington appreciating the "moral duality" of Laputa's technology,[103] and the Asahi Journal's Yomota Inuhiko praising the depiction of Laputa as a utopia which gradually developed dystopic elements.[104] Critics and scholars also noted the film's connections to Miyazaki's previous works; Greenberg felt that the film is "deeply rooted within Miyazaki's filmography of the two decades that preceded it",[42] and Denison called it a "compendium of Miyazaki's previous interests as an animator".[105]

Audience response

Castle in the Sky was the second-place winner in the Reader's Choice award category hosted by Animage in 1986.[106][better source needed] In a 2006 poll by Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs conducted at the 2006 Japan Media Arts Festival, the film was rated the third-best animation of all time, after Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995).[107] In a 2008 audience poll conducted by Oricon in Japan, Castle in the Sky was voted the best animation of all time.[108]

Accolades

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Year Award / Publication Category Result Recipient(s) Ref.
1986 Animage Anime Grand Prix Won Castle in the Sky [109]
Eiga Geijutsu Movie Art Won Castle in the Sky [106]
Kinema Junpo Best Ten 8th Place Castle in the Sky [110]
Readers' Choice 2nd Place Castle in the Sky [106]
Mainichi Film Awards Ōfuji Noburō Award Won Hayao Miyazaki [111]
Tokuma Shoten
Osaka Film Festival Best Ten 1st Place Castle in the Sky [106]

Legacy

A portrait of John Lassetter
John Lasseter has called Castle in the Sky one of his favorite films.[112]

Castle in the Sky is considered a keystone work of the modern steampunk and dieselpunk styles.[113] Along with Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Philip Boyes of Eurogamer considers Castle in the Sky a major contributor to the genres' popularity in Japan, introducing audiences to stylistic features such as airships which were otherwise mostly prevalent in Europe.[53] According to McCarthy, "its mix of epic action-adventure and techno-ecological theme has since earned [Castle in the Sky] cult status."[2]

Several notable artists in the anime and manga industries have cited Castle in the Sky as a major influence on their works. Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water (1990), by Neon Genesis Evangelion director Hideaki Anno, is noted for its similarities in premise with Castle in the Sky; Anno had previously worked with Miyazaki on the production of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, and has stated that Nadia was based in part on one of Miyazaki's concepts.[114] D.Gray-man (2004) author Katsura Hoshino was moved to pursue a career in animation after watching the film, ultimately becoming a manga artist.[115] Ghost in the Shell (1995) director Mamoru Oshii[116] and Your Name (2016) director Makoto Shinkai named Castle in the Sky among their favorite animations.[117] Additionally, VanderMeer and Chambers argue that Castle in the Sky forms the stylistic foundation for several of Miyazaki's later films, including Porco Rosso (1992) and Howl's Moving Castle (2004).[50]

John Lasseter, former chief creative officer at Pixar and Disney Animation, often cited Miyazaki and his works to be his "greatest inspiration".[118] When asked about some of his favorite films, Lasseter expressed his admiration for Castle in the Sky.[112] Lasseter has worked with Miyazaki on the English dubs of several of his films, and notes this as an influence on his work with his colleagues. At a speech delivered at the 2014 Tokyo International Film Festival, Lasseter said "Whenever we get stuck at Pixar or Disney, I put on a Miyazaki film sequence or two, just to get us inspired again."[119] Napier argues that the protagonist of Pixar's WALL-E (2008), a robot left to care for a world abandoned by humans, "may have its roots in Laputa's nurturing robot."[120]

Castle in the Sky has influenced numerous video games, particularly in Japan, with its success leading to a wave of steampunk video games.[53] Game designer Hironobu Sakaguchi cited Castle in the Sky as an inspiration behind his Final Fantasy video game series, particularly citing it as an influence on the series' airships.[121] According to Boyes, Castle in the Sky also influenced the airships in the Mario and Civilization franchises.[53] The Iron Golem from Minecraft (2011) takes inspiration from the robots in the film.[122] Several games from The Legend of Zelda series are noted to have been influenced by Castle in the Sky, particularly Tears of the Kingdom (2023), which features a flying castle and several thematic parallels with the film.[123]

On December 9, 2011, during an airing of Castle in the Sky on Japanese television, fans posting to Twitter set a new record for the platform by causing a peak of 25,088 tweets per second.[124] The record was later surpassed during another airing on August 2, 2013, with a figure of 143,199 per second.[125]

Notes

  1. ^ a b The company responsible for producing the 1988 dub of Castle in the Sky is as yet undetermined. This dub is sometimes referred to as the "Streamline dub", leading many to believe it was produced by Streamline Pictures themselves.[65] Others attribute the dub to a company called "Magnum".[66] However, Streamline representatives have repeatedly denied any knowledge of the dub's production. Streamline co-founder Carl Macek stated that they merely distributed the dub, and that it was provided to them by Tokuma Shoten, who in turn had it outsourced to an unnamed company in Hollywood.[67]
  2. ^ The 1988 dub was aired by ITV in some regions of the eastern UK. This airing was altered from the original, with some scenes being cut,[68] and the film being listed on programs as "Laputa: The Flying Island ".[69]

References

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Book and journal sources

Reviews and news sources

Other sources