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Laputa: Castle in the Sky
Castle in the Sky (1986).png
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Produced by Isao Takahata
Written by Hayao Miyazaki
Starring Mayumi Tanaka
Keiko Yokozawa
Kotoe Hatsui
Minori Terada
Music by Joe Hisaishi
Cinematography Hirokata Takahashi
Editing by Takeshi Seyama
Yoshihiro Kasahara
Studio Studio Ghibli
Distributed by Toei
Release date(s) August 2, 1986 (1986-08-02)
Running time 124 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese
Budget ¥500 million
($3.3 million)
Money made US$15.5 million

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 won the Animage Anime Grand Prix in 1986. The film has received positive reviews and grossed over US$15.5 million at the box office, and went on to gross a total of approximately US$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.

Plot

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 Ur 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.

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 Ur 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.

Cast

Character name Original cast English dubbing actor
(Magnum/Tokuma/Streamline, 1989)
English dubbing actor
(Disney, 1998/2003)
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 (Shalulu in the original) Takuzō Kamiyama Barry Stigler (as Bob Stuart) Michael McShane
Louis (Lui in the original) Yoshito Yasuhara Dave Mallow (as Colin Phillips) Mandy Patinkin
Henri (Anli in the original) 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

Soundtrack

Castle in the Sky
Soundtrack album by
Released August 25, 1986
Genre
  • Anime music
  • Film score
Length 39:17
Label Tokuma
Producer Joe Hisaishi
Joe Hisaishi chronology
Arion
(1985)
Castle in the Sky
(1986)
Maison Ikkoku
(1986)

All lyrics written by Hayao Miyazaki, all music composed by Joe Hisaishi.

No. Title Performer(s) Length
1. "The Girl Who Fell from the Sky"     2:27
2. "Morning in the Slag Ravine"     3:04
3. "A Fun Brawl (Pursuit)"     4:27
4. "Memories of Gondoa"     2:46
5. "Discouraged Pazu"     1:46
6. "Robot Soldier (Resurrection/Rescue)"     2:34
7. "Carrying You"   Suginami Children's Choir 2:02
8. "Sheeta's Decision"     2:05
9. "On the Tiger Moth"     2:32
10. "An Omen to Ruin"     2:18
11. "The Sea of Cloud Under the Moonlight"     2:33
12. "Laputa: Castle in the Sky"     4:36
13. "The Collapse of Laputa"   Suginami Children's Choir 2:00
14. "Carrying You"   Azumi Inoue 4:07

Discography

Title Release Sales Revenue (est.)
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 (US$41,258,882)

Popular culture

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.

Video games

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.

Title

The name "Laputa" comes from Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels.

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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