Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986) – Hayao Miyazaki

Following my screening of Spirited Away as recommended by DK Canada’s The Movie Book, I was delighted to move on to the What Else to Watch list and dive into a number of Miyazaki films I was aware of, but had never seen.

Today, I dug into Laputa: Castle in the Sky. And found myself in a rip-roaring adventure that is part steampunk, part homage to the serials of yesteryear, and a fun story edged with science fiction.

The story follows Sheeta, a young girl in possession of a strange, crafted crystal, who literally falls into the life of Pazu, and into adventure.

The two quickly find themselves on the run as they encounter sky pirates, military agencies (one of which dresses like he’s on his way to a 70s fancy party with bad glasses and a frilly cravat), as they seek out a mythological city known as Laputa that floats above the world.

The film plays out almost like one big chase, spanning two hours, and a number of locales both on the ground and above it.

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Miyazaki’s sense of story, pacing, design, and action beats are a lot of fun. The animation is top notch, and there’s a wonderful sense of discovery once Sheeta and Pazu arrive in Laputa.

The exploration of the castle in the sky leads to some wonderful discoveries, but will Sheeta and Pazu be able to stop the agencies pursuing them and keep the sky-bound city safe.

I’d seen images for this film countless times, but had never settled in for it, and was pleasantly surprised by the story at work here. It’s a fun adventure, and I love the idea that these floating cities were hanging above the Earth, and that they were there long before we were, and now, they need to be explored and saved.

I’m not a fan of all the designs in the film, but I loved the design of the city and the beings that once inhabited it.

Miyazaki’s films have touched, influenced, and entertained generations and more of viewers as families come to them, anime fans, and kids. And I am delighted to be one of those who have come to it now, when I can enjoy it not only as a story, but as a piece of art.

Once again Miyazaki demonstrates that animation doesn’t just have to be for younger viewers, there is something in his films for everyone. But don’t take my word for it, pick up a copy of DK Books’ The Movie Book and find a new to you classic to watch tonight!

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