Laputa: Castle in the Sky (of 1) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, October 14, 2003
Release Date: Friday, October 04, 2002
What They Say
Hayao Miyazaki followed the success of his "Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind" with another astounding animated masterpiece whose story takes its cue from Laputa, the floating island-city described in Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Travels." The epic fantasy adventure revolves around Pazu, an orphaned boy and a girl named Sheeta who fell from the sky into the arms of Pazu. While fleeing from air-pirates, their adventures involve finding out about Sheeta's identity and the secret of her pendant made of a levitation stone crystal. The film has a wonderful retro-futuristic tone that also evokes Jules Verne's books, and delivers a subtle anti-war and ecological message in a typically Miyazaki non-preachy manner. Studio Ghibli was founded around the production of this film, which makes this film the de facto first official Ghibli feature. With loads of extras, including Hayao Miyzaki's storyboard (expected animated), and much more!
For my primary review, I listened to the original Japanese stereo sound track. While it is stereo, there is little directionality present. The soundtrack is perfectly preserved, and doesn't suffer from any hisses or scratches. Sound is extremely clear, and the flywing flapsters the pirates fly sound fantastic. While writing the review, I took a listen to the English sterero soundtrack that was included. This is the old Streamline dub. Some of the english voice actors sound very cartoony, for lack of a better word and the mixing of the dialogue to the sound track doesn't sound right at points. I also noted the English dub ripped out all references to Gulliver's travels during the scene where Pazau shows Sheeta the book.
Simply put, absolutely gorgeous. This is an anamorphic 1:1.85 transfer and the attention to detail is fantastic. There are a lot of night scenes and scenes with clouds, and I could not find any compression related problems in either. While there are a few scratches remaining from the print, it hardly distracts. The subtitles are white and large, and appear below the picture on a 4:3 set for single lines.
Laputa comes in a single amaray case that has a flapper inside for a second DVD. The front cover is plastered with the Ghibli Collection logo, the title, and finally an image from Sheeta and Pazu flying on a flapster away from the pirates and the army's airship. Each Ghibli Collection title features a little symbol on the spine, and this time we have the Laputa symbol on Sheeta's pendant. The back cover features a picture of Laputa and the technical details of the DVD. All the Ghibli DVD packaging is similar.
The menus are all static and feature no audio. Even the scene selection menu is static. Artwork in the menu contains images in a more manga style presentation. There are menus for both full screen and widescreen sets.
The second DVD in the set features all the extras. Besides the two selections of Ghibli trailers (that locks you out of hitting the menu button to return to the main selection), there is a second copy of the film. Here, you can select an alternate angle though and watch the whole film using storyboards. This is the main extra. There are also the TV and theater commercial spots, and even a clean OP and ED.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Studio Ghibli was formed in order to make Laputa and as a result of the success of Nausicaa. The studio?s first release was a resounding success.
Laputa opens up with the type of scene that Miyazaki is known for, an air scene. A gigantic airship is flying through the sky soon to be attacked by air pirates. They seem to be after a young girl, Sheeta, who is being held against her will. During the confusion, Sheeta escapes but only to fall from the airship. She loses consciousness before her pendant begins to glow and slows her ascent.
On the ground, a young mining boy named Pazu spots Sheeta falling from the sky and takes her in. The two get to know each quickly the next morning, and they talk about a flying castle named Laputa. Pazu's father took a picture of it when he was younger, but was declared a liar. Laputa comes from the floating island of Laputa found in Jonthan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, though Pazu would argue it the other way around.
The pirates are scouring the area for Sheeta though, so Pazu helps her escape. The townsfolk help them, bringing us a memorable scene between Pazu's boss and one of the pirates. Dola, or Mama as she is referred to by her pirates, spots them and chases them on the train tracks. Soon, even the army is also chasing after Sheeta. In the ensuing mess, Pazu and Sheeta fall from the train tracks, to be saved once again by Sheeta's mysterious amulet.
The mysteries behind Laputa and Sheeta's heritage continue to unfold throughout the movie and the relationship between Sheeta and Pazu grows. Along the way, the technology that the Laputians had is revealed, especially in the form of robot that destroys the army's base. Of course, there are more of the beautiful flying scenes that Miyazaki is famous for. The air pirates provide a lot of the humor that Ghibli films are famous for.
In the end, all our parties reach Laputa where everyone's true intentions are shown, plus the power behind Laputa. Miyzaki's familar theme of technology paving the way towards destruction and being corrupting pops up. But then, this was made in 1986 so it's not too much of an again.
Laputa was the last of Miyazaki's films that I?ve watched that began when I learned of him after seeing Mononoke Hime. I didn't find myself raving about it as much as I did with Mononoke Hime, Sprited Away, or Totoro. The film is absolutely beautiful, in grace and style, and the characters are a lot of fun to watch. Something about the story though, doesn't give it that final push for me that pushes a film into "A" status. While I'm glad I own it, it won't get too many repeat viewings.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Japanese Subtitles,Animated storyboard,Theatrical trailer(s),TV spot(s),Teaser(s),Promo footage,Textless intro & outro
Panasonic Qube to a Toshiba 36? Cinema Series via s-video, Pioneer VSX-810S receiver via optical, Cerwin Vega front speakers, Pinnacle center and rears
Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: All
Region: 2 - Japan
Released By: Buena Vista Home Entertainment Japan
Running time: 124
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Castle in the Sky