Laputa: Castle in the Sky (天空の城ラピュタ, Tenkū no Shiro Rapyuta?) (in English, literally translated as The Sky's Castle: Laputa) is a film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, released in 1986. It is the first film created and released by Studio Ghibli, although is considered the second by some since Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind was created by the founding members two years before. Laputa: Castle in the Sky won the Animage Anime Grand Prix in 1986.
One night an airship travels though the clouds. On board are Sheeta, owner of the blue levitation stone, and Muska, the government agent who abducted her. Suddenly and without warning, Dola and her gang of air pirates attack the airship. Like Muska, they too want Sheeta and her stone. The pirates invade the ship, and during the ensuing chaos, Sheeta manages to knock Muska unconscious. The pirates break into Sheeta's room, and she tries to hide clinging to the outside of the ship. However, she loses her grip and falls into the night sky.
As the unconscious Sheeta hurtles toward the ground, the levitation stone emits a mysterious light slowing Sheeta's descent. From a small mining town (Slag's Ravine), a young boy named Pazu sees the light of the stone descending from the sky and runs to investigate. Upon reaching the mineshaft, he reaches out to catch the falling girl. To his amazement, she appears weightless. That is, until the stone stops glowing... Pazu decides to take her back to his home.
The next morning, Sheeta awakens to the sound of Pazu blowing his trumpet on the roof. After introductions to each other, Pazu asks to see the stone. Pazu then tries to levitate himself with it, only to crash through the roof in the attempt. Later, Sheeta notices a picture of the legendary kingdom of Laputa on a wall in Pazu's home. The picture was taken by Pazu's father, and Pazu explains how his father saw the floating island among the thick, stormy clouds during an airship trip. Pazu's father returned, but no one believed his discovery, and he died in misery. Now, Pazu is building a huge onrithopter so that he can rediscover Laputa.
It's not very long though, before the pirates track Sheeta down to Pazu's house. A street brawl starts between the townspeople and the pirates while Pazu and Sheeta sneak away and board a small train. Dola, after gathering up her men, chases after them. This has not gone unnoticed. One of Muska's agents spots Sheeta and soon, with a large military force, they too are chasing Pazu and Sheeta. As a result of this altercation, Pazu and Sheeta are forced off the tracks and seemingly fall to their doom. However, the levitation stone once again goes to work. Both the pirates and the military troops watch in awe as the two float gently downward.
The two descend into a mineshaft. At the bottom they meet Uncle Pom, an old eccentric miner. Pom explains that he came down here to see the rocks glowing in the dark. The rocks have the vein of the levitation stone, and he then shows what happens when they are exposed to air. Sheeta notices that her stone is glowing with the rest of the stones. She shows it to Uncle Pom who, in amazement, tells them that it is a crystal. Uncle Pom says that only the people of Laputa knew how to create such crystals, and in doing so were able to construct a huge floating island in the sky. Through this new knowledge Pazu and Sheeta are able to ascertain that Laputa truly does exist.
Pazu and Sheeta leave the mine, only to be captured by Muska and the military. They are taken to a military base (Tedis Fortress), and Pazu is locked in the tower. Meanwhile, Muska escorts Sheeta to a room where a robot soldier is kept. Muska explains that the robot fell from the sky one day and is proof of the existence of Laputa. He shows Sheeta that the marking on her levitation stone and the one on the robot are the same, and says that the stone, once activated, will show the way to Laputa. He wants the activation spell, but she has no such knowledge. Muska discloses that her real name, Lusheeta Toel-ul Laputa, indicates that she is the true heir to the throne of Laputa, and threatens that Pazu's fate is in her hands. So, Sheeta agrees to go along with Muska's plan and tells Pazu to leave her alone. Pazu, shocked at Sheeta's request, agrees and walks back home sulking with three gold coins Muska gave him for his services.
By nightfall, Pazu reaches his home. He is greeted by Dola and her pirates (actually her sons), who have taken over Pazu's home as a temporary base. Once they have tied up Pazu, Dola points out how naive he was to have misinterpreted Sheeta's actions. She also mentions that Muska probably won't let Sheeta live after he gets what he wants from her. Meanwhile, Sheeta, back in her room, sadly recites a saying that her grandmother taught her to make trouble go away. The stone, in response to Sheeta's words, starts to emit mysterious rays and, as a result, activates the robot soldier in the basement. Awakened from its dormant state, the robot begins to create havoc within the castle, as it attempts to locate Sheeta.
Back home, Pazu asks Dola if he can join her pirates so that he can save Sheeta. Dola agrees, and they leave for Tedis Fortress using the flapters. Back at the fortress, all attempts to stop the robot soldier have failed. The robot chases Sheeta to the top of a tower and tries to communicate with her. The stone, still shining, emits a light towards the sky, which Muska interprets as the location of Laputa. Muska then cuts the communication lines, preventing the General (Genearl Mouroa) from asking his personnels about the situation Suddenly one of the shots from the fortress' gun turrets hits the robot and disables it. The soldiers rush to the tower thinking that they are victorious. However, the robot reactivates. Now, in an almost crazed state, it begins to obliterate the entire fortress, firing at anything that looks hostile. Sheeta, shocked by the carnage it has caused, tries to stop the robot by covering its head. The robot moves Sheeta to a safer place, only to be destroyed by the airship Goliath. Pazu saves Sheeta from the burning tower as he passes over in Dola's flapter. The pirates make their escape easily, however the stone is now in possession of Muska, and is still emitting a beacon towards Laputa.
The pirates, accompanied by Pazu and Sheeta, make it back to their airship (Tiger Moth). Once there, Dola makes quick use of Pazu and Sheeta, giving them both jobs to do onboard the ship. They head east, in the direction Sheeta's stone was shining previously in the Fortress. Later, while Pazu is up on the top of the ship keeping watch, Sheeta goes up to talk to him. She tells Pazu that she actually doesn't want to go to Laputa, and that she feels sorry about the robot. She is scary of the power of her levitation stone, and wishes that it didn't exist at all. Pazu points out to her, that with the rapid advances in aviation technology, someone will sooner or later find Laputa and that they can't let someone like Muska find it first. Sheeta also tells him about the different charms her grandmother taught her, including the "Doom" charm, which she is never supposed to use.
Then, Pazu sees a silhouette of the Goliath in the clouds beneath the Tiger Moth. He wakes the crew, and the Tiger Moth dives into the clouds to avoid confrontation. Pazu and Sheeta take off in a glider to help guide the Tiger Moth towards Laputa. Pazu tells Dola to head into the big storm ahead, since that was what his father did before. There the Goliath finds them and attacks. The Tiger Moth is hit, and the glider is disconnected from the ship. Pazu and Sheeta plummet towards the ground. Suddenly, Pazu, while trying to get the glider under control, sees the image of his father. Guided by the lightenings, the glider make it through the storm and emerge into clear sky.
They arrive at Laputa, the legendary floating kingdom. However, there is no one living there. Pazu and Sheeta are greeted by a solitary gardener robot who takes care of the lush gardens of the upper portion of Laputa. The robot leads the children to a grave plaque in the central gardens, and offers Sheeta a flower. Then, the sound of an explosion is heard below. It is the government troops, raiding the treasure hall of the castle. They see that Dola and the pirates have been captured, and try to reach them, but Muska and his men see them. Soon Sheeta is captured and taken by Muska to the inner chambers of the castle. Meanwhile, Pazu succeeds in freeing the pirates. Dola gives him a canon and two shells so he can rescue Sheeta.
Muska reaches the control center of Laputa, which contains the giant levitation stone that keeps Laputa aloft. Sheeta, wondering how Muska knows so much about Laputa, asks who he really is. Muska reveals himself as also being a descendant of Laputa. Now in control of the castle, Muska tells General Mouroa and his men to come to the observation room so that he can demonstrate the awesome power of the castle. The general thanks Muska for his services and tries to kill him. Muska, prepared for this, opens up the floor of the observatory and sends the general and his men to their deaths. He then unleashes hundreds of robot soldiers onto the remaining troops. The troopers quickly scramble back to the Goliath in fear, but the robots destroy the giant airship. Sheeta is able to catch Muska off guard while he is enjoying the destruction of Goliath and manages to grab the stone away from him. Muska, unable to control Laputa without the stone, chases after her.
Pazu looks for Sheeta, and finally he finds her. They are separated by a wall between them. Sheeta, in an act of desperation, passes the stone through a hole and tells Pazu to throw it away. Immediately, Muska arrives and tries to shoot Pazu, but he misses. Pazu uses his weapon to enlarge the hole and goes after him. Sheeta reaches the throne room, but Muska comers her. Realizing she's trapped, Sheeta confronts Muska and tells him that people can't live in the sky away from the ground. That is why there is no one living on Laputa. Muska refuses to believe Sheeta and prepares to kill her. Pazu arrives just in time and tells Muska he'll never get the stone if he harms Sheeta. Muska allows Pazu to talk to Sheeta for three minutes. Pazu, asks Sheeta to tell him the Doom charm so they can both say it together. They say the charm, causing the stone to emit a blinding light. This not only blinds Muska but also releases the large levitation stone holding up Laputa. The castle and the great robots, now powerless, fall into the sea.
Dola and the pirates, escaping the destruction on their flapters, think that Pazu and Sheeta are dead and mourn them. Then the island stops descending. The large levitation stone had simply moved up the island and is now caught in the roots of the great tree. Pazu and Sheeta manage to survive, and find their glider and bid farewell to Laputa. They catch up with the pirates, who are very glad to see them alive. Soon after, Pazu and Sheeta say their farewells and head for home. As the story closes Laputa floats upwards into the sky...
|Character name||Japanese voice actor|| English voice actor|
| English voice actor|
|Pazu||Mayumi Tanaka||Bertha Greene||James Van Der Beek|
|Sheeta (Princess Lusheeta Toel Ul Laputa)||Keiko Yokozawa||Louise Chambell|| Anna Paquin|
Debi Derryberry (young)
|Captain Dola||Kotoe Hatsui||Rachel Vanowen||Cloris Leachman|
|Muska (Romuska Palo Ul Laputa)||Minori Terada||Jack Witte||Mark Hamill|
|Uncle Pom||Fujio Tokita||Cyn Branch||Richard Dysart|
|General Muoro||Ichiro Nagai||Mark Richards||Jim Cummings|
|Boss/Mr. Duffi||Hiroshi Ito||Charles Wilson||John Hostetter|
|Shalulu/Charles||Takumi Kamiyama||Bob Stuart||Michael McShane|
|Lui/Louis||Yoshito Tasuhara||Colin Phillips||Mandy Patinkin|
|Anli/Henri||Sukekiyo Kameyama||Ernest Fessler||Andy Dick|
|Motro/Engineer||Ryuji Saikachi||Matt Miller|
|Okami||Machiko Washio||Louise Chambell||Tress MacNeille|
|Madge||Tarako||Bertha Greene||Debi Derryberry|
- Japanese: Eken Mine, Megumi Hayashibara, Tomomichi Nishimura, Hōchū Ōtsuka, Toshihiko Seki, Masashi Sugawara, Reiko Suzuki
- English (Streamline): Charles Adler, Nancy Cartwright, Philip Clarke, Daniel Foster, Patrick Pinney
- English (Disney): Corey Burton, John DeMita, Eddie Frierson, Susan Hickman, Tress MacNeille, Scott Menville, Matt Miller, Andy Philpot, Michael Sorich
Additional Voice Talent
- John DiMaggio - Crowd, Soldier (Disney version)
- Jack Angel - Additional Voices (Streamline dub)
- Pat Fraley - Animal Vocal Effects (Disney version)
- Peter Fernandez - Narrator (Streamline dub)
- Wendee Lee - Additional Voices (Streamline dub)
- Laura Summer - Additional Voices (Streamline dub)
- Frank Welker - Animal Vocal Effects (Disney version)
The world in which the story takes place is clearly Earth, but in an alternate history. None of the place names match real-life geography. The airships appear to use buoyant gas, but are different in appearance than actual dirigibles. The pirate flaptors and military planes do not resemble actual craft. The movie takes place sometime between 1868 and 1900, as the photograph of Laputa inside Pazu's house, taken by his father, is dated "1868. 7," which evidently means "July 1868."
A statue of the Robot from Laputa, on the roof of the Ghibli Museum.
The history of this alternate world is hinted at in various parts of the movie: Laputa, in ancient times, once dominated the world in a hegemony, presumably of other aerial cities (suggested by a woodcut-like piece in the opening credits or scenes), and may have had a rotor on its bottom and other rotors on its side. Land may have also been attached to Laputa in antiquity; possibly in a different time period than the one in which rotors were attached. Laputa was abandoned 700 years before the setting of the movie, having controlled the manufacture and mining of the "sky-crystal"; such an art having been abandoned by the film's beginning. The royal family and their subjects abandoned the city, leaving behind an electronic, high-technology core topped by a chamber or greenhouse. There grew a central tree, which proceeded to sink its roots deep into the city and spread its branches outside of the city's top roof, along with several layers or terraces of walls or buildings done in various architectural styles. It is shown to have had at least three terraces of walls topped with one of buildings; it may have had as many as five, as indicated in a tomb marker's seal. This abandonment of Laputa, according to Sheeta and/or Uncle Pom, may have been due to an alienation of the Laputans from the earth; a forgetting that they are intimately connected to the earth and an over-reliance on technology to solve problems.
The opening part of the woodcut-like opening credits shows a simple windmill with a kiln behind it, set in a hillside, with a man tending it. Afterwards, the windmills grow into enormous, apparently partially wind-powered factories or machines, with machinery digging ever deeper into the earth. Dirigibles appear, along with airplanes and helicopters or autogyros flying against a clouded cityscape. A giant helicopter-ship is shown rising into the air, with the hull of an ocean liner and numerous rotors (possibly an exodus in search of new resources, as the factories surrounding it are now dark and motionless), and then a Laputa-like city appears, with the aforementioned rotors. Subsequently a scene of floating islands and cities appears; again with Laputa possibly among them. Enormous, boxy, metallic helicopter-ships are shown, having rotors propelling them from the bottom. Disaster strikes: lightning is shown and redness fills the screen. A sky-city can be seen, faintly, crumbling in the background, and then people are shown leaving the wreckage of a giant helicopter-ship. The end of the opening credits shows a farmgirl behind a windmill, almost exactly like the one shown previously to be the earliest seed of Laputan society, next to two beasts of burden: a scene later in the movie (showing Sheeta on a farm with similar beasts of burden) implies this is Sheeta. This opening-credit roll can be compared with the "history of the world" scenery shown at the end of Wings of Honneamise and the Bayeux Tapestry-like scroll at the beginning of Nausicaä.
Laputa is credited by Colonel Muska with having been behind Biblical events and sacred Hindu legends — thus tying the world of Laputa to our Earth (and to western European civilization) — as do the medieval castle architecture of parts of the fort on the ground; the Gothic and half-timbered buildings in the village near the fort; the British mining-town architecture, clothing, and even ground vehicles of Pazu's homeland; and the Victorian ambiance of the pirate ship. However, most of the movie's ancient civilisation designs seems to stem from early to mid-16th century European culture.
The medieval castle in the movie seems to be inspired by the European mid-16th century painting of The Tower of Babel by Pieter Brueghel the Elder, with its giant circular base and the presence of highly rounded and arched doorways all the way around its perimeter. Even the colour of the castle is similar to the colour of the tower in the painting, while the flying machines depicted in the opening scenes of the movie with its whirring blades are also similar to Leonardo da Vinci's early drawings of a wooden helicopter. The link with the Tower of Babel painting is also symbolic. According to the narrative in Genesis Chapter 11 of the Bible, the Tower of Babel was a tower built to reach the heavens by a united humanity.
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."
Distribution and reception
In the late 1980s, an English version of the movie was briefly shown in the U.S. by Streamline Pictures. This dub, produced for showing on international flights to Japan, was not produced by Streamline. According to Fred Patten of Streamline, "Streamline Pictures theatrically distributed an English-dubbed print of Laputa from March 24, 1989 for the next year, but Streamline never dubbed it. Streamline licensed Laputa from Tokuma Shoten in late 1988 or early 1989, and was sent a print from Japan that had already been dubbed into English for use as an in-flight movie by Japan Air Lines on its trans-Pacific flights. We have no idea who actually dubbed it."  Reportedly, Carl Macek was disappointed with this early dub,, which is available only on the Japanese R2 DVD release.
The Disney-produced English dub was recorded in 1998 and planned for release on video in 1999, but Disney eventually decided to release it to theaters instead (presumably because the first release under their deal with Studio Ghibli, Kiki's Delivery Service, performed better than expected on VHS).
After Princess Mononoke flopped financially in the U.S., Laputa's release date was pushed back yet again; on occasion the completed dub was screened at select children's festivals. The movie was finally released on DVD and video in the U.S. on April 15, 2003, alongside Kiki's Delivery Service and Spirited Away. As with Mononoke and Kiki, critics and fans were mixed about the new dub, but Cloris Leachman and Mark Hamill's performances as Dola and Muska drew nearly universal praise. Castle in the Sky was the second-best selling DVD from Studio Ghibli distributed by Disney in the year of its release (after Spirited Away and ahead of Kiki's Delivery Service).
The movie currently holds a 95% "Fresh" rating at RottenTomatoes.com
English language dubs of Laputa has been released under three different titles by three separate distributors.
Although meaningless in Japanese, "Laputa" (La puta) translates to "The Whore" or "The Bitch" in Spanish, which was probably intentional on the part of Swift, who created the concept in Gulliver's Travels. For this reason, in 2003, the film's title was shortened from "Laputa: Castle in the Sky" to "Castle in the Sky" in several countries, including the United States (where Spanish is commonly spoken as a first language by around 10% of the population or as a second language by students), Mexico, and Spain. This change was also carried over to a number of non-Spanish speaking countries, including Britain and France, under Disney's Buena Vista Home Entertainment label, despite Laputa (La puta) having no meaning in either English or French (however the French La pute is quite close). Curiously, although the word Laputa was removed from the title, it appeared on the rear cover of the DVD, and was used throughout the film, without modification.
The film's full name was later restored in Britain, in February 2006, when Optimum Asia - a division of London based Optimum Releasing - acquired the UK distribution rights to the Studio Ghibli collection.
Additionally, during the late 1980s and early 1990s, the aforementioned pre-Disney dub was screened in the UK, as an Art-house film, under the alternative title Laputa: The Flying Island. It was also shown at least twice on British television, but some scenes were cut. 
Differences between versions
Castle in the Sky Region 1 DVD cover. Castle in the Sky Region 1 DVD cover. Ratings Australia: G United Kingdom: PG United States: PG
Although the plot and much of the script was left intact, Disney's English dub of Laputa: Castle in the Sky contains some changes.
- A significant quantity of background chatter and 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 appearance of certain scenes.
- Composer Joe Hisaishi was commissioned to rework and extend his original synthesizer-composed 37-minute soundtrack into a 90-minute piece for symphony orchestra in an effort to make the movie more accessible to U.S. audiences who are accustomed to a more substantial musical accompaniment.
- Pazu and Sheeta, as portrayed by James Van Der Beek and Anna Paquin, are made to sound as several years older, placing them in their mid-teens, rather than their pre-teens.
- Several modifications were made to dialogue spoken to/about Sheeta by members of the Dola's Gang, including a declaration of love from one of the pirates. In the original Japanese version, the dialogue presented Sheeta as a potential mother figure for the pirates, instead of a potential romantic interest.
- References to Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island were removed, as was the reference to Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels.
Although all these alterations were approved by Studio Ghibli and Miyazaki, there have been a number of critics and fans who called them into question. In particular, some fans pointed out that the new soundtrack placed music in scenes that previously involved the dramatic use of natural silence, as in the opening airship raid or when Pazu and Sheeta pass through the storm-cloud. On the other hand, Miyazaki himself is said to have approved of Hisaishi's reworking ; his compliments were echoed by several reviewers. 
- The Gkids edition removes some of the english disney dialogue. For Example Pazu no longer says " knock it off I'm trying to talk to the lady" when his birds are flocking around him.
Lists of miscellaneous information should be avoided. Please relocate any relevant information into appropriate sections or articles. (February 2008)
- Many believe[who?] that characters from Miyazaki's 1978 series Future Boy Conan were prototypes for the characters of Laputa: Castle in the Sky. Moreover, according to Hideaki Anno, the original bill of the project of this movie was what Miyazaki had presented to NHK in the broadcasting station as the following work while producing “Future Boy Conan”. Illustration "Pazu, the child of the sea, 海の子パズー" collected to "Hayao Miyazaki image board collection, 宮崎駿イメージボード集" (issued in November, 1983) might be it (the composition that the boy who resembled Pazu looks up at the girl in the water tank in a dark room). In the plan, the original bill was SF novel "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea" of Jules Verne, but when making it into a film, Miyazaki might have changed it to Jonathan Swift's novel "Gulliver's travels". In addition, Miyazaki's plot outline for Castle in the Sky was also re-imagined by Toho as a TV series. The result was Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, a 1990-91 TV series aired on NHK, made by the Gainax studio and directed by Hideaki Anno (who reportedly considers Miyazaki one of his idols) and Shinji Higuchi (the predecessor to the same team's hugely successful Neon Genesis Evangelion).
- It is thought by some that the setting of "Castle in the Sky" is possibly the same setting as another of Miyazaki's movies, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, but in an earlier period of history.
- Jamie Hewlett, the artist behind the band Gorillaz, said on a South Bank Show special about anime that he found inspiration from the film for his art.
- In the part where the robot comes back to Pazu and Sheeta, it shows four of the same animals that Nausicaa had befriended running & playing on the robot.
- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess for the Wii and GameCube home video game consoles contains several elements inspired by Laupta, including a puzzle featuring two ancient robots covered in foliage, as well as the final level featuring a sky castle.
- Ofuji Award; Mainichi Movie Competition
- First Place; Pia Ten (Best Films of the Year)
- First Place; Japanese Movies; City Road
- First Place; Japanese Movies; Eiga Geijyutsu (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