Review: Laputa: Castle In the Sky [1986]

Japanese Title: Tenkū no Shiro Rapyuta
Release date: August 2, 1986
Running time: 124 minutes
Directed by: Hayao Miyazaki
Produced by: Isao Takahata
Written by: Hayao Miyazaki
Music by: Joe Hisaishi

Voice Actors: (Japanese, American, Disney dubbers)
Keiko Yokozawa, Louise Chambell, Anna Paquin (Sheeta)
Mayumi Tanaka, Bertha Greene, James Van Der Beek (Pazu)
Minori Terada, Jack Witte, Mark Hamill (Muska)

Plot: (from animenewsnetwork)
A girl named Sheeta falls out of the sky and lands in Pazu’s arms. Soon after a gang of air pirates led by Dola, as well as a mysterious man named Muska, are on their tails. The chase leads them to a floating castle that once belonged to an ancient race of people.

*****Differences between the English and Japanese Versions*****

(accessed through: wikipedia)

-The Disney-produced English dub was recorded back 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 the box office failure of Princess Mononoke in the U.S., however, 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. Like Princess Mononoke, the Laputa dub received somewhat mixed reviews–criticisms were directed at the leads, while Cloris Leachman’s Dola and Mark Hamill’s Muska drew raves. Despite this, 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).

-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 comical one- liners were added (similar to Disney’s dub of Kiki’s Delivery Service)

-Composer Joe Hisaishi was commissioned to rework and extend his original synthesizer-composed soundtrack into a 90-minute piece for symphony orchestra in an effort to make the movie more accessible to U.S. audiences.

-Pazu and Sheeta, as portrayed by James Van Der Beek and Anna Paquin, are made to sound as though they are in their mid-teens, rather than their pre-teens.

-References to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island were removed.
While all these alterations were approved by Studio Ghibli and Miyazaki, there have been 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, according to a diary about the reworking of the music, Miyazaki is said to have applauded Hisaishi’s efforts, and some critics gave the re-scoring high marks in their reviews.

I say…

It’s one heck of an adventure we got here! Reviews on Fushigi no Umi no Nadia was right after all, it was like a longer version of Laputa’s. Lots and lots of characters from the series is very similar to Laputa’s. The drawings, the elements and the characters were obviously patterned to Laputa. But the viewpoint of Nadia is on Jules Verne’s “20000 Leagues Under the Sea” while Laputa is on Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island”. I also thought that the flying ships in Laputa were very similar to 2004’s Howl’s Moving Castle, also from the same director.

I don’t think Pazu & Sheeta were in love… They just share the common feeling of being orphans and it drew them to each other. I think they look more like brother and sister. It will be better for me to think of them that way.

I’ve always thought the movie would be boring, so I always skip and choose another Ghibli movie. But it turned out to be a good, classic animation film. It influenced a great deal of animation series known to us now. I think I’m starting to appreciate this Hayao Miyazaki guy… he’s really good. I wonder if he’d still make other great animation movies for Studio Ghibli.

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