Laputa, Castle in the Sky
A Parent's Guide to Anime
Parental Guidance Advised
Review by Charles Peklenk
This movie is widely available in a new edition from Disney/Buena Vista on DVD and VHS. The DVD offers Japanese and French audio tracks, English subtitles, and a few special features. The Disney-produced English version is very good and includes a commendable remake of the original music. I personally prefer the original Japanese audio because the main characters sound like children, as they should.
Sheeta, a girl with a mysterious pendant, is sought by pirates and the army. They seek a clue to the whereabouts of Laputa, the legendary castle in the sky which may hold uncountable wealth for the finder. Sheeta flees with the assistance of Pazu, a boy who also wants to find Laputa, but soon the pursuers catch up and envelop them in their evil plans. They grow together as friends in the midst of their troubles.
Laputa begins as a partly comic chase movie and evolves into a darker, scarier study of the depths people will go to to achieve and maintain power. The lead characters look like very young children, but as the adults fight to seize the pendant and locate Laputa, the "kids" quickly lose their innocent nature, except towards each other. The excellent music amplifies this theme. Action, excitement, and tense moments are packed in, but plenty of room is left for quieter scenes.
I wouldn't recommend this movie for very small children. There are some frightening scenes of personal injury, war-like fighting, and implied mass deaths, but no gore except for grazing by a bullet. It has a few magical incantations; no nudity or sex. Some of the subtitled versions may show mild four-letter words. Unlike other films by Miyazaki, this one has a character who is totally ruthless and unredeemably evil.