Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Laputa: Castle in the Sky Anime Review

Laputa: Castle in the Sky
Tenku no Shiro Rapyuta
Buena Vista Home Entertainment (Disney)
Movie - 126 minutes
$29.99 (2003) $29.99 (2010)
ISBN 786936791617
Japanese/English Audio - English Subtitles
Director - Hayao Miyazaki
Studio - Studio Ghibli

Synopsis: A girl floats down from the sky wearing a pendant necklace of glowing blue stone and Pazu rescues her.  She is named Sheeta and is being pursued by the military.  Sheeta is linked to the ancient floating city called Laputa where wondrous technology and wealth are stored.  The two teenagers find unlikely allies in a group of sky pirates who are interested in Laputa to loot treasure, but have good hearts.

Pazu discovers Sheeta floating down from the sky
The military is led by the callous Colonel Muska who wants to harness Laputa as a tool to conquer the world.  He possesses artifacts from the fabled lost sky city in the form of an ancient non-functioning robot and a book.  Now Pazu and Sheeta along with Dola's pirates must race to uncover the secrets of Laputa before Muska and his flying warships catch up to them. 

Sheeta and Pazu flee from Muska's airship Goliath
Sheeta's pendant is the key to finding Laputa and her history is inexorably linked with the legendary city.  Can she and Pazu stop the evil Muska from destroying the world?

Pros: High-flying adventure, exciting chase scenes, wonderful hand-drawn animation, lush backgrounds, sense of wonder and amazement, incredibly simple yet appealing design work, excellent story with truly legendary feel, and the ancient robots rock!

Can Pazu and Sheeta reach Laputa before Muska?
Cons: Some issues with English dub including the translation differing from original Japanese script on some key lines and voice actor choices for Sheeta (Anna Paquinn) and Pazu (James Van Der Beek) sound older than originally portrayed (teens instead of pre-teens), the 2010 version's English subtitles are actually 'dub-titles' following the English dub rather than the original Japanese audio, background music is amped up, pirates are goofy (guys wear pink outfits)

Mike Tells It Straight: Laputa is one of my favorite films and another classic by Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli (the first official film by the studio in 1986).  It's filled with fantastic adventure and suspense while keeping a lighthearted air of simplicity.  A true classic and highly recommended for young and old alike.  I would easily rate this among the top five Ghibli films of all-time.  Animation and mechanical designs are top-notch organics (i.e. hand drawn).  The robots are awesome and my two-year-old loves this movie (behind Totoro of course).
Pazu and Sheeta meet a robot from Laputa
2010 version
The biggest question for me was how to choose the best version of the film on DVD.  Disney has released two versions in 2003 and 2010.  I watched the 2003 version and found it to be very good.  The soundtrack was epic (revised score by Joe Hisaishi didn't seem overpowering), subtitles were great, and the dub was all right.  The dub script makes some major changes to the story with choice of voice actors and line changes (lessening the environmental message which is a Ghibli signature). 

I would suggest getting the 2003 version if you're planning to watch in Japanese with English subtitles (avoid the dubtitles in the 2010 version).  Either version is fine if you're going to watch the English dub primarily.  Go out and get this movie as it's a wonderful film for all ages.

TO BUY and Recommendations: