Image from: Castle in the Sky (1986)

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Reviewed by ddahoui BG / Joined ddahoui 2014
Castle in the Sky
Castle in the Sky
Castle in the Sky
Japan, 1986, 124 minutes Adventure, Animation, Fantasy, Anime, Childrens
Castle in the Sky, Studio Ghibli's first official film, is one of those adventure films for all ages which still holds up to this day, because it manages to capture the essence of adventure. It almost feels like an homage to adventure tales, with direct references to Treasure Island and Gulliver's Travels.

Here we find out that the treasure turns out to be something much grander than anyone expected, and as our protagonists go through this journey together, they learn to become stronger and more independent in their own ways. Aside from their strong character arcs, Sheeta and Pazu make the most endearing couple I’ve seen in any Miyazaki film. They don’t share a kiss or directly say that they love each other, but they have great chemistry together, especially for children.

Compared to Miyazaki’s previous film Nausicaä, Castle in the Sky has more light-heartedness, with cartoonish slapstick, fun characters, and adventurous nature, and yet it also maintains deep and grounded messages. While not an environmentalist film, there is an exploration over how progress can lead to the best and worst of humanity: the worst is the abuse of that power, whether through technology or an unknown power. At its worst, there’s the abuse of its power. Because of this, nature is something that needs to be valued and preserved.

Miyazaki tends to write ambiguous and/or complex antagonists than generic ones, except this is one of the only times Miyazaki has ever written generic villains with the power-hungry Mushka (the only other time was in Lupin III). However, it works with the idea of how greed and power can lead to corruption. The rest of the supportive characters are certainly memorable as well. It’s easy to like and care for all of the characters in this film, including Dola and the pirates who start out as comic relief and then eventually as mentors for both Pazu and Sheeta.

The animation is also memorable in the way it portrays the sense of gravity and weight to the aircrafts, like you can practically feel the wind pushing you when you're up int he clouds. In contrast we have Sheeta floating down the sky, and I love how she regains her natural weight after landing on Pazu’s arms.

Castle in the Sky is a fun adventure film with enough drama and suspense to keep the story engaging, and to make it more than just an adventure film, with very memorable, characters, an exciting story, breathtaking flying scenes, inventive designs (specifically the robots), and some of the best humor in any Ghibli film.
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