Posted by psgels on 15 November 2007 with categories: Anime Reviews


For as far as I know, I’ve seen all of the major Ghibli-movies now, apart from the ones directed by Hayao Miyazaki. First up is Laputa: Castle in the Sky, and finally I understand why Studio Ghibli because such a big name in anime. This is the anime that inspired movies such as Steamboy and Giniro no Kami no Agito, but most importantly, even Vision of Escaflowne (one of my favourite series) shows hints that the creators were avid fans of this movie.

The amount of creativity that Hayao put into the fantasy-setting is astonishingly original. From the mining town where the story starts to the castle of Laputa itself, it’s the setting of this movie that really draws you in. The cast of side-characters also never feels out of place, and they’re the ones who make this movie really come alive. Being produced in 1986 (before I was actually born), I can imagine that this movie must have been revolutionary.

Alas, I wish I could call this movie a masterpiece all the way, though unfortunately things aren’t that simple. For one thing, some parts of this movie didn’t quite age well. Twenty years ago, the idea of a young boy, meeting a mysterious girl who happens to be the queen of an ancient race may have sounded exciting, but I’ve seen this concept being abused a few too many times. Especially the main male character proves to be just unable to carry the weight of the movie as it goes on, and all he does is go from one nearly impossible heroic deed to the other. Much like Steamboy, actually.

I’m also surprised to say this about a Ghibli-movie, but there’s a bit too many action in this one. There’s especially an abundance of grand explosions and random destruction. What surprised me even more is how Hayao hardly used this. When a wooden bridge for mine-carts gets destroyed, it just disappears from the screen. You don’t see angry miners who complain about how they have to fix the damage that was done to their constructions, the movie just acts like nothing happened. When someone falls through a roof, nobody even bothers to fix it. I just can’t help but feel disappointed when this comes from a studio that’s so good at realism.

Overall, I wouldn’t call this the best movie of Studio Ghibli. Spirited Away and The Cat Returns were both just better than what I saw here, but that doesn’t mean that Laputa isn’t one big success, especially considering the time when it came out, and there’s no denying to the influence it had on modern-day anime. With visually stunning animation and a terrific soundtrack, but most importantly a huge amount of imagination, this really is a movie that needs to be seen, despite all of the flaws that it has.

11 Responses

  1. Wyrdwad says:

    “For as far as I know, I’ve seen all of the major Ghibli-movies now, apart from the ones directed by Hayao Miyazaki.”

    Wow, does that mean you have yet to see works like Kiki’s Delivery Service, My Neighbor Totoro, and the astonishingly underrated Porco Rosso? And what about, say, Princess Mononoke?

    (Not mentioning Nausicaa, because frankly, I don’t really like that one!)

    If you haven’t seen those, then it’s no wonder you’re having trouble understanding the draw of Studio Ghibli… Miyazaki was pretty much THE MAN behind the studio. Without him, Ghibli would’ve never become the household name it is today.

    All of the above-mentioned movies, along with Laputa and Whisper of the Heart, represent my favorite Studio Ghibli works (with Porco Rosso taking the #1 spot, I think – I can’t wait to see a review of that one from you, as I guarantee it’s going to take you by surprise!).

    I have yet to see The Cat Returns, actually, but based on your rave review of it, I guess I’m going to have to check it out sometime soon. (:

    -Tom

  2. Wyrdwad says:

    BTW, have you ever seen Future Boy Conan (a.k.a. “Conan, the Boy of the Future”, a.k.a. “Mirai Shounen Conan”)? It’s a classic 26-episode anime from the 70s that was directed (and written, I think?) by Hayao Miyazaki, and it’s very obvious that Laputa’s characters and general atmosphere were all based very heavily upon it… in fact, a lot of people consider Future Boy Conan to be the prototypical Laputa. In some ways, though, I think Future Boy Conan is a little BETTER (probably because it has a longer run time in which to accomplish its goals), and it definitely comes highly recommended.

    -Tom

  3. DiGiKerot says:

    For me, Miyazakis Ghibli movies (and I specify Ghibli merely as a way to sidestep the fact that Castle of Cagliostro was brilliant) definitely following something of a bell-curve in terms of quality. Nausicaa isn’t particularly great in anime form (the manga is one of the best I’ve ever read, though), Laputa is a solid “good”, Totoro has flashes of brilliance, Kiki is excellent and Porco Rosso gets my vote for Best Movie Ever.

    After that, everything starts to go downhill – I really liked Mononoke, even if it was largely a rehash of Nausicaa, and Spirited Away very much sits in the middle of the bunch for me.

    Finally, Howls Moving Castle is awful, and by that I don’t mean awful by Ghibli standards – I mean its a horrific mess of a movie.

    Whilst you are going through the Ghibli movies, make sure to try and see On Your Marks, the music video that was originally shown alongside Whisper. It’s pretty ^^;

  4. Mar says:

    (Not mentioning Nausicaa, because frankly, I don’t really like that one!)
    Me neither. The Nausicaa manga is vastly superior to the movie, which only covered volumes 2 out of 7. I highly recommend reading that instead.

  5. LA says:

    I’ve never liked this only because the ending was so sad in an uncomfortable way, and that just left me in a terrible mood.
    But nonetheless, Laputa is an extremely impressvie movie because it somehow stands out so cleary in my memories though I have watched it more than 12 years ago, comparing that I was completely forgot about The Cat Returns which I’ve watched only few years ago….

  6. Kim says:

    I know, I’ve seen all of the major Ghibli-movies now, apart from the ones directed by Hayao Miyazaki.

    Have you seen Grave of the Fireflies? That was directed by Takahata and is one of the best Ghibli films.

    Personally Totoro and Porco Rosso are my favorite Miyazaki directed Ghibli films.

  7. psgels psgels says:

    Wyrdwad: yes, I became an anime-fan relatively late, so I haven’t grown up with the Ghibli-movies like everyone else, and right now I’m basically trying to catch up with them. I have seen Nausicaä, actually, I probably liked it a bit more than you did, but I wouldn’t really call it among Ghibli’s best work.

    Kim: Grave of the Fireflies was probably the first Ghibli-movie I’ve seen; I watched it before even starting this blog, though I didn’t like it that much. It had the same flaws of all the other Takahata-movies I’ve seen up till now as in how it kept dragging scenes on for too long, and at that time, my attention-span wasn’t really that high.

  8. Jumpin' Jap says:

    “I’ve seen this concept being abused a few too many times.  E
    I think this comment depend on only your personal situation.You can not relate it to the flows this movie has.

    “You don’t see angry miners who complain about how they have to fix the damage that was done to their constructions・・・・ E
    Oh….Are you serious?Haven’t you ever seen any kind of action movie?Who care about the damage to the buildings in picture?

  9. psgels psgels says:

    Well, that’s another reason for me not to watch action-movies. :P

    Seriously though, the reason I mentioned this is bbecause these miners make the world in which the movie is set come so more alive. If a random house is destroyed, then who cares about it? But if you see the people who live inside that house, the question becomes totally different.

  10. Jumpin' Jap says:

    Your opinion is out of focus.If this anime movie would have the theme of miner’s living and life, you were right.But this movie is clealy a kind of romantic-action movie.
    I think your judgment is quite unfair.
    It seemed to me that you’re only making a false charge.

  11. the nime attract me

    i didn’t see it befor

    thanx 4 review

Leave a Reply

Shoutbox

Name:
Email:
For:  
Mail will not be published
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Jul 30. 2016 04:06 PM)
    I think it’s just the max size the gallery will allow. Try to put it beyond that and the images won’t show up.
    I did install a plugin that would allow for a slideshow and was thinking of using it in posts but I am worried having so many slideshows on the same page will slow down loading it up.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jul 30. 2016 01:45 PM)
    Since I’m the designated Berserk guy now, I feel as if it’s my responsibility to announce that Berserk chapter 345 is now available.
  • SuperMario
    (Saturday, Jul 30. 2016 12:48 PM)
    @Bam: and you can set featured image (on the bottom right in the edit post) too if you want to
  • SuperMario
    (Saturday, Jul 30. 2016 12:45 PM)
    @Bam: Aidan did recommend me the size he usually goes for (246:135). I could never get the exact same size so I ended up using 240:138. It’s weird since we used the same source I think. For EVA because they used different format, I changed the size to 200:151
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jul 30. 2016 10:46 AM)
    @Aidan @Mario I noticed you guys use different dimensions for your screenshots. I set mine to 242*136 which is the same aspect ratio as a 1080p image (16:9). How did y’all end up with those sizes?
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Jul 30. 2016 06:24 AM)
    @Bam, Replied.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jul 30. 2016 05:33 AM)
    @Aidan: I sent an email. pls check your Yahoo inbox.
  • Badesh
    (Saturday, Jul 30. 2016 02:11 AM)
    Nice! Looking forward to the reviews. Some nice fighting scenes besides the build up of the story. I just hope they don’t play just this one tune all the time ;)
  • afgm
    (Saturday, Jul 30. 2016 02:10 AM)
    @Aidan: Too bad you’re giving up on Berserk. You’re missing ooouut.
  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, Jul 29. 2016 02:09 PM)
    @Bam, sent you the details. Give me a heads up on here if you send a message back. My yahoo.ie mail is so clogged up with spam that I rarely check it.

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Featured Posts

Berserk(2016) – 04 [Epiphany]

I wanted to start off by apologizing for the late review, as well as giving some general information and my overall impression of the new series. I’ve been a Berserk fan for quite a while, and both the 97’ series and the Berserk manga are among my top 5 anime/manga of all time. I was […]

EVA 02c

Neon Genesis Evangelion – 02

Turns out that our boy Shinji is after all THE ONE, akin to Neo in the Matrix or every main mecha hero for that matter. He has been chosen, he must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as he has. Sound like I’m complaining, right? Well, I’m not because I think this is […]

Fate Kaleid Liner PRISMA ILLYA 3rei!! - 04 2

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 3rei – 04

Well after a decisive defeat after assaulting the enemy headquarters, Illya and her newly united crew decide to hang around the school. The main bulk of the episode was dedicated to a fight between Chloe and Illya while other parts were mainly the characters clarifying the situation. The main reason behind the fight was Chloe […]

Mob Psycho 100 - 03 3

Mob Psycho 100 – 02/03

This may be a surprise to some so I better start this with an explanation. As you know I originally planned to cover Berserk this season and have put up reviews of the last two episodes. However due to Berserks rather disappointing quality, my desire to cover it has vanished. I doubt anyone wants to […]

orange 04c

orange – 04

Orange takes it very slowly this week, even slower than its standard. Indeed, we can summarize the plot of the first 15 minutes just by one sentence: After Kakeru dating with another girl, Naho feels brokenhearted and avoids Kakeru like a plague. Which actually makes sense. After all, the guy already had a girlfriend so […]

Thunderbolt Fantasy 03d

Thunderbolt Fantasy – 03

With this episode we basically get an idea where the show will head for the rest of the series and I pretty much enjoy the direction they taking so far. Of course it makes sense that in order to get past those obstacles, the band needs to ally with others who are most suitable for […]

Fate Kaleid Liner PRISMA ILLYA 3rei!! - 03 2

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 3rei – 03

Plenty of action this week as we have faceoffs between Beatrice and Illya with Gil and Angelica firing legendary weapons back and forth. I wish there was a bit more fight animation here as while it was the same in the manga, it’s still a shame to have the scene cut away just when the […]

91 Days - 03 4

91 Days – 03

Seeing as things didn’t quite go to plan for Avilio last episode, it’s now time for him to prove his innocence to Nero. Avilio is playing his cards right and things would have gone to plan if it wasn’t for the man who lead them to Fango before. He states out of curiosity that he […]

Re Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu - 17 4

Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World – 17

While I did enjoy this episode and think that some interesting things have been brought up, I must admit that even my patience is starting to run out. I blame this mostly on the fact that I am watching this weekly instead of binge watching it all as the progression in these episodes has slowed […]

Latest Reviews

The Murder Case of Hana & Alice a

The Murder Case of Hana & Alice (2015) Movie Review – 85/100

Welcome to the third installment of World Animation section, but this time we head back to Japan for my favorite anime movie out of last year. If anything, I have always wanted those reviews to be a recommendation if you want to look for something different. So if there is anyone who would check out […]

Untitled-1

Legend of Legacy Review – 80/100

Oh Square Enix, this is the kind of avant-garde work you need to do. Developed by Furyu with the people behind SaGa, and written by Masato Kato of Chrono Trigger, I knew I was in for a unique game right from the start. But its gameplay is certainly divisive and for good reason, as this […]

My Life as a Courgette a

My Life as a Courgette (2016) Movie Review – 82/100

It’s never easy to make a good family’s animation. For movies aim at adults, the filmmakers can easily get themselves loose, go crazy and the audience can still get it. But for kids, these movies might be one of the first movies they’ve ever seen and that’s a huge responsibility. They have to aware of […]

Red Turtle a

The Red Turtle Review – 93.5/100

Welcome to my first movie review on World Animation section, the column where I wholly dedicated to indie/ art-house animated features around the world that hardly got coverage anywhere really (but rest assure our since sometimes I will review anime movies as well). And what’s a better way to start this section by reviewing one of […]

Flying witch 09d

Flying witch Review – 86/100

As I mentioned in one of my weekly posts, most of the reason why a slice-of-life anime show don’t work well is not because there’s nothing happen, but more because the cast isn’t interesting enough or the show tends to repeat the things that we already know. I’m happy to say that this is not […]

Bungou Stray Dogs 12a

Bungou Stray Dogs Review – 62/100

Well, we don’t usually give a review on the first cour of anime show, given the fact that the second part will air next autumn season. But since I’m not certain I would cover its second half, plus I don’t think this series will improve itself, I might as well give Bungou Stray Dogs a […]

Kiznaiver - 12 1

Kiznaiver Review – 60/100

Kiznaiver is a very different faire from Studio Triggers other works in that it takes a more serious tone and has a writer who tends to go more for the melodramatic. This is a tale about a group of very different people gathered together and have their pain linked to one another. In an effort […]

Joker Game - 12 2

Joker Game Review – 50/100

When experiencing the wave of new anime each season it can get rather tiresome to notice all the teenagers fighting supernatural forces while gathering a harem through seer luck or similarly tired concepts. So when something like Joker game comes along and takes a road less traveled with it’s story, naturally I am well on […]

mayoiga 07b

Mayoiga Review – 78/100

Mayoiga has to be one of the most misunderstood shows in recent years. On a surface, the premise alone has a lot of potential. The idea behind putting 30 people, each of them has very different set of personalities, together in a bus to a mysterious lost village, in order to start over new life […]