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
  • Bam
    (Friday, Oct 31. 2014 08:31 AM)
    *this time
  • Bam
    (Friday, Oct 31. 2014 08:28 AM)
    @K-off: it wasn’t the most visually impressive episode anyways, so it’s alright is time.
  • k-off
    (Friday, Oct 31. 2014 08:19 AM)
    @Bam I know you’re going to point it out, so yes, I know the screenshots aren’t very good…But it was very difficult for me to find a decent clip that wasn’t a spoiler in this episode.
  • ninjarealist
    (Friday, Oct 31. 2014 06:42 AM)
    I’m shocked by the news that Jian Ghomeshi has been an evil rapist this entire time. I listened to his show for so long and he always seemed like such a teddy bear. Just shows that you can’t judge a book by its cover.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Oct 31. 2014 03:06 AM)
    Then Tougane looks down in a displeased manner and says: “two brainwave scanners would never work, what we need is to put a rubber ducky under the floormat and then if an intruder gets in they will step on it, alarming the cat. We then proceed to dissect the cat to check its body for any signs of stress hormone secretion which will show if someone was indeed there or not”. He then looks away with content and light up a cigarette.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Oct 31. 2014 02:57 AM)
    Also the dominator is dominately stupid. After all that happened you don’t arm your men with some non-lethal back-up weapon or something? I get that they were trying to take the law out of human hands to avoid abuse, but in that case what is the point of human agency in the police? Have some droids patrol the streets with dominators then.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Oct 31. 2014 02:54 AM)
    @K-off: yeah, “God if there only was a way we could actually see who’s sneaking into the chief inspector of police’s apartment. Any ideas Shion?”
    “How bout two brainwave scanners?”
    Nash
  • k-off
    (Friday, Oct 31. 2014 02:48 AM)
    @Bam In 1984,they had recorders hidden in the trees. Fucking trees, for crying out loud.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Oct 31. 2014 02:41 AM)
    The biggest absurdity in Psycho Pass is the non-existence of security cameras in an authoritarian future. They have brainwave scanner at every goddamn corner for fuck sake!
  • Emma
    (Friday, Oct 31. 2014 02:34 AM)
    @Aidan: Seems I’ve also read shinigami ni saigo by him also, which unfortunately I fell behind on. =< But I remember liking it.

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Featured Posts

Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis- 04

By now, I have a general idea of where this story is going. Our characters finally face the main villains of the story and starting next episode, I reckon that we’ll get some real story progression because frankly, the past few episodes did almost nothing to get me to care much for the characters, no matter […]

Nanatsu no Taizai Episode 1-4

Sorry for not giving this a first impression but I felt that to do so at this point would be redundant. So Nanatsu no Taizai, or Seven Deadly Sins if you prefer. An anime that certainly does nothing new. Every ounce of which filled with standard shounen battle manga tropes. Yes this anime does nothing […]

Gugure! Kokkuri-San- 04

By now, I have a general idea of how the writers are going to go forward with this show. This show continues to jump the gun without setting up a clear voice for itself while pulling off some genuinely fun comedy, creating this weird combination that is somewhat off-putting yet fairly enticing. However, this episode […]

Grisaia no Kajitsu – 04

That’s it. I give up. I concede. I throw in the towel. I surrender. This is just a travesty, an unsalvageable mess. I have given this more patience than it deserves and it has rewarded me with tedium. The editing is schizophrenic and distracting. The dialogue and events passing by too fast for emotional impact. […]

Your Lie in April – 02 & 03

Your Lie in April has emerged as a bit of a nice surprise in this young season. The fairly popular noitaminA programming block has been pretty hit-and-miss of late, with some very good shows here and there but a much higher rate of complete duds compared to the block’s past. For this reason I approached […]

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks – 03

Well what can I say besides, I told you so. But even though I knew what was coming this is still remarkable. Not only is this episode excellent but it may in fact have topped it’s source material. It is at times like these that it is difficult to be both a Fate fan and […]

Akatsuki no Yona – 03

Hak and Yona flee Soo-Won’s men, but Yona’s mental and physical condition continue to deteriorate. Yona and Hak are both haunted by memories from the past. This was easily the best episode in the series so far. Whereas the first two episodes primarily took place in the present or the future, this episode is mostly spent in […]

Grisaia no Kajitsu – 03

This isn’t looking good. Let me explain, Grisaia has a somewhat nakige visual novel approach. Meaning that it has a comedic relatively plotless first half, followed by a tragic heroine backstory related story arc. Notable examples of this is any Key visual novel anime adaption you can think of. So for the first half we […]

Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis- 03

Okay, so this episode didn’t focus on Leone and Amira’s adventure. Instead, it focuses on building Kaisar’s character and it does so a bit awkwardly. This episode takes Kaisar and puts him into an overly bombastic situation in order to tell us about Kaisar’s past family problems, but it was so out of tone from […]

Latest Reviews

Clipboard06

Nerawareta Gakuen Review – 84/100

Let me talk a bit about Ryousuke Nakamura. For a long time, this guy was my hero. He started off as an assistant director to Monster, in my opinion a big reason why that series got such a ridiculously solid adaptation, and then in 2008 he came with the groundbreaking Mouryou no Hako. No TV-series […]

Clipboard03

Kick Heart

Okay, so I didn’t want to exit 2013 without having seen Masaaki Yuasa’s Kick Heart. It’s only twelve minutes anyway, and I consider him to be one of the best anime directors out there. The story here is pretty silly and mostly serves as a backdrop, so I mostly want to talk about the nature […]

Clipboard01

Kyousogiga Review – 90/100

Everyone’s taste is different, and that’s a wonderful thing because that allows us to have so many different forms of media that all aim toward their own niche. My blog is obviously written from the perspective of my own taste, and even when a show doesn’t cater to it (which is nearly always), I love […]

Clipboard04

Ore no Nounai Sentakushi ga, Gakuen Lovecome o Zenryoku de Jama Shiteiru Review – 80/100

Noucome! You do not want to know how long I have been waiting for a series like this. More than half a decade, at the very least. Finally a series comes along and puts the incredibly overused harem genre in its place. And it actually does it well. Thank you! So to elaborate: the harem […]

Clipboard01

Pokemon: The Origin Review – 75/100

Normally I try to avoid spoilers with these reviews, but screw it, it’s Pokemon. Pokemon The Origin is a bomb of nostalgia. If you haven’t played Pokemon Red, Blue or Green, then you will not enjoy this one slight bit. This really is made as pure undilluted fanservice for the fans of the first games. […]

Clipboard08

Tamayura – More Aggressive Review – 75/100

I’m not going to dedicate a post for my impression for the final three episodes of this series. It was just too boring to write much about. I guess that that gives a pretty accurate indication of what I think about this series. Right at the start of Tamayura’s second season, I asked one question: […]

Clipboard04

Silver Spoon Review – 86/100

When Noitamina started airing two series per season, it was amazing. It’s a timeslot that on average tends to be aimed at a much older audience than usual, and having two series with the same mentality definitely helped to bring more diversity to anime overall. Unfortunately it’s a schedule that could not be kept up […]

Clipboard07

Yondemasuyo, Azazel-San Z Review – 82,5/100

Reviewing a comedy sequel usually is quite simple: in most cases it just drops the bomb and runs out of inspiration, and in rare cases it actually manages to stay hilarious. The tricky thing with these kinds of series is that you need to remain funny, and you need to have the inspiration for that. […]

Clipboard05

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet Review – 81/100

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet tells the storyline of a planet that is completely submerged, with only giant ships residing on the surface, while one of those ships gets visited by this guy and his AI-mecha from this very technologically advanced civilization. Yes, this show is about world building. What this show managed to do […]