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. Avatar 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. Avatar 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. Avatar 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. Avatar 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. Avatar 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. Avatar 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. Avatar 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. Avatar 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

Star Crossed Anime Blog

6 User(s) Online Join Server

Featured Posts

One Punch Man S2 – 3 [The Hunt Begins]

Alright OPM, credit where it’s due, you managed to recover a little this week.  Garou gets more screen time, the animation is a little less shit and ONEs writing is starting to shine through. Lets jump in! Starting off, as fun as it would be to rag on OPM for another week, it’s improved. This […]

Dororo – 15 [The story of the scene from hell]

Fuck you Osamu Kobayashi. Your a terrible director and you ruin everything you touch. Welcome to another week of Dororo, where for once OPM isn’t the show I am most disappointed in. Lets dive in. Let’s cut right to the chase, Dororo looked like shit this week. And all the credit goes to Osamu Kobayashi, […]

Sarazanmai – 02 [I Want to Connect, but I Want to Take]

And the wild ride is here. In turn for cardboard zombies last week, our three kappa-who-are-pooped-out-by-someone-else have to fight cat zombies, an acid bee-themed amusement park, a person with a cat face who clearly reference Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lamb, weeds and a (yuri) kiss at the end of the rainbow. It’s […]

Fruits Basket (2019) – 02/03 [They’re All Animals! / Let’s Play Rich Man-Poor Man!]

I believe it’s safe to say that one of the main concern for this adaptation of Fruits Basket isn’t about the source, but more about whether or not the current staffs have what it takes to bring this classic to life (while at the same time pleases the original author, but that’s beside the point), […]

Mix – 02/03

Star Crossed is one of the oldest anime blogs left on the English-speaking internet, so we’re bound to have a few devotees of Mitsuru Adachi, that master of classic storytelling, among our readership. If you fall into that category, you might wonder why someone who has never read or watched Touch, his seminal work, has […]

Kimetsu no Yaiba – 3 [Sabito and Makomo]

Welcome to Kimetsu no Yaiba, the premier Saturday Morning Cartoon of the season! This time we burn through a training arc, meet some ghosts and learn the arcs end-goal. Lets jump in! Starting off, like always, the production. Yaiba does a great job here, like usual, looking fantastic. Assume you like digital effects that is. […]

Paranoia Agent – 13 [The Final Episode] – Throwback Thursday

Welcome all to the finale of Paranoia Agent! People grow up, Shounen Bat is defeated and absolutely nothing makes any sense. Lets dive in! Starting off, visually, it worked very well as a finale. Lots of awesome shots, action and moments throughout, all blending into just a joy to watch. Really, it just flowed well. […]

One Punch Man S2 – 2 [Human Monsters]

Breathe deep… Siiiiiiiiigh… Guess we are doing this. Strap in folks, because this is going to be a rough season of OPM. Let me start off, with a friendly warning. If your here for my usual attempts at constructive criticism and attempted multifaceted analysis, I apologize. There will be very little of that for these […]

Dororo – 14 [The Story of Sabame]

Another week, another episode of Dororo. This time we learn the mystery of Dororo’s back, meet a new demon and get a lot of parallels to their current overall situation. Lets jump in! Starting off, Dororo once again is a bit disappointing on the production front. There were a number of dull or sliding stills, […]

Latest Reviews

Boogiepop wa Warawanai (2019) (Winter 2019) Anime Review – 78/100

Just like the titular character, Boogiepop Phantom the series has become some sort of urban legend itself in this medium. Its Light Novels are amongst the first Light Novel ever released, dating back to mid-90s. Moreover, the franchise has endured the test of time, as it inspires anime, live-action adaptations and Boogiepop is a well-known […]

Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai (2019 Winter) Anime Review – 77/100

Coming to Kotobuki, there are lots of aspect that catch my attention: it’s from a famed director Tsutomu Mizushima who can turn the most trashable and genre-able concepts into something intriguing; it’s an CG show about air pilots: it has extended aerial combat set-pieces. Watching it till the end, I have to tip my hat […]

Kemurikusa (2019 Winter) Anime Review – 79/100

Kemurikusa is your very definition of an overlooked gem, one that never really gain much discussion anywhere, but one that has a distinctive style from an up-and-coming auteur who has full control of his projects. Coming to Kemurikusa, all the attention it has came from the fact that it is created by TATSUKI, a mastermind […]

Mob Psycho 100 S2 Anime Review – 87/100

Upon finishing this series, the only question on my mind was how many animators did Bones sacrifice on ONE’s altar to achieve this. Following their prior season, Mob Psycho 100 Season 2 continues Bones adaptation of webcomic and manga author ONE’s 4th work, Mob Psycho 100. ONE has also authored the critically acclaimed One Punch […]

Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai Review – 84/100

Anime draws on many different media types in its endless search for properties to adapt, but manga is still the king of the bunch. And why not? It’s a distinctly Japanese art form, their main demographics have significant overlap, and manga’s panel-based layout means that some of the anime staff’s work is already done. Plenty […]

Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru Anime Review – 93/100

Recently, sports anime have become a bit of a dying breed. Falling into the same hole as Mecha, aside from a passionate base audience, most are overlooked. There are the occasional hits like Haikyuu, Yuri on Ice, or Darling in the Franxx for Mecha, but those are few and far between, often taking years. Even […]

A quick and dirty review of Garo: Vanishing Line

What it claims to be about: A secret order of knights and alchemists, the Makai Knights and Alchemists, fight horrifying creatures called Hollows who prey on human weakness .Part of the media franchise spanning anime and live action shows, this iteration is set in modern metropolis and concerns the attempts of Sword, the strongest Makai […]

Planetes Anime Review – 84/100

If there is one thing I have lost watching seasonal anime, it is patience. Every week I expect something to happen, some kind of payoff, to make watching that week worth it. Luckily, Planetes as brought that back to me. Its depth of writing, characters, and general structure belay an anime of a different age. […]

Goblin Slayer Anime Review – 60/100

The controversial nature of this shows opening episode may have many turning away from it due to believing it’s nothing but shock value but that truly isn’t what Goblin Slayer is. I will say that the manga may hold some truth to that statement but thanks to some tasteful censoring(Yes, sometimes censoring can be a […]