A Scribbly on Ghibli: THE FIRST GHIBLI

Castle in the Sky (1986)

If Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is the animated marvel that paved the way for the now featured animation juggernaut that is Ghibli; then Laputa: Castle in the Sky, is its satisfying and energetic prodigy. Coming just two years after the animated success that was Nausicaä, Miyazaki showed no signs of slowing down and debuted his new company with this lively, well-developed, alternative history filled with pirates, alchemy, and wonder. Castle in the Sky, is a mysterious, fun, fast paced adventure, that takes you on a unique journey of discovery, keeping you entertained from start to finish.

Never a dull moment, the movie opens with pirates raiding an airship holding our meek heroine Sheeta, who has been kidnapped by government officials. After escaping the airship with the help of a mysterious family heirloom, Sheeta is discovered by Pazu an exuberant young boy who, after discovering they’re both orphans, takes it upon himself to take care of her. Together the two try to evade the likes of pirates and military alike while simultaneously trying to discover the secrets of the legendary sky-city, Laputa and its connection to Sheeta. Despite a run time a little over two hours, the movie doesn’t feel it, as we’re swept away with Sheeta, Pazu. and the incredible cast of characters that they interact with on their adventure.

Still cultivating its signature look, Castle in the Sky is filled with beautiful scenery, vibrant imagery, and marks the beginning of Miyazaki’s obsession with brunette heroines. Said heroine, in the face of opposition (much like her predecessor) advocates pacifist and martyrish ideals as guides to preserving the greater good. Unlike her predecessor, Sheeta, doesn’t have to make the sacrifice alone; the introduction of Pazu also introduces the Ghiblian sidekick, a supporter, self-proclaimed protector, and friend who helps guide the heroine along their journey. Pazu is all those things for Sheeta and helps provide her with the agency to preserve and thrive.

I’ve noticed that when debating which Ghibli is the best, this is the one that often gets overlooked. As the first Ghibli in the canon, Castle in the Sky is a marvel in its own right and deserves the same kind of recognition as its predecessor and those that came after. While I cannot definitively say which Ghibli is the absolute best, I consider this movie one of if not the top contender.


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About the Author

Sierra Beeler is a Senior at UNCC, majoring in Creative Writing and minoring in Film and Women and Gender studies. Forever a daydreamer, Sierra aspires to one day monopolize an entire weeknight with her own slew of TV shows, more popular than anything Shonda Rhimes could make. On the rare occasions when Sierra is not somewhere being obnoxious, you can find her doing one of her many passions: writing, drawing, filming, screeching (also known as singing), etc.