“Head in the Clouds” – Castle in the Sky (anime) – 8/10 Black Cats

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore. ~Andre Gide quotes

Genre: Fantasy/Action/Adventure

Review Status: Complete (1 Movie/1 Movie)

Licensed: Yes, this anime is licensed in the US.

Art/Animation: It’s Ghibli- always good. The character designs are typical for the

Dub Vs. Sub: The dub voices for the main leads are way too old for the characters. The characters are supposed to be about 10- the dub voices sound about 20. The sub is quite good.

Summary: This high-flying adventure begins when Pazu, an engineer’s apprentice, finds a young girl, Sheeta, floating down from the sky wearing a glowing pendant. Together they discover both are searching for a legendary floating castle, Laputa, and vow to unravel the mystery of the luminous crystal around Sheeta’s neck. Their quest won’t be easy, however. There are greedy air pirates, secret government agents and astounding obstacles to keep them from the truth, and from each other. (Disney)

Review: For something that starts off with a rather fast-paced pirate attack, this anime is overall pretty slow-paced, with quick bursts of action throughout. From getting a look into Pazu’s life, to the walk through the mines, to being imprisoned within the army base, not much happens. Unfortunately, that means the story is also a bit hampered- the dialogue that occurs often adds nothing to the story, either in character relations or in the backstory of what’s going on.

That’s not to say that this is a poor film- it’s filled with humor and adventure, and some parts that can really warm your heart and get it pounding! While not my favorite Ghibli leads, Pazu and Sheeta are fascinating and fully realized characters. Their roles are turned around for this film, with Pazu being the energetic and sweet one while Sheeta is more serious and determined. Usually those descriptions are reversed for the guys and girls in the films. Sheeta remains a wonderful lead, having faced many hardships and having been tempered by them. There is still a spark of hope that things can get better that remains alive, protected by Pazu when all seems hopeless.

The side characters are as charming as ever, with the band of air pirates being loveable goofs that swoop in at the last minute to save things. Muska is perhaps the most identifiably evil villain that has ever come out of Ghibli. He’s thoroughly determined to take power for himself and is willing to do anything for it, including getting rid of Sheeta and Pazu-permanently.

When this story gets on its feet and really rolling, it’s brilliant. The action, the story, and the characters all come together to make this one heck of an adventure film! The danger seems palpable, while the world that’s built in Laputa truly seems magical. It may be a more typical children’s film in terms of plotline, but that doesn’t take away from how great it is.

Overall, this was a charming adventure that’s fit for the whole family.

Recommended: 5+. No language, no nudity, no blood, minimal violence (you do have the typical cartoon violence and some rather exciting arial battles, but except for a robot being destroyed there’s nothing objectionable there).

Other titles you might enjoy:

Spirited Away (anime)
Future Boy Conan (anime)
Howl’s Moving Castle (anime)
Escaflowne (anime)
Kiki’s Delivery Service (anime)


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Christopher G
    Oct 08, 2011 @ 01:51:24



  2. rocklobsterjwt
    Oct 09, 2011 @ 18:33:50

    You should've said something about this being Ghibli's first-ever anime. It's almost hard to tell.


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