After the huge success of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, it's writer and director, Hayao Miyazaki, would go on to establish the now famous Studio Ghibli with fellow animator Isao Takahata in 1985. One year after it's establishment, Miyazaki would direct the first movie officially released under the Studio Ghibli name, known as Laputa: Castle in the Sky (simply renamed Castle in the Sky in later releases). Also written by Miyazaki, Castle in the Sky is a wonderfully made movie, filled to the brim with fun action scenes and hilarious jokes.
According to Castle in the Sky's backstory, human civilization built huge cities floating above the clouds before a catastrophe destroyed all but one city, Laputa. Viewed mostly as a legend by civilization down on the ground, nobody is quite sure if it is real or a hoax. One such person is Pazu, a young boy whose father had searched for Laputa himself. One day, Pazu is heading to work when he discovers a strange blue light falling slowly from the sky. Upon investigating, Pazu finds the most unexpected of things: a young girl.
Pazu soon discovers that the girl's name is Sheeta, and she has apparent ties to Laputa, which Pazu has his own fascination with. As the two grow closer as friends, a man by the name of Muska and a group of air-pirates, led by a woman named Dola, both of whom were chasing Sheeta in the film's opening sequence, resume their chase for Sheeta, more specifically the necklace she wears around her neck. As Pazu and Sheeta attempt to escape these two groups, they are sucked into a grand adventure that unleashes the secrets of Laputa itself.
Miyazaki's tale in Castle in the Sky is a very whimsical adventure full of adventure and excitement. Like his previous movie, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Miyazaki includes themes of environmentalism and war, but they aren't nearly as obvious as they were in Nausicaa. The real strength of Castle in the Sky, however, is the dialogue itself. The screenplay has a good mix of seriousness and humor that works extremely well throughout the entire movie. Although the pacing seems inconsistent, the story and dialogue itself is superb.
The voice talent is good overall. James Van Der Meek is a delightful voice for Pazu, although he may seem to old for the character. Anna Paquin voices Sheeta, who is just ok overall. She almost seems to jump back and forth between an attempted American accent and her native Canadian accent. The two actors create amazing chemistry between their two characters though, which is absolutely charming. Also in the cast is Cloris Leachman as a great Dola, and Mark Hamill as Muska, who arguably steals the show with his amazing performance as the primary antagonist.
As Studio Ghibli's first feature film, Castle in the Sky is a huge success. Miyazaki's original story is action packed and humorous, allowing it to be enjoyed by viewers of all ages. The voice talent is solid, particularly Mark Hamill's menacing villain, and the animation is beautiful. The movie may have flaws within its pacing and certain elements of its voice cast, but overall, Castle in the Sky is a solid Miyazaki movie. With two fantastic movies under his belt, Hayao Miyazaki started his career with a bang, and Castle in the Sky was just the beginning.