Anime Blu-ray/DVD Combo Review: Castle in the Sky

GKIDS’ Blu-ray/DVD combo release for Castle in the Sky includes one Blu-ray Disc and one DVD.

Castle in the Sky
English Publisher: GKIDS
Format: Blu-ray/DVD Combo
Release Date: October 31, 2017

Castle in the Sky opens with a young girl named Sheeta in a flying vehicle, being escorted by Colonel Muska and his agents. The vehicle is attacked by a band of sky pirate, and during the confusion, Sheeta grabs a pendant from Muska and escapes. However, when the pirates try to grab her to get the pendant, Sheeta falls from the vehicle. When she does, the pendant glows and Sheeta starts floating gently to the ground.

A young boy named Pazu sees Sheeta falling from the sky and catches her. Her takes Sheeta to his home, and the two become friends. While at Pazu’s house, Sheeta sees a picture of Laputa (an ancient mythical city that floats in the sky). Pazu explains that his deceased father took that picture, but no one believed his father was telling the truth. Pazu is working on building a plane to try to get to Laputa and prove that his father wasn’t lying.

The sky pirates arrive at Pazu’s house, which forces Pazu and Sheeta to flee, and they end up being pursued by both the pirates and Muska’s men. As the pirates and the government officials fight, Pazu and Sheeta fall from a rail trestle. Fortunately, the pendant activates again, which slows their descent toward an abandoned mine. In the mine, they meet an old man named Uncle Pom. Through him they learn that the pendant Sheeta has is made of volucite, which is the crystal that provided Laputa with its power. Sheeta then admits to Pazu that she has an ancient secret name: Lucita Toel Ul Laputa (which means, “Lucita, True Ruler of Laputa”).

Sheeta and Pazu are separated when Sheeta is captured by Muska, and Sheeta learns more about her heritage and connections with Laputa. Pazu finds himself allying with the sky pirates in order to get Sheeta back. The film shows Pazu going through some character growth as he discovers who he is and the strength that he possesses. And the sky pirates evolve from simply being a group wanting Sheeta’s pendant to becoming allies of the two main protagonists. This evolution is most noticeable in Dola, the leader of the pirates. While she can still be a tough broad by the end of the film, she’s able to show a softer side to Sheeta (and, in some respects, to Pazu as well).

When I watched the film on this Blu-ray release, it was my second time seeing it. I thought it was just as compelling as the first time I saw it. The animation for Castle in the Sky still holds up over 30 years later, and it really helps to bring the story to life. And I still think the design of Laptua is especially impressive because of the fantastical feel that it has.

The Blu-ray that is included in this release is 1080p High Definition Widescreen (1.85:1), and the audio includes English DTS-HD 5.1, Japanese DTS-HD 2.0, and Francais Dolby Digital 2.0. The DVD is in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1), and the audio includes English DTS-HD 5.1, Japanese DTS-HD 2.0, and Francais Dolby Digital 2.0. It should be noted that on this GKIDS release, there are two versions of the English dub available. The first version is the one that Disney released, which has a different music score than the Japanese version. The second version of the English dub is accompanied by the original Japanese music score, and this release marks the first time that this version has been released on home video.

This release comes with an exclusive booklet, which includes writeups by Toshio Suzuki, Hayao Miyazaki, and Isao Takahata. The booklet also includes some stills from Castle in the Sky.

There are several bonus features included on this release. The first is “Feature-Length Storyboards,” which is the entire film in storyboard form. This is one of those bonus features that just don’t do much for me, unfortunately. While I wouldn’t mind seeing a handful of scenes in a storyboard version, the entire film is just too much for me to take in.

“Behind the Microphone” is the same bonus feature that appeared on Disney’s release of Castle in the Sky. It runs for about four minutes and includes interviews and footage of recording sessions with some of the American voice actors. It’s not a bad feature for what it is, but I’m still surprised that Anna Paquin, who voiced Sheeta, wasn’t included.

The next few bonus features (“The World of Laputa,” “Creating Castle in the Sky,” and “Character Sketches”) included subtitled interview footage of Hayao Miyazaki talking about Castle in the Sky and is intercut with footage from the film. These features aren’t bad for what they are, and it’s nice to learn about some of Miyazaki’s thoughts and thought processes for the film.

The next feature, “Producer’s Perspective: Meeting Miyazaki,” includes subtitled interview footage of Toshio Suzuki, and he talks about how he first met Hayao Miyazaki. While this was interesting and kind of amusing, the story he’s telling takes place several years before the creation of Castle in the Sky. Perhaps it was included here since this film is technically the first one released by Studio Ghibli?

“Scoring Miyazaki” is the exact same bonus feature that appeared in the My Neighbor Totoro 30th Anniversary Edition release. I guess since both films were highlighted in this bonus feature, GKIDS decided to include it on both releases.

“Promotional Video” is a promotional video that was released in Japan back in 1986 to promote the release of Castle in the Sky. It was interesting to see how much younger Hayao Miyazaki looked back then, because he looked so different. The promotional video also includes interviews with Toshio Suzuki, Isao Takahata, Joe Hiashi, and other members of the film’s staff. This was basically the longest bonus feature outside of the storyboard version of the film.

“Textless Credits” are textless versions of both the opening and ending credits. They appear back-to-back in the feature, with a little bit of black space separating the two. To be honest, the textless opening was a lot more interesting to watch than the textless closing, simply because there’s a lot more going on visually in the opening.

“Original Theatrical Trailers” is the same bonus feature that appeared on Disney’s release of the film. They run for a little over four minutes, and there’s also technically a television spot mixed in with the theatrical trailers.

Castle in the Sky is a classic Studio Ghibli masterpiece and should really be in the home anime library of anyone who considers themselves a fan of Hayao Miyazaki or Studio Ghibli. If you’re looking for the film on Blu-ray Disc, then this is a release I would highly recommend.

Additional reviews of Studio Ghibli films:

GKIDS to Screen Four Studio Ghibli Films in the United States Between October and December 2021

GKIDS has announced that it and Fathom Events will screen four Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki films in the United States during its Ghibli Fest 2021 event from October through December 2021.

Spirited Away will screen in theaters on October 3, 4, and 6, 2021. Howl’s Moving Castle will screen on October 24, 25, and 28, 2021. Castle in the Sky will screen on November 14, 15, and 18, 2021. My Neighbor Totoro will screen on December 5, 6, and 9, 2021. All screenings will have both subtitled and English dubbed versions. The screenings will also include bonus content.

Tickets go on sale on July 16, 2021.

Source: ANN

The Mary and The Witch’s Flower Anime Film, as Well as Ghibli Anime Films, Return to U.S. Theaters

Ticketing service Fandango and various U.S. theater chains are listing new screenings for Studio Ponoc and Hiromasa Yonebayashi’s Mary and The Witch’s Flower anime film on February 24, 2018 and February 26, 2018. The film will screen with an English dub on February 24, 2018 and with English subtitles on February 26, 2018.

Fandango and the theater chains are also listing a new Studio Ghibli Fest 2018 event by GKIDS and Fathom Events. The films will screen both with an English dub and with English subtitles. Each film will screen on three days on the following dates:

  • Ponyo: March 25, 26, and 28, 2018
  • The Cat Returns: April 22, 23, and 25, 2018
  • Porco Rosso: May 20, 21, and 23, 2018
  • Pom Poko: June 17, 18, and 20, 2018
  • Princess Mononoke: July 22, 23, and 25, 2018
  • My Neighbor Totoro: September 30, October 1, and October 3, 2018
  • Spirited Away: October 28, 29, and 30, 2018
  • Castle in the Sky: November 18, 19, and 20, 2018

Source: ANN

VIZ Media Releases New Studio Ghibli Picture Books for Castle in the Sky and Princess Mononoke

VIZ Media delivers the timeless allure of two of Studio Ghibli’s most acclaimed films with the release of the Castle in the Sky and Princess Mononoke Picture Books on December 5, 2017.

Castle in the Sky, Studio Ghibli’s first feature film, celebrated its 30th Anniversary in 2016. This year also marks the 20th Anniversary of Princess Mononoke, which has gone on to become one of the studio’s most popular films. VIZ Media’s releases capture the magic of the legendary studio’s animated films with easy-to-read text and full-color pictures taken direct from the films, presented in a family-friendly oversized hardcover format.

CASTLE IN THE SKY PICTURE BOOK
MSRP: $19.99 U.S. / 26.99 CAN
Debuts December 5, 2017

The legends were true. Somewhere high in the clouds, human beings have again set foot on the floating island of Laputa, for centuries a peaceful, parklike ruin, tended only by its silent, faithful robots. But just behind Pazu and Sheeta are soldiers from the aerial dreadnought Goliath—who have captured Dola and her pirate crew, and are now looting the gold and jewels of the Castle in the Sky for themselves. But the man who guided them there, Muska, has his eyes on power, not money—and he alone knows how to activate the castle’s ancient superweapons that could make him master of the world. Can Pazu and Sheeta stop his sinister plan? Includes scene-by-scene illustrations and character dialogue from the film.

PRINCESS MONONOKE PICTURE BOOK
MSRP: $29.99 U.S. / 39.99 CAN
Debuts December 5, 2017

Marked with the curse of a rampaging boar god, young Ashitaka sets off on a journey to cure his mysterious affliction. From behind the walls of an iron-mining town, Lady Eboshi arises to smash all obstacles to technological development. And from out of the forest comes Princess Mononoke, driven by a hatred of all humans. Can she and Ashitaka ally in time to stop the wild lands from being destroyed?

VIZ Media’s catalog of Studio Ghibli Picture Books also includes editions for The Cat Returns, Howl’s Moving Castle, Kiki’s Delivery Service, My Neighbor Totoro, Ponyo, The Secret World of Arrietty, and Spirited Away.

Castle in the Sky Anime Film to Screen in the United States on August 27 and 28, 2017

GKIDS and Fathom Events will be screening the Castle in the Sky anime film in theaters across the United States for a special two day event on August 27 and 28, 2017.

Screenings on August 27, 2017 will feature the English dub, while screenings on August 28, 2017 will present the film in Japanese with English subtitles. Tickets for the screenings can be purchased online.

Source: Crunchyroll

VIZ Media Expands the Studio Ghibli Library This Winter With New Picture Book Releases

VIZ Media announced during its official panel at Chicago’s premier pop culture and comics convention C2E2 that the company will release of a pair of full-color picture books for the Studio Ghibli films Castle in the Sky and Princess Mononoke in Winter 2017.

The new books expand VIZ Media’s Studio Ghibli Library and capture the magic of the studio’s animated films with easy-to-read text, full-color pictures direct from the film, and a family-friendly oversized hardcover format aimed at readers of all ages.

Castle in the Sky, Studio Ghibli’s first feature film, celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2016. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the North American theatrical release of Princess Mononoke, which has gone on to become one of the studio’s most popular anime films.

Additional information on each of these titles will be announced in the near future.

CASTLE IN THE SKY PICTURE BOOK
Debuts December 2017

The legends were true. Somewhere high in the clouds, human beings have again set foot on the floating island of Laputa, for centuries a peaceful, parklike ruin, tended only by its silent, faithful robots. But just behind Pazu and Sheeta are soldiers from the aerial dreadnought Goliath – who have captured Dola and her pirate crew, and are now looting the gold and jewels of the Castle in the Sky for themselves. But the man who guided them there, Muska, has his eyes on power, not money – and he alone knows how to activate the castle’s ancient superweapons that could make him master of the world. Can Pazu and Sheeta stop his sinister plan? Includes scene-by-scene illustrations and character dialogue from the film.

PRINCESS MONONOKE PICTURE BOOK
Debuts December 2017

Marked with the curse of a rampaging boar god, young Ashitaka sets off on a journey to cure his mysterious affliction. From behind the walls of an iron-mining town, Lady Eboshi arises to smash all obstacles to technological development. And from out of the forest comes Princess Mononoke, driven by a hatred of all humans. Can she and Ashitaka ally in time to stop the wild lands from being destroyed?

VIZ Media Celebrates the Work of Hayao Miyazaki With The Art of Castle in the Sky

VIZ Media presents a special new offering to fans of the work of anime visionary Hayao Miyazaki with the release of The Art of Castle in the Sky on October 18, 2016.

This hardcover edition joins VIZ Media’s highly commended series of art books showcasing Studio Ghibli films. The Art of Castle in the Sky‘s debut also coincides with the 30th Anniversary of the original release of the film. The Art of Castle in the Sky will carry an MSRP of $34.99 U.S. / $39.99 CAN.

Hayao Miyazaki’s Castle in the Sky was the first feature film produced by the legendary Studio Ghibli. Sheeta, a girl who has the power to defy gravity, is on the run from pirates when she meets the young inventor Pazu. Together they explore the secrets of Laputa, a flying city constructed by a long-lost race of people. All of Miyazaki’s major themes – the power of flight, the bravery of young women, and a world wrecked by change – are captured with beautiful animation and joyous storytelling.

“We are proud to release this gorgeously illustrated book that celebrates the extraordinary artwork of Hayao Miyazaki’s groundbreaking film,” says Masumi Washington, Senior Editorial Director. “This comprehensive edition is packed with the film’s art, from conception to final release, as well as commentary and insights from Miyazaki himself. It makes a fitting addition to our extensive Studio Ghibli library.”

Hayao Miyazaki is one of Japan’s most beloved animation directors. His first feature, The Castle of Cagliostro, was released in 1979 and his critically acclaimed film, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, which was based on his own manga, was released in 1984. In 1985, Miyazaki co-founded Studio Ghibli, through which he directed the box office smashes Princess Mononoke (1997) and Spirited Away (2001), which won the Golden Bear at the 2002 Berlin International Film Festival and the Academy Award® for Best Animated Feature Film in 2003. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) received the Osella Award for technical achievement at the 2004 Venice International Film Festival. In 2005, VIFF awarded Miyazaki the Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Miyazaki’s other acclaimed films include My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service and Ponyo. Miyazaki’s essays, interviews and memoirs have been collected in Starting Point: 1979–1996 and Turning Point: 1997–2008. His final film, The Wind Rises, was nominated for both a Golden Globe and an Academy Award®. In November 2014, Miyazaki received an honorary Academy Award® at the academy’s sixth annual Governor’s Awards.

Anime Film Review: Castle in the Sky

Castle in the Sky (which is known in Japan as Laputa: Castle in the Sky) is a film written by Hayao Miyazaki. The film was released to Japanese theaters on August 2, 1986. While this film is technically the first one released by Studio Ghibli, many consider Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind as the first Studio Ghibli film, since the founders of the studio were involved in the production. Castle in the Sky won the Animage Anime Grand Prix in 1986. In the United States, the first English-dubbed version of the film received a theatrical release on April 1, 1989. After Disney acquired the rights to distribute the Studio Ghibli material, a new English dub was recorded in 1998. Disney originally planned to release Castle in the Sky to theaters in 1999. However, after the financial failure of Princess Mononoke, the film’s release date was pushed back. The new English dub was finally released on DVD and home video on April 15, 2003, alongside Kiki’s Delivery Service and Spirited Away.

Castle in the Sky
Directed by: Hayao Miyazaki
Written by: Hayao Miyazaki
Starring: Mayumi Tanaka, Keiko Yokozawa, Kotoe Hatsui, and Minori Terada
Run Time: 126 minutes

Castle in the Sky begins with a young girl named Sheeta in a flying vehicle, being escorted to an unknown location by Colonel Muska and his agents. The vehicle is attacked by a band of sky pirates. During the confusion, Sheeta grabs a small pendant from Muska and escapes. While the pirates try to grab Sheeta and the pendant, the girl falls from the vehicle. As she falls, the pendant emits a blue light, and Sheeta floats gently to the ground. A young boy named Pazu sees her falling and catches her. Pazu takes Sheeta to his home, where she sees a picture of Laputa (an ancient city that, according to myths, floats in the sky). Pazu explains that his deceased father took the picture of Laputa, but that no one believed his father. Pazu, however, does believe in Laputa, and plans to find it someday.

The sky pirates suddenly arrive at Pazu’s house, which forces the two kids to escape on a railway. Their path ends up being blocked by an armored train, and the government agents traveling in the train try to capture Sheeta. While the pirates and government agents battle one another, the two kids fall from the rail trestle. However, Sheeta’s pendant activates once again, and Sheeta and Pazu float down into an abandoned mine. In the mine, they meet Uncle Pom, an old miner, who explains that Sheeta’s pendant is made of volucite (which is the crystal that provided Laputa with its power). Uncle Pom also says Sheeta’s pendant is one of the largest and purest of these crystals in existence, and reminds her that the crystal’s power rightfully belongs to the earth. She should never use it to commit acts of violence.

When the two kids return to the surface, Sheeta admits to Pazu that she has an ancient secret name: Lucita Toel Ul Laputa (which means, “Lucita, True Ruler of Laputa”). At that moment, government agents suddenly appear, and Sheeta and Pazu are separated. During the rest of the film, Sheeta learns more about her heritage and connections with Laputa, while Pazu finds himself teaming with the sky pirates to rescue Sheeta.

Castle in the Sky has a compelling story to tell, and the animation that accompanies the story really helps to bring the story to life. In addition to a compelling story, there’s also action, adventure, drama, and even a giant robot. The design for Laputa is especially impressive and gives it a fantastical feel.

One of the things I really enjoyed about this film is the fact that Miyazaki was able to portray the sky pirates in such a way that by the end, the audience cares about them. I will admit that when I first saw the sky pirates appear in the film, I never would have thought that they would end up becoming likable characters.

When it comes to the two-disc DVD set, there are three bonus features included. The first is the introduction by John Lasseter from Pixar, which is the same as what you see at the beginning of the movie.

The “Behind the Microphone” feature runs for about four minutes, and includes interviews and footage of recording sessions with the American voice actors. It was disappointing that Anna Paquin, who provided the English voice for Sheeta, wasn’t included. Considering she voiced such a major character, her omission is rather glaring. Outside of that omission, this feature was decent for what it is.

The original Japanese trailers are also included as the third bonus feature, but these only run for slightly over four minutes.

The second disc only contains a storyboard version of Castle in the Sky. Like I said in my review for Howl’s Moving Castle, I just don’t understand the appeal of watching a storyboard version of a film.

This is a film that I would recommend watching and purchasing if you enjoy the work of Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. Castle in the Sky is a classic Studio Ghibli masterpiece that really should be in the home video collection of anyone who considers themselves to be an anime fan.

Additional review of Castle in the Sky: