Studio Ghibli is an animation studio that can leave an impression on its audience with every film they've made. After they were formed in 1985, the Japanese studio has gone on to make an amazing animated film that has shaped not only the animation industry but the film industry in general. The influence they've had can be found throughout most films from the larger than life blockbusters to the smaller scale indie films and it's simply incredible what legacy it has left and it all started back in 1986 with their grand debut on to the scene, "Castle in the Sky". Taking what he learned from "Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind", director Hayao Miyazaki and his team at Studio Ghibli set off to make a fun and thrilling adventure film as the studio's debut film and they sure succeeded. This is such a fun and exciting animated adventure filled with a lot of suspense and twists and turns that'll entertain any audience member.
When a young girl named Sheeta (Keiko Yokozawa) is seen floating down from the sky into a small mining town, a young boy named Pazu (Mayumi Tanaka) catches her and takes her to his home. The two quickly bond and become fast friends, but Patzu soon discovers that Sheeta is being hunted down for her magical crystal necklace by an army led by General Mouro (Ichirō Nagai), a group of air pirates led by Captain Dola (Kotoe Hatsui), and a government agent named Colonel Muska (Minori Terada) in hopes to find Laputa, a secret floating island in the clouds consisting of a castle filled with lots of treasures and secrets. Wanting to keep his friend safe, Pazu sets off with Sheeta on an incredible journey to find the secret castle in the sky before anyone else finds it first.
For Studio Ghibli's debut film, this really was a lot of fun to watch. Miyazaki and his team knew exactly how to start the company off with a bang that while I don't think is as powerful as "Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind", but still rather fun and exciting that's filled to the brim with a lot of great set pieces and moments. The story is a rather simple one, but it's one that sure is exciting and fun. It's a rather simple story where the protagonists are after a certain place filled with tons of treasures before the forces of evil show up to take it over, but it really stays afloat due to the film having some great and tension-filled moments and a lot of twists and turns that'll keep the audience intrigued and asking questions. The film opens up on a terrific note with an airship battle where the air pirates attack a ship that Sheeta and Muska are on and it stays exciting from then on out. There's a lot of fun set-piece moments in the film from train chases, to fiery rescues, and one amazing climax that will leave any adventure film fan satisfied. Even the quieter and more peaceful moments help the film stay in balance and not have certain moments overstay its welcome. It's also a rather funny film and I was surprised by how much I laughed watching it. One of my favorite moments involves one of the air pirates battling one of the miners in the village where Pazu lives and the two men go back and forth about how buff and tough they are. Moments like that put a smile on my face. With that said, the world of the film did confuse me a bit. Compared to "Nausicaä" where I was able to understand the world the characters live in and how it operates, the world of this film wasn't as fleshed or explained as I think I wanted it to be. However, since most of the film was focused on the adventure portion which was where the main focus should've been, it doesn't bother me all that much.
The animation in the film is simply wondrous as well. I particularly loved Miyazaki's use of color in this film. The color blue in particular is thoroughly used throughout the film and it helps give the world a lot of life and depth to it. There's a lot of different shades of blue throughout the whole film ranging from the color of the sky, the clothes the characters wear, and even different tints on how the bricks reflect off the light. It was simply dazzling. The character animation in the film also had some cute little quirks like when Pazu and Sheeta are eating lunch down in a cave and Pazu reacts to the tea being too hot. Little details like that really go a long way for me. I also love how well animated the action sequences are particularly the scenes involving flying objects like the types of ships the air pirates use in particular. Then there are the characters who are all wonderful and fun to watch. I especially loved Pazu and Sheeta as both shared quite a wonderful friendship and the bond they share feels genuine and earned. Both characters are also very strong and determined and stand their ground and fight back during intense moments which helps give them a lot of life. The other characters in the film are also quite fun. Captain Dola was very funny and humorous to watch. Watching her around the other pirates made me laugh a lot. Colonel Muska was also a terrific villain who was very slimy and threatening while holding a lot of mystery to him. He really was a terrific threat to the main characters.
All in all, "Castle in the Sky" is such a fun film. The story is exciting and filled with a lot of great set pieces, the animation is exquisite and filled with a lot of great attention to detail, and the characters are all a lot of fun to watch and have great chemistry. This is a film I would really highly recommend to watch for those wanting a good exciting adventure. Studio Ghibli made such an amazing debut animated film that put them high in the sky when it comes to animation studios and little did anyone know, they were just getting started.