Studio Ghibli has graced the world with many visual delights, from the mystical bathhouse at the centre of Spirited Away to the super-friendly creature from My Neighbour Totoro. However, the studio marked its ambitious beginnings with Castle In The Sky, a marvellous action-adventure film that never loses sight of its characters or its impeccable sense of wonder.
Taking the viewer to find Laputa, a magical floating castle based upon Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, it cleverly uses teenage romance and dazzling thrills to teach us about technological responsibility in a modernising world. With each frame hand-drawn by Hayao Miyazaki himself, it is widely regarded as one of the greatest animated films of all time, even managing to sneak into the bottom of the IMDB top 250.
To celebrate its thirtieth anniversary we have collected five facts that you may not not know about the beloved classic.
1. It Caused The Most Tweeted Moment of All Time
In case it wasn't obvious, anime is extremely popular over in Japan, garnering the kind of appreciation we have for superhero movies. It's so big in fact that a television viewing of Castle In The Sky broke the all-time tweets per second record when 143,199 people simultaneously tweeted the nonsense word "Balse" (バルス) during the film's pivotal moment.
2. Much of The Films Mining Town is Based Upon What Miyazaki Saw During The Welsh Mining Strike
Pazu, the earnest star of the film, works in the mines, where one day the enigmatic Sheeta falls into his arms. This locale is essential to the film, and was inspired by Miyazaki's trips to Wales. As he mentions in an interview:
"I was in Wales just after the miners’ strike. I really admired the way the miners’ unions fought to the very end for their jobs and communities, and I wanted to reflect the strength of those communities in my film."
It is this level of detail and commitment to social issues that makes Studio Ghibli films rise above your average animated fare.
3. In The Original Dub The Children Are Voiced By Adults
Despite being young teenagers in the film, Patu and Sheeta were voiced by adults almost twice their age! Voice actors Mayumi Tanaka and Keiko Yokoyama were both in their thirties when they emulated the high squeaking sounds of kids. Disney didn't make the same decision for the English dub, instead hiring the much younger James Van Der Beek (21) and Anna Paquin (17).
4. There Is Evidence It May Be Set In The Same World As Nausicaä of the Valley of The Wind
Before he formed Studio Ghibli, Miyazaki made Nausicaä of the Valley of The Wind, an eco-logical driven tale that was a perfect showcase for his unique imagination. The protagonist of that film had an adorable pet fox-squirrel who would sit on her shoulder as she went on her way. This is paid homage to in Castle In The Sky when these four cute creatures walk all over this robot, possibly suggesting that both films are set in the same universe!
5. It Barely Made Any Money!
The film is recognised today as one of the most important anime films ever, but after its first release in 1986, Castle In The Sky struggled to recoup its production costs. This initial setback for the studio led to Miyazaki's next film, My Neighbour Totoro only being greenlit as a back-to-back feature with Isao Takahata's The Grave of The Fireflies. Despite the two films vastly different tones, they are now both wildly acclaimed in the world of animation and film in general.
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