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YMMV / Castle in the Sky

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  • Adaptation Displacement: The original "Laputa" was a floating island of idiot-savants, named for a vile Spanish epithet and intended as a scathing Take That! satire against scientists and British royalty. (The satire was so very dire that part of that chapter of Gulliver's Travels—in which Laputa went around dropping rocks on nations it didn't like—had to be censored in its original publication. When Isaac Asimov did an annotated version of the book, he was so nettled by it, centuries later, that he felt the need to spend much of a page in fine print coming to scientists' defense!) But the book was centuries old and in another language when it inspired Miyazaki to make his movie. Whether or not Miyazaki knew about the work's satirical origins, his version of "Laputa" was played straight as a place of higher science and learning—and he also titled his movie after that island's unfortunate name. Though oddly enough, whether intentionally or not, the "dropping rocks on nations it didn't like" thing made it (more or less) into Miyazaki's version as well.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Is the General really having an Even Evil Has Standards moment when he tries to kill Muska after seeing him test fire Laputa's superlaser? Or did he just decide that Muska had outlived his usefulness?
  • Ass Pull: Both Sheeta and Pazu survive an entire castle-city falling on top of them! Even the giant tree is unscathed, not even its roots are torn or damaged by the falling debris and resulting chaos. It's even lamp-shaded by Sheeta, saying the tree is "protecting them".
  • Awesome Music: The entire soundtrack, in both the original Japanese version and the longer, more extensive rescore for the Disney dub. Both composed by Joe Hisaishi. Special mention goes to the main theme.
  • Complete Monster: Romuska Palo Ul/Ur Laputa, known as Colonel Muska, is a ruthless government secret agent who tried to take the flying city of Laputa by force, being actually a descendant of the Laputean monarchy just like Sheeta. Along the way, he commits many heinous crimes such as kidnapping Sheeta and Pazu, threatening to kill Pazu if Sheeta didn't give him the amulet that held the power to control Laputa. When he finally conquers Laputa, however, he becomes mad with power and proceeds to toss his own henchmen from the floating city, all while laughing about it, and intends to use the flying castle's power to wipe out everything in his way so that he can become ruler of the world. He also threatens to shoot Sheeta's ears off after she tried to convince him that the people left Laputa because it was uninhabitable, and when Pazu arrived on the scene, Muska threatens the lives of both children unless they surrendered the crystal back to him. Throughout the film, Muska showed manipulative and emotionally abusive tendencies, a sense of entitlement, greed, hunger for power, revulsion of "disgusting" natural wildlife that he wanted to have burned down, and a willingness to hurt or even kill children if it got him closer to what he wanted.
  • Evil Is Cool: Muska stands out as probably the only truly depraved and evil Ghibli villain, and pulls it off with such style and charisma it's hard not to be a little impressed when he finally takes control of Laputa. Being voiced by Mark Hamill in the English dub certainly helps.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • The 1964 black comedy masterpiece Dr. Strangelove also contained a ragtag bunch of misfits in a plane trying to reach Laputa (in Russia) which was also the location of a Doomsday device, a comically-over-the-top choleric general, and a mad scientist with dark glasses who was hiding his allegience to a defunct evil empire behind an assumed name.
    • When Pazu and Sheeta are in the garden of Laputa, they find a stone memorial carved with a foreign, almost alien-looking language. That language is actually cuneiform, one of if not the absolute oldest known written languages, dating back to Ancient Mesopotamia; this adds to the impression of Laputa being extremely ancient.
    • The change from "Laputa" from "Lapuntu" made in the first Spanish dub, while done by the obvious reasons mentioned throughout this page, is not casual either. In Gulliver's Travels, the protagonist actually mentions this second name as a possible etymology for the first.
      "The Word, which I interpret the Flying or Floating Island, is in the original Laputa; whereof I could never learn the true Etimology. Lap, in the old obsolete Language, signifieth High, and Untuh a Governor; from which they say by Corruption was derived Laputa from Lapuntuh".
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The film is so popular in China that one of the most popular tourist destinations for Chinese is an Italian village that resembles the titular location.
  • Magnificent Bitch: Captain Dola is a tough-as-nails, boastful pirate who pillages the skies for wealth and treasures beyond compare with her own family for crew. Having learned of the existence of a necklace capable of leading one to the lost, floating city of Laputa, Dola stages on attack on a military escort blimp, tearing through the defenses and only losing the necklace when the young girl Sheeta slips away with it. Tracking down Sheeta through use of disguises and allying with her friend Pazu to rescue her from Colonel Muska, Dola recruits the children to her crew and uses them as guides to find Laputa for herself. Even when caught by Muska's men, Dola escapes with Pazu's help, imparts a useful weapon to him in return, and goes on to loot Laputa for as many riches as her crew can carry, walking away from the adventure immensely rich and having gained the friendship of Sheeta and Pazu for her gruff, yet lovable, maternal nature.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Nico Nico Douga goers often use Muska walking around blinded, screaming "My eyes!" in their Stupid Statement Dance Mixes.
    • In fan art, Muska is seen to be able to do literally- freaking -anything.
    • Fountain of Memes: Muska is regarded as one of the most quotable anime villains - in Japan, at least. His line "Look! The people are like garbage!" (said while watching soldiers fall to their deaths) is a fan favorite.
    • "Balse!", the Spell of Destruction used by Sheeta and Pazu. It's so popular that fans post this to social media sites at the exact moment it is said in the movie whenever it airs in Japan, sometimes causing them to crash from demand.
    • A fried egg on toast is often called Laputa Pan in Japan, after its appearance in this movie.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Muska causing the General and his men to fall to their deaths, followed by his straight up Evil Laugh as he tells them to "enjoy the ride." That is if threatening and attempting to kill Pazu didn't do it for you.
    • General Muoro and his lackeys showed their complete willingness to torture Sheeta to squeeze the secrets out of her and also tried to kill Pazu. Which also makes Muska's massacre of them a case of Kick the Son of a Bitch.
  • Narm:
    • The older JAL dub, despite not being as loosely adapted as Disney's dub and making the leads younger, is still very much this. It really is hard to take seriously when the pirates and Uncle Pom sound like cartoon caricatures, and especially when Muska says "Now say bye-bye!" as he aims at Sheeta during the fateful showdown. (The latter moment, in particular, disrupts the tension with unintentional humor.) And this is supposed to be more "accurate" than the Disney version!
    • The JAL dub is also riddled with dialogue that sounds very unnatural and awkwardly written as well:
      • "I'm built as hard as a brick moppet, if moppets were made out of bricks!"
      • "How very dumb, these earthlings." "Not many shows better than THAT one!" "There's no WAAAAAY you can escAAAAAAAAPE!"
      • Rather bizarrely, a pirate says "just like in the movies!" in the JAL dub. This is line is both out of place with the rest of the film's atmosphere and isn't even in the original script.
    • Muska is kind of hard to take seriously as a villain when he looks like evil Elton John.
    • The word "Laputa" has a nasty homophonic meaning in Spanish language, namely that it sounds identical to "la puta" ("the whore"), and as a consequence, it's quite difficult to watch a faithful Spanish dub while keeping a straight face. The first and most famous European Spanish dub changed its name to a more fantastic "Lapuntu" (just like Spanish translations of Gulliver's Travels have traditionally made slight changes into the name, often "Laput"), but the second European Spanish and the Latin American one didn't, so you get the picture in those. The Latin American in particular is more unintentionally hilarious due to the intonation used to say the name of the island.
  • Signature Scene:
    • Pazu's first encounter with Sheeta, with Sheeta slowly floating down towards him while unconscious, is the most well-known scene in the film.
    • The scene where the gardener robot gives Sheeta a flower.
    • The scene where Sheeta and Pazu say the Spell of Destruction, "Balse!", is also an iconic moment.
  • Special Effects Failure:
    • Whenever a character yells in the Japanese dub (Ex. Pazu), there's an audible echo to the line.
    • In both the JAL dub and the Japanese version, the scene with Pazu's boss fighting with the pirates, specific sound effects like a punches and the crowd's auditory reactions are eerily absent. The Disney dub, predictably, adds more chatter and crowd reactions to the scene, arguably making the situation more realistic. There are added in punch sound effects as well. (Complaints from purists caused Disney to dial back some of those added in lines, however, as well as the additional punches.)
    • The JAL dub, more embarrassingly, is devoid of any soldiers shouting during the scene where they are being chased in the climax by the robots. Both the Japanese version and the Disney dub clearly have walla sound effects (and in the latter, a longer, more drawn-out Evil Laugh from Muska echoing over the solders' screams).
  • Squick: Although the clumsy overtures of the Sky Pirates towards Sheeta once she dresses like a pirate are funny, it doesn't quite distract from the fact that we have a group of men, the oldest looking like they're well in their thirties, trying to court a girl of twelve or thirteen. An important note: This relationship was apparently only true in the Disney Dub - In the original version, the pirates treated her more like a mother figure.
  • Subbing Versus Dubbing: This is not the only Disney-Ghibli dub to receive such an atmosphere (Kiki's Delivery Service and My Neighbor Totoro also qualify), but it seems as though viewers can't really seem to unanimously agree if the Disney dub is an entertaining experience in its own right, better than the Japanese in many ways, or even a watered down travesty of a great film. Purists strongly claim it is the latter (often stating that the Japanese version is the ONLY way you should watch the film, to a lesser extent the JAL English dub), but there are still many fans of the Disney dub. In an even more ironic case, when the now extinct Streamline dub was released, it too received a similar split reaction. But when Disney's dub was released, the atmosphere quickly changed for some into a They Changed It, Now It Sucks! attitude. Some still even resent the Disney version for replacing the older dub, period. All the more ironic because Carl Macek thought the original '80s dub didn't turn out so well. (There are others who Take a Third Option and state that both the Disney and Japanese versions have merit and are good in their own right.)
  • Tear Jerker: The broken-down robot soldier who's unintentionally reawakened by Sheeta, only to be destroyed while it tries to protect her (mere moments after she realizes that's what it was doing and stops being afraid of it). After all, it was only trying to do its job of protecting someone who asked for help in the face of an unknown military that expressed open hostility toward it at every turn. Depending on how aware it actually was of the situation, it may have not even understood what it was doing was wrong, only to die in the line of duty while fighting to protect its queen.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!:
    • As mentioned, the '80s dub of Laputa wasn't well received upon its initial release, but when Disney's came along, many longtime fans of that version excoriated both the dub and rescore.
    • Purists loathed the new orchestral score and extra chatter in Disney's dub, to the point where Disney omitted both in home media releases post-2003. This ended up backfiring, as that created a camp of fans who were furious at Disney for removing them (even if others applaud Disney for trying to be more faithful). Ironically, removing the rescore has only caused some reviews to recognize its own greatness and lament its loss from the dub (e.g. Jacob Hope Chapman's review at Anime News Network). The Disney dub has since been reviewed more favorably and accepted, mostly by newer fans, and the sentiment only became greater once Joe Hisaishi's open preference of the orchestral soundtrack was made clear (he considered the 1986 score a rushed job, which explains its unusually sparse, synth-driven sound). Even better, Gkids has reissued the film with two English dub options, providing viewers with the opportunity to see Disney's dub with either the rescore, or the original. Still others Take a Third Option and state both scores have their merits.
    • The first Spanish dub, which replaced "Laputa" with "Lapuntu" for the reasons mentioned above and used the Disney translation and rescore, was divisive at its time for those changes, so a new dub more faithful to the original was granted in 2010, apparently by Ghibli's intercession. The problem? While the new dub retained the damn word along with the original script and score, it also came with a completely different voice cast that was instantly noted to be extremely poor in acting and cast choices (the new voices of Pazu and Sheeta, for instance, were panned for the strange feat of sounding both annoying and flat at the same time). The fans's reception for this new dub was so negative that the old one was Vindicated by History and the Lapuntu controversy was since mostly forgotten.
  • Toy Ship: Obviously Pazu and Sheeta; there are lots of moments where we see them holding hands and gaze and/or hugging each other. They roll around in the grass together, tied together by a rope, arm around waist, for quite a while upon arriving in Laputa.
  • What the Hell, Casting Agency?: While the English dub is widely regarded as being very good, many fans felt James Van Der Beek and Anna Paquin to be ill-fitting choices for Pazu and Sheeta, respectively, with the most common criticism being that their performances make them sound more like teenagers/young adults, even though they were intended to be kids in the original Japanese version and the Streamline dub.