Castle in the Sky Movie Poster Image

Castle in the Sky

Exciting, all-ages anime airborne fantasy epic.
Parents recommendPopular with kids
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Release Year: 1986
  • Running Time: 125 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Sheeta and Pazu are both courageous, perceptive, plucky kids, though the girl seems to need rescuing a whole lot more than the boy. On the other side of the gender-age barrier, a spirited, tough old lady leads a gang of greedy pirates. These scalawags end up becoming allies and pals (though no less thieving). There seems to be dim view of the military and government agents.


A lot of shooting, with the child protagonists occasionally nicked by the, oh, 10,000 bullets flying around. Cannon/artillery fire, heat rays, a nuclear-type explosion. Characters perish (offscreen) by falling from a great height. A street fight between roughnecks. A robot is "killed," blasted with mortar rounds.

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that "cartoon violence" and peril is fairly regular and sometimes intense in this spectacle, with abundant street brawling, gunfire (often aimed at children), artillery, death rays, even what looks like an H-bomb. Despite all that, no dead bodies are shown. This represents an English-dubbed, re-edited version of the three-hour original. If your household is filled with "anime" purists, you might want to try and obtain the uncut version. Try to get a widescreen edition in any case -- even the Disney VHS preserves the splendor in "letterbox" format.

What's the story?

CASTLE IN THE SKY was a smash in its native Japan in 1986, known mainly to fantasy and animation fans in the West via imported versions until more than a decade later, when mighty Disney Studios recognized its popularity by releasing an English-dubbed edition in the USA. The setting is a vaguely European early-20th century. In this world there exists a legend of a fabulous flying fortress called Laputa, laden with treasure, robots, and powerful weapons. Sheeta, a farm girl with an heirloom amulet crystal that points the way to Laputa, is chased by both government forces and a family of sky pirates. Briefly escaping into a mining community, Sheeta finds an unselfish ally and protector in a fellow adolescent, a brave boy named Pazu, and together they try to outwit their enemies while on a journey leading inevitably to Laputa.

Is it any good?


Hayao Miyazaki's sumptuous design, artwork, cliffhanger pacing, and innocent "sense of wonder" so important to science fiction bring Castle in the Sky to glorious life. It's a family-suitable action-fantasy, even if the main characters lack depth. Pazu is a bold and brave orphan boy, Sheeta is a bold and brave orphan girl, etc. (our heroine also tends to be amnesiac in some scenes, while in others she can remember whole magic spells and the not-unimportant detail that she's a long-lost Laputian princess).

Possibly some of the deficiencies in the storyline can be explained by big chunks of the movie, which originally ran three hours, excised in the adaptation by Disney. Here a nature-oriented twist that saves the heroes from doom in the end seems to come out of nowhere (thin air, you might say). At least the American edit kept Ma Dola, a colorful, crusty old pirate matriarch (voiced by Cloris Leachman) who vigorously commands a flying criminal gang made up of her own husband and many sons. Some anime fans consider this one of the best of the best in the all-ages category.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the idea of a floating fortress-city -- actually inspired by imagery (though not themes) in the storybook Gulliver's Travels -- turned into this Japanimation classic. You can research the career of exalted anime director/designer Hayo Miyazaki, who often introduces ideas of nature in conflict with human technology. Laputa was also published in comic book form before getting the animation treatment. Ask kids what they prefer, reading manga (Japanese comics) or seeing the cinematic spin-offs and adaptations.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 2, 1986
DVD/Streaming release date:April 15, 2003
Cast:Anna Paquin, Cloris Leachman, James Van Der Beek, Mandy Patinkin, Mark Hamill
Director:Hayao Miyazaki
Studio:Walt Disney Pictures
Run time:125 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of Castle in the Sky was written by

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Kid, 12 years old October 27, 2010

I could pump my fist in the air for how much i love this film.

this is my favorite movie of all time. i'm talking about the original japanese version, not the awful english dub (points thumb down.). honestly, disney? you messed up the whole thing. anyways, the story is great, the music is great, the role models are great, it's all great. i think this is for ages 9+, just because there's a lot of gunfighting, and people do get shot, but never killed. thre's a lot of parts of this film that just make you feel all lovely inside. if your'e a big fan of anime, or even if your'e not, go see this film. trust me, it's for your own good.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 12 years old March 13, 2010

a beatifully made movie.

When i first watched this movie when i was about 8 i really liked and i still really do. But both me and my parent's where very surprised about how vilont it was. I'm also surprised common sense thinks this movie is iffy for 6! are u joking?! A 6 year old would be scared and have nightmares! All the vilonce includes: Killing, gun shooting and much more. Also kids fall from very high heights and almost are killed several time by gun, exploseves, and pirates. There is also a very intense scene where the main characters uncle holds up a gun and shoots of her pigtails and almost her ears. The up side to all of this is it has good messages and rolemodels. Such as Sheta and Potsu. Sheta is a very courages girl who is about 10 or 11 years old. Who will stop at nothing to follow her dreams, be free, and help a person or thing in need. Also Potsu risks his life many times to save his friend sheta's. The positive messages of this movie is: Be carful wherever you go, and sometimes you must put your friends before yourself so everything can work out in the end. I recomend this to all kids 9 and up!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 11 years old May 9, 2010

You'l enjoy this movie!

This Movie Is Awesome!!!!!!! I own this movie on DVD and I've watched it a million times. I love the beautiful animation. I recommend you watch this movie. Trust me you'll love it!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models