Parent Guide to Castle in the Sky from Studio Ghibli

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It can be difficult for parents to navigate anime movies when they aren’t familiar with the genre. It is my desire that this post will serve as a guide so you can enjoy Castle in the Sky from Studio Ghibli with your children.

As always, use your own discretion when selecting movies for your family.

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Castle in the Sky Summary

An ordinary young man, Pazu, helps a mysterious girl Sheeta as they seek to understand Sheeta’s magical amulet and search for a lost city floating in the clouds. But Pazu and Sheeta aren’t the only ones searching for the castle in the sky. Can these two keep it from falling into greedy hands?  

Castle in the Sky Information

Directed by Miyazaki, this is one of the most beloved Studio Ghibli films. In fact, the movie is notorious for “breaking” Twitter every year when it’s shown in Japan because so many people are tweeting about it simultaneously! It’s easy to see why it’s an enduring favorite, since the story moves from riotous action to intimate dialogue, from sweeping landscapes to breathless chases, from fantastic sci-fi to character-driven drama, yet it never loses its charm. At its heart, it’s a wonderful story of courage and friendship set in a richly detailed world; but there’s also a great fantasy/action plot with plenty of twists, endearing characters, a soothing soundtrack, and the unforgettable floating castle.

The magic Sheeta uses is an inherent part of her genetics. She doesn’t use a wand or cauldron; she can’t summon anything, foretell the future, or interact with any supernatural creatures. Her magic is simply a plot device for getting to the mythical castle (as well as a plausible explanation for why no one has found it yet) and once the castle is destroyed, there is nothing magical about her any longer.

 If your family enjoys classic adventure/fantasy quest stories like the Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit, and The Green Ember, I think you will especially enjoy this movie. Like so many Studio Ghibli movies, people of all ages can find something to enjoy here – from 3 year olds who pretend to be Sheeta (you may find yourself like I did painting a rock to resemble her necklace!) to young adults who can appreciate the ethical dilemmas and the arguments presented from both sides at the pivotal climax.  There is nothing objectionable, in terms of language or mature content, but its two hour run time can be a little long for the youngest viewers. 

Castle in the Sky: Where to Watch

You can purchase the DVD.

Watch the trailer online.

Castle in the Sky Discussion

  • Rewatch the opening credits, in slow motion if possible. What story are they telling? 
  • Think about the first moments Sheeta, Pazu, Muska, and the Robot are introduced as characters. Do they stay true to that first impression as you learn more about them? 
  • Although the Robot never speaks, how does Miyazaki show you his character? 
  • Why did Sheeta decide to destroy Laputa instead of letting it fall into Muska’s hands? Would you have made the same choice? Why or why not? 
  • Discuss how –or if– the air pirates changed from villains to heroes. Did they change, or did your perspective on them change? And when did the change(s) occur – was there a specific scene? How did Miyazaki reveal something new about them? 
  • Usually, creators reveal what they are “for” and “against” in the mouths of their characters: villains often believe or aim for something a creator thinks is evil and the heroes usually represent what the creator thinks is true and good. In that light, what is Miyazaki saying about power and technology in this movie? What parallels can you draw between fictional Laputa and real weapons or technology (such as nuclear bombs, drones, etc.)? 

This post is one of several in our series, “A Parent’s Guide to Studio Ghibli.

Check out all of the Studio Ghibli Guides:



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